You may not have the time or budget for a whole new kitchen, but a few simple changes can bring your kitchen right up to date.
Tired of your dated kitchen? More than any other room in the house, the kitchen can be the first to show signs of age, both in terms of wear and tear, and design. It can also be the most expensive and time-consuming room to renovate. The good news is, if you’re not ready to invest in a whole new kitchen, you can modernise it with a few clever touches – some quick and easy tips, others a little more involved.
A new window treatment will freshen up your kitchen instantly and doesn’t require much time or expense. A fabric roller-blind in a light, neutral tone will let the natural light in while preserving your privacy. If it’s positioned near a sink or where it may get greasy food stains, opt for a washable fabric in a forgiving colour. Or consider timber or aluminium venetian blinds, which are easy to clean and allow you to control the amount of light coming in. Paint your timber blinds in a tone that complements your walls and cabinets for a uniform look.
For a fast and economical update, you can’t look past paint. It can be applied to just about any surface in the kitchen, from cabinets and floors, even to whitegoods, and can instantly transform a dark, tired kitchen. There are new innovations in paint all the time, so it’s worth visiting your paint specialist to see what’s available.
Keep in mind kitchen surfaces need to be easy to clean – satin and semi-gloss paints tend to be the easiest to apply and clean. Taubmans’ Kitchen and Bathroom paint for walls and ceilings is specially designed for moist conditions and is easy to wipe down. offers several great kitchen paints: look out for its Tile and Laminate paint, which is available in 1,000 colours from thecolour chart; its Fridge and Appliance paint in black, silver and vanilla; and its acrylic Floor Paint, which is suitable for both concrete and timber floors.
Remember that it’s always a good idea to apply extra-tough sealant to painted timber floors in a kitchen – it will keep your floors looking good for longer, and help prevent food and water from falling between the grooves. To keep the children occupied while you’re cooking, consider painting the end of an island unit, a cupboard door or section of wall with chalkboard paint – White Knight Paints and both produce chalkboard paints. Don’t overlook the details – freshen discoloured grout between tiles with a grout pen from White Knight Paints, or apply new grout that matches your tiles using a range of coloured grout available from.
Instead of replacing dated cupboards that are still in good condition, give them a facelift by re-lining the front of doors in a new modern material. Some of the best new laminates come from Laminex – look for its timber veneers and bright glossy painted finishes. For more timber laminate options, try Gunnersen or New Age Veneers. If you prefer the look of an industrial kitchen, why not re-clad your cupboard doors in stainless steel – try Abet or Stainless Sections.
Alternatively, replace doors while keeping the body of cabinets intact. Try Parbury or Sydney Doors for ready-made doors, or have them specially made by a cabinetmaker.
The current trend is for solid wood, stone or composite benchtops, all of which can be very costly. If you’re prepared for the outlay, go for some of the finest natural materials such as granite, marble, or solid timber, or quality composites such as Corian (available at CASF).
Alternatively, there are a number of cheat’s tricks to achieve the look at a fraction of the cost. Consider re-lining your existing benchtop with timber laminate, and applying matching edging to give the appearance of solid timber. For an industrial feel, clad it in stainless steel or a brightly coloured laminate. Or to achieve the look of solid quartz, overlay your benchtop with a stone or quartz slab.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to spruce up your kitchen is with new cabinet handles. There are endless options on the market – everything from pretty porcelain and traditional brass to contemporary stainless steel.
Take a good look at your kitchen lighting: is it functional? Does it create ambience where you want it? You can spend as much or as little as you like on bulbs and fixtures, but a successful lighting scheme relies on good planning. Ensure your work areas are well-lit and avoid shadows. Install clip-on or strip lights beneath wall cabinets, or hanging pendant lights above an island unit, plus good task lighting above the dishwasher or sink. Replace any harsh strip lighting that creates an unpleasant and unproductive light, and create mood where you want it by installing dimmers above dining spots within eat-in kitchens.
Splashbacks – positioned behind the stovetop to protect your walls from grease and grime – are a great spot to add a hit of colour. The material you choose needs to be non-flammable, non-porous and easy to wipe down. Stainless-steel splashbacks have a modern, professional feel, while heat-resistant, specially-toughened glass can be back-painted in a huge array of colours or lined with wallpaper for a bolder look. If you’re feeling particularly creative, take your own digital photo and have it blown up and laid on to clear glass (try Palmers Glass Kitchen or find a local glass specialist in the Yellow Pages).
It’s easy to dismiss tapware as a minor detail, but the sink is one of the fi rst places to which the eye is drawn when entering a kitchen. Consider replacing dated or dented tapware with a new design. Think practicality as well as looks – extendable taps with pull-out nozzles are chic and make rinsing large platters a breeze. And if you’re short of inspiration, look to restaurant and hotel kitchens for some of the latest designs. In terms of style, there’s something out there to suit every taste and budget.
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