10 Cost-saving Kitchen Renovation Tips

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Is your kitchen in desperate need of a makeover? I bet you’re worried about budget. A full kitchen renovation can cost anything from R50 000 to R1mil. It all depends on the size, the finishes, the fittings, and the gadgets.

I’ve been a kitchen designer for 14 years and I’ve got some cost-saving kitchen renovation ideas to share with you. Some of these things are even renter-friendly.

“Designer looks don’t have

to have designer costs.“

Sarah Beeney
Concrete tops, black handles, and a subway tile splashback give this wood kitchen a modern vibe.
(Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

Let’s Start With A ‘Facelift’

1. Colour:

Changing the colour of your kitchen goes a long way to making you love it. Paint is a miracle worker when it comes to DIY fixes. All you need is the correct primer, a great colour, and some good prep work. If you’re not confident you can pull it off yourself, there are small businesses that do this exact thing.

Consider how you want the kitchen to make you feel when choosing your colour. Read 6 Colours To improve Your Mood for some insight into colour choices to uplift your home.

Hot tip: when you remove the doors from your kitchen to repaint them, pop the hinges in labelled Ziploc bags so that you can match them to the correct cabinets again.

2. Handles:

Do you have that old white and oak 80s kitchen with the oak handles? You know the one I mean. Take those grubby old handles off and get some new ones. Cabinet handles are standard sizes, so you should find replacements easily enough. Handle size is the space from hole centre to hole centre.

Budget buster tip: you can spray paint your existing handles in black or rose gold. Prime them first though, or else the spray paint will keep scratching off. And use good quality spray paint.

3. Countertops:

Post-form tops are easy to replace. From solid wood to quartz or granite tops, there are quite a few options. You can even have a thin granite layer added on top of your existing tops. Or replace your old post-form tops with new ones. There are some stunning new colour options available.

Renter’s Option: You can cover existing tops with rolls of vinyl contact paper. There are lots of videos on YouTube on how to do this. it’s a peel & stick option that is easy to remove and also protects the tops beneath from wear.

DIY Option: Cover existing post-form tops with concrete – try YouTube for the ‘how-to’.

Eco-friendly option: Bamboo countertops. Bamboo is a renewable natural resource with non-toxic adhesives used for bamboo boards. It does need to be sealed though.

A woodgrain melamine and postform top kitchen can be easily refreshed with white paint, new handles, and solid wood countertops.

(Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels)

4. Flooring:

Are your floor tiles stuck in the 90s? It could be time to re-tile your floor or put down vinyl flooring. You can lay vinyl flooring down on top of the existing tile if the levels are good.

Budget buster tip: Put an outdoor rug down on your kitchen floor and just cover the ugly tiles up. The rug pattern will draw attention away from the floor finish.

5. Splashback:

Got those 80s square floral wall tiles in your kitchen? You can retile your kitchen walls with something fresh or paint those old ones. If you want to try painting before replacing, the most important part of the process will be the prep work. White will give you a crisp, bright look (and you can draw in the grout lines with a grout pen).

If you have painted walls, all you need is an 80-100mm high row of tile.

Budget splashback idea: an enamel-painted skirting board or a varnished 16mm wood plank.

6. Second-hand Kitchens:

Did you know you can actually buy a kitchen that someone has taken out because they are doing a complete reno? There are a few businesses that take kitchens out and sell them on for very reasonable prices. You can get a whole kitchen with appliances for R5 – R25K, depending on the size and condition. Yes, that price can include granite tops. All you need to do is figure out how to fit it into your space. I sold my old kitchen on Facebook Marketplace and the buyer came to remove it themselves.

In 2012 I helped my sister fit a second-hand kitchen at her first house. It was a fixer-upper and the existing kitchen was beyond help. I reconfigured a u-shape kitchen to fit into a rectangular room. It had solid wood doors and included granite tops, sink, and appliances. We used 90% of the cabinets and tops. We only had to have one little cabinet made to close off one end.

She hired a kitchen installer and a granite installer. The whole project cost about a quarter of what a new kitchen would have. They flipped that house for a really good profit.

Need help space planning a second-hand kitchen to your space? Check out my Design Services.

This was my sister’s kitchen. Space planning a second-hand kitchen into a different space takes some compromise and clever puzzle skills. That little 150mm tray unit on the left end was the only unit we had to have made.

Rip It All Out And Start From Scratch

7. Appliances:

Double-duty appliances and freestanding appliances cost less. A convection microwave can double as an oven, and a fridge-freezer combo costs less than two separate units.

Remember: Built-in appliances mean that your joiner must make a special cabinet to fit that unit exactly.

8. Open Shelves:

Shelves on a bracket, or floating shelves, will cost you less than wall cabinets, but you do have to keep them neat and uncluttered. And please dust regularly.

9. Services:

The more you stick to the existing layout of your plumbing and electrical points, the less it will cost you. Plumbers and electricians will charge per point (to move or add).

A new kitchen installation can be low-cost and still look amazing
(Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels).

An All-Purpose Update

10. Add Freestanding Furniture:

Substitute an old wardrobe for a pantry, a console table for a coffee station, or use a solid wood workbench as an island. You may already have a piece of furniture that could work, or you could find one at a second-hand furniture shop. An old hutch will cost less than new kitchen cabinetry.

This distressed hutch makes a perfect addition to the sleek modern kitchen for overflow crockery or a coffee station.
(Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels)

Think out of the box a bit when it comes to a budget reno. With some planning and a bit of savvy, it’s easy to tie a DIY fix into your aesthetic.

Function, style, and a cost-saving kitchen? Get to it!

Need something to help you visualise your new kitchen? I absolutely love making concept boards! Give me a shout to get your own custom digital concept board.

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7 thoughts on “10 Cost-saving Kitchen Renovation Tips”

  1. I love these ideas! I revamped my kitchen recently with some tile paint, vinyl for the worktop and painted the cupboards and handles. It looks like a brand new kitchen! I love your splash-back idea, this is something I hadn’t thought about.

  2. I love the look of shelves on brackets in a kitchen because it’s such a statement piece. And I never thought about having rose gold handles in the kitchen—I’m intrigued!

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