Kitchen renovations can be notoriously expensive but by recycling and shopping around a savvy interior designer has overhauled her postwar family kitchen on a shoestring budget, with spectacular results.
“We reused the carcasses in the original kitchen and put a new benchtop and cupboard doors on,” says Corinne Bolton owner of Elm Design who transformed the kitchen for just $7,000 without appliances and fixtures. “All our appliances were ex-display so they came out of a showroom and the same with the kitchen sink, so I got that fairly cheap as well.”
White subway tiles for the kitchen splashback were sourced for $10 a square metre, while the three-point-six metre timber island, which adds warmth to the monochrome cabinetry, set Corinne back just $1,000. “I ordered the timber online from . It came raw and we oiled the timber ourselves, so all that had to be done by the cabinet maker was cut the timber to size and snap it together. It was very cost effective.”
But the biggest bargain, according to the budget-conscious designer was the travertine floor tiles which cost just $50 a square metre. “I did a lot of shopping around and jumped on things when I could and we combined it with what we had. We reused as much as we could,” Corinne said.
The kitchen is just one part of a $200,000 renovation Corinne and her husband completed over two years, adding an estimated $425,000 to the value of their Balmoral home. “Being in the industry I could see the potential but it was tenanted with a large family so it was fairly poorly presented! We raised the house, added decks/terraces, reconfigured rooms upstairs to become all bedrooms/bathrooms/second living, added 2 bedrooms, added a full new ground floor connected to the garden with all new living spaces. We did as much as we could ourselves, assembled kitchen items, painted, sealed stone tiles but left the tricky things to those who were qualified!” said Corinne.
The renovation, which saw the old kitchen cabinetry reconfigured and moved from the upper level to downstairs, has flooded the home with natural light and made the layout much more family friendly. “The floor plan is just so liveable. We love the size of the kitchen, it’s huge! I love that all the messy stuff, like the sink and cooktop is on the back bench, so the island bench is completely clean but to do that successfully you need a really long back bench,” said Corinne.
To optimise storage Corinne installed drawers in all the repurposed cabinets except those under the kitchen sink. The base cabinets are a white laminate while the overhead black cabinetry is a gloss vinyl wrap which is easy to clean but does show fingerprints. “The texture of some laminates holds dirt, so it’s hard to have the perfect surface that’s completely maintenance free. I do like that it’s easy to wipe clean but the fingerprints are driving me a little crazy. Microfibre is your best friend!” said the mum of two.
As for the colour palette, Corinne went with her signature style of black, white and timber. “It gives you impact without doing anything that’s too trendy, so it’s staying in the neutral palette but still has impact. It’s something that will be punchy but not date.”
Corinne is the owner of design firm Elm Design. Get in touch .