Renovating your kitchen on a budget


Looking to renovate your kitchen on a budget? With a touch of style and some DIY know-how, Kelly did just that. Here’s her story.


Built in the 1950’s, our home inherited the narrow galley-style kitchen of its era.

In its compact form, like many old homes, the kitchen was small and dark, lacked storage and was uninviting.  The one saving grace was the beautiful, original rimu timber floorboards.

We are a family that loves to cook so when we purchased the home, we knew the kitchen was going to need a serious overhaul.

Our aim was to create a room that was light, bright and functional. We wanted a kitchen that was fresh and simple, that maximised the space we had to play with.


Before and after


Renovating on a budget can be hard – here’s how we did it

Operating on a limited budget meant we had to work with the layout we had. Pushing out the walls to extend the size of the room was unfortunately not an option. However, with an existing open plan layout adjoining the dining area and lounge, the space had some good potential.

We started by gutting the kitchen. Old cabinetry was stripped out, the empty hot water cupboard was removed and the walls were relined with gib. Losing the ugly peeling wallpaper in the process was a bonus.

Once the room was an empty shell, we worked with Placemakers to design a kitchen using modular sections. This meant we could create something that fit our space and - most importantly - suited our budget. It was a relatively simple process that allowed us to save money down the track by installing the cabinetry ourselves.

Kelly's kitchen after the renovation


We cut costs by sourcing our bench top and sink from a yard that sells recycled building materials. Rather than disposing of the original pantry, we relocated it to our laundry to create additional storage.

I picked up some classic white subway tiles from Mitre 10 to create a stylish splashback around the stove top. My husband installed these after teaching himself how to tile (there’s a YouTube tutorial for everything these days).

Kelly's husband tiled the kitchen


A soft grey paint colour provided a warm base to tie everything together – we chose Dulux’s Lyttelton Half.

Finally, bench space in the small kitchen was reserved for our favourite must-have appliances and accessories. Our coffee machine is top of that list along with my favourite cookbooks from Unna Burch (The Forest Cantina) and Emma Galloway (My Darling Lemon Thyme).


Kelly's beloved coffee machine


Adding personality

Kitchens don’t have to be boring and devoid of personality. Have fun and stray from the conventional rules.

Because the door at the end of the room naturally draws you eye, I wanted to enhance that by painting it an unexpected colour. I chose a soft pinky hue in Dulux’s Point England shade.

Art is a firm favourite of mine and I like finding creative ways to incorporate it into our home. As avid coffee drinkers and lovers of Coffee Supreme, I’ve always admired the design aesthetic of their café signs.

I reached out to the company directly to source a sign – I love that it’s a unique feature which you won’t see in anyone else’s house.


Use greenery to add life to your space


Another way to pack a punch of personality into your kitchen is through greenery. Luscious plants line the top of my cupboards, adding life to the small room.

After donating the old cabinetry to the recycle yard, we did keep one thing - a recessed shelf that sat over the fridge, designed to hold a microwave.


The repurposed shelf


I’ve repurposed it as a standalone magazine rack by turning it on its side. It’s a sentimental piece of our very first home and it reminds me just how far we’ve come with this property.

While one day I look forward to having a large, spacious kitchen, this DIY renovation has transformed the ugliest space in our house into a room we all love.


Kelly Evans is a blogger, writer and stylist. Kelly shares stories on clever people and great design on her website, thehomescene.nzClick here to read more from Kelly.

All images courtesy of Kelly Evans,

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