Who better than a former winner of The Block to advise on a kitchen renovation. Shannon Vos won The Block in 2014. But while he may have had a decent budget for the show, he only had just over $5000 to spend on renovating his own kitchen, following the renovation. However he estimates that this minimal outlay added an incredible $15-20k to the price of his apartment when it sold a few weeks later.
With the help of his brother, Shannon opted for a DIY approach, replacing the benchtop, adding new lighting, updating the sink and adding new cupboard handles and a bench. That was essentially all he did to modernise what he called a “very dated kitchen”.
“I think that renovation definitely helped the sale,” he explains. “The rest of the house was looking fresh and all we had to focus on was painting and fixing the floors. The kitchen was the one space that took a bit of effort.”
By keeping the skeleton of the cabinetry, which was still sturdy and in good condition to save money and changing the colour scheme to a modern monochromatic look with timber highlights, Shannon was able to breathe new life into the kitchen with minimal outlay.
Here are Shannon’s 7 top tips for a kitchen renovation on a shoestring budget:
1. Invest in one hero element
Shannon says to choose one element of the kitchen to invest money into. For him, it was the new benchtop. He opted to invest in a composite stone benchtop as the hero element. He says, “If you invest in one show-stopping hero piece, everything else in your room can refer back to that, tying everything together. And that way you can save a lot of money elsewhere.”
2. Don’t change the layout
Changing the layout of a kitchen is expensive because it requires things like plumbing and electrics to be moved. Changing the layout also creates issues with the existing flooring.
3. Make paint your friend
Unless your cabinetry and/or the hinges are falling apart, consider painting the cupboard doors rather than replacing them. Shannon says you don’t even need to invest in special cabinetry paint but to ensure you opt for a hardwearing paint for the trims. To paint kitchen cabinets, preparation is the key to a professional job. Start by cleaning cabinet surfaces well to remove grease and dirt (Shannon used good old sugar soap) before sanding. His final tip when painting is to remove the doors and paint them in a dust-free environment.
4. Replace the handles
It’s amazing how much new cabinet door and drawer handles lift a kitchen. The easiest and cheapest way to replace handles is to opt for handles with the same set-out as you currently have. Shannon opted for statement timber handles, giving his kitchen a funky retro vibe.
5. Add a shelf or two
Adding a shelf is great if storage is an issue or if you simply want to showcase a few statement pieces, a plant or some cook books etc. Shannon made a timber shelf for his kitchen to complement the new timber handles. He says, “I took my handles to a cabinetmaker who has a shop around the corner, and said, ‘Hey, can I buy some timber off you? I just want to try and match this.’ And he sold me a big slab of timber,” says Shannon, who asked his handy brother Simon to help him install it. It was that easy.”
6. Don’t focus on appliances unless you opt for an appliance to be your hero
Shannon says too many people get lost in the appliances, wanting the latest and greatest when the money could be better spent on other items when money is tight. He suggests asking yourself if it’s really necessary to achieve the look you are going for. If your existing appliances are in good working order, focus on the elements that will create the greatest bang for your buck.
7. Be smart about your lighting choices
A well lit kitchen is critical. Not only will poor lighting impact the functionality of the space but a dark, dimly lit kitchen also looks dated. Start by considering the aspect of the room. In Shannon’s case, the kitchen is south-facing so natural light was an issue. He installed two adjustable black spotlights above the kitchen cabinetry and a strip of LED lights underneath the timber shelf, which he simply stuck down with double-sided tape providing an instant mood lift in the previously dark space. Another tip Shannon offered about kitchen lighting is to always choose warm light, never cool, to create that inviting ambience everyone wants in their kitchen.
Click here for the photos of Shannon’s budget kitchen renovation.