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How to Renovate Your Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank

Modern kitchens and open-plan kitchen/diners are hardworking spaces. It’s where family life happens, where we cook and eat, socialise and relax with friends. In fact, it’s the room in the house where we spend most of our time.

A good kitchen needs to deliver on all fronts. It has to be functional and practical, and able to withstand whatever life throws at it. And it should also be an attractive and uplifting place to be. But if your kitchen is a daily hindrance rather than a help, or is plain worn out, maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

This can be easier said than done. According to industry experts, a new small kitchen will set you back in the region of £7,000-£9,000 including fitting, while a kitchen from an independent kitchen studio is likely to cost you around £15,000 - £20,000 including installation, and often much more.

But with household budgets squeezed in the current cost-of-living crisis, who has that kind of budget to spend on a kitchen?

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your kitchen upgrade costs in check. We’ve put together some clever tips and tricks to help you renovate your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Image credit: Newcastle Furniture Company

How to source cheaper kitchen units

New kitchen cabinets can cost a lot if you’re paying the full retail price, even if there’s a sale on. But significant savings could be made by taking an alternative approach.

Ask kitchen retailers for ex-display cabinets or show kitchens, which may be reduced by as much as 50-70%. You will need to know your exact measurements and required layout but if you find a match, it will be worth it.

Second-hand kitchens will also be a lot cheaper. Check your local social media selling pages, online auction platforms, and specialist-used kitchen retailers for anything suitable but do expect some wear and tear. They’ll be sold as seen, so make sure you carefully check the condition of the units and any fitted appliances before you buy.

Your best buy will be a good quality kitchen that can withstand heavy use and is made of robust materials such as good quality MDF or MFC, with soft-close drawers and cupboard doors.

Image credit: Newcastle Furniture Company

The importance of great kitchen design

If you’re throwing out your old kitchen and starting from scratch, now is a great time to review the overall layout and design of the room and make some necessary changes.

Regardless of room size, “there are always areas where you can create more functional spaces that allow for a more practical kitchen, but measuring and planning the layout carefully is a crucial step to make sure nothing has been missed or overlooked,” advises another kitchen expert.

However, do bear in mind that if you’re reimagining the space with the sink and appliances in different places, rerouting gas, electrics and waste papers will add to the installation cost while keeping the kitchen layout the same will cost less.

Larger changes, e.g. new electrics, new drainage, or new gas hob or boiler will also require Building Regulations approval.

Image credit: Newcastle Furniture Company

Replacing cabinet and drawer fronts only

Here’s a budget-friendly option to refresh your kitchen and give it a new look without the cost and upheaval of a full kitchen refit.

Have you considered leaving the carcasses in place and simply replacing your cupboard doors and drawer fronts? If your cabinets are standard size, it should be easy to source lovely new doors, and here’s a handy guide on how to go about replacing the old doors.

Finish off your cabinet door upgrade with new handles or knobs in a style of your choosing, perhaps splashing out on high-end hardware to make your standard-range kitchen cupboard doors look more expensive than they are.

Painting your kitchen units a different colour

Perhaps there’s nothing functionally wrong with your kitchen cabinet doors; it’s just that they look badly out of date and, well, boring. Instead of changing the doors, how about simply painting them? You’d be surprised at the difference a few coats of paint in a fabulous colour can make to the overall look of your kitchen.

The type of paint required will depend on the surface material of the doors. For solid wood or wood veneer, interior wood paint (matt, satin or gloss) should do the job nicely, while laminate doors need a specialist multipurpose paint designed for wood, melamine and MDF.

Make sure you prepare the doors properly by removing dust and grime through washing or sanding, then using a suitable primer or undercoat to make sure the topcoat will adhere properly.

Usually, several coats of paint will be needed for best results. Here’s some expert advice on how to tackle this project.

Image credit: Newcastle Furniture Company

Replacing kitchen worktops only

If your kitchen units are not the problem, or you’ve already addressed the issues using one of the options mentioned above, now turn your attention to the kitchen worktops.

Have they seen better days? Are they scratched, warped, or otherwise unsightly? Replacing worktops is an easy way to dress up an otherwise uninspiring space and give an older kitchen a new lease of life.

There’s a wide range of worktop materials available ranging from economy to luxury surfaces. For a low-cost option, choose a laminate worktop in one of many colors and finishes, or spend more on a solid timber or acrylic worktop.

Engineered stone and natural stone such as granite and marble are at the top end of the price scale, but they can make your kitchen look fabulous.

Image credit: Newcastle Furniture Company

Don’t cut corners with installation

Whichever kitchen makeover option you choose, the finished result will only ever be as good as the quality of the installation.

A cheap kitchen fitter may well be a false economy if they leave you with niggles such as poorly fitted doors or drawers that won’t close properly, or problems with taps or installed appliances. Sadly, this is not as uncommon as you may think.

If your kitchen is being installed by a kitchen company, their fitters should be highly skilled and experienced but using them won’t come cheap. If your new kitchen is part of a bigger renovation project, your building contractor may well be a good choice to put the new kitchen in.

Image credit: Newcastle Furniture Company

Can you do some of the work yourself?

Finally, one of the best ways to keep the budget down is, of course, to do the job yourself. This obviously depends on the level of your DIY skills.

If you’re confident that you can competently install new kitchen cabinets, you can save yourself a pretty penny. But even if this is one job you’d rather leave to the professionals, you may have other useful skills that can be deployed to great cost-saving effect.

Stripping out the old kitchen doesn’t require much skill other than physical strength, some basic tools, and a van to take the old units to the local tip. Here’s some professional advice on how to do it. Tackle the job with a trusted friend or two, and expect to have completed it in a day.

Are you any good at painting and decorating, tiling or flooring? A fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper on the walls, painting the cabinets, tiling around the sink or splashback, and fitting new floor tiles can be a rewarding and cost-saving weekend project.


Jenny Kakoudakis likes to blog about interiors. She launched the award-winning Seasons in Colour in 2014. When she is not chasing criminals out of the financial system (her day job), she gets creative by redecorating her own home.

Download her free bathroom renovation guide here.


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