So you want to renovate your kitchen, but where do you start? And how much do you need to change to get the look and functionality you crave? Below we’ll cover our top 6 things to upgrade to give you a fresh, stylish new kitchen, all while avoiding expensive and time-consuming layout changes. First up let’s look at benchtops.
1. Kitchen Benchtops and OverlaysThere is no better place to start thinking about your new kitchen than with the kitchen benchtops. Your benchtops are often the defining feature in your kitchen, helping to set the style and tone for all other aesthetic elements. They also play a critically important role in its functionality, so you want something that works well for you. We’ll explore two of the most popular benchtop materials below.
Introducing Porcelain BenchtopsWhile a new concept to many, porcelain benchtops are becoming an increasingly popular choice in Australian homes and for good reason. When you think of porcelain, you might think ‘brittle and fragile.’ However, these terms don’t apply to modern porcelain benchtops. In fact, modern porcelain is incredibly durable. The secret to its strength lies in the manufacturing process. Porcelain benchtops are created at very high temperatures. This involves blending a mix of powdered porcelain clay, quartz and sand or silica and then tightly compacting it to create an incredibly robust and hard material. Porcelain is not only perfect for benchtops because of its durability but also because of its non-porous nature. This means that liquids simply wipe off, without staining. It’s also UV, heat and thermal shockproof so you don’t have to worry about burn marks or fading in sunlight. As a bonus, being made of natural materials, porcelain can also be recycled at the end of its life. But the feature we love most about porcelain? Its incredible versatility. Porcelain benchtops are made in a wide variety of colours, patterns and textures. Choose from Calacatta or Statuario marble, industrial concrete look, asphalt or monochromatic tones. You can always find a porcelain benchtop to match your style and aesthetic.
Stone BenchtopsWe may be a touch biased, but we think engineered stone benchtops are ideal for almost every kitchen. Unlike natural stone, an engineered stone slab is of consistently high quality and is non-porous. This means it offers a high standard of food hygiene. It’s also scorch resistant and is crafted in a range of patterns, styles and even hues. Engineered stone offers that sleek sophisticated look you’re after with the added benefits of being incredibly durable and easy to clean. Read more about the advantages of engineered stone here.
Benchtop OverlaysBenchtop overlays are an economical and time-saving option. This is because you get a brand new aesthetic without the hassle of removing your existing benchtops. Instead, the stone overlay is simply cut to fit over the existing benchtop. If time is of the essence for you and you want to save dollars, this may be the perfect solution. Overlays will work regardless of the type of material underneath. It doesn’t matter whether it be laminate, natural stone, timber, tile or engineered stone. At United Stone, we use our exclusive and elegant QuartzStone for our overlays. Let United Stone fit your new stone overlay benchtops in one day.
2. CabinetsKitchen cabinets are another feature you want to choose early on in the renovation process as your choice of style will affect many other decisions. Like benchtops, cabinetry design continues to evolve, presenting you with an array of materials and styles. Want to upgrade your cabinetry but not sure what to select? We’ve compiled some questions to ask yourself below:
- How much storage space do you need? This may sound like a no-brainer, however many of us have kitchen cabinets stocked with items we never use – muffin maker anyone? It can be helpful to do a no-holds-barred cleanout before making a call on storage requirements. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem – sometimes we get so used to workarounds – pulling out ten pots to find the orange juicer – that it’s good to make time for a reality check and consider upping the storage space.
- What look are you after? Kitchen cabinets take up a fair bit of the visual space in your kitchen. Therefore the way they look is important for your kitchen’s overall feel. You’re most likely to find pared-back, minimalist cabinetry options in flatpack or pre-fabricated products. However, if you have the budget to spend on custom cabinetry you open up a world of choices. Consider beadboard panels for some texture, metallic thermofoil for some bling or glass (it’s really handy being able to see what’s in your cupboards).
- Is your cabinetry structurally strong enough? This question only really comes into play if you’re thinking of installing a heavy benchtop, like a stone slab. If you’re not sure about your cabinetry’s load-bearing capacity, get some advice from the cabinet manufacturer before purchasing.
3. Sinks and MixersIt’s an often overlooked feature when renovating your kitchen, however, a good kitchen sink is essential for your kitchen’s functionality. So it’s important to choose a design that suits you. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are:
- What are your washing up requirements? If you know you like big cook-ups with large pots and other bulky items, you’ll want to invest in a double, deep sink with a good width. However, if you mainly use the sink for rinsing items before sticking them in the dishwasher, you could probably save space and get away with a smaller, shallower sink. Identifying your washing up needs will also help you understand if you need a sink with a drainboard.
- Have you considered the material? Stainless steel sinks remain by far the most popular option because they are affordable, durable, hygienic and easy to keep clean. They also won’t chip or rust. At United Stone, we are a big fan of stainless steel for these reasons. If you’re looking for something a bit different, consider ceramic or even granite composite sinks. Both these materials come with heftier price tags but can offer very stylish aesthetics.
- What sink mounting preference works best for you? The two most common options are top-mount or under-mount. Top-mount sinks are easy to install from above, however, their disadvantage is they have a rim adjoining your benchtop which creates unhygienic cleaning issues. Plus this also creates a less aesthetically pleasing look. Under-mount sinks sidestep this issue with the top of the sink sitting flush with your benchtop. This contributes to a seamless, refined aesthetic. At United Stone, we only supply under-mount sinks for these reasons.