Why Buy a New Home? Renovate! – Part 1: A Kitchen Replacement

The housing market is in decline across a number of suburbs in Melbourne. Houses are sitting on the market for record periods of time causing vendors to crumble and reduce their asking price due to market pressure. With house prices heading south, there is also little incentive to buyers to come out because prices may drop further making the bargain of today seem like an overpriced mortgage burden the next.

If your home is no longer serving your needs, have you considered the lifestyle benefits a renovation may provide?

Even a small renovation can have a huge impact

Even a small renovation can provide a huge impact on your lifestyle. Reconfiguring an awkward series of rooms can improve the flow of a home so much that your home feels bigger, more open or just more user-friendly. Imagine what could be achieved in your home!

While the housing slump has amped up in the last nine months, it is likely that with tighter lending from banks the trend will continue into the future.  This means that if at all possible, vendors are better not to enter the market.

Two reasons to renovate versus buy

renovate versus buy - before

What needs to change for you to love your kitchen?

A renovation will not only add quality to your life now; if done well it will add to your resale value when the housing market finds its feet again. While a renovation may mean dust and mayhem for a period, moving house is not much more fun with packing, sorting and loading then the opposite at the other end. In each scenario, the mayhem is only for a period before enjoying the excitement of the new.

Over the coming months, we will interview two families who chose to renovate rather than buy. The first (with details below) is a straightforward kitchen renovation involving removal of an old kitchen and installation of a new kitchen in the same area. The second is a more involved renovation featuring a reconfiguration of several space-wasting rooms to create a larger, more stylish and functional kitchen as well as a new meals area.

Renewal of kitchen alone

It can be difficult to visualise the change a new kitchen can bring to a home that you have lived in for years. We quickly grow tired of things that don’t suit the way we work. Eventually, our weariness grows to frustration and the frustration we may initially only feel for the kitchen carries through to the entire home.

Kitchen designers are trained to see the possibility. They can visualise the change a new kitchen can bring to your lifestyle. One of our designers saw the possibilities in her own kitchen and renovated the area to bring the family in, instead of feeling locked away. We interviewed her below.

What was wrong with your old kitchen? 

renovate versus buy - kitchen strip out

The old kitchen was sold on Gumtree and removed allowing the rest of the tiles to be taken up.

Our old kitchen was quite dated in terms of the colours and layout.  We had a good amount of storage space but little usable bench space; an island bench which accommodated a cooktop; a funny bench seating area (which just become a dumping ground); and a narrow bench to serve and prep on.  With a family of 5 and a large extended family that is often over, it wasn’t ideal.  

Although I thought we had a good amount of storage space in the old kitchen it was amazing how much more we gained with the change of design.  

The old kitchen was relatively open and although we did not remove any walls it is astounding how a slight tweak in the design has made the area feel so much larger and more open plan – this is the first thing everyone commented on when they saw it!  I think the change of floor assisted with this too as our living room and kitchen/dining area originally had different floor coverings. Now that it is all the same so there is a visual connection between the rooms.

What changes to your lifestyle did you hope your new kitchen might bring?

renovate versus buy - tile removal

Floor tiles and old kitchen have been removed completely, new window installed.

I really wanted a large island bench for the kids to sit and to eat breakfast and also for food prep/serving.  When we have family gatherings, the island is so handy for extra seating and as a buffet table where everyone may help themselves.  Even when we have just a few friends over we tend to sit at the island bench having a chat over a few drinks and nibbles.  It has become a very social kitchen and that is exactly what we wanted.

What style, colours, finishes did you choose and why?

I was torn between playing it safe; going all white or choosing something that was a little different. My main concern was that I didn’t want it to date too quickly. The colour scheme includes some daring black, combined with safer white. The end result is eye-catching but neutral enough to stand the test of time. 

renovate versus buy - floor prep

The floor is sanded and levelled.

There are three boys in our family, so the cabinetry materials needed to be able to endure the endless amount of footballs and basketballs that seem to pass through every day and I certainly didn’t want a glossy finish that was going to require endless cleaning of grubby fingerprints!  The legs on the island bench are heavy duty anodised aluminium which will not rust after a few mops of the floor.

Have there been any surprising results of the renovation? 

  • I am a fairly basic cook and loathe dinner time, however, I must say that since the new kitchen has been installed I do enjoy it more. 
  • The placement of my bin on the island bench is a sheer joy – it is to one end and tends to stay open during prep time as I can quickly just clean up as I go. 
  • I love my cooking utensils drawer right next to my cooktop (such a small detail but makes a BIG difference!). 
  • There is plenty of floor space between benches so I can have the dishwasher open during dinner prep and load as I go. 
  • I love the roll out shelves to the pantry – makes finding things at the back a breeze and a relatively cost-effective way to set it up! 
  • A broom/storage cabinet is next to the pantry which is great as I can easily grab a broom or dustpan to clean up if I need to. 
  • Stoked that we decided to go with an induction cooktop – it was a last-minute decision and cooking time is so much quicker with it and cleaning it is so easy.