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Cooking up a storm – budget-friendly kitchen reno

Moving into a fixer-upper that needs work tends to come with a cost. And bathrooms and kitchens are at the top of that list. If you go with standard renovation companies and contractors, you will leave with quotes of about R150,000 to R500,000, depending on the size of the room. Quotes of this size are often out of people’s budgets, so the home of their dreams just seems out of reach.

My sister recently brought an old apartment, and I can see these sorts of costs has left her stressed and worried about how she could afford a new kitchen – let alone any of the other renovations. Her apartment is small, so she only needs a bottom row of cupboards. Quotes of R100,000 to R120,000 for a basic set of cupboards, without any fancy closures or fixtures, has left her reeling.

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The kitchen is the most expensive room in many homes. But getting this look and feel doesn’t need to mean you’ll be eating two minute noodles for the foreseeable future.

But inspiration took hold, and she and I began the hunt for another solution she could afford. Starting at Mistry’s she thought maybe buying the raw wood cupboards and doing the fitting and painting ourselves was the best solution. However, because it was a pure wood it still left her with a massive cost on her hands and not much room to get the exact feel she wanted. After a long hunt and many treks to the middle of nowhere, we discovered Goodwood Boards, which does chipboard, timber and melamine cupboards (which may not sound appealing). However, their products come with various finishes and colours which are then heat sealed onto the doors so they don’t peel off over time. Special fixtures like non-slam drawers and cupboards can be incorporated, if you have more room in your budget to play. Goodwood’s cupboards will cost you about R20,000 to R50,000 for the whole lot.

Finding inspiration is key to renovations like this. Goodwood takes special requests, but needs an image or drawing of what you are looking for and a few extra weeks to make it up – so factor that into your renovation timeline.

Shaker doors (a door with an inset) is one way to make your kitchen chic and look expensive.

Counters are another major factor to a home renovation and granite/marble counters can be a huge expense. So look instead for people who supply off cuts or slightly damaged stone. Go for things like Caesarstone or poured concrete tops if your budget is slightly smaller as this will give you the luxurious feel of a stone counter without the outlay of money.

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You could save a small fortune by sourcing off cuts or slightly damaged granite and marble for your counter tops.

Finishes are another important factor to a more DIY-style renovation. Beautiful, unusual handles can add that extra touch to cabinets. Styrofoam crown mouldings when painted look like wood (you can buy these at any Builders Warehouse for about R30 a metre), and wider skirting boards elevate the look. Mix in beautiful light fixtures with down lights and add in some shelving displaying unique pieces to give it that extra bit of personality. Porcelain sinks instead of metal make the feel of the kitchen more lush and expensive, as well as a lovely backsplash. Marble behind your stove as a backsplash or enclosing your extractor with off cuts of wood can make the space feel more like your own and less like a cookie cutter kitchen design.

All it takes is an open mind and a bit of imagination and you can get the kitchen of your dreams for half the cost.


Daniella is an all-round creative working in the realms of social media, advertising and fashion. She loves to bring her keen eye for style and trends to the home and interior landscape as a hobby when she’s not sipping tea or hanging out with her pugs.

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