How to make the right decision...


How to make the right decision...

Small Kitchens, Medium Kitchens, Large Kitchens, Custom Kitchens

Thinking about a new kitchen and wondering where you should prioritise your spending? No matter what your budget is – modest or magnificent – there are some areas where you should not compromise. Sadly, for those of us with magpie tendencies, the shiny, pretty things are not what we should focus on.

Whangaparaoa-based kitchen designer Sarah Quinlan says people are often more prepared to spend money on looks. "So, they will cut corners on the quality and longevity of their cupboards, which is foolish."

Quinlan says it's best to prioritise your spending from the ground up. "You can always replace a laminate benchtop after a couple of years, but you can't do that if the cabinets have already fallen apart."

If you have good quality carcasses (the inside bits), you can always upgrade your cupboard doors and drawer fronts when funds allow it. If you do have a reasonable budget, spend money on horizontal surfaces – such as a high-end benchtop – and on feature tapware. But if funds are tight, buy inexpensive versions now and replace them with your dream ones later.

But be warned, not all cabinetry products are the same, even if they look similar. They're available in many different qualities, including particle board, MDF, moisture-resistant MDF and in 16, 18 and 21mm thicknesses. The key is to buy New Zealand-made.

"What lay people don't understand is there are products made in China that look like New Zealand-made Melteca at half the price, but they're nowhere near the same quality. Melteca is a good, moisture-resistant board for internal cabinetry, but some of these other products fall apart at a whiff of moisture," Quinlan says.

Auckland-based interior designer Yvette Jay advises to invest in the best you can afford for your kitchen's working components. "Cabinetry takes a pounding and needs to stand up to it. Pay for good cabinetry, hinges and inserts. Brands such as Blum have beautiful inserts – they're a bit like Aladdin's cave when opening up a drawer."

Jeremy Wyn-Harris of believes the most important elements are the benchtops, flooring and sink, which all get the hardest work-out in your kitchen. "Don't skimp on quality with these items, but go for quality and practicality. And don't overlook Formica benchtops, and also wood, which can be repaired easily."


If you're renovating and looking to save money, there is some merit in trying to repurpose and upcycle. People involved with selling kitchens will most likely tell you that you need to start afresh, with new cabinetry and a new benchtop. "This is sometimes good advice, but their opinion is not unbiased," says Quinlan.

Wyn-Harris says it is often possible to reuse cabinetry, which can be refreshed with new paint. He also says, in light of the high cost of new appliances, it also pays to ask the question, "Do I really need to replace my oven, refrigerator, dishwasher or rangehood?". "New appliances may be something you don't need right now, but can introduce further down the track."

He says there is huge money to be saved in not shifting the position of key appliances and plumbing. "Don't shift things around if you don't have to."

Original Article published on Stuff