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Eight kitchen renovation ideas to get a dream kitchen within your budget

Painting kitchen cabinets, replacing your kitchen worktop, plus more tips and tricks to refresh your space

Eight kitchen renovation ideas to get a dream kitchen within your budget

Your kitchen is often the hub of your home, and the knocks of daily life – especially with more cooking, home-schooling and working from home – can leave it looking tired.

Plus, as the days start to get longer and lighter, niggles and knocks you’ve ignored through winter force their way to your attention.

Redesigning, replacing and redecorating your entire kitchen can cost upwards of £10,000 – and often far more.

But there are ways to keep kitchen costs in check and ensure you get the best kitchen design for your budget. Experts and homeowners who have recently redone their kitchen share their tips.


Find out the cost of a new kitchen whether you live in a terrace, semi-detached house or detached house.


1. Look for cheap kitchen cabinets

Buying ex-display or second-hand kitchen cabinets can save you a significant sum. Retailers can offer 50% to 75% off the RRP on ex-display units, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), and they will be barely used.

Second-hand cabinets will also be much cheaper than new, albeit with some wear and tear. Before you buy, check exactly what condition they’re in, including any scuffs, scratches and missing pieces.

Look for well-built, sturdy units for a long-lasting kitchen. The best units are made of durable materials, such as good quality MDF or melamine-faced chipboard (MFC), which don’t scratch easily and have no sharp corners or edges or splinters. They will have drawers and cupboard hinges that close smoothly, and  cabinet doors, drawers and shelves that can withstand heavy use.

We’ve assessed kitchen units from the biggest kitchen companies in our lab to reveal which will best stand up to everyday use. See the best kitchen brands and how we test kitchens.

Couple in a kitchen design showroom

2. Consider kitchen design carefully

If you’re planning a complete kitchen refresh, it’s tempting to reimagine your space with your sink, cooker and units in new places.

Moving your sink and gas appliances – such as the hob or boiler – will add to the cost of your kitchen. So if you’re happy with your current kitchen’s layout, sticking to it will avoid paying to reroute electrics, gas and waste pipes.

You’ll need a gas-safe registered engineer to fit a new gas appliance or move an existing one.

Bigger changes, including new drainage, new electrics or adding a new gas cooker or hob will need Building Regulations approval. Read more in our tips on building regulations for extensions.

Minor electrical work – for example adding a new socket or light switch – doesn’t need Buildings Regulation approval. Check whether your kitchen fitter or builder is capable of doing this.

Use our kitchen planning guide and checklist. 

3. Know how much a new kitchen costs

By reading our kitchen costs guide you can get an idea of the price of a new fitted kitchen and then do your own research.

Our prices are an example, based on average costs gathered by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. The design, materials, brand and more will all impact the exact cost of your kitchen.

So have a clear idea of what you want and approach different brands or local kitchen companies for advice and quotes. We recommend at least three – that way, you’ll get a feel for the going rate for your dream kitchen.

Get itemised quotes so you can see what’s pricey and where you might trade down or up.

Finally, keep in mind that changing your plans can add to costs – for example, if a worktop has been cut to size, extra items need to be ordered or your plans need redrawing.

Grey kitchen cabinets with vintage kitchen door handles

 4. Replace your kitchen cupboards and drawers

Replacing just your cupboard doors and drawers, rather than the whole kitchen, is a good budget-friendly option if your units are still in good shape.

It will give your kitchen a new look and avoid the hassle of a full kitchen refit.

Adding statement handles or knobs to your doors and drawers is another option to make a dated kitchen look fresh.

If you’re buying a new standard-range kitchen, you could dress it up with high-end handles.

See the cost of repairing and replacing kitchen cupboard doors and drawers.

Woman painting kitchen cabinets

5. Try painting kitchen cabinets

A few coats of paint on tired kitchen cabinet fronts is a quick way to transform your room or add a splash of colour.

Cabinets will need several coats of paint, plus you’ll need to prepare them beforehand (usually by sanding them down and washing them to remove dust and grime, then using a primer or undercoat).

Check that the paint is suitable for kitchen cupboards and cabinets before you plan to use it. The type of paint you need will depend on the surface of your kitchen cupboards at the moment. If they’re laminate, look for a specialist multipurpose paint designed for wood, melamine and MDF. For solid wood or wood veneer cabinets, look for interior wood paint.

Buy from the best retailers for home furnishings and DIY.

6. Replace only your kitchen worktops

Fitting new or replacement worktops is another option for dressing up standard units or giving an older kitchen a new lease of life.

It’s not just the material you choose that determines how much your kitchen worktop will cost. Fitting a granite or marble worktop is trickier than a laminate one. so will often cost more to install as well as buy.

Find out how much kitchen worktops cost including laminate, solid oak and granite. 

Kitchen fitters installing a white kitchen

7. Hire reliable kitchen fitters

Choosing an experienced and skilled kitchen fitter is crucial. Take care if you’re choosing a fitter purely because they’re cheap. This could be a false economy if you have to pay more to get problems fixed in the future.

A third of people in our survey who bought a new kitchen in the past 10 years had a problem with it.* Taps, appliances and kitchen doors or hinges were the most common faults.

Plus, we’ve heard from people whose kitchens were so poorly fitted the first time that the job had to be redone.

Some kitchen companies provide in-house fitting services, although you’re not always obliged to use these. If your new kitchen is part of an extension or bigger renovation, then your builder may be happy to fit the kitchen too.

See our tips on hiring a kitchen fitter and find a reliable kitchen fitter near you using Which? Trusted Traders. All traders are vetted and audited to give you confidence in their services.

Person choosing kitchen cupboard paint

8. Consider DIY kitchen options

Fitting your own kitchen will cut the cost of installation. DIY fitting is achievable if you’re competent at DIY, and especially if you’re fitting a like-for-like flat-pack kitchen.

Just 8% of people in our survey* had fitted their own kitchen, so consider whether you’re confident that you’ll be able to complete the job. Otherwise, use Which? Trusted Traders to find a reliable kitchen fitter.

If you’re not confident to install your kitchen, there are still plenty of elements you can do to keep costs in check. Consider these, depending on how skilled and confident you are:

  • Decorating eg painting or papering the walls and ceiling
  • Tiling around the sink or splashbacks
  • Fitting flooring

Removing the old kitchen is a day’s work, according to the FMB, so doing this yourself could save money. You’ll likely to need to pay to hire a skip to dispose of it, while a builder or kitchen fitter would usually include disposal costs in their total price.

*In May and June 2019 we surveyed 2,228 Which? members who bought a new kitchen in the past 10 years.

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