Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Kitchen upgrade ideas - By Alex

Affordable ways to upgrade an outdated kitchen

It’s officially that time of year: the festive season has ended, family and friends have gone, and your home looks likes a war zone. If your house is anything like ours, the kitchen seems to have sustained the bulk of the collateral damage. The worst part of the whole situation? The holidays have left a major dent in your wallet. But now is not the time for despair, because I’ve compiled a list of some of the easiest and most affordable ways to do a kitchen upgrade.

Sometimes remodeling your kitchen in true Fixer Upper style is the only option. But don’t think budget constraints mean that not much is possible. Here are a few simple tricks you can use to make the most of your kitchen upgrade.

Easy fixes

One of the easiest, and cleverest, ways to make your kitchen look like new is to reorganise your drawer, cupboard, and counter space. You’ll be amazed at what a little bit of de-cluttering and stacking can do. The best part? It costs you nothing.

Once you’ve organized your drawers, take your de-cluttering to the next level by tidying away small appliances and thoroughly cleaning work and storage surfaces.

Update your kitchen’s tired walls with inexpensive but bold modern art prints or family photos. Just choose your favorite, add a frame, and hang on the wall for an instant lift.

Next, stage your kitchen with a fresh cut bouquet of flowers, a bowl of fruit, or some homemade cakes or cookies and you’re all set.

Cosmetic changes

For kitchens that need more than a basic face lift, here are a few money saving projects that won’t cost an arm and a leg but will make your kitchen look brand-new.

A coat of paint can do wonders for any room in your house, but this is particularly true in the kitchen. Choose a neutral color that will go well with appliances and cupboards, and make sure your paint is of the highest quality so it will last longer.

Give your range a fresh new look with a shiny new oven hood If you shop smart, you don’t have to spend a lot of money here.

Change out your rusty old kitchen taps for a shiny new model. Bonus points if you choose one with an extendable hose!

It really is amazing what new lighting can do for a room. Switch out your old, outdated lighting fixtures and install something new and exciting over your worktops and dining table — and while you’re at it, make sure to use energy-saving LED bulbs.

If your kitchen cabinets and drawers are looking worse for wear but you can’t afford to replace them entirely, just change out the knobs and handles. These can be purchased at any home improvement store, so choose any style you like.

DIY/remodeling projects

Sometimes home improvement projects are about more than simply updating tired surfaces and fixtures. If you want to really get stuck in to your kitchen remodel, choose a DIY project where you can purchase your own materials and save on labour costs.

With a little extra time and a little bit more cash, you can replace your old cabinet doors with newer models without completely gutting your kitchen. If you don’t have the time, try re-staining the existing doors to give them new life.

Add a moveable island to larger kitchens to increase worktop and storage space. This will also completely change the feel of a room. Either buy one or make your own, if you’re itching for a full-on hands-on project.

Give your backsplashes a new lease on life with new adhesive tiles. Much cheaper than their stone, marble, and glass counterparts. Plus, adhesive tiles are inexpensive and very simple to install. Just make sure you’ve got your level handy.

Splurges

If for some strange reason you find yourself with a sudden windfall of spending money, your kitchen upgrade would definitely benefit from a few splurges such as new appliances and flooring. While this is not an affordable renovation solution, if you shop around during post holiday sales, you can find reasonable deals on these large but important purchases.


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Bathroom cabinetry - By Alex

Affordable ways to upgrade an outdated bathroom

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You go to take a shower with the bathroom you have — not the bathroom you might want or wish to have at a later time. How happy are you with your current master bathroom? This should be your oasis; an escape from the drudgery of your workday, and a place to sink into soothing bubbles with a glass of wine and mellow tunes pouring from your iPod.

That can’t happen in a bathroom that is dingy, dank and depressing.

Are you ready to upgrade your outdated bathroom? Here are some affordable ways to make your restroom truly restful.

1. Buy used or imperfect

In a perfect world, you could be replacing your basin, countertop, tub, shower and even toilet. That can end up being an expensive proposition if you buy everything brand spanking new. Instead, be smart about your fixture purchases. Start with a secondhand shop; you might just discover a few used items that are in good condition.

As for your granite or marble counter tops, think imperfection. There will be many slabs of stone that are deemed imperfect because of minor discoloration. These slabs are also less expensive than pristine pieces. Suppose those imperfections are actually around the areas you’re going to cut out or place fixtures? You might not even see the problems, but could end up saving a bundle.

2. Bring in the heat

How many times have you gone into a cold bathroom and had your toes nearly encased in frostbite from the tile flooring? Maybe it’s not that severe, but it’s still a discomfort that diminishes your ideal bathroom. If you’re going to replace tiles with affordable options, you might want to consider adding propane heating for the floor. Utilizing propane for heat can actually save on energy bills. You won’t need to blast the whole house with heat when you just want a warm bathroom. Plus, this is an upgrade feature that can add significant value to your home.

3. Grout again

The grout around your tub, shower and basin could be looking a bit grimy. A great and affordable improvement is to scrape it up and lay down a clean line of new caulk. It’s a perfect way to freshen up the bathroom, especially if you’re not going to swap out the tub or basin.

4. Think green

As long as you’re upgrading, you might want to think green with regard to your toilet and shower head. Low-flow is the way to go, and it will help you save money on your water bill. Just remember to also check your water regulator, which is where your water is piped into the house. Lowering the pressure from that point will also not only save you money by reducing water flow, it will also protect your pipes.

5. New cabinetry

Sometimes cabinets in the bathroom can warp and expand due to excess moisture in the air. This can really look ugly! You can opt for brand new ones in a more modern finish, but you can also just replace the doors and handles. Get creative! Use glass or mirror, or a bright accent colour to uplift the spirit of any old bathroom.

6. When in doubt, repaint

Finally, the most affordable way to redo a bathroom is to give it a fresh coat of paint. Two things to avoid:

  • the color white
  • any paint that isn’t a high-quality satin finish

When repainting a bathroom, you want to take extra care to tape off all the areas you’ll need to paint around. That high-quality satin finish will also be a good protection against mold or mildew, as it tends to repel moisture.

As for the color palette, you have a wide world of choices that can provide a splash of personality for your bathroom. White is OK, but it’s also very sterile and, some may say, boring. Express yourself!

 

Once your bathroom upgrade is complete, make sure you take some time to enjoy it all — because it’s a safe bet that the kitchen will be next!


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5 Things to know before you attempt a kitchen renovation

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If you sometimes have trouble deciding what to make for dinner, a kitchen renovation can feel paralyzing. But listen up: It doesn’t really matter much which backsplash tiles or tap you choose. As long as you get the big stuff right, you’ll be thrilled with your new kitchen.

These five rules will help you get the best result at the right price.

1. Keep your outlay in sync with your home

To avoid over-improving, it’s a good idea to cap your kitchen renovation budget at 15% of your home’s value. For budgeting purposes, figure about 30% on cabinets; 14% on appliances; 10% on counter tops; 5% on lighting; 4% on plumbing fixtures; 2% to 3% on paint; 1% to 2% on tiles, and 35% on construction costs, such as windows, flooring, and labour.

2. It pays to pay for your design

There’s no such thing as a free lunch—or a free plan for renovating the place where you prepare lunch. While the designers at home centres, kitchen stores, and cabinet shops won’t charge you a fee, they aren’t working for free. Their paycheques come from the retailer or manufacturers of the products they’re selling, which limits your choices. What’s more, in-store designers, especially those working at home centres, tend to be relatively inexperienced with actual renovation work.

Since your project will only be as good as its design, skip the freebies and hire a qualified designer without any conflicts of interest. Expect to pay 3 to 10 % of your project costs for design—a fair price for a design that really works.

3. You can expand the kitchen without busting the budget

Unless your house was built within the last few decades, your kitchen is almost certainly undersized. If you’re doing a major renovation (in other words, tearing things out and starting over), now is the time to expand the kitchen; here’s how to do it affordably.

  • Steal space. By repurposing square footage from an adjacent hallway or a no-longer-needed chimney, closet, or patio, you can expand your kitchen at perhaps half the per-square-foot costs of an addition. Exactly how much you’ll pay depends on the project and location, but you’ll probably pay a whole lot less for a renovation than you would for building new.
  • Open the floor plan. Even if you don’t expand the kitchen at all, you can make it feel much bigger by taking down a wall and creating an open floor plan between the kitchen and adjacent dining, family, or living room.
  • Bump out. If you need to expand, you may be able to add a two-foot extension along one whole side of the kitchen by hanging it off the house like a bay window rather than putting it on a foundation. That could save you several thousand rand compared with a full-fledged addition.

4. To cut costs, hold on to what works

You can slash the price tag for any kitchen renovation by limiting how much of the old kitchen you replace. Keeping original windows is a great way to save costs. Keeping the original wood floor hiding underneath all of those layers of linoleum and vinyl could also save you money. And simply keeping the plumbing fixtures and appliances in the same locations likely means you can reuse existing plumbing, saving you money too.

5. Stay skin deep if you’re moving anytime soon

If you expect to put your house on the market within a decade, skip the expensive renovation and go for a cosmetic upgrade instead. You can have old cabinets painted for refaced with a new wood veneer and new doors and drawer fronts made. New taps and fresh cabinet hardware are great ways to upgrade; and even replacing Formica counter tops with granite is a great idea.

 

Whatever your renovation job, big or small, we’ve got all the tools to craft you the upgrade or the rebuild of your dreams. Contact us for an obligation free quotation.


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by-alex-kitchen-planning

7 Practical things to remember when planning your kitchen

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The kitchen is the heart of every home. It’s where birthday cakes are decorated, Sunday night’s roasts are carved, Christmas lunch is served and where all the best family secrets are spilled! But what good is a kitchen if it is not practical? When it comes to renovating a kitchen, people worry too much about the aesthetic, and not enough about the functionality. From the placement of your bin, to the overhang of your breakfast bar, here are some practical things to keep in mind when designing your kitchen.

1. A breakfast bar overhang

Kitchen islands with bar stools are must-have commodities in modern kitchens. These breakfast bars are the perfect way to separate the living area from the kitchen, while maintaining an open living environment. Parents can cook dinner and keep one eye on their kids as they do homework, and friends can sit and have a glass of wine while their hosts cook. If you are planning to include a breakfast bar in your kitchen, ensure you include an overhang on your island. This will provide legroom for those sitting on the bar stools.

2. Close dishwasher and sink placement

If you wish to avoid dripping food and grease on the floor, place the dishwasher within arms reach of the sink. That way, when you rinse the excess food off plates, you can place them straight in the dishwasher. Otherwise you will have to travel across the kitchen dripping dirty water as you go, and I am yet to meet anyone who enjoys mopping the kitchen floor! It is also important to place the dishwasher by the sink in order to connect the dishwasher plumbing to the drain and taps.

3. Bin location

The kitchen bin is not only used for food scraps and packaging. More often than not, it is used for everyday household rubbish that is collected around the house. For this reason, it is useful to place the bin at a point in the kitchen that is easily accessible from the rest of the house. I suggest placing it on the end of the bench or island, closest to the kitchen entrance. That way, you can simply throw something in the bin as you walk past, rather than walk into the kitchen and get in the way of the chef! As for a compost bin that you can keep as close to your food prep area as possible.

4. Dishwasher location

Designing the layout of a kitchen is a little like solving a Rubik’s Cube. Earlier, I mentioned that you should always place the dishwasher near the sink for plumbing reasons. Well, with that in mind, you should not install your dishwasher next to a wall. This will greatly limit your access to the dishwasher and make it very difficult to pack and unpack, as you will only be able to access it from one side.

5. Power points in the cupboards

Gone are the days of storing your toaster and kettle on the kitchen bench. The trend these days is to hide your appliances away in a cupboard. To this end, you need to ensure you plan for electric sockets to be installed inside your cupboards, so your appliances can actually be plugged in. I would suggest installing more than one double socket, as we are using more and more appliances these days. The humble toaster and kettle don’t cut it anymore – we have coffee machines, mix-masters and food processors. So install two double sockets so you can have all your appliances on the go!

6. Adequate lighting

The kitchen is the most likely room for accidents to occur, and it’s no wonder! Hot plates, sharp knives, and gas stoves can all be household hazards. It is for this reason that good lighting is essential in the kitchen. Consider a combination of ceiling lights, under-cabinet lights and pendant lights. Down lights provide general lighting in the room and illuminate the entire space. Pendant lights, on the other hand, provide more focused light. If you have benches underneath hanging cupboards, you might also like to consider under-cabinet lights. This will ensure those dark corners will also be illuminated. Above all, think about where you are going to need light at all hours of the day. Stay up late with friends? Choose dimmable lighting over the dining area. Cook on the island bench? Choose task lighting to shine directly on your prep zone.

BONUS TIP: When installing pendant lights, ensure you position them so the light falls in front of the food preparation area, rather than behind, as this will cast shadows over your workspace.

7. Space between counters

When designing a kitchen, it is recommended to leave a minimum of 1000mm of floor space between your two bench tops. This will allow room for you to open drawers and cupboards, as well as stand in front of your dishwasher when it is fully opened.

Alex’s passion for detail will ensure that your new kitchen ticks all the boxes and more, leaving you free and inspired to unleash your inner masterchef!


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