11 kitchen design tips and tricks

Subscribe to our channel

5 min readIf you’re building or renovating a house, as the hub and heart of every modern Australian home the kitchen is something that you can’t afford to get wrong.

Whether you’re flipping a property or selling your own home the condition and design of the kitchen can affect the property’s value significantly. According to Movewithus a new kitchen can add around 6 per cent to the value of a home.

Before jumping headfirst into a kitchen renovation, it’s very important to set a budget and to make sure you stick to it with careful planning and smart spending. Cherie Barber, creator of Renovating for Profit, says ‘you don’t want to spend more than two per cent of the value of the property on the kitchen remodel’ as a good budgeting guide.

11 tips and tricks to help you cook up an amazing kitchen:

1. Create the kitchen work triangle. When planning the lay out of the kitchen think about making the ‘work triangle’. Put simply, you want to plan your kitchen layout to have the sink, fridge and cooktop forming a triangle with no more than 1.8m or so between each for ease of access and movement as you prepare meals.

2. Timeless colour palette. When completing your colour selection for tiles, paint, cabinetry and finishes opt for a neutral and non-polarising palette that won’t date easily. Use light natural colours in the kitchen to help make it feel light and bright, and more spacious.

75E Burradoo Road, Burradoo, NSW.


3. Opt for an open plan. Nowadays open floor plans are in high demand. They improve the flow of the home and as a bonus let in more natural light. So if you’re renovating an older home you may consider knocking out a non-load bearing wall to open up and extend the kitchen, meals and dining areas to make a more open and functional living space.

4. Durable finishes. Regardless of your budget, it is crucial to select durable surfaces that are easy to maintain for the high traffic work space of a kitchen. If you have a tight budget go for the more affordable option of granite or engineered CaesarStone benchtops and glass splashbacks. With a bigger budget, add some wow factor with a Carrara marble benchtop, waterfall island bench and splashback. Note that grout between kitchen floor and wall tiles is hard to clean and maintain, and stainless steel benches scratch very easily. Both finishes you should avoid for longevity in the kitchen.

15 Seacombe Grove, Brighton, VIC.


5. Quality appliances. Nothing dates a kitchen as badly as old, nasty and ill-fitting appliances. So if you’re kitchen units, sink and surfaces are in good nick, the best way to quickly refresh the space is to get a new oven, cooktop, fridge and dishwasher. Always ensure the appliances fit comfortably into the allotted spaces, go for quality well-known brands so they can be repaired and serviced if needed, and select quiet and energy efficient models where possible. These are all things that potential buyers will be on the look out for when it comes time to sell.

6. Maximise storage. You want to make use of every nook and cranny of available space in your kitchen. Maximise space by making overhead cupboards stretch right to the ceiling. Get a lot of deep pot drawers under benches for quick access to utensils, food wrap, containers, dishes, pots and pans. Also make sure you make room for all those little appliances (think toaster, kettle and blender) so you can tuck them out of sight when you’re not using them. Don’t forget to make a space for your microwave.

169 Were Street, Brighton, VIC.


7. Task lighting. When planning your electrical layout consider that you will need sufficient lighting to ensure you have a safe well lit preparation area. More often than not overhead lighting isn’t enough in a kitchen, as this can cast shadows over your workspace. We recommend adding under cabinet lighting, pendants over island benches, LEDs in your wall cabinets and getting range hoods with good lighting. For extra handy hints check out our Kitchen Lighting Guide.

8. Add a butler’s pantry. If you’re lucky enough to have the space and the budget to create an entertainer’s dream kitchen, be sure to add in a butler’s pantry. Consider adding an extra sink, wine racks, a bar fridge, dishwasher and cooktop to the butler’s pantry, so you can prep food in peace and keep all your small appliances and mess out of the line of sight while entertaining. Go for open shelving to the ceiling to keep costs down. Add a space-saving cavity sliding door so you can easily close off the mess.

20 Island Point Road, Port Douglas, QLD.


9. Rubbish ideas. Don’t forget to plan for the practical elements everyone needs and uses everyday in a kitchen, like rubbish bins. You could go for cleverly concealed separate rubbish receptacles for landfill and recycling waste in hidden drawers or under the sink, or select a sleek no-touch stainless steel bin with an automatic sensor (try alwaysdirect.com.au).

10. Fab fittings. Add some new cabinet, door and drawer handles to instantly update your kitchen. There are many styles and materials out there to cater to every taste and kitchen vision. Luxe metallics, including gold, copper and bronze are right on trend at the moment. Also think about replacing outdated or shabby tapware with a modern functional design. Extendable taps and flip mixers are both practical and chic options.

19A 19C/21 Thornton Street, Darling Point, NSW.


11. Flooring. Engineered timber flooring is a great option for a kitchen because it not only looks great, but is durable, low-maintenance, works well for open plan designs, is timeless and adds warmth to any room. For a tight budget check out vinyl flooring. Vinyl is a breeze to clean, cushy under foot and stain and water-proof. Carpet Court have some good timber-look vinyls.

Happy house hunting!

Share this article

Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner is the Marketing Manager at arguably Australia’s best looking real estate website homely.com.au. With a superb devotion to product innovation, user-centred design and innovative marketing platforms for real estate agents, homely.com.au helps millions of Australians find their next home.

Similar articles

Find the
latest properties
to hit the market

Over 300,000 properties to choose from in the Homely app for iPhone and Android.

The best way to find homes!”
-Homely app reviewer

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play


Homely is an internationally acclaimed real estate portal helping millions of Australians each year to find their next home for sale or for rent. Check out our suburb reviews and local Q&A pages to see what everyone is talking about.

Subscribe to our newsletter

For the latest articles and updates, sign up here!

We'd like to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this blog leave a comment below and share it with your friends. Please respect the public forum and refrain from posting any expletives or hateful comments as they will be removed. We're always on the look out for guest bloggers and would like to receive your feedback, so feel free to get in touch at [email protected].


  1. I enjoyed this blog greatly, with certain reservations; I am a great believer in the ‘work triangle’ – unfortunately it is often ignored by designers (many of whom, I suspect, have never worked in a kitchen!) and the two examples in your blog from Brighton homes illustrate an abandonment of this principle – both triumphs of form over function!

    My pet hate is sinks in islands (particularly in the centre!), and yet they are everywhere. I hate them because guests always gather around the island, and who wants to gather round dirty dishes or washing up? The island should either be a prep area, or preferably have a cooktop set into it (ideally induction), although one then has to provide for smoke and steam extraction. Cooking in front of your guests and being able to talk to them face to face is wonderful! There is little worse than a host who promptly turns their back on guests to attend to cooking on a wall attached cooktop. The Darling Point kitchen looks reasonable at first sight, until you realise that what appears to be an induction cooktop in the island has no extraction over it – another triumph of form over function!

    Two of the kitchens above illustrate my second pet hate: Ovens below bench height. Bending down to put things into a hot oven or taking them out – or to keep an eye on cooking – is completely unnecessary these days and an evil perpetrated by non-cooks on cooks!

    So here are my ‘rules’ for a good (working!) kitchen design:
    1) Try for a small work triangle
    2) Benchtops at 930mm – even for short cooks! – 930 allows you to prep food at a height that is better for your back – and a sink in a 930 benchtop will allow people of most heights to touch the bottom of the sink without bending their backs (the ‘gold’ standard for bench height).
    3) All ovens against a wall and the bottom of any oven no lower than 700mm and the top no higher than 1700mm. If you are concerned that lowering an oven door at that height will be awkward for shorter cooks, buy an oven with a sideways opening door. (And that old acorn about not having ovens next to fridges is just that – an old acorn).
    4) No main sinks in the centre of islands – just put your cooktop there and have an extractor above it (bottom of extractor no lower than 1700mm to avoid obstructing vision)
    5) Integrated waste bins in cupboards directly below the main prep bench.
    6) For REAL luxury, fit an under bench fridge drawer near your cooktop – for all those ‘refrigerate after opening’ spices, sauces and condiments that otherwise fill your main fridge.

    These ‘rules’ are not ridiculously restrictive, and make for a kitchen that not only looks good, but works good!

    [email protected]

  2. Thank you for the tips and feedback Jolyon Bone. Some great points there! I have to agree with you, I don’t like having sinks on an island bench either. Nobody wants all their guests looking at a dirty sink. I think my dream kitchen would have a ‘display’ sink in an island bench, then a functional sink tucked out of the line of sight in the butler’s pantry.

  3. My husband and I are remodeling our kitchen. Thanks for the advice about doing a durable finish on your surfaces. I’ll have to see about finding a company to do glass splashback finishes. Hopefully, I can get my kitchen planned and finished so that it will last a long time.

  4. Thanks! I learned a lot from this blog. My mom is really bugging me to help her do some major makeover with her old kitchen. DIY’s don’t fit well with me, so we ended up contacting Michael Nash Kitchens, a design-build organization. We worked with them for a few weeks’ time and the results were more than satisfactory.

  5. I like your tip to plan for practical elements like rubbish bins. I once lived in a house with a very modern kitchen that had no space for a rubbish bin, and it was aggravating. When I design my own kitchen I’ll make sure I have room for all of the little things that a kitchen needs.

  6. Hi,,,
    Thanks for sharing
    Very informative article but let me know one thing-
    How can we know the <a href=https://kitchen-right.com/blogs/Kitchen-Designers/20> kitchen designers</a> that will get us to the kitchen of our dreams?

  7. Hmmm..firstly I like old fashioned farm kitchens..lots of timber and colour. I like warmth..a kitchen while functional is also a hearth..where people chat while you cook. I personally dislike the modern minimalist kichen…and why have a butlers kitchen with double cleaning ..that is what a kitchen is for. If you clean as you cook you always have a neat kitchen..train children to put things away.
    Sorry for comments..beauriful kitchens just not for me!

  8. Thank you for the tip to have cabinets and cupboards reach all the way to the ceiling. I’d like to get our kitchen redesigned sometime this year. It’d be nice to have updated, fancy cabinetry and counters.

  9. Hi Larissa, These are great tips. I like your idea of using a palette of Timeless colors. I am also a fan of natural light colors because, as you have said, it makes your place brighter and more spacious. I strongly recommend using light colors if you have a narrow space.

    Also, Most people don’t pay enough attention to how they allocate or use cupboard space, but this is one of the key details that give a kitchen design that professional touch. Your cupboard layout should be organized according to how you use the space. Situate items that you commonly use together near to each other.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here