top tips for designing your kitchen

Well next week my lovely kitchen guy Michael is coming over to measure up and design the new kitchen. I’m just a little bit exciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiited!  And I have a few things to do before he comes over. So I thought I would share what it’s important to think about when you start designing your own kitchen. You’ll find my kitchen pinterest board here.

Above is the kitchen I’m living with…I do love my windows. No window changing required. And below is the kitchen we left………..which had been 2 rooms and an ensuite bathroom before we changed it all. And sold. And moved house. As you do when your 5th baby is on the way. I know some people couldn’t believe we were selling up and moving but a new project (or two) is always exciting.

1. have your style and design in mind and in front of you

Thank goodness for pinterest. There are lots of magazines out there but there is no point me picking up a magazine on the latest trends in kitchens because my taste is classic and I would need a more traditional kitchen magazine. The latest issue of home beautiful had a couple of great ideas in there but really pinterest is my best friend. Oh and if you love classic kitchens then take a look at some US and UK country magazines for inspiration.

2. know your kitchen layout and find designs that will work with your layout

Even when we had a builder involved and moved the last kitchen from the front to the back of the house, you still need to work with what you’ve got or what you’re creating. Windows, doors and walls will determine where things go and how long your island, cupboards will be and where you want appliances to go. Just put lots of terms into pinterest and see how you go. I found the exact same layout as I’m working towards on pinterest here.

3. pick out your appliances

Now you might just need a rough idea of what you want. When you meet the designer he’ll ask what fridge and oven are you going with. Because they need to know how wide the fridge space will be, do you want a dish drawer dishwasher or a freestanding. What kind of oven did you have in mind? I’ve learnt from last time and will be picking out the fridge size and having those dimensions on hand. It saves time and makes things easy. Plus there can a lot of decisions when it comes to cupboard finish, colour, handles, tap and sink so get the stuff out of the way like oven and fridge and dishwasher first.

I’ll be going for an electric freestanding oven. We don’t have gas in the house and as much as I’d love a gas oven I’m not going to connect up from the street just for the kitchen. I never know how long we’ll be in a house and cough cough since this is our 4th home that we’ve purchased I’m just keeping it simple and within budget. Dishwasher will be a freestanding one but tucked into a space next to the sink and fridge will be a double door french door. Now that I’ve been up to look at fridges and fell in love with this Samsung number.

4. Know your budget

Now sometimes it’s a bit chicken and the egg. When we started this process at our last house we didn’t even have a ballpark for the renovation or the cost. So sometimes you need the quote to set your budget. I think we initially thought it would cost half of what the last kitchen cost us. We underestimated building costs and also flooring. So have a rough idea in your head which might be determined by your savings, loan amount or what the quotes are coming in by or what people are saying. I remember a friend saying how much she thought it would cost and she was right. that amount was always at the back of my mind.

5. Don’t be swayed

There is no point me being talked into a modern kitchen or a dark cupboard choice or an $8k freestanding cream oven. I know my budget, taste and I know how I want my kitchen to look. It’s easy to be tempted by flash and fancy but I do think stick to what you want and what your budget is. I actually keep things pretty simple. Buy an oven on sale rather than be stuck on a brand, I don’t need fancy cupboards or lots of fancy fittings inside them. I need basic white cabinetry, a big island, caesarstone benchtops, room for all my appliances and platters and stuff (I have a lot of kitchen stuff) and I will get the hamptons look and a luxurious feel with a good sink, tap and cabinet handles.

6. It’s ok to stress over the little things

I seriously lost sleep over the finish of the tap. Not the exact tap, I knew that but did I want chrome, stainless steel, pewter or so on. It was ridiculous. In the end I loved the tap. Loved it and it was a great decision. I found it a huge help to go back to my inspiration pictures and pinterest and think about the overall look I was going for. This time around I’m already stressing over the oven as I’m not loving the cooktops on the electric freestanding ovens. But we don’t have gas.

7. Ask your other half

I did our last kitchen pretty much on my own as retro daddy gave me free reign. This time I asked what he wanted – turns out he wants a white butlers sink instead of a stainless steel one, doesn’t want a wine fridge, wants lots of storage for me, wants me to have a big clearout before I move back into the new kitchen and the rest is up to me. If your other half has big ideas on the kitchen make sure they have a big plan/ idea of how they want it to look. Talk a bit of sense if they are going off on a tangent, remind them of budget (I actually don’t need to be reminded of budgets in kitchen renovation land because I rule the spreadsheet and know it’s a tight one). And sit him down on pinterest or with home magazines. Hopefully you’ll be on the same page.

8. Don’t forget lots of power points

I didn’t put enough power points into my last kitchen. Put one on either side of your oven if you’re going for a freestanding. Put one in your pantry to hide your microwave. Put one or two at each end of your island. I was so worried about the design and look of the kitchen that I had to swap over my kitchen aid anytime I wanted to use it. So don’t skimp on them!

9. Have a good think about flooring

Some flooring like hardwood or a floating floor will go in first and the kitchen cabinets will go on top. Other types of flooring can go down after your kitchen is put in. Have a good idea of the flooring you will be using and pricing and ask your kitchen person for advice and timing. They will tell you whether you need to put the flooring in first or the other way around. It’s also a good time to ask about timing. For our last kitchen we got a fabulous timeline and everything ran smoothly and everyone was co-ordinated by the kitchen company.

10. HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The designing is the fun bit! There is no dust or noise or old kitchens being thrown out of your windows………..yet. So enjoy this part. Take as long as you need. If you have a tight budget but expensive taste then visit a few showrooms, check out the realestate section and just gather your inspiration and make the internet your best friend to find the best options.

I will tell you what isn’t fun…………..looking at kitchen appliances with 5 kids! We all needed 2 big plates of hot chips afterwards to recover.


  1. Hi Corrie,

    I remember the hassles you had with your appliances from a certain large retailer. Lots of us recommended AppliancesOnline which is the online version of Winning Appliances. I’ve recommended them to several people since. They have all been as happy with them as I was. Great prices, good service, free delivery. Pleasant people to deal with. And more. No, I get nothing from them but am a very satisfied customer. Other commenters also suggested them.

  2. Just remembered these people too. Good prices and service again but I think you pay for delivery. Appliances online are similar prices but free delivery. I see designer homeware is also now at Chatswood which you may prefer to Camperdown.

  3. Nichola says:

    I have a french door Electrolux which I do really love…however, there are a few things that are annoying that I thought you may be interested in. The main one being that unless you close the door(s) (one or both depending on what you’ve opened) properly, that is, with a push, they don’t close and you end up walking away and the fridge beeps at you 10 seconds later to go back and close the door. The beeping, whilst annoying, is good because those doors constantly don’t get closed properly. Consider where your fridge is situated in the kitchen as mine has a wall on one side, I can’t fully open the french doors and take advantage of that full width if you have a large platter or something. If it wasn’t against a wall it would be alot better. I do love the look of it though, lol!

    • thank you! need to hear these things as I’m building the cabinetry around the fridge

      • Georgia Murphy says:

        I have the LG french door and the door thing is a pain to always think its closed then it beeps at you when your all comfy in front of the telly and I still don’t think it holds anymore than my old single door that was physically much smaller.

  4. Love the vision you have Corrie! We have a Samsung fridge and I will never ever buy another Samsung fridge (or product) as we’ve had endless trouble and wouldn’t you know it, happens just outside of the extended warranty! What happened to fridges lasting and lasting like they used to? Thankfully, the 18yr old fridge in our garage has never missed a beat!

    • ahhhhhh good to hear. I feel the same way about fisher & paykel as ours has been hopeless and keeps freezing up on me! driving me nuts!

    • Not happened to me personally but LG fridges have broken down just out of warranty for about 6 of my friends. Mine’s an Electrolux, just over two years and I’m happy with that. To me, two years is really still brand new but I know things don’t last as they used to.

  5. We’re doing our kitchen in our new extension and our tastes are very similar! Pinterest and Provincial (Clovelly) Kitchens have been my inspiration! I too chose all my appliances first – went to Winnings. We got this sink on sale. We move into our new house in October so I’ll send you some pics! Happy kitchen designing!

    • Oh yes how good is provincial kitchens! they are a huge inspiration too. well done and can’t wait to see pics and YES PLEASE SHARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  6. We don’t have gas in the street (am in the same suburb as you Corrie) so a couple of years ago we replaced our electric ceramic cooktop with an induction one & haven’t looked back. It responds to heat setting changes just like gas. Although I did have to buy all new cookware but with originals bought from Kmart 18 years beforehand it was no biggy. Also, our fridge is a F&P left by the previous owners & we’ve been here 12 years now so I guess we’ve been lucky although a nice new modern one wouldn’t go astray.

    • that’s great to know Sandy! The oven I love is an induction cook top so hoping I can get it over the line (budget wise). I was put off by the fact I just bought all new saucepans from Tupperware but I think it would look and work better. Great to hear you love it…….neighbour:) :)


  7. I cannot recommend Induction highly enough. We went back from induction to gas when we moved and it’s the one thing I miss from our old house.
    Also we had an electrolux fridge and it was amazing. I think it was also the biggest fridge on the market at 690 litres. Very good. Wish we could have fitted it into the space at the new house.

  8. Your kitchen is the EXACT kitchen we had growing up, please tell me there is carpet on the floor?!

    Can’t wait to see your new kitchen.

    xo em

    • Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, when we first saw it they had orange rugs all over it with arm chairs and a smaller table. I must dig up a photo of it. We now have peeling lino, they had the rugs down to hide the peeling lino. It’s been a special kitchen but definitely time to say goodbye to the 70’s!

  9. I’m with Amalia…love my induction cooktop! We have been renovating our kitchen and nearly finished (yay) and went with induction cooktop and fan forced oven and so pleased with it! We went with Naturastone (same as caesarstone but different co.) its an off white with flecks through it! looking forward to watching your kitchen come together, as I did with your previous one:)

    • oh that sounds lovely!!! I have heard of naturastone, sounds like a lovely kitchen. I will look into the induction. Sounds good, it’s always hard when you go to the shop and you’re not prepared for learning about something new. It was all a bit much when he started talking induction

  10. Son has induction stove top in his rented apartment and loves it. His brother had induction installed when the technology was new. He needed to get new cookware then, but it seems that now many types are suitable for newer induction tops. Your new pots and pans may be OK. It is really good for long, slow simmering etc.

  11. Luv retro daddy he always looks so chilled out in all the photos.

  12. virginia says:

    Love induction here, too. So quick and easy to clean. Our other option was gas cooktop with freestanding cylinders outside – that run out! So glad we didn’t go that way. Half my saucepans were still ok, the rest had to go to a new home. I was told if a magnet sticks to the bottom of your pans then they will work on induction. It worked for me. Try it with your Tupperware ones. Good luck )))

    • I see where you’re coming from Virginia, but we went with the gas cooktop and cylinders, and in all the years we’ve had them, we’ve never run out! That just never happens. And we live in a rural environment! That cooktop is in constant use as we prefer to have a hob kettle over an electrical one. Also, the rising costs in electricity in Qld would make it impractical for us to rely on electrical cooking appliances, for the most part. The only drawback is the cleaning! But then again, with the ILVE, we simply put the parts into the dishwasher periodically, sans dishwasher powder, and voila! Minimal fuss required for outstanding quality. Cheers. H :)

  13. Just a few thoughts on the Samsung French Door. We bought one just before Christmas and the Compressor failed within 3 months. Dealing with Samsung was a nightmare – overseas call centres, no returned phone calls and empty promises!! In the end, I had to vent on their facebook page to get a response and the whole situation ended up being resolved by Harvey Norman. Long story short, we returned the fridge for a full refund and bought an LG Double Door Fridge with ice and water in its place. The french door concept looked and sounded good in the show room but the doors not closing properly was a major issue as well as having to “dive” into the deep freezer door was not practical. It was difficult to see what was in the bottom of the drawer and you had to continually pack and repack the contents. The middle deli drawer (while it seemed like a good idea) was less practical once we started using it. The LG by comparison has been a dream. Good Luck!!!

    • Thank you! So great to hear honest opinions! we’ve had dramas with our fisher & paykel and so glad we can get a new one!!!!


      • Corrie. We’ve had drama with our Fisher & Paykel too. I’ve been told that they’re marginally better than the LGs, so I would definitely not go that way when we replace this. I was also looking at the French Door option, but having read Sandie’s account of the whole french door concept thing, I’m going to have to revisit other options. Not good. I prefer American fridges, but they’re becoming harder to source these days. Sadly. Our old Maytag is still going strong, and now lives in my daughter’s kitchen! Hx

  14. Hi Corrie. Our gas isn’t connected from the street either. This freed us up to make the best kitchen decision ever! We invested in a free-standing ILVE cooker with an electric oven and gas hob – the best of both worlds, imo! Our gas hob is in constant use and we have two free-standing gas bottles located downstairs, next to the house that feed the hob. The last time we had a delivery was months ago – too long for even me to remember! 😉 So, if you’re looking for the perfect solution to your dilemma, I’d go with the same system. It works a treat. Good luck with the newbie kitchen. Cheers, Heather (Brissy) xo

  15. We don’t have natural gas either but I don’t have any problems with the gas bottles, very economical. I also opted for a cool room instead of a fridge this time and I LOVE IT. It has the capacity of 12 normal fridges but cost no more to run. In fact, we had a guy from the energy commission check our house for power efficiency and he was very impressed with the cool room. It cost us about $5000 and is about 2m square. The only down side to it is that i have to vacuum it cause the dirt tends to get tracked in, but i have a mat outside and also inside which helps. Food and drinks keep for longer too and I keep everything in it instead of the pantry. This would be a great option for a large family.

    • ohhhh I did a retreat at a house with a cool room! fabulous! wanted to instagram and take lots of photos of it! so impressive. I’m jealous!!!! sounds like you have a great kitchen set up

    • I’m so intrigued! 😀 I’m going to do some Googling to check it out….maybe Instagram for more pics too. Thanks for the info. Hx

  16. I really, really appreciated this post Corrie. We are renovating and are starting to think about the kitchen. I was thinking about a Hampdens style kitchen and hubby loves it, so – yay! – one major decision made! Thanks also for sharing your pins – sooooo helpful when showing the designer what we would like.

    • oh my pleasure:) happy to help! I found it harder to find traditional kitchen inspiration in mags so pinterest saves my life!

      good luck and have fun

  17. Oh I just read some of the other comments – a cool room would be amazing. I remember looking at them years ago when we were midway through having all our babies. The cost just wasn’t an option back then. Might have to mention it to hubby… I think I’m going to go with an induction cooktop this time around. The idea of a flat surface to clean is just too appealing!

  18. Lesley G says:

    If it fits the budget, go induction Corrie. Several years ago we had to do a mini reno in our kitchen to make way for a new French door fridge, cooktop and ovens. I initially put an induction cooktop but had terrible trouble getting good pans to match the quality I had for gas. So I pulled it out and put gas in so I could use my pots. Within 2 years there were all these amazing quality pans available.;-( I was ahead of the times or the pans and that was one stupid expensive exercise. The surface cleans so easily and has some added safety features.. I love gas for it’s controllable heat but induction is pretty much the same and if you have no gas it’s a serious consideration.

    Love your kitchen style!

    • yes I’ve checked my saucepans and they are just right for induction which is great! Clearly Lesley you were ahead of your time with the induction:) glad you love it


  19. I would think about drawers in the kick panels next time. My kitchen is very small and it would give me storage for trays, platters cake tins etc. Room to put in 2 ovens would have been good although I do love my 900mm stove it can be very wasteful turning it on to heat small things.

    • Actually Heidi from ‘Adelaide Villa’ had a very interesting blog post recently about building a new kitchen which was a very interesting read from and architects point of view

    • even in my last fancy kitchen….I still didn’t have enough storage for my platters and odd shaped things! definitely making it happen this time


      • My Kitchen / Dining is half your size but the lounge is reasonable especially since we pulled down the chimney and hearth that stuck out an extra 30cm and therefore took up half of one wall. ( a typical 60’s house )

  20. Natalie says:

    I love the kitchen you have pinned – that is just the layout I would love as I would want a clear island bench. Sadly a new kitchen is awhile away for us – hoping to build a new house but have quite a few things to fix up on our current house until it is ready for sale

  21. Its fun to pick up designs you want, it add up to the excitement, but in my case, when my friend designer comes in, I find her ideas always nicer and mine would just look like trash.

  22. I love your last kitchen & can’t wait to see the progress & the end result of your new one. What Caesarstone bench top did you use last time? Will you choose the same colour & stone for your new kitchen?

    • Oops, just remembered you told us previously! It was Snow!

      • yes Snow and yes I’m using it again! I’m actually also keeping the same cabinets, same sink, same tap, same handles for the new kitchen and everything else will be new:)

  23. Lauren Mather says:

    Hi, I love the round table and white chairs on the picture from your last kitchen renovation? Where did you get them from? Thanks Lauren

    • chairs from ikea and table from a store near me called alfresco emporium. there is also a cheaper table done in mango wood by another store and the name escapes me, maybe it’s dare gallery. Also on ebay there is a lady who sells similar tables

      hope that helps

  24. We have a couple of really deep drawers in our kitchen which are fantastic for saucepans and the like, this helps with space. I also really splashbacks because they are practical, easy to clean and look great in the right kitchen.

  25. Your last kitchen is beautiful! Exactly what I always drool over in Escape to the Country episodes. It must fill you with confidence for this renovation.

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