Kitchen Renovation Ideas: 15 Great Ways to Upgrade Your Kitchen

Looking for kitchen renovation ideas? This zone holds plenty of potential when it comes to upgrading the layout, design details and functionality – take a look at these 15 clever ideas to inspire your kitchen transformation
Articles by Build It magazine
by Build It magazine
21st September 2023

Undertaking a kitchen renovation is a great, cost-effective way to completely transform your culinary zone. This space is used by all members of the family and at all times of day – whether that’s for cooking, dining, socialising or entertaining, but how could you improve it?

A good place to start when deciding how to remodel your kitchen is by assessing what’s working and what isn’t. Note the different features you enjoy and those new additions that would be useful – this way you’ll build up a clear scheme that suits all members of the household. Do you want a new kitchen island for food prep, for example. Or maybe you’re after integrated units that can be concealed for a clean, unified look? All is possible with the right planning, design and by setting out a realistic budget.

Among other more simple kitchen upgrades such as fitting new cabinets and worktops, many will completely remodel their kitchen to incorporate an open-plan layout. This may involve knocking through walls to create an open kitchen-dining zone, or restructuring the kitchen design and units – speak to a professional kitchen designer to be sure this is the best route for you. If you’re thinking about extending your kitchen, take a look at our bank of kitchen extension ideas.

To help you figure out what may be the best-suited kitchen upgrade for your home and lifestyle, here we’ve rounded up 15 clever kitchen remodel ideas to inspire your project.

1. Blend Old and New with a Kitchen Renovation

As part of this farmhouse conversion, Emrys Architects remodeled the kitchen to allow for a striking new design that harnesses the perfect balance between old and new. The focal point of this kitchen renovation is the clean marble worktop with waterfall sides. It makes a contemporary contrast against the exposed timber ceiling, balancing old and new perfectly.

The project involved creating a new home from the outbuildings of a Georgian farmhouse for the owner who wished to downsize. The original stable build has been retained and re-insulated and connects to a former woodshed via a contemporary glazed corridor. You can see more of the home here.

2. Remember Lighting when Collecting Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Lighting is an important part of a good kitchen renovation and design. Having a proper setup will ensure a functional zone, with different key lighting fixtures that will serve different purposes. Think spotlights underneath cabinets to illuminate worktops, or pendants hanging over an island for a dramatic effect.

This is a Bulthaup kitchen with illumination from John Cullen Lighting. It features discreet spotlights and and strips around the perimeter of the room to add a feeling of luxury and space.

Learn More: Lighting Design: The Ultimate Homeowner’s Guide

3. Incorporate Bold Patterns Into Your Kitchen Renovation

Renovating makes the perfect chance to get bold with surface patterns, adding an extra touch of personality to your interior. Choose tiles, wallpaper or flooring with a striking design to add instant pizzazz to your kitchen. Pair with a wash of single colour, such as this chalk paint by Annie Sloan, to allow the decorative element to take centre stage.

4. Add a Focal Point to Your Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen renovations present the opportunity to get creative with more standard features, incorporating new shapes and lines to give the zone a refresh. Think about your extractor fan or cooker hood – these are often a little clunky and don’t add much to a scheme.

Get creative by transforming it into a centrepiece. The Smart Deco design from Franke comes in three shades and is the perfect way to add a touch of interest to your kitchen scheme.

5. Choose a Traditional Design for Your Kitchen Remodel

Traditional-style kitchens will never age poorly. The simplistic shapes, colours and joinery of a shaker-style kitchen make it a popular kitchen design for home renovators. And, with so many budget-friendly options available, you’ll be able to find something to suit your project.

These cabinets from Devol’s Real Shaker Kitchen range lend this space a traditional feel. Honed black granite worktops and Valencia quartz on the island complement the rich warmth of the parquet timber floors. Devol kitchens are priced from £12,000.

More Essential Advice: Kitchen Design & Costs: How Much Does it Cost to Design & Fit a Kitchen?

6. Colour is Key for a Good Kitchen Renovation

Setting out a thoughtful colour scheme is important for an appealing kitchen design. You don’t want to dive into your kitchen renovation with a mix match of styles, colours and shapes that don’t work when they’re all pulled together. This is why developing a good bank of kitchen renovation ideas is important, so you’ll be able to see what works and what you can redesign.

kitchen-dining-living area with rooflights and large glazed doorsColour schemes can be a blend of multiple complimentary shades, but if bold blocking isn’t your thing, consider tones from the same family. Suzie and Sam Andrews chose a sleek dark green kitchen island, matched with mint-toned cabinets for a cohesive scheme. The worktops are a clean white to bring a touch of brightness to the space. You can see more of the home here.

EXPERT VIEW Kitchen upgrade key considerations

Jim and Susan Gettings of J&S House of Design share their top tips for the key decisions that need to be made before you start updating your kitchen

  • It’s always worth getting a good understanding of how the flow of a property works before embarking on any kitchen renovation works.
  • If you’re renovating your kitchen to sell, it’s best to keep things neutral in terms of colour, unit style and worktops, don’t go overboard with the wow-factor features.
  • For forever homes, don’t get hung up on designing around small children, who grow up very quickly, keep things simple and make sure the design will last well throughout your life.
  • Decide what appliances you want – a lot of the time these can only go in certain places, which will dictate the overall layout of your kitchen. Technical advancements have moved on a lot over the last few years, so make sure you do your research.
  • The style of kitchen is hugely important – but you don’t have to match the architectural look of the house; it’s more crucial that it’s to your taste. Think about making a statement with a sleek, handleless kitchen, for example.
  • If your existing furniture consists of a glass dining table or a modern sofa, then you should be looking at a contemporary kitchen finish. If you have an antique dining table or a chesterfield, then a traditional look would go much better.

7. Keep Your Things on Show

Some prefer to keep their cups, glasses and crockery tucked away for a minimalist look, but sometimes incorporating your most-used objects into your wider kitchen design can yield impressive, homely results. This can either be achieved by opting for open shelving units, or by specifying glass cupboard doors. For an extra touch, think about how you can add colour to these elements, too.

This colourful setup by Devol kitchens proves that a mix of hues can work in harmony. This is the Classic English Kitchen range, which is inspired by Georgian and farmhouse designs. It features wall rails that hold hanging pots and pans which make for a functional, characterful space.

8. Upgrade Your Kitchen Area with Glazed Doors

While French doors have long been a popular feature of kitchen-diners, nowadays large spans of bifolds or glazed sliders are a must-have for UK homes, helping to blur the boundaries between inside and out.

Open plan kitchen with islandGlazed doors aren’t just an option for those garden-facing kitchens, though. Specifying internal glazed doors for your kitchen remodel can yield impressive results, helping connect your kitchen to the rest of the house while allowing light to flow freely throughout the floorplan. These Heritage Doors from IDSystems make a wonderful addition to this home, they’re manufactured with thermally broken aluminium frames for low U-values.

Learn More: Glazed Door Guide: Patio Door Styles, Costs & Considerations

9. Incorporate Smart Home Technology as Part of Your Kitchen Remodel

Smart home tech will completely transform how you interact with your space, often making tasks easier. In a kitchen, these features will be extremely useful. Speak to a smart home specialist early on in your project to ensure you’re maximising the options.

As more people are favouring smart tech in their homes, kitchen appliances are becoming more advanced, from cameras in ovens that allow you to check on your food from your smartphone to composters that pulverize food to 1/10th its original mass. This kitchen is by Onesta.

10. Create a Hidden Breakfast Bar

Creating a hidden zone with cupboards is the perfect solution to keeping things clean. For example, avoiding clutter by creating a designated zone for your toaster, kettle, coffee machine and more, will make for a functional space that helps keep mess to a minimum.

kitchen design with integrated storage cupboardsThis open-plan kitchen has been designed by Brandt Design. The breakfast cupboard conceals a coffee machine and toaster to maintain a tidy, fuss-free aesthetic. This kitchen cost £35,000, not including installation.

CLOSER LOOK Easy ways to renovate a kitchen

If you’re looking for a low-cost and speedy kitchen renovation, rather than replacing the entire thing, here are some simple changes that could totally transform the space:

  • Replace the worktops with high-quality versions
  • Update the cabinet doors for a refresh
  •  Replace the cabinet handles – mix and match ceramic knobs for a chic French country look
  •  Painting is a cost effective way to jazz up cabinets and walls; consider colour blocking for a fresh feel
  •  A bold coloured splashback will look contemporary alongside neutral cabinets, while tiling behind the worktops produces a range of styles, from traditional to ultra-modern
  • Add a freestanding island to create more useable worktop space and a new focal feature without changing the kitchen itself

11. Create an Open-Plan Layout as Part of Your Kitchen Renovation

Many will choose to turn their kitchen into a completely open-plan zone, incorporating it with their dining space or extending outwards to create a larger room. This creates the opportunity to add wow-factor to your home, creating a seamless transition between your house and garden with glazed doors or picture windows.

contemporary open-plan kitchen design with concrete floor and exposed ceilings

Photo: Christian Brailey

Architecture for London created the extension and renovation to this Edwardian terraced house in North London. The redesign has resulted in an open-plan layout with views through to the garden seen from the front door.

More Inspiration: Open Plan Living Ideas – Kitchen, Living & Dining Rooms

12. Mix & Match Materials when Renovating Your Kitchen

Think about mixing and matching your materials when developing your kitchen renovation ideas. This can work particularly well for kitchen worktops – think a mix of wood and copper, or marble and steel. This way you’ll be able to maximise dramatic effect and wow factor without taking up too much of your budget, only specifying a small amount of the more expensive option.

The cupboards in this design by Ledbury Studio are textured metal, dark-stained ash and smooth purple, paired with marble worktops.

Read More: Kitchen Worktop Ideas – Granite, Wood, Steel, Laminate & Modern Options

13. Create an Integrated Dining Feature

Whether you’re working with a compact space or want everyone close to the action, designing seating into the kitchen units could be a great option. This will help transform your cooking zone into a sociable area, allowing you to effectively entertain and host. Shown is the Artisan kitchen by John Lewis of Hungerford.

14. Make a Statement with a Striking Splashback

A splashback is a functional feature, helping to avoid mess on the walls from food prep, but who’s to say it can’t become part a fabulous kitchen design? Whether you add a pop of colour through tiles, glass or metal, adding a new splashback is a great kitchen renovation idea.

Consider using the same materials for your kitchen worktops and splashback for a harmonious feel.

The blue cabinets and orange island in this kitchen by Searle & Taylor are brought together with a jazzy splashback for an ultra-modern look.

15. Think About Textures when Collecting Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Textures are the ultimate addition for a truly characterful kitchen scheme. An 18th century townhouse apartment benefits from a sophisticated kitchen. Metal handles and textured panels on the cabinet fronts are paired with marble worktops and dark units. Red Deer were the brains behind the renovation.

Essential Renovation Advice: Home Renovations: 10 Steps to Successfully Renovating a House

Words by Emily Batesmith & Sander Tel

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