Designing and planning a budget kitchen

Buying a kitchen is one of the more exciting projects when it comes to renovating a home, yet it can a daunting process due to being one of the biggest, most expensive and time-consuming renovation. Its important that you take time to consider what you want and how much money you are willing to spend before you start designing and planning your budget kitchen.

With our budget of £5,000 every penny counted so each decision was made with a lot of thought.  There are lots of things to consider and I feel I have so much practical advice when it comes to budget kitchen renovations.

Can you work with what you already have?

Can you get away with painting the kitchen or changing the cupboard doors? Will just changing the worktops totally transform your space? There are many tutorials around on how to paint cupboard doors if you just don’t like the colour. If your doors are solid wood a lick of paint and some new tiles might totally transform the room.

Do you need to move the kitchen round or will it work the way it is? Luckily, we were able to keep our kitchen plumbing and electrics in the same place making it simpler to DIY and avoiding expensive tradesman labour costs. We didn’t really have the skills to start moving these things around, so it would have taken a big chunk of the budget.

How do you use the space?

It’s useful to ask yourself how you use your kitchen. Do you simply use it as a place to prepare meals or are you dreaming of an entertaining space? Does the space work for you and your family? We discussed replacing our breakfast bar with a full height intergraded fridge-freezer, on reflection that would have been nice but we absolutely love our breakfast bar. My husband cooks breakfast every weekend, we all sit around it and pull the high chairs up close and keep him company in the kitchen.

Have a really good clear out and work out how much cupboard space you need, what storage do you have and where is it? Are there any elements of the kitchen you could improve? We hated our corner cupboards as things slid to the back never to be seen again. We improved our two worst offenders by adding a carousel in one and a double hinged corner door on the corner wall unit. They have really transformed how our kitchen functions and we are so pleased with the result. With so many options available you are sure to find something to really improve your kitchen with a bit of research.

Have a budget in mind before you start

My husband is in the military so our future and how long we will remain here is uncertain, this isn’t our forever home so spending tens of thousands on a kitchen would not have been a wise move.

How much would you like to spend? You can literally update a kitchen for a few hundred pounds or do a big grand renovation. I would advise you set a budget and then work it all out from there. We had £5,000 left over after moving so this was realistically as much as we could afford.

Find some inspiration & choose a design

I love Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration but also bought magazines, went around show rooms and collected brochures to make mood boards. Our kitchen was nearly white until I fell in love with the darker kitchen cabinets. I would advise to look at lots and lots of different kitchens and styles. I spent so many evenings pouring over images and figuring out how to get the vibe I wanted without making any drastic change to the layout of the room or undertaking an expensive extension. It is important to think about the plans for your home and potential saleability when choosing a kitchen. Done right, a kitchen can add a lot of value to your home and this is something we really focused on.

Visualising the renovation

Meet with lots of local kitchen companies, sit down and have a (usually free) design consultation and see what ideas they come up with. Even if you plan to DIY the whole thing, they will come up with ideas on how to use the space, some of which you may not have considered.

Ikea have a 3D kitchen planner which we found helpful, you put all your measurements in and it gives you different layout options and shows you all the costings. You can then swap and change different cupboards to see how it would look with different layouts.

We ordered our kitchen from DIY-kitchens. Their planner allows you to visualise the different kitchen options and we found the downloadable PDF was helpful when ordering to ensure we had the correct sizes. Originally we had several free design consultations from the high street so we used the best ideas to come up with our own design. We didn’t drastically change the layout. We just made a few tweaks to our old kitchen design to make it function better for our family life.

Revisiting design elements to save money

After my initial shock at the first cost from high street stores, I had to admit defeat. I couldn’t afford everything I wanted and we needed to compromise somewhere. How much did we want to spend at this point in time? What elements would I be happy to change?

The most expensive item in the kitchen were the worktops. I originally had wanted quartz counters because of their durability and the light colours available. The reality was we just did not have the money for that luxury and considering how much counter space we have to cover we couldn’t justify the splurge. With lots of other important home improvement projects waiting in the pipe line we needed to be smart with our money. My compromise during our budget kitchen renovation was a beautiful solid oak counter that is less than half the cost. It will require more maintenance than a product like quartz but it gives the room both character and warmth and we really love it!

Open shelving is less expensive than cupboards and very on-trend right now. Open shelving is great storage and can really open up a space, they work really well in small or galley kitchens.

We saved money on our budget kitchen by not installing gas and sticking to an electric cooker. Opting for an induction hob we were expecting the items to cost a little more but after shopping around we found a great deal on a cooker and induction hob bundle and they have been really great. Money can definitely be saved with a little patience and perseverance when searching the sales.


We fitted the kitchen ourselves and saved £2000 based on quotes from the high street retailers for just fitting the kitchen, this quote was not including other elements such as tiling.

Take on DIY tasks that you feel confident with, but leave anything that involves the cutting or adjustment of expensive materials to a tradesman. My husband fitted everything apart from the wooden work tops as he didn’t feel he had the skills or the tools needed. Sometimes you just need to leave it to a professional. This ended up costing £190 but the finish is really good and we think this was money well spent on a finishing item such as a worktop.

Shop around

You can buy full kitchens second hand on various online selling sites. Ex display kitchens can also be found cheap if you shop around. Ahead of your project, keep an eye out for deals both in the shops and online.

We don’t buy anything in life without researching whether or not we can get it cheaper elsewhere. We are a salesman’s worst nightmare. We shopped around for literally every-little-thing, spent hours online and in the shops cross referencing prices. We bought lots of end of line clearance items or waited for sales around Christmas and Easter time.

Our tiles for the flooring for the kitchen and dining room were just £14 per metre from B&Q, the worktops came in at just £679 for the room even the lights were a right bargain at only £12 each.

For more inspiration and to see a full break down of the costing of our kitchen and to see before and after pictures please click here.



  1. April 16, 2019 / 2:54 pm

    What an informative post!
    I’ll definitely be coming back to this post when I’ve bought my house x

  2. May 17, 2019 / 11:41 pm

    Admiring the persistence you put into your website and in depth information you offer. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Wonderful read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    • Nicola
      May 18, 2019 / 8:47 am

      Oh thank you, that’s lovely x

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