Before and After: This Kitchen’s $5K Budget Even Included Appliances

When you think “Australian beach house,” you probably don’t think “dark and drab,” but that’s how the owner of this particular Australia beach house described it pre-renovation. Brown carpet butting up against brown ombré tile topped with faux wood cabinets might be the very definition of drab…

Here’s a little more information about what the kitchen was really like before:

The kitchen was dark and drab with chipboard cupboards covered with brown plastic contact. The black island bench was a bit of an eyesore.

Yep, that wasn’t just faux wood, it was contact paper—not an ideal finish for a kitchen.

This is the opposite of dark and drab! Ripping out those cupboards was a great first move that made the kitchen feel twice as large, and I can see why having a brown, brown, brown kitchen (cupboards, tile, and carpet) might have made the owner want to go in a different direction. Another reason this new kitchen works is that it is, of course, part of a beach house, and the open, airy feel is perfect for that. Want to see for yourself? This vacation home is available for rent!

Here’s how owner Chris Phillips describes the inspiration, process, and budget behind this makeover:

We wanted a kitchen that was light, functional, and welcoming.

We opened up the space and put a large window in over the sink to bring in light. We ripped out the island bench and bought cupboards and an island bench from IKEA. The country style porcelain sink is also from IKEA. Our budget including appliances was less than $5,000 AUD [$3,841 USD]. We did all the work ourselves except for putting in the window and connecting the gas and electrical.

People often say, “Oh a kitchen is a minimum 10 grand [$7,683 USD],” but I think if you’re prepared to do a little leg work, you can get a great result for less than that.

That’s a pretty impressive budget: less than $4,000 for new floor, cabinetry, sink, lighting, island, and appliances, including the cutest little stove ever. Our Australian readers might say that’s just what stoves look like, but I’m a sucker for stoves that resemble friendly little robots.

This shot reveals more of the overwhelming brown of from before, as well as the way that the carpet was unnecessarily close to the kitchen. You don’t want carpet underfoot while you’re cooking on the island! There are also two oddly proportioned light fixtures, as well as an archway that looks like it belongs in a gingerbread house. (For the record, I think that feature could be amazing, but you’d have to design all of the decor around it—basically channel Papa Elf’s house from Elf. In a modern, equatorial beach house, removing the archway was the right way to go.)

If you aren’t already impressed by this renovation, wait to you hear how long it took:

It took a month from start to finish. We ripped out the cupboards ourselves and ripped up the old linoleum and the island bench and tiled the floor. We had a builder install a custom-built window which only took a day to install. Then we had fun doing a bit of a Rubik’s cube fitting the Ikea cupboards into the space. The floor wasn’t level so we spent a lot of time with the spirit level, making sure the cupboards lined up.

One month seems very quick for such a major undertaking, especially for one not done by professionals.

Moving the seating area out of the kitchen was another smart move; trying to fit six chairs and an island/table into the cooking area was a bit…optimistic. Now the dining room is within easy reach of the kitchen, but there’s more room for both cooking and dining. The wood legs of the chairs tie in nicely with the wood countertops, while their white shells echo the white cabinetry. As you can see, the dining room doesn’t get quite as much sunlight as the kitchen, but the white walls and chairs help with reflecting what light there is.

And while this this is indeed a fabulous rental home (there are black swans nearby!), Chris also lives there and therefore was sure to make the house actually practical and livable:

We love the kitchen now. It’s light bright and clean and it really connects with the rest of the house. We love the window, it brings so much light and air into the space. We both love cooking so a gas cook top was something on the wish list. Also, tiling the floor was a bit of a big job but it really completes the space.

Thank you, Chris!

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