How to design your own dream kitchen for less

27 Feb 2019

Photo of a modern kitchen

A new kitchen not only completely transforms the appearance of your home, it can also increase what your house is worth. The average kitchen renovation adds approximately 6% to your home’s value. For a home worth £400,000, an updated kitchen could add approx. £24,000!

As someone who recently designed my own kitchen, I know that this might seem to be a daunting task at first – but it’s more achievable than you may think. The main challenge, of course, is not to blow that budget with the renovation!

So how can we, as simple homeowners, transform the heart of the home for less?

Here are my tried-and-tested top tips:

1. Get inspired

Chances are, you'd have never designed your own kitchen before. However, if you’re starting this project, you’ll have some idea of the design you’re looking for, but now is your chance to do your research!

Inspiration can come from many different places – maybe you love the pendant lighting at your local coffee bar, or your friend has this amazing cooker, maybe there’s a kitchen you’ve spotted on Grand Designs… All of these ideas should go into your idea bank.

I love using tools such as Pinterest or Houzz as virtual pinboards for all my ideas – from design, to food, to fitness. They’re invaluable resources for pinning even the smallest of ideas and great for keeping everything in one easy to use place.

Lady looking at Kitchen Ideas on a tablet

2. Think ‘outside the box’

Once you’ve got all your design ideas in one central place, start thinking about the functionality of the space you have. Ask questions such as:

  • How do I use my current kitchen layout?

  • Is my current kitchen layout working for me?

  • If I was being brave, what would I change?

Try not to feel limited by your current kitchen design. So many people continue with their current kitchen layout even when it isn't working for them, because they think that it cannot be changed. Believe it or not – it’s easier than you think!

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and create a layout that actually works for you!

3. Use the Triangle Principle

Remember the ‘triangle principle’ of kitchen design, which means that your cooker, your fridge and your sink should be within easier reach of each other.

The general rule of thumb is that no ‘leg’ of the triangle should be more than 2.7m in length and no shorter than 1.2m

This may seem basic, but as a busy parent with projects always on the go, I can honestly say that this magic triangle method has been a game-changer for how I run my kitchen!

4. Start by taking your kitchen measurements

Good measurements are the key to a great kitchen design that works, so I recommend using tools to help do this accurately. You can either get some grid paper from a stationery shop, or you can even use an online tool, such as an Ikea Kitchen designer.

Plot your room size and make sure you accurately place immovable objects like doors, windows and radiators.

Once you’ve included everything you can’t change, you can start working on your new design. I recommend beginning with cupboard units and working with standard cupboard sizes.

Top-tips for arranging cupboards:

If you’re using grid paper, you may want to cut some standard size squares and rectangles out of paper and use them as loose puzzle pieces to play around with the layout before committing pen to paper.

Also, remember handy little fill in cupboard sizes like a 15cm pull out unit – these can be invaluable and are actually really useful for things like spices, or cleaning materials. Position them in easy to reach places such as next to the washing machine or oven. I have mine next to my hob so all my spices are easily at hand.

Don’t be afraid to move your sink!

If you don’t like where your sink is – move it! I moved my sink and dishwasher about 1.5 meters to the right with minimal fuss. My range cooker I left in the same general area so the gas did not need to be moved. The important thing to note here is to get a layout that functions well for you.

Close up of a sketch of a kitchen

5. Create a shopping list

Once you have your dream kitchen design penned and you’re happy with the layout, it’s important to create a shopping list. This is simply a list of all the parts and tools needed to create your kitchen.

Make sure to list all the cupboard sizes required, including quantity, the door sizes and quantities required. Will you need plinths and pelmets to finish the cupboard details? What appliances are required? I very nearly entirely forgot about an extractor hood until the last minute! Remember small essentials like taps and cupboard knobs. Make your list and get someone to double check it for you to make sure you’ve not left anything out.

Close up of a shopping list

6. Go Shopping and Save Money!

Now it is time for the fun part…. You have your shopping list and armed with your dream design – you’re ready to create a beautiful space!

My advice is to visit as many showrooms as possible until you find a cupboard design you like. Once you’ve found your design – shop around. The cupboards for an average UK kitchen cost between £3,000-£5,000. But it is possible to find your dream cupboards for far less. I ended up purchasing all of my cupboards, plus a small integrated fridge and sink from Ikea for £1,200.

Photo of a modern kitchen

There are numerous budget kitchen suppliers out there (in case you can’t tell, my favourite is Ikea), so why pay more for what is essentially the same product?!

Check eBay and Gumtree as well. With a little adjustment to your design sometimes you can pick upsecond-handd kitchen cupboards for a steal! A friend of mine bought an entire 1980’s pine kitchen from eBay which she then painted and re-styled into her dream country, shaker style kitchen! A little bit of creativity can save you thousands of pounds.

Online suppliers can also be incredibly useful sources for finding good-value appliances. Once you’ve determined which appliances you require, do your homework regarding brands and then search for the best online price. Don’t forget the high street too! There are any number of discount high street retailers who offer brand name appliances for really low prices. 

Close up of oven hobs

7. Find trusted tradespeople for the jobs you can’t do!

Finding a carpenter, plumber, tiler etc can be a very stressful experience, but thankfully I had Hoppy to help! Following in the steps of Laura Jackson, I used their easy tool to find rated local tradespeople and trusted them to do any work I was unable to do myslef.

Don’t forget that you can easily save money by completing certain tasks yourself. Things like painting walls and even tiling are not beyond the realms of a savvy DIY-er and can save you hundreds of pounds.

A kitchen project can be one of the best things you can do to improve the look and feel of your home. The process of renovation can be a bit stressful at times, but with good planning (and using Hoppy to help!) you can be enjoying that new space in no time!


Have you built your own kitchen or are you planning on designing your own dream space? I’d love to hear any tips you’ve discovered on your own home renovation journey - comment below and let me know!

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