9 easy design hacks to totally transform your kitchen

No budget for a full kitchen renovation? No worries!
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You don’t need to spend a pretty penny on an impressive kitchen. From door handles and appliances to fresh paint and splashbacks, these easy, creative and cost-effective kitchen hacks will transform your space.

1. Add a splash of colour

Add a lick of paint to your door frames, cupboards, splashbacks or even a few bold accessories like a bright red wall clock. Paint, or colour, can instantly brighten your space and transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Use bright colours for energy and a fun or quirky feel. Softer pastels tend to create a sense of calm, whereas warmer tones like terracotta and earthy tones create a welcoming and warm ambience.

Colourful VJ groove backsplash in kitchen
The butler’s pantry in this home in a leafy Brisbane suburb, designed by Anna Spiro, features VJ panelling painted in Dulux Pool Bar. (Photography: Eleanor Byrne | Styling: Anna Spiro)

2. Overhaul your kitchen with a brilliant benchtop

The three most popular materials used for benchtops are laminate, timber and stone. But, laminate is around a third of the price. Even better, it’s hard-wearing, durable, water-resistant, easy to wipe down and clean, and you can get anti-bacterial and fingerprint proof finishes – great for grubby little fingers eating afterschool snacks! It also contains little to no silica

Today’s laminates come in a whole spectrum of finishes, from mattes to glosses, marble and mineral looks to woodgrains, metallics and a plethora of accent colours to suit – and transform – any kitchen space.

Kitchen with Laminex benchtop
(Image: Laminex)

3. Incorporate feature cupboard door panels

Swapping out kitchen cupboard doors is a cost-effective way to revamp your kitchen minus the complete cabinetry fit-out – a great solution for water-logged chipboard doors ruining your kitchen look. Today’s doors come in a range of widths, allowing you to create skinny broom cupboards from awkward corner spaces, as well as materials, finishes, textured looks and colours.

You can update the door frames using frosted glass doors, wire mesh, timber and metals, and you can even paint your own doors! 

Kitchen with rattan cupboard doors
Rattan cupboard doors, set into the reclaimed Oregon door frames, elevate this kitchen instantly. (Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

4. Go for statement door handles

This small detail can have a big impact! Cupboard door handles and drawer pulls can bring cohesion to a kitchen look, add quirk, personality or interest, and make a style statement.

You can choose art deco handles, urban-industrial look clamps in galvanised steel, hand-painted porcelain and fine China knobs, kooky motifs, contemporary metals and more.   

Open shelves and gold drawer pulls in kitchen
This classic country-style kitchen encompasses both statement drawer pulls and open shelving, easy updates that will transform any kitchen. (Photography: Ema Peter | Styling: Debbie Frederickson)

5. Upgrade your kitchen with open shelving

Not much space or budget to work with? Use open shelves to express your personality or to feature your favourite collectables – from your teacup collection to fine china and spoons collected from worldly travels. Or, make it more practical with utensil holders, knives and hanging saucepans.

Kitchen with zellige tile splashback
Special splashback: Moroccan zellige tiles from Tiles By Kate add colour and personality to this kitchen without being overpowering. (Photography: Simon Whitbread | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

6. Replace your kitchen splashback

Who would have thought that splashbacks would become a style statement? The oil splatter-catcher?! The spaghetti bolognese sauce canvas? But it is! That wall, which frames all those fancy (and expensive) kitchen appliances is, in fact, a feature wall that can transform the look of your kitchen.

Opt for laminates that are easy to wipe down and clean, or glass splashbacks in bright colours like red, blue or green. Marbles featuring veins have a luxe mineral effect. For a contemporary look, try reflective surfaces – black glass or stainless steel.

A classic brass cooker and stove beneath a Spanish splashback mural.
A custom tiled splashback sets a stylish tone. For similar, see Portuguese Azulejos tile mural (PT2355), Etsy. (Photography: Con Poulos / Styling: Kerrie-Ann Jones)

7. Illuminate with sconce lights

Lighting can completely transform a space, and we’re not just referring to the brightness of the globe.

Pendant lights can make a huge impact, but you can still have a lot of fun with flush-mount lights (in the ceiling) and wall sconces. If you don’t want to commit to new lighting, consider adhesive LED strip lighting that can placed under overhead cupboards. 

Classic kitchen with wall sconce lights
A lot of task lighting is necessary in this bustling Southern Highlands kitchen, hence the charming wall sconces. (Styling: Kerrie-Ann Jones | Photography: Nicki Dobrzynski)

8. Hang art in your kitchen zone

Don’t just relegate artworks to living rooms and hallways (although, they work well there too). You can make an otherwise utilitarian kitchen feel more personal and a bit bougie with some much-loved pieces.

Kitchen with art works
Artworks by Rachel Stevens make this utilitarian space homely. Clockwise from top left: Still Life With Pumpkin, Tuscan Farmhouse and Rolling Hills. (Photography: John Downs | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

9. Treat yourself to chic benchtop appliances

While they’re often concealed in a butler’s pantry, designer appliances, such as kettles and toasters, are made to be seen.

Often a permanent benchtop feature, you can get tabletop appliances featuring artwork, retro-style designs and a rainbow of colours including pastel pink, powder blue, cream, mint green, bright red and electric blue. 

Butler's pantry with stylish appliances
In the Blue Mountains village of Leura, this gorgeous weatherboard features a grey-toned butler’s pantry displaying chic Smeg appliances. (Photography: Helen Ward | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

Shop kitchen appliances and decor


Ashton wall light in Amber

$64.95 (now 49.95), Temple & Webster

Best for: Blending style and practicality

If you’re looking to add some gentle ambience to your kitchen, the Ashton wall light is a luxe but functional solution. With a vintage-style glass cover and a compact design, it’s perfect for layered lighting.

Colours: Amber, Blue and Clear.

Materials: Steel and glass.

Key features:

  • Classic steel arm
  • Ornamental glass cover
  • Soft illumination


Chelsea pull handle in Satin Brass

$65, The Blue Space

Best for: Making a statement

It’s the small details that count, especially when it comes to statement hardware, and one thing you can’t overlook is texture. The Chelsea pull handle comes in a wonderfully knurled high-end brass for a luxurious and tactile appeal.

Sizes: 128mm, 192mm, 256mm.

Colours: Satin Brass, Matte Black, Dull Brushed Nickel and Bronze.

Material: Brass.

Key features:

  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Knurling detail
  • Contemporary style


Luxe golden palms in navy frame with gold

$499 (now $349) for a set of 2, OneWorld

Best for: A touch of Hamptons or coastal style

These golden palm artworks, set in a decorative navy frame, ooze coastal chic. Simple but natural, the design brings that beachy feel into the home, best paired alongside a neutral palette for a timeless charm.

Size: 90cm x 2.5cm x 120cm

Colour: Navy Blue.

Materials: Fir wood and glass.

Key features:

  • 25.54kg
  • Hamptons style
  • Gold details


Blue Andrea subway tile in Textural Gloss

$122 per sqm, The Blue Space

Best for: The perfect splashback

Subway tiles are always on trend, especially in sleek designs like the Andrea subway tile. Featuring a high-gloss glaze, durable porcelain and antique colouring, the Andrea tile is a simple way to elevate a kitchen splashback, laid either horizontally or vertically for a clean yet modern look.

Size: 75mm x 300mm x 8mm

Colours: White, Light Grey, Grey, Blue, Antique Red and Black.

Material: Porcelain.

Key features:

  • Made in Italy
  • Gloss finish
  • Cushioned edge


Smeg 50’s style toaster in Red

$329, Myer

Best for: Adding a pop of colour

Smeg’s 50’s style toaster is for nostalgia lovers, blending a bright, retro red with soft curves for a stylish benchtop addition. Better yet, it has all the modern conveniences such as three pre-set toasting programs, a backlit knob and easy-to-clean crumb trays. For a minimalist look, the toaster also comes in white.

Sizes: Comes in four-slice and two-slice sizes.

Colours: White and Red.

Key features:

  • LED lighting
  • Easy-clean
  • Pre-set programs


Morphy Richards Ascend electric kettle in White

$149.95 (now $139.95), Kitchen Warehouse

Best for: Simplicity and elegance

Who says kitchen appliances can’t make a style statement? The Ascend kettle bridges style and function with beautiful gold accents, rapid boiling and a limescale filter to keep your kettle clean. While the Ascend is easy to use, we love the classic colourways, finished in gold and rose gold.

Size: 1.5L capacity.

Colours: Stain Black, Matte Black, White.

Material: Stainless steel.

Key features:

  • 360 degree base
  • Limescale filter
  • Gold trim details


Reef Blue Layne Waves feature tile in Gloss

$119 per sqm, The Blue Space

Best for: A feature splashback

These Reef Blue Layne tiles bring waves into the kitchen, literally! The curved design is inspired by the ocean and comes in a range of cool blues and soft neutrals with a durable porcelain composition. No matter which colour you choose, the enchanting shapes are bound to make a statement.

Sizes: 120mm x 120mm x 6mm

Colours: Black, Reef Blue, Dove Grey, Teal, Mint, Pink, Cream.

Material: Porcelain.

Key features:

  • Cushioned edge
  • Coastal inspired
  • Soft and flat surface


Copper Moladi wall sconce

$79, Temple & Webster

Best for: French provincial charm

Want to create a cozy kitchen nook? The Moladi wall sconce has a delicate pleated shade to gently diffuse light, creating a comfy glow that’ll make even the darkest corner, warm and welcoming. It also comes in an antique brass finish with an extended arm to direct light.

Size: 140mm x 245mm x 280mm

Colour: Antique brass finish.

Material: Copper.

Key features:

  • 12-month guarantee
  • Pleated cover
  • 50+ wattage

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