Updating your kitchen is one of the best renovations to improve home value. We asked award-winning interior architect, George Livissianis, for his top kitchen renovation tips.

A leading residential and commercial interior architect, George Livissianis has created the interiors of some of Sydney’s most famed eateries, including The Apollo, Longrain and, most recently, the much-lauded Cho Cho San in Potts Point.

Livissianis knows a thing or two about designing stunning interiors that do not compromise on functionality, and when it comes to kitchens, there is no room for error.

‘I think everybody values the kitchen space,’ Livissianis says. ‘It’s one of the most highly regarded items when someone’s looking at a house to buy, and if it’s not, then you are very aware that will be one of the first things you do – ‘I’m going to renovate the kitchen and bathroom’.’

Whether the kitchen is the heart of your home, or you are putting a property up for sale or as a rental property, nothing screams ‘deal breaker’ quite like a tired old kitchen.

Here are Livissianis’ top kitchen renovation tips.

1. The quick kitchen renovation

If a complete overhaul is out of the question, here are some quick kitchen renovation ideas that will immediately lift the space and add value, according to Livissianis.

  • Upgrade appliances – a sparkling new cooktop, dishwasher, toaster or fridge not only looks fantastic but will be a pleasure to use. If it’s for a rental property you can claim depreciation on permanent fixtures.
  • Replace benchtops – if the kitchen joinery is in reasonable condition, replace the benchtops. They are one of the most visible and most used features of any kitchen and offer the opportunity to make a design statement. Livissianis favours textured natural materials like white granite.
  • Replace joinery and lighting – consider replacing the cupboard doors and drawer fronts for an immediate visual lift. Updated lighting will modernise the kitchen and can be used as a design feature. Joinery that is in decent condition may benefit from a fresh paint job, but Livissianis recommends replacing worn or damaged joinery rather than re-covering or painting.

2. Optimise your kitchen layout

It’s all about having a comfortable amount of space in the right places: ‘You learn a few things from doing commercial kitchens,’ says Livissianis. ‘You need a set-down space on either side of the cooking area and you need ample preparation space. You can water that down into a functional residential kitchen.

‘Make sure there is nice flow – if you’re chopping up vegetables then the bin should be close by and you should be close to the sink so you can wash them. When you open up the dishwasher, you don’t want to close off half of the kitchen and have to step over it.’

The kitchen’s aesthetic and floorplan will be dictated by where it’s located and the size of your home. ‘If it’s on show versus being tucked around a corner, that starts to direct how you design your kitchen,’ Livissianis explains.

‘If you’ve got a generous-sized three-bedroom apartment, then you don’t necessarily want to be viewing the kitchen from the living space it’s big enough to have the kitchen as a separate room. But in a studio apartment you are forced to integrate the kitchen as a part of the living area.’

3. Consider an island bench

Though designing an industrial kitchen often centres upon the head chef’s cooking requirements and the type of food being prepared, Livissianis has found an island bench is a key design inclusion.

‘The kitchens I feel work better are the ones where you have a formal cooking line and an island in the middle. They’ve got a circular rhythm to them – working around that central island table.

‘I think an island is a nice thing to gravitate to and depending on how it’s detailed, it can look less like a kitchen and more like a beautiful object,’ Livissianis explains. ‘It’s a gathering spot, really. A lot of people, if they’ve got a formal dining room, choose to eat day-to-day in the kitchen, rather than in a separate space.’

4. Choose the right kitchen appliances

When choosing appliances you need to decide on functionality as well as quality. Livissianis has noticed a trend towards the big-name suppliers that offer longer-term guarantees and follow-up services. If purchasing a number of appliances at once, it is also worth considering buying all in the same brand. This way the set will match – details such as dials, railings and overall geometry will be consistent, and you may be able to obtain a discount.

5. Consider your flooring options

Livissianis’ top renovation tip when it comes to kitchen flooring is consistency. ‘My choice in the floor is determined by the bigger concept, not the fact that it’s in the kitchen,’ says Livissianis. ‘I’d rather see the floor flow throughout the space so it is all connected, rather than having it as a separate surface just in that zone.’

Make sure you allow at least four weeks for the renovation of your kitchen, excluding planning and design time.

And our final kitchen renovation tip: if perusing the latest kitchen trends is a guilty design pleasure, Livissianis suggests keeping an eye on the leading kitchen joinery companies. Suppliers like Poliform and Boffi create innovative designs that tend to filter through the market.

Posted by Jacqui Thompson – Domain on 14th October, 2014