For 8 years, I worked day and night on a single steel bench overflowing with kitchen paraphernalia, food, portable cooktop and very little working space. The barely functioning kitchen housed an old oven, a leaking sink, sunken and peeling countertops and basically served as a large mustard storage space. And I had fun with those limited resources testing recipes for my blog, writing a cookbook and developing new flavours for clients. Because I knew someday we would save enough to change it all. Then I won a $30,000 kitchen makeover by the Good Guys at Kidspot's Voices Of 2013 event in November last year. And everything changed!
With an amount so generous, we decided to fast track our renovations and so began what would become a six-month-and-ongoing exercise to create a beautiful space for our family and for my work. Our old kitchen was in the centre of the house with extensions to the house radiating off it. I wanted the kitchen to be close to windows and the outer wall of the house.
Our home is close to 60 years old and had dark wood panelling on the walls, a patchwork of rose hued carpet, slate tiles and parquetry flooring flowing throughout. We also had all these walls and openings creating unnecessary nooks and stealing all the light and usable space. Knocking down walls and making it open plan was one of the first things our builder did. We wanted to retain all that gorgeous light in our family room (that I used as my kitchen/study/studio). So we made one of the best decisions we have which was to build a low lying kitchen with massive counters/island and not have any cupboards or storage overhead. Which meant, we could have beautiful long windows running along the length of the 6 meter long counter.
Our old space had metal and glass doors, reminiscent of the French industrial era; the kind you would find in an old factory or warehouse. We wanted to carry that look through our renovation. We spent hours configuring the most perfect set of windows with bold black bars that were dynamic and changed the look just by sliding and creating an entirely new configuration. We pulled up our old timber floor boards and lay down wide oak planks with gorgeous wood knots and grain detailing.
We reclaimed some of the space from the new kitchen zone and built a new bedroom for Rish. Some of the space went into an ample walk in pantry hidden behind a chalkboard/magnetic wall. Our laundry was moved into a compact cupboard with bifold doors within the living area. The old fireplace was half sealed and lifted to a sexy rectangular reveal high in the wall. The idea was to have a portable biofuel burner during the colder months and a display of indoor potted plants during summer.
The kitchen was built to enable small groups of 6-8 to cook together. I retained the same old corner I have always used for my photography. Nothing fancy. I have realised a good window and enough space for a small table is all you need for smashing photos. The sink is a huge professional sink with a pull out tap mixer that also has a spray. I love the black tap by Oliveri. Just love it! Although my photography style is often dark and moody, I knew I wanted a bright light filled space for my kitchen and a nod to marble. So we chose to go with Lagoon by Silestone that mimics a soft marble facade for our bench top. The 6 meter long counters have a matching window sill in the same marble effect stone. It is super handy for herb pots, flower vases, sprouting jars and other kitchen experiments.
My pantry storage was plastic and over 13 years old from my Singapore days so I decided to go all glass with the amazing Fido flip top jars. We chose induction mainly for the kids, for its aesthetic appeal and ease of cleaning. The Indian signage of an actual vintage truck banner was a surprise Temple & Webster find. I refreshed our old wooden chairs with some black paint and created this bold yet cosy dining corner with a hand loomed rug from India and industrial pendant to bring it together with my old reclaimed wood round table.
The library unit was a clever solution from IKEA where we bought a few different sizes and piled them to get floor to ceiling storage for my books. The stunning industrial fan light was Nick's find and was one of the first things we bought prior to demolition. After weeks of poring over industrial stools online (because it is just so hard to find them in the shops) and being completely uninspired by the round corkscrew stools that everyone seems to be going for, I found the gorgeous square Dakota stools. With a metal frame that matched our windows and a soft suede cushion, these were meant to be.
They are counter stools. Not bar stools. Because they match the counter height which is always lower than a bar. The beautiful and lush house plant was a dream of mine for years (see my plant obsessed Pinterest board) and we found just the right thing last week at our local nursery. It is a heart-shaped philodendron that makes that nook look like an amazonian rainforest. It is on NASA's list of top 15 plants that can save your life and plants that are impossible to kill. I hope I don't.
We began our process in early February with several visits to the Good Guys showrooms in Chatswood and Castle Hill. We looked at their kitchen display and brought back samples of Silestone benchtops. The Good Guys organised for a designer to visit us at home and create the kitchen we were after. Blake spent an entire day discussing our needs and bringing our design to life on screen.
Because the Good Guys were sponsoring The Block and because I was a prize winner, there were a few hiccups in initially getting the whole process rolling but once all the different companies got involved (Kitchen/Appliances/Benchtop), things started happening. The girls at The Good Guys were amazing throughout the process, super helpful and always there to assure me that things were on track (thank you Leiana, Monica, Lisa!).
Holly and Blake from the kitchen group worked tirelessly to get the design and kitchen contract running smoothly. Anjana from The Good Guys Castle Hill showroom was a champ when it came to appliance pricing and Michael Pap our installer got it done without a hitch. Darren Brooks put the spotlight on all the right bits (quite literally with his fancy electrical work!). But this amazing space came to life with the tireless efforts and vision of Craig Becchio, the most intuitive and resourceful builder there was.
The kitchen cost us a total of $62,000. The $30,000 that I won courtesy of The Good Guys went towards design consultation, Silestone benchtops for the counter/island/laundry, kitchen cabinets and laundry under bench cabinet, tile splash back, kitchen sink and tap, induction cooktop and built in oven. Then we spent approximately $32,000 on the remaining appliances, building and structural work, flooring, plumbing, electrical, light fixtures, furniture, pots and pans, pantry, paint and decor. We spent an additional amount on the rest of the living areas, the additional bedroom and are continuing our renovations with new carpets for the internal rooms, an open deck in our backyard, more painting and restructuring.
Our end of the renovations began in mid March when we moved into the garage and started glamping. For a while we had no ceiling and big gaps in the floor, we discovered possums remains in our sealed fireplace and resorted to doing dishes in tubs using the garden tap. We had no heating, no hot running water for the makeshift kitchen and no laundry but we survived. Like squatters, we jumped in and reclaimed any small area of the house that was habitable. We played hide and seek in the new fireplace, we spread out our lego sets amidst nails and air compressors, we floorboarded (quite a fun sport!), we cursed as we painted into the night, we cursed even more when after nearly 10 litres of paint we realised that the white we chose actually looked a tiny shade of purple and had to redo all of it in a more vivid shade of white.
But we made memories and we braved the cold and we celebrated milestones in our garage. Rivs celebrated his 10th, Nick revelled in being 37 and I cooked food for my book launch and television appearance. It was all worth the wait. We have already stamped the new space with our messy ways and I have to still bake my first cake in the new oven (the boys baked one!), but I am taking it slow and savouring every little bit as it comes. I love how the light changes the look and feel of everything during different times of the day. The kitchen is easily my most favourite part of the house now and it is a dream in the making that surpassed all my wildest expectations. A dream that wouldn't have been if not for everyone involved and the jumpstart and opportunity that Kidspot and The Good Guys chose to give me! Thank You from the bottom of my heart!! Much love!! x
Scroll all the way down for some "Before & After" pictures as well as behind the scenes!
POINTS TO NOTE
- We debated about having a double sink or a single sink with a drainer. We chose to go with a single large sink with a drainer because we felt it was more usable. The sink is 45 litres (as big as a laundry trough) and swallows huge amounts of dishes. It is large enough to section off parts of it for food prep (thawing/washing) etc.
- We put a huge pull out drawers on either side of the oven. One for all the spoons/gadgets/peelers and the other for spices. All the prep utensils are under the spice drawers and all the most used plates and bowls are under the gadget drawer and next to the dishwasher for fast loading/unloading.
- We decided to keep the island free of any surface disturbance (no sinks/cooktops) to maximise prep and eating space. The island is 2.8 meters by 1.2 meters. The extra depth means storage on both sides of the island. Deeper cupboards on one side, slightly narrow cupboards behind the stools for less used crockery, linen and appliances.
- We got a cheap kitchen island from IKEA and converted that into a beverage station to house our coffee machine, blender, juicer and toaster - 4 of the most used items in the kitchen that needed to sit on the bench without crowding the counters. The bottom shelf is great for heaps of chopping and serving boards.
- The only overhead cupboard is above the fridge which houses kitchen tissue, hand held vaccuum, lunch boxes and drink bottles.
- We have got heaps of portable tiered wire shelves from Howards Storage World to use inside the cupboards to increase storage.
- We have also lined all drawers and cupboards with non slip liners from IKEA.
- A non-slip rubber backed mat from IKEA protects the wooden floor near the sink and dishwasher. I have also bought eco-mats from ALDI for protecting the floor in many other areas.
- The cornice seen in the living areas is called "Alto". The timber beams in the kitchen are the original ceiling painted in white.
- The pantry was constructed by our builder using strong and thick plywood. I coated it in polyurethane to enable quick cleaning. It cost us a third of what it would've cost to get it built by the kitchen guys.
- The kitchen cabinetry is called "Essendon" and the colour is "Alabaster". It is amazingly easy to wipe and is German made.
- We have a powerpoint on the side of the island. It is brilliant for juicing when the juicer, bowls full of fruit and chopping boards need to have a lot of room. It is also great to quickly connect extra appliances on the island for prepping.
- The bifold doors in the laundry were bought from HUME Doors. They were painted white to blend into the room.
- The laundry tub is also by Oliveri. The tap in the laundry is from IKEA.
Here are some more details of all the beautiful things you see in the pictures. Most old and rest new.
I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!
I am a professional blogger, food photographer and cookbook author based in Sydney, Australia. Cook Republic is a national award-winning blog. Here you will find hundreds of (triple-tested!) easy, delicious and family-friendly veg-lovin' recipes.
That was a mind-blowing transformation.
It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.
Really Liked this Kitchen, looks Awesome. I wish I had seen these designs before I ordered my Kitchen Remodeling for my new home. Hope to take tips for the future from here.
This is top class kitchen decoration, colors and and lighting are awesome . Just like my dream kitchen. Thank you so much for give us this kind of mind blowing decoration idea.
Your kitchen is just so HEAVENLY, I love how it feels cozy yet light and spacious! You've done an amazing job with the renovation.
This is so impressive. Lovely kitchen, I wish I could have a such nice kitchen.
Thank you for the ideas.
What a big job, but what a fabulous outcome. Do you still love your kitchen space? Have you changed much since the reno?
Thank you for sharing! What a lovely article and the photos are amazing too! I love how you put together these information. Easy to read, very relatable and great tips! Can’t wait to read more!
Nice modern kitchen. As i am running a cleaning company i feel very happy whenever i see such beautiful, neat and clean kitchen, most of the time i go through very bad kitchen and bathroom in Brisbane.
Wow, Amazing, I wish to have a kitchen like this in our my dream house.
Awesome interior, design, clean etc..etc
This kitchen is so spacious, which is a superb advantage. You have also included plenty of storage, which is another important aspect of kitchen renovation. There is no doubt that you can fit whatever you want in the cabinets. The natural light coming in from outside is another great feature. Overall, this is a true masterpiece!
Look like a impressive design your kitchen looking very beautiful and attractive after renovation i am also thinking to renovate my kitchen sure that your blog and pictures help be to get best results.
Budget Kitchens Adelaide
The place looks amazing! I love your choices of lighting fixtures, very interesting. I also adore the way you managed to design your kitchen according to your own style. Many people nowadays have no opinions when it comes to what their kitchens should look like.
What a wonderful kitchen! the renovation process was definitely worth it. The color combination is just perfect.
This is really well written and awell documented journey. Needless to say your kitchen is every cook's dream come true. I also love your blog. Congrats on 11!
This is honestly one of my very favorite remodels, your home is amazingly beautiful! Your post is long but I enjoyed every single picture. And $62,000. Sure did go a long way! Wow wow wow!
Could I live in your kitchen? Please? Seriously breathtaking stuff, well done!
A friend told me about your site and kitchen renovation last night as I am in the midst of a small kitchen renovation and including it on my blog as we go. I love this post! Beautiful kitchen of course and I think the way it's documented is excellent. Very inspiring all around, I am so glad I checked it out! It was a long post as you mentioned but I could have kept going - thank you for generously sharing!!
Wow what a massive improvement to your kitchen and I'm completely in love with the pendant lights over the island bench! It really makes the room. Well done
Wow Kitchen looks absolutely wonderful! Everything is perfectly and professionally done, the lights, colour combination, sitting arrangement all are just amazing. I loved it. I am thinking of renovating my kitchen after seeing all this. Well done guys. Work is appreciable!!
I love everything in it! I am happy for you. How I wish I could have the same kitchen at home as well. I would love to have one!
Sneh! OMG, thank you for probably the best written blog post I've ever read. Talk about writing well and thoroughly! I reeeeally enjoyed this post (as a photographer and as a person getting their kitchen redone!). I'm sending you as many knuckle bumps from Des Moines, Iowa as I can.
You have a new reader! 🙂 Found you on Pinterest.
I love the transformation that you did, it is beautiful. The color that you use is refreshing, white really gives a lighter effect in a room or space.
I like what you did, you transform it into more commanding and edgy which gives more sophisticated and elegance. Thank you for sharing I love how you use black as your main color.
Oh, I am sssssssooooooooooo jealous of your gorgeous kitchen!! You deserve it, through and through!! Your blog is absolute tops. So sweet to see everyone looking so happy with the new renovation.
Could I live in your kitchen? Please? Seriously breathtaking stuff, well done!
Oh my goodness. I am in heaven looking at these stunning photographs! I am thrilled for you, Sneh! & I absolutely cannot handle how gorgeous your boys are. Enjoy this, lovely, so well deserved x
Oh my gosh, your kitchen story, i die!!! My story is similar, I am constantly nit-picking at my dream kitchen design for our home (which is a constant job-site) and our old ovens are almost the same!!! I just want a large marble workbench. Is that so much to ask? Great job with your kitchen, I love!!!!!
Wow just amazing. What a transformation. ! Just incredible. Congratulations enjoy your new space and we can enjoy the fruits of your labour
Gorgeous!! We went through a kitchen renovation about two ears ago and while it is nowhere near the size of your kitchen I'm still so happy we did it! Congratulations!
What a beautiful space you have created Sneh for you and your family. Kitchen is really the heart of a home and you have a beautiful heart.
Great kitchen. And living space. Congratulations on achieving something wonderful and especially on ridding yourself of that toxic before kitchen.
Can I borrow the little one with the floor-staining mop? He looks to be remarkably efficient and I need one of them just now ..... lucky you.
I just love those black walls and beautiful art on the walls. awesome kitchen.
great transformation ideed..
Beautiful and amazing transformation, Sneh! Thanks for sharing.
Sneh, what a magnificent makeover! I am such a sucker for black and white kitchens with large windows and big ol' work surfaces. You put my kitchen to shame! 🙂
This transformation is beautiful and I especially love how you fully embrace the old and new. xx
You new kitchen is looking very good. Nice job on the renovation.
Sneh, those before and after shots are truly amazing - you've come such a long way in your renovations journey! It's an absolutely beautiful space to work in, and I'm very very jealous!
Thanks for sharing all the amazing pictures! I love how the beverage center is built into the side of the island, and all the natural light makes it beautiful and bright.
Undoubtedly your kitchen looks absolutely stunning. The cabinets and lighting add to its beauty. The best thing about your kitchen it's very spacious.
So gorgeous, this looks straight from the kitchen boards on Pinterest ;).
Oh my. Sneh, what a transformation! Really a dream kitchen, I love all the little details and how you've blended industrial, old and new together. Gorgeous. x
Wow what a transformation from before to now. I also have a serious case of kitchen envy I don't think there is anything that I would change if I was lucky enough to get my dream kitchen.
When I got to the 'before' photos my jaw dropped. The transformation from what you had to what you have is nothing less than astonishing. Congratulations. I'm really happy for you and your family.
Wow! Congrats, just in love wih your kitchen. I like everything. 😉
Thank you so much for all the information on product names, findings when floors and walls came down and most of all COST. I truly appreciate that part and it helps me to understand that good appliances and details of sink space and cost saving construction is worth all the waiting. Have a wonderful time with your family in your new spaces and creating new dishes.
Gorgeous! Love many things but particularly the lights over the breakfast bench.
Hi Sneh, wonderful kitchen.. I was so excited just keep toggling between the pics and the write up.. i wanted to see it all at once.. such a beauty it is.. just amazing.. wish you all always have a great time in this lovely place..
holy smokes, what a new space! I have pantry envy... our kitchen is lovely as I renovated 3+years ago with a similarly large bench space (and colour scheme) but on the small side. Oh for this vast space. One day... Enjoy baking that cake!
Honestly, this must be the best kitchen/living space makeover I have seen - and Lord knows there are enough of those these days in the media 🙂 ! You have ended up with the most elegant but workable open plan and no, it was not too long a post: shall go back over the weekend for another look! Above all, love ALL the lights and the size of the 'walk-in' laundry you managed to get. Do love living and working in it!!!!
Wow, what a dream kitchen! I love it. Congratulations! Here's to many awesome cooking days in your new dreamy kitchen.
absolutely incredible! what a journey and what an end product…now go bake that cake….enjoy xx
Wow, Sneh. What an amazing result. You should be proud!
damnnnn!!!!! this is incredible!
Sneh, what an absolutely amazing space!!! I have serious kitchen envy over the amount of light and beautiful bench space you have (I need to have the lights on constantly in my kitchen and bench space is seriously lacking). You now have a truly gorgeous space to create. Congratulations.
What a gorgeous space, Sneh! You deserve it. It's just lovely, bathed in light, so open and fresh. I love the lightbulb pendants, chalkboard wall, rustic floor, doors, windows, ALL of it.
Your kids are such characters!
Thanks for sharing all these wonderful pics. We're looking into remodeling ours. Might take some pics to remember how horrid it is. Hahaa!
A kitchen reno is not an easy one to live through, but you made it and now you can really delve into cooking!
I love, love, love what you've designed! The whole renovation was definitely worth it and the style stunning.
What a transformation, so enjoyed the pictures.
An absolute dream kitchen...just gorgeous!! All that beautiful natural light and that chalkboard wall, luv! Love the modern touches but still some rustic with industrial (fantastic light fixtures!). Congratulations to you and your family! 🙂
Ohhh que espacio tan PRECIOSO!!!
Ha valido la pena pasar por el calvario anterior, me alegra saber que usted y todas las personas que los visiten estarán encantados en un lugar tan FANTÁSTICO.
Gracias por compartir
I have read this post thrice since afternoon and can't stop 'ooh..ing' & 'aah...ing'. This is simply gorgeous, no other word to define it for me. I have also made my hubby see these images few times with enough sighs to accompany. I hope he gets the message. 😉
Kudos to you Sneh for putting such a fantabulous piece of work. And I am bookmarking this kitchen for reference in the hope that this dream will also become a reality for me. 🙂
Happy baking, cooking, blogging and shooting in such a positive space!!
This is so gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your dream kitchen with us all.
Sooo beautiful... I'm officially jealous! I especially love the tall windows and marbel-esque countertops. So bright and airy! I bet it's a dream to cook in there. 🙂
Oh, this KITCHEN! It's sheer perfection, every inch of it. ("Cook Republic HQ" = YES!) So, so happy and thrilled for you and yours. You deserve it. Wishing you endless happy food memories to be made in this gorgeous space!
What an incredible transformation. I remember chatting to you about how little space you had to work with. What a dream come true and so deserved.
Wow...such a gorgeous kitchen! I think this was one of your most awaited posts apart from your cookbook release post! This is everyone's dream kitchen. I love all the natural light pouring in and with the all white theme....it is so refreshing. It looks cozy, stylish all at the same time! Congrats!
Your new kitchen and living room are absolutely beautiful! Love all the details, tips & info you provided. I know you'll enjoy this space for many years to come! 🙂
The most inspiring picture in this post was actually the 'before' photo of your kitchen. It shows us all that if you talented and really wanna do something, you can do it no matter what you have... And of course, congrats for your new stunning kitchen!!! Well deserved!!!
What an absolutely beautiful kitchen!! soo much light and space... it was worth the wait!! and I also love how it looks at night with the lights on! the transformation is just incredible.. I can just imagine the amount of work and research must have gone into it! love the 'mory a transport' signage.. brilliant! :))
Sney, it looks fabulous! I love everything about it, but the windows are amazing. Love that yellow kitchenaid, it just POPS!
Wow what an amazing experience you've had and I love the outcome... looks like my dream kitchen!! I love the Oliveri black tap too... I am always drawn to the ones that are expensive ;-p
WOW there is not one thing i don't like about this kitchen! It is BEAUTIFUL
WOAH!!! That is amazing! You must be so happy, I would spent every second of the day in there. You've done an amazing job.
Congrats for making it through the renovation . It's worth all the sacrifice as this is such a super gorgeous kitchen.
What a gorgeous kitchen! It must be a dream to cook in. We're still in the midst if planning & saving for our new kitchen. Your comment about using nearly 10l of paint made me laugh as we recently experienced the same thing in our house. Thanks for the inspiration. Enjoy!
WOW. Amazing, gorgeous dream kitchen - love how you have used the space, big wide open areas and full of light.
Wow Sneh! This absolutely stunning!! A dream kitchen for sure!!! So happy for you. <3 <3
It is beautiful, I'm so inspired!
What an incredible transformation!!!! I absolutely love your new kitchen. So much beautiful light. Also it's just stunning!!!!! Congratulations!
Oh Sneh! I'm speechless!!!
Serious kitchen envy, those windows <3 and everything! I couldn't think of a more deserving person to win this, and the transformation is just incredible!! Can't wait to see what the new workspace inspires you to do next xoxox
Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. And you so deserve it!! I'd want a kitchen just like that!
Oooohhhh...Congratulations on such a stunning transformation. What a wonderful space to work in! I love the pendant lights over the bench and the chalkboard wall - wonderful.
Hi Sneh, I absolutely LOVE your new kitchen space and my hat off to you for creating the beautiful masterpieces you had been in your old one. I'm slightly envious of your chalkboard wall and love the white. The light. The peace lilly on the industrial table. The lamps. The boys' stud y desk. Now, I think these - http://instagram.com/p/hZcRM_QTFY/ would look very cute in your laundry (and be just as appropriate as they are in ours). Perhaps a little gift from me to you next time we catch up if you'd like.
Love love love what you've done and your layout is similar to our plans in our new build- complete with massive island bench and two big 1.8 meter wide windows behind the oven overlooking the garden. Just wondering what dimensions you decided upon for your island? Ours will house our Belfast sink and dishwasher but I wanted lots of prep area.
So inspired by your beautiful transformation
I am deeply fascinated by your renovation!
So brave, so good, so....everything!!! 😀
Wow, amazing, gorgeous!!!! This is exactly what I want (of course with a few different modifications) Love everything you have incorporated in such a unique space. Gorgeous images. Will be pinning them xx
Congrats Sneh! Your place looks spectacular. I can see how much work and effort has gone into it. It's just too beautiful - an inspiring space
This is absolutely stunning Sneh. I loved it all the way through my scrolling but seeing the Before photos really put this project into perspective! Well done, incredible!
The transformation is absolutely incredible! It's Pinterest-perfect!
What a gorgeous makeover Sneh. Loved reading this post, thanks for sharing all the lovely pics and stories.
As someone who has grand dreams of undertaking a similar renovation, I lingered on each and every photo here with my mind whirling. The difference is just mind-blowing and it looks magnificent. Congrats on making it through what must have been a pretty challenging few months. Enjoy the new kitchen!
Awesome pictures Sneh! xx
Indeed...a dream kitchen! Hope the space inspires you to achieve new heights.
aaaaah, so sooooo gorgeous! Congratulations again 🙂
Beautiful! A dream kitchen...
WHAT A DREAM KITCHEN beautiful, superb design and execution. Can't wait next time I'm in Sydney to cook with you 🙂
Love you loads and SO SO happy for you,
It is just so gorgeous and elegant! May you have many more happy cooking days!
I love those lights!! such an improvement. A great kitchen space. I notice that you do make a few product endorsements throughou and at the end of this post. Did these companies pay for your refurbishment? Just curious of course.
Thanks Francesca! No, we bought everything after weeks and weeks of research and browsing online and in shops to get the right look and feel. I have only linked to them because I know people will ask where we got it from and having a link is very handy 🙂
Oh Thanks for your honest reply. The space is really well designed and, having seen your previous kitchen, well, I don't know how you managed. I asked that direct question becasue lately I have found that some of my all time favourite bloggers have turned into sales reps. I know that bloggers seek to gain some financial reward from their efforts, but when this is too blatant, I give them the flick. I am so pleased that you are not one of them.