Where to spend and where to save on your new kitchen

pale grey small u-shaped kitchen with white worktops and under unit lighting
(Image credit: Aura Kitchens)

Renovations can, without thorough planning and research, end up being incredibly money hungry things — gobbling up your savings before you have even properly got stuck in to the bulk of the project.

Kitchen ideas, in particular, can really add to the overall cost of a renovation project — but it really doesn't have to.

It really can pay (quite literally) to consider which areas of the project you can save on. Of course there is always a way of doing things on the cheap — but it is not always the best way. 

Here, we set out the areas of a new kitchen project that it is worth spending a little more on in order to ensure a high quality end result that doesn’t leave you wishing you had spent more. We also suggest savings that can be made to ensure you don’t end up spending more than is sensible.  

Every home has a ceiling value — that is, the highest price it will be worth. This depends on its location, size and neighbouring properties. You must consider your home’s ceiling value when fitting a new kitchen, particularly if you don’t plan on living in the house forever. You don’t want to find out, on trying to sell the property, that you can never make back the money you spent.

blue kitchen with white worktops and kitchen island

New kitchens can end up costing hundreds of thousands but there is no need why you should to blow the budget if you are spending savvy. (Image credit: Higham Furniture)

Where to prioritise spending on a new kitchen 

The kitchen design is one element of any improvement project that it is frighteningly easy to overspend on.

Kitchens are spaces that need to be hardwearing and up to the job of withstanding everything we throw at them on a daily basis – hot pans, spills, stains, steam – you name it, they have to be able to cope. What this means is that even when looking at cheap kitchens, you need to be careful that any savings you make are not going to mean sacrificing quality.

With this in mind, read on to discover where it is safe to cut costs and where it is most certainly worth digging into your savings. 

1. Considered kitchen layouts

If you are updating an existing kitchen, it can be tempting to try to save money by retaining the original layout, to avoid having to reroute services such as electrics, water, waste or gas supplies, you could end up regretting it. 

However, do take the time to consider other kitchen layout ideas as having a new kitchen fitted presents an opportunity to create a space perfectly tailored to your needs — a new layout (or entirely new location within the house) could be worth the extra outlay. 

2. Good kitchen storage

However much storage you have the kitchen, it never seems to be quite enough. And it is for this reason that it really does pay to ensure you invest in good kitchen storage ideas

But what is ‘good’ kitchen storage? First and foremost, it should be tailored to your needs — perhaps you have lots of bulky appliances that you would rather not store on your worktop, or maybe you have an extensive collection of antique crockery or like to shop in bulk for dried goods. 

Whatever your requirements, don’t scrimp on storage. Whilst many pull out units and carousels can look good in pictures, do try to see them in real life — some can be flimsy or awkward to operate once filled. Invest in the best you can afford.

corner kitchen unit with pull out storage

Kitchen storage is one area where it is worth spending extra to firstly ensure you have enough and, secondly, that the storage you buy is sturdy and hardwearing. Shown here is Smile Kitchens' Fnissa storage. (Image credit: Smile Kitchens)

3. Smart kitchen flooring choices

The best flooring for kitchens needs to be really durable and up to the task of handling spills of hot liquids or oils, heavy foot traffic, moisture and heat — plus it needs to look good. 

Aim not to scrimp when it comes to choosing kitchen flooring or else you could end up having to later replace a damaged floor. Good choices include tiles, LVT, waterproof laminate and engineered flooring. 

LVT floor in kitchen

Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are a brilliant choice for kitchens, being hardwearing and water-resistant. This slate look-a-like LVT flooring is from Lifestyle Floors and costs £59.99/m2.  (Image credit: Lifestyle Floors)

4. Kitchen unit handles

Use high quality handles, levers and knobs for your units and drawers. Not only do they have the power to turn the ordinary into something far more eye-catching but they are one of those items you will constantly be using. 

grey kitchen unit storage drawers with chrome cup handles

The right choice of stylish unit knobs and handles will transform even low-cost unit door and drawer fronts into something special. The units here are from Mereway Kitchens' English Revival range. (Image credit: Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms)

5. Sturdy kitchen worktops

Avoid cheap laminates and softwoods when it comes to your worktops. Surfaces in the kitchen should be hardwearing, stain and heat proof and easy to clean and maintain. 

Composites and durable natural stones, such as granite, are well worth the extra costs and are amongst some of the best kitchen worktop materials. 

quartz composite worktop on kitchen island

Good quality composite worktops are well worth the price — they are stain, heat and spill proof and have excellent longevity. The quartz composite worktop here, in this kitchen from Higham Furniture, is the ideal choice for a busy kitchen island.   (Image credit: Higham Furniture)

6. Kitchen lighting

Never underestimate the impact great kitchen lighting ideas can have on the way the space functions and feels — a single central pendant just won't do.

Take time to consider where targeted, task lighting will be most required and aim for several lower pendants over tables and islands. You might also like to include some ambient mood lighting, hidden beneath units and shelving. Speaking to a lighting designer is often well worth it if you are stuck for inspiration. 

double height contemporary kitchen with hidden led lighting

Taking the time to carefully plan out your lighting design will really pay off and could even effect how you use your kitchen in years to come. This design, by Smile Kitchens, features a combination of light sources to ensure each space in the open plan layout seems distinct from the other.  (Image credit: Smile Kitchens)

Where to save on a new kitchen 

There are also many areas of new kitchen design, or within a kitchen renovation, where it is easy to make savings that will in no way impact the finished result, both in terms of quality as well as appearance.

Very often, when you receive a quote from a kitchen specialist, it is possible to give it a quick scan and see where savings can be made by sourcing products yourself and there are some items where it makes no sense to spend thousands when you could be spending hundreds. We take a look at those here. 

Budget unit carcasses

There is absolutely no need to spend thousands of pounds on your unit carcasses. The carcasses are the part of the unit you don't see apart from when the door is open — and even then they are usually pretty well covered by all your crockery, dried goods and the like. 

Of course you want good quality and sturdy carcasses, but it is quite possible to find these from most DIY warehouses — no need to opt for solid wood here. 

A good option is to buy off-the-shelf unit carcasses to fit standard sized doors. There are many companies out there who supply unit doors separately.

Don't get carried away with kitchen appliances

Take the time to really think about which appliances you most need — it is all too easy to get carried away kitting out your kitchen with every single appliance suggested by your kitchen supplier but could you do without some of the more gimmicky appliances and instead use that money to invest in higher quality appliances that you are likely to use on a daily basis?

Think about how you use your kitchen — for example, if you drink coffee on a daily basis then a built-in coffee machine may be well worth it, less so if you are a household of tea drinkers. 

built in single oven in kitchen

The Candy FCP602X E0/E Black Built-in Electric Single Oven here, from B&Q, costs £248. Think carefully about how you plan on using your kitchen before splashing out on unnecessary appliances.  (Image credit: B&Q)

Kitchen sink materials matter

Whilst it is tempting to get carried away when choosing a new kitchen, those seeking to save a few pennies whilst maintaining quality and a timeless look should consider a stainless steel sink. 

Stainless steel often makes some of the best kitchen sinks and are those made from this material are generally much cheaper than composite or ceramic kitchen sinks — plus there is most certainly a reason why stainless steel is the chosen material for professional kitchens as it is hardwearing, easy to clean and stain proof. 

inset stainless steel sink with traditional kitchen tap

Stainless steel is usually the most cost-effective choice when it comes to kitchen sinks — this double inset sink from Wren Kitchens adds a nice contrast to the country-style speckled Xena Quartz worktops. (Image credit: Wren Kitchens)
Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.