New $1275 Kitchen

  • Renovate your kitchen, after pic, modern flatpack kitchen
  • Renovate your kitchen, after pic, old kitchen before renovation

Instead of paying big bucks for new cabinetry and appliances this kitchen was given a budget transformation with vinyl tile flooring and a few coats of brilliant white paint.

Cost of the reno

  • Primer and paint: $265
  • Hardboard: $115
  • Solvent-free adhesive: $70
  • Flooring: $825
  • Total: $1275 (AUD)

Typical of 1970s-style decor this kitchen had dark brown veneered cabinets and exposed brick, a long, narrow shelf and a tiled benchtop with matching low splashback. The cupboard doors and kickboard had discoloured and the linoleum flooring was worn.
On the bright side, the classic U-shaped layout was functional with good access to cabinets, and the sink was positioned below the window for natural light while working. The tiles were unchipped, the grout looked good and the door handles were still in reasonable condition.

The makeover plan

The idea was to brighten up the space by using plenty of white paint. With a budget of just $1300, the solutions had to be cost-effective.

  1. Fix damaged veneer on the doors and cabinets, remove the handles for reusing and smooth the doors.
  2. Paint the surfaces including the cabinets, doors and window frames, and dismantle the mini shelf to paint the brick wall.
  3. Replace damaged flooring with new vinyl tile flooring and add a movable island bench for extra storage.

Preparing and painting

Paint transforms a space but requires preparation before application so it withstands steam, grease and heat.
Surfaces were washed with sugar soap and left to dry. Holes were filled using plaster filler then the surfaces were smoothed with a foam sanding block.

Finishing the cabinets

Cabinets and doors were prepared with two coats of Dulux PrepLock Water Based Stain Blocker, $73 for four litres, applied with a 50mm cutting-in brush for big surfaces and a 25mm brush for detailed areas, and left to dry.
TIP To test if the paint will adhere, apply the sealer to a patch then scratch with a fingernail. If it leaves a mark, clean again and leave to dry before sealing.
A semi-gloss water-based enamel was first applied to the edges of the cabinet doors then the inside surfaces and door fronts. Veneered surfaces were smoothed lightly between coats.

Finishing the walls

Plasterboard walls were prepared with three-in-one primer, rolled on in crisscross strokes and then finished with long vertical strokes.
The unglazed brick was porous so Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Primer, Sealer & Undercoat, $63 for four litres, was applied as the basecoat and left to dry then a low-sheen acrylic applied. 

Preparing to paint

Preparing to paint

With the challenge set to paint the walls, cabinets, doors and window frames, preparation was needed to keep the tiles and windows clean. The floor was covered with a canvas drop cloth and an edger used around the window trim.

Laying the new floor

An alternative to installing a floating floor was to use luxury vinyl tile (LVT), comprised of thin, flexible vinyl floorboards with a printed timber-look surface protected by a tough urethane wear layer.
Attached to a smooth, level subfloor, it’s slim enough not to increase the floor height as much as floating boards and won’t affect the height of the bench and sink.
Amtico LVT boards, $55 a metre, from QEP Australia (, come in cartons that cover three square metres. The golden oak finish complements the white cupboards and the benchtop tiles.
The amount of flooring was calculated, including a 10% margin for wastage, and bought at the same time to avoid problems with inconsistencies between batches.
The boards were left in the kitchen to acclimatise for 48 hours as they tend to expand or contract slightly with changes in humidity and temperature.

Securing the underlay

Since the existing floor had a rough-sawn timber surface, an underlay of 2400 x 915 x 5.5mm hardboard panels was put down and secured using flooring adhesive with a pneumatic stapler.
Perpendicular chalklines were set out on the hardboard underlay to establish the centre of the room that was checked for square using the 3:4:5 method.
TIP The 3:4:5 method involves measuring 600mm along one chalkline and 800mm along the other. If the diagonal line between the two points is 1000mm, the lines are square. Any equal multiples of 3:4:5 work just as effectively.

Finishing the floor

When the boards were positioned over the adhesive a lino roller was used to bond them to the underlay.
The floor was left to cure for 48 hours before being walked on. Small offcuts of hardboard were used under appliance feet to spread the load.

Putting down the boards

Boards were laid from centrelines to check fit against walls to avoid narrow or short cuts. Adjust the setout if required and flick laying lines a second time. Boards were laid form the sink, parallel to the light source in a stretcher bond pattern.

Step 1. Repair the cabinets

Damaged veneer was patched, the handles removed and imperfections on the doors and sides of the cabinets were smoothed with a foam sanding block using 80 grit then 120 grit abrasive paper. Veneer edges that had come loose were neatly trimmed back with a utility knife.

Step 2. Apply the filler

Two-part polyster filler was mixed and applied to damaged edges using a spatula. The filler was then left to dry.

Step 3. Level the filler

A Surform plane was used to level the filler that was then finished with a sanding block.

Step 4. Paint prep

The mini shelf was removed so the dark brick wall could be painted in a bright white.

Step 5. Use the edger

Before rolling, paint the edges of a wall using an edger instead of masking tape to avoid spills on the trim.

Step 6. Clean up spills

After the window frame was painted, any spills on the glass were scraped off using a single-edged razor.

Step 7. Test the boards

Boards were test-fitted using chalkline guides to check alignment with walls, doorjambs and kickboards.

Step 8. Apply adhesive

Flooring adhesive was spread from the edges of the underlay using a 4mm notched towel held at a 45' angle.

Step 9. Cut the boards

Mark boards to be cut for a neat fit and cut to size using a fine-toothed handsaw such as a tenon saw.

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