Bathroom & Kitchen Guide

Your complete guide to remodeling, design and new products.


How They Did It

For Joe and Melissa Dawson, renovating their small kitchen was always going to be tricky - but it was a challenge that they felt up to. Their Sydney cottage needed a lot of work, but underneath the tacky laminate there was good, solid timber that could lay the foundations for something better. But the kitchen was the biggest problem - barely 3m x 3m in total. How were they going to make this a functional space to work and entertain in?

Knocking Down a Wall

Luckily for the Dawsons, the wall dividing the kitchen from the dining room next door was not a structural necessity. By knocking down this wall they opened up their kitchen considerably, but so as not to lose the demarcation between the working and entertaining areas, they decided to build a breakfast bar in the same space that the wall used to be.

"We loved the idea of a breakfast bar, because it's such a social space. Our boys are still young, but we'll be here for a while I think, and the breakfast bar creates such a social atmosphere," Melissa said.

Getting to the Original Features

The interiors of the original kitchen where not to Joe and Melissa's tastes - they wanted a slick, modern feel with which highlighted the house's original features. But what they had was wallpaper, vinyl flooring and laminate benchtops.

Behind one wallboard there was an old chimney that had been blocked in. They decided to remove the wallboard and use the chimney as a room feature, although they decided not to use it as a source of heating.

Underneath the laminate, the benchtops were cheap pine and the cabinets had not held up well with age. So Joe and Melissa decided to strip the kitchen clean of cabinets and start again with a semi-customised set-up. This also allowed them to incorporate their appliances into the small space in the most space-saving fashion possible.

"We had bought all our appliances and had all the measurements before we went to the cabinet shop, and then we were able to work out how to fit everything in as neatly as possible," Melissa said.

But the floor was a different matter - underneath that vinyl there were perfectly good timber floorboards which the Dawsons sanded back and stained.

"It took us a couple of weeks to get it all done, but it was worth it. By the end we had great-looking modern cabinets, timber benches and a fantastic floor," Joe said.

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