The kitchen is probably the most daunting room in the house to renovate. There are so many things to consider, like water pipes, gas lines, electrical appliances, cupboards, tiling, bench space and lighting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finding a kitchen design company who can actually realise your vision within the limits of your budget can also be a bewildering task.

Ray Smith, from Sydney-based company Hollywood Bathrooms And Kitchens, has been designing kitchens for over 20 years and is speaking at a seminar on kitchen renovating this weekend at the Sydney Building Information Centre. We asked him to reveal a few tricks of the trade.

Smith said one of the most important things to consider when designing your new kitchen is whether or not you cook. If they don’t cook there’s not much point in having a huge kitchen, he says. So the first thing I ask is what the kitchen is needed for.

Things Smith takes into consideration are the size of the family and whether they will they be eating in the kitchen or out of it. If they’re eating in it, do they want a big breakfast bar or an island bar? Then I ask them what they want the cupboards to be like.

The next thing on Smith’s list to think about is the appliances you need. How big do you want your fridge to be, and does it have to come with an ice maker? Do you want a wall oven, or an under-bench one? If you want a dishwasher, what capacity does it need to be?

Once you’ve worked out these essentials, you need to find a kitchen design company who can create exactly what you want. Not every company will have the types of materials you want to use, or do the styles you’re after, Smith explained. So you need to find the company that can tailor to your requirements.

Then there’s the minor issue of money. Being upfront about how much you have to spend is vital.

People are often shy about revealing exactly how big their budget is. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of -“ everyone has a budget. And most people don’t understand how much certain things are going to cost, so the company might design something they simply can’t afford.

If you’re upfront about your budget from the start, the designer can ask the client which bits of the kitchen are most important, and spend more on those areas. If the most important thing to you is the bench-top, we’d concentrate more on that, and spend less on the cupboards.

The clients who explain exactly how much they want to spend, Smith said, usually end up with the best kitchens.

INFO The Sydney Building Information Centre’s kitchen renovation seminar is being held this Sunday 21 March from 8:30am to 5pm. It will feature several speakers discussing everything from plumbing to lighting and colour schemes to bench tops. The cost is $115 and you can book on 8303 0545 or at www.buildingcentre.com.

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