Pokey, with no bench space or storage and mice living under the pantry (!), Hayley Kessner knew a good project when she saw one. Married to a builder and an interior designer herself, the dark, dank and uninviting kitchen of her new home in Perth was in dire need of renovation, and she had the perfect team to tackle it: them.
“100 percent of the kitchen was done ourselves,” explains Hayley. “From the very initial design – my husband Chadd worked out all the structural elements, whilst I took care of the floorplan. We then chose all the materials and finishes together. I really wanted to push the boundaries and do some difficult DIY projects that I had seen floating around the internet, so that I knew they would work before I made any suggestions to clients. Thankfully, we pulled off every idea!”
Originally a little room with a load bearing wall separating it from the rest of the house, they immediately knocked it down and installed supporting beams in the ceiling. Replacing all the cabinetry, benches, electricals and plumbing, the last stage of the renovation saw the cosmetic makeover begin, which included spraying the lower cabinets in flat black enamel paint, replacing the island benchtop, hand painting the grout and pendants, replacing the cabinetry handles with DIY leather straps and the biggest job of all: creating concrete benchtops.
“We laid concrete directly over the existing laminate benchtops that ran along the walls of the kitchen,” says Hayley. “We sanded down the laminate then poured concrete over the top. Once it was dry, Chadd sanded down the concrete for a smooth finish — this was the absolute worst part of the entire renovation by far. Because the fronts were off all the doors and drawers, every single thing was covered in dust. We had to wash it all. It was so worth it in the long run though, the concrete brings the most beautiful texture to the space and adds that perfect element of grunge that was needed to tie it into the rest of the house.”
Now open plan, the kitchen shares the same space as the lounge and dining areas and, as a result, flows on beautifully to the rest of the house. “The house was built in the sixties and definitely has some traditional elements like the Jarrah floors and the decorative cornices. I didn’t want to bring in a highly modern kitchen that would look new and out-of-place. I think what we built fits just right with the look of the rest of the home.”
Having done all the work themselves, Hayley estimates the cost of the kitchen renovation to be around $10,000. And while there were some big-ticket items, she notes the replacement of the island bench as her most cost-efficient move. “The simplest update was probably swapping out the laminate island bench with a piece of laminated pine we bought from Bunnings. We softened the edges with a sander and rubbed an oak stain on it before sealing it with some food-safe oil. It was $99 for the pine and $11 for the stain, and it makes a huge difference.”
Home to Hayley, Chadd and their three children (10, eight and three) it was also very important that storage was kept front of mind. “The kitchen now has ample storage, plenty of bench space and looks so good. All the under-bench storage is deep drawers, so nothing gets lost and everything gets used. We also decided to take up some of the dining space by installing a big two-door pantry that is also fitted with open drawers — again making every space accessible. The other key is to get rid of appliances you don’t use. No one really needs a hot dog/milkshake/cake pop maker. We have in our cupboards only what we use all the time.”
For more on Hayley’s projects or to ask her questions about what she did or used here, visit her website.
Photography by Heather Robbins