With over 20 years’ design experience behind her, Shaynna Blaze needs little introduction. We asked the award-winning interior designer and The Block judge, to share some of her best tips for updating your kitchen and bathroom.
Know your reason
The kitchen is the heart of the home, but the bathroom is now an oasis. There has been a big movement towards having beautiful bathrooms and laundries. Upgrading these rooms can also get expensive very quickly, so it is important to know the reason behind your renovation.
“It’s not just about the kitchen anymore. When you’re spending a lot of money on fixtures such as stone and cabinetry in more than one room, you need think about why you are renovating,” says Shaynna. “Are you renovating to add value, or is this your forever home? Knowing the answer will mean the difference between adding a simple stone overlay and building from the ground up.”
Picture the space in use
We all know the importance of the working triangle in the kitchen, but what else do you use your kitchen for? If you love to cook with a whole bunch of different kitchen gadgets, then you need to allocate bench space and cabinetry for them. If your kitchen doubles as a home office space you could have drawers designated for paperwork.
“Everybody has their own lifestyle, and the kitchen has evolved beyond a simple room for preparing food. Is yours a social stop for people while you are cooking? Is this where your kids do their homework? You need to think about how the layout works with these other elements.”
Use lasting trends, not fads
When picking style trends, keep in mind that kitchens and bathrooms should last between five to 10 years. Look at the big picture, and go for trends that are long term and functional.
“Stone and marble benchtops are going to be around for years to come. When picking your cabinetry colours, make sure you are happy to live with them for the next 10 years. Otherwise, use overhead lighting to spruce up the space – it’s cheaper and easier to change later down the track.”
When it comes to bathrooms, don’t be afraid to go bold. “All white tiles are beautiful but boring. Think Moroccan, Art Deco, Art Nouveau – it’s all about capturing that ‘boutique hotel experience’.”
Shaynna also suggests staying away from the current (over)use of black and rose gold, as well as the industrial vintage trend. Opt for gunmetal or aged brass tapware instead. “Rose gold is one of those things that you wouldn’t put in unless you absolutely love it. If it’s your signature style then go for it. Very strong colours like green and navy will definitely be in for a while, but make sure you love them before using them in your kitchen or bathroom refresh.”
Stick to your budget
Whatever your budget, it is possible to upgrade your kitchen and bathroom in style. Shaynna suggests upgrading the look and the feel of a space when renovating on a budget. Changing the layout of the kitchen will push costs up, so be sure to keep plumbing and wiring in the same place.
“Focus on the things people touch the most. Overlay your benchtop with stone; change the position of the sink; repaint your doors; and choose good quality handles. These things will add instant value with minimum fuss.”
If you are working from the ground up, think carefully about your appliances. “People look at brands all the time and want everything to match. This can be a surefire way to blow your budget. Take a look at what you use the most and splurge on that, while opting for something a little down the budget line for the rest.”
The same thing applies to the bathroom; like the handles in the kitchen, tapware should be your priority. “A stone benchtop with a basic laminate underneath will work wonders. Have one feature tile wall and use budget tiles for the other areas. Or you could also just tile the wet area rather than all the walls to save money.”
Shaynna’s newest role sees her as a brand ambassador for Granite Transformations. Her favourite products include their unique tiles and the new Marble Collection which has all the beauty of marble with the added benefit of being heat resistant and non-porous. “Granite Transformations enable renovators to revamp their kitchen and bathroom by working with the existing surfaces and cabinets, for a proportion of the cost of a complete demolition and rebuild.”
Love kitchen and bathroom tips like this? There’s plenty more where that came from.