As most of my readers know last year we renovated our kitchen and dining area, I have shared a few images of our finished design over on my Instagram page and I am frequently asked about the details of our renovation. I thought it was only fitting to finally do a blog post explaining the in’s and out’s of what our renovation entailed. I have been holding off on doing this post as it was an absolute ‘renovation nightmare’ but I think it is important to share our story to let people know it doesn’t always go to plan. Our finished kitchen is absolutely beautiful but I wanted to give an honest account as to what we went through to get it completed.

(Before - images supplied by agent when we purchased our home)

When we decided to take the plunge and renovate our kitchen I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the final design to look like. I had spent months searching for inspiration on pinterest, in magazines and via social media and had already done a few rough sketches of the design I liked. I wanted the kitchen to be functional foremost and obviously visually appealing as it is the core to our living space. I loved the idea of working with white on white, with matte black accents so I based the design around that. Our existing kitchen was a horrible shade of chocolate brown with mustard yellow bench tops and was in dire need of replacing, so I wanted to give it a complete re-vamp which meant gutting the entire kitchen. We sourced a few quotes and once we had selected a kitchen company to work with, confirmed the final design and timeframe and then started demolition!

(During demo) 

We decided to do the demo ourselves to save on cost and it was actually a really fun experience smashing down that horrible old kitchen. The next stage was ripping up the existing flooring as we had also decided to replace that with new tiles. It was such a massive task and involved two full days slowly chipping away at the tile underlay pulling out every single nail by hand, if you know anything about tile underlay there are literally thousands of nails!
During this process we discovered part of the kitchen floor was rotting away so that needed replacing before the tiler could come in and start laying my beautiful new flooring. This was a minor hiccup, something that can be expected during renovations but unbeknown to me this was just the first of many challenges we would face during our renovation. I am going to go into detail because it definitely wasn’t smooth sailing, but although there were many bumps in the road (so to speak) I am not going to disclose what tradesmen and suppliers we had bad experiences with because it is sometimes just a case of bad luck and in our case we lucked out!

We were finally underway, our tiles went down and once the grout work was complete I discovered that one row of tiles was sitting a good 5mm higher than the rest, this might not sound like much but when its bang smack in the middle of the dining area it sticks out like a sore thumb and in my opinion was a trip hazard. Our tiler had to come back and replace the row of raised tiles but unfortunately did the grout immediately after tiling and over a matter of weeks it started to crumble. Needless to say that tradesman wasn’t invited back to complete the tile work in the kitchen!
Because of the delay with the flooring our kitchen install was pushed back by a week but once our cabinetry was delivered I was ecstatic and thought we are finally making progress! We had also just completed the plastering and painting ourselves, ready for the new kitchen to be installed. I just want to point out by this stage we had been living out of a make-shift kitchen located in our bathroom for close to a month, not an easy task with a baby who had just stared eating solids.

(During Install)

The contactor arrived and started the kitchen install, the install itself was scheduled to take three days and once that was completed our bench top was to be measured, cut and fitted a week later so here I was thinking 'yay' in just under two weeks I will have an almost finished kitchen (minus the tile splash-back). Around midday (on day one of the install) I decide to pop in and take a little peek at the progress, I knew instantly something didn’t look right. The first thing I noticed was two of the main cabinets, one was sticking out past the edge of the wall and the second seemed too small for the space. The second thing I noticed was the shelving in the pantry, it came flush to the door and had a false bottom floor and was not a ‘U’ shape as per our final design that allowed us to step into the pantry as the shelving was so deep. After multiple phone calls to our designer, the owner of the kitchen company and a rather confusing conversation with the contractor I basically put a stop to all work until this could be resolved. I just want to make a point here that no one would take accountability and it appeared at this stage we didn’t have a product manager, we were left dealing with multiple different people from the kitchen company and no one seemed to know what was going on.

The next morning the owner of the kitchen company and the contactor met with my husband and I to try and work out what was going wrong, it turned out the contactor had miss-read the plans and had switched up the two cabinets installing them in the wrong place, luckily for us this was an easy fix.
It then came to light that the production of all the cabinetry was outsourced to a company in Palmerston North (we live in Auckland) so because the pantry shelving had to be remade and then sent up to Auckland this was a further setback.

(Finished design)

The install continued but when the new pantry shelves arrived the left side of the cabinetry had to be pulled apart again to fit the new pantry, we were going around in circles and each day got sent a different contractor, one who had no idea what the guy before him had completed and was asking me what needed to be done next! In total we had three different contractors install the cabinetry over a three-four week period all coming at different intervals.
Basically by this stage I was at my wits end. Nothing seemed to be going right and to top it off the wrong handles were delivered (chrome, not the matte black that was ordered) and the wrong sized bin, minor but still frustrating.

Once the cabinetry was finally in and our bench top had been measured we decided to move our fridge into the kitchen, that’s when we discovered the fridge door couldn’t fully open…I AM NOT JOKING! By this stage I was basically on the verge of a nervous breakdown, there were lots of tears and the most frustrating thing was that we actually went with the highest quote and were working with a reputable company!

We had another visit from the owner of the kitchen company and it turns out the designer somehow didn’t read the measurements of the fridge correctly so when you opened the fridge door it hit into the panty and you couldn’t open the fruit and vegie drawers, a complete error in design in everyway possible. We were presented with one option – to change the kitchen design, this meant remaking the cabinetry to the left of the fridge and shortening the bench top on that side by a considerable amount, in turn leaving a large cavity on the right side of the fridge. I measured it, looked at it and was completely broken, it would look horrible, I knew it, there had to be another way!
I took matters into my own hands and went shopping (as you do) and found a replacement fridge that would still fit in the existing space, function (ie: the door could actually open) and would mean only the overhead cabinet would need to be replaced, so I sent the kitchen company the bill for the new fridge and cried a sigh of relief.

(Tapware and marble features) 

With all those challenges behind us we could finally move forward and give the go-ahead for our bench top to be cut. I feel silly writing this because our story sounds so dramatic, you couldn’t possibly think anything else could go wrong, but it did. As it turned out the slabs of marble we had selected had too many imperfections that weren’t noticed until they had started to cut the bench top, this meant we had to go back to the supplier to select a new slab, problem solved, but further delays. Our bench top was fitted, we found a new tiler to complete the splash back and our kitchen was finally completed. We also found a company with a product called clearstone that apply a poxy resin to the surface of the bench to protect the marble. As some people might know marble is a very porous material so I was very happy to be able to have the bench top of my dreams and protect the surface making it workable. From start to finish the renovation took four months; that was four months living in our home without a kitchen!
Our renovation journey was a textbook horror story but in the end I have a beautiful kitchen, was it worth it? Absolutely!

(Dinging area)

Supplier list:
Wall Colour: Dulux Manorburn
Marble Bench-top: sourced from CDK Stone (Bianco Carrara), cut and fitted by EStone.
Tapware: M-line gooseneck with pullout spray, imported via Robertson.co.nz
Tiles from: Tile space
Hardware: Chrome handles, powder coated black
Appliances: Harvey Norman
Blinds: Bunnings

Tradesmen I recommend:
Electrician: POW WOW Electrical
Tiler (kitchen) not the one that did the floor: Andy Derbyshire, Shore Plumbing & Tiling



  1. What a gorgeous kitchen. We are building and having a marble caesar stone and we have exactly the same tap and also subway tiles with grey grout so it is lovely to see a kitchen so similar in colours to ours looking so lovely.