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At the heart of every home is the kitchen; the center of living, a space for entertaining, and a hub for families to come together. And for homeowners Hana and Ben, their kitchen is key.

Hana’s Christchurch home (and soon to be rental property) is a classic 21st century dark clinker brick build, which holds a rich history for Hana and her family.

Built by Hana’s grandparents in 2001, their kitchen started off as a ‘muted, 2000’s forest green’, and was in desperate need of some TLC.

So after three years of consideration, a few failed DIY attempts, and with Hana and partner Ben soon embarking on life together in their new home, it was out with the old and in with a brand new kitchen.

If you’ve thought about refurbishing your kitchen, read along for:

  • How to renovate it for less

  • How and where to find the right tradespeople

  • What Hana would (and wouldn’t) do in hindsight

  • Plus, the final results.

This 2000’s kitchen desperately needed some TLC| Photo: Alana Shinn

First Looks At The New Space

As we walk down the driveway to Hana’s for the first time since the renovation began, we’re greeted by Ralph the dog, who Hana says is a big fan of the new kitchen.

On entry, Hana’s style shows; a mix of classic and modern, with unique Victorian-style pieces and bright pops of red, pink, orange and baby blue.

The highly anticipated kitchen is a statement feature that’s hard to miss, with the perfect contrast of wood-look bench tops and bold matte black cabinetry.

The lovely home owners, Hana (right) & Ben (left)| Photo: Alana Shinn

A Step Back In Time

Hana and I take a step back in time over a cuppa, as she shares stories of growing up in the home with her grandparents, reminiscing on the splashes of colour which remained untouched up until 2019.

“There was green and yellow everywhere – even the carpet was green,” Hana says, alluding to the first changes that needed to be made.

“Secondly, the joinery and surfaces weren’t up to standard functionally – the doors were broken, there were lots of chipped areas, and there wasn’t enough bench space.

“So, over lockdown last year I painted the cabinets white, but as you can expect, a DIY job by someone who isn’t a tradesperson isn’t nearly as good,” Hana laughs.

Hana & Ben check out their Mitre10 kitchen plans | Photo: Alana Shinn

Out With The Old Kitchen

“Having thought about this project for three years, I was able to visit a few stores to explore the options, with some small ideas in mind.” Hana says.

After deciding to follow a recommendation to go to Mitre10, her vision started to fall into place.

“The kitchen needed to be quite robust and look good, especially with our plans to rent our home,” Hana says.

“With Mitre10, I knew what I was getting; the quality was good, it was affordable, and it was easy.

“Jenny from Mitre10 handled everything from the measuring to making the order… so we just had to sit and wait for it to arrive.”

Matt (right) and his team from Otautahi Builders, Christchurch| Photo: Alana Shinn

Character Wins Every Time

Inspired by a friend who did a full home renovation using BC, Hana posted her job shortly after making the flatpack order.

“Outside of Builderscrack no one had got back to me, but as soon as I posted my job I got five people within 20 minutes,” Hana says.

With five tradespeople chasing her job, Hana carefully assessed these key attributes:

  • Reviews from other homeowners

  • Number of jobs completed by the tradesperson

  • Quality of workmanship

  • Similarity of past jobs to her job

  • Their message responses

  • Timeliness of responses

  • Value for money

“I had a few different people quote me, but Matt from Otautahi Builders trumped all,” Hana says.

“He was nice and earnest, and gave me the best quote.”

“The platform made things so easy for me.”

The renovation is underway| Photo: Alana Shinn

Timing Is Everything

From getting the ball rolling, right through to renovation day there were some hurdles.

“Time and money were the main things holding me back from starting the reno,” Hana says.

“But finally this year, I had more time, money, energy and a partner to enjoy doing it with.

While Hana managed the logistics of most of the renovation, she was happy to hand over the physical work to Matt and his team, from Otautahi Builders. “So the job wasn’t too difficult for us in the end,” Hana says.

“Because putting the bones of the kitchen in was done within the first 48 hours, we could use it relatively early.”

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When Life Happens

A few days into the renovation, Matt from Otautahi Builders says that a family emergency called for minor delays in the installation.

“The extractor fan, hooking up the waste disposal and completing the backsplash – which was an addition to the overall job – took a little bit longer, with only a week of Hana and Ben not being able to use their oven,” Matt says.

Hana’s knowledge and experience as a GP helped her understand the delays, “which can be hard to find at times like this,” Matt commends.

“We still managed to turn up, do things quickly and keep things ticking,” Matt says.

It’s all in the details| Photo: Alana Shinn

In With The New Kitchen

The new kitchen now features:

  • Matte black cabinetry

  • Wood-look benchtops

  • A new oven

  • New extractor fans

  • A waste disposal unit

  • Time: 4 weeks (3 days to get the kitchen in, 2 week wait for tiles and installation)

  • Cost of kitchen flatpack: Approx. $15,500

  • Cost of renovation: Approx. $2,500

“We put the flat pack together, got the sparky in and demolished the kitchen,” Matt shares.

“As it was designed offsite with other measurements, we made sure to double check everything.

“Once Hana supplied the plans, we got straight into it.

“For us it was an easy and straightforward job.”

Stunning before & afters | Photo: Alana Shinn

The Results: A Functional & Stylish Kitchen

The final results are best described as modern, trendy, spacious and functional.

“Our kitchen is incredibly important to us as it is the center of all living,” Hana says.

“With our lifestyles being so busy, this just makes every day easier. I get a huge sense of joy and actually want to use it.

“I’m really glad we finally did it, and I’ll be sad to leave it when we move into our new home.”

The perfect contrast of matte black cabinets and dark wood-look bench tops| Photo: Alana Shinn

Advice For Other Homeowners Refurbishing Their Kitchen


  • Do: visualise how you will use the space

  • Do: consider the layout of your kitchen benchtops

  • Do: get professional advice

  • Do: consider the lighting

  • Do: factor in timing

  • Do: shop around & look on Pinterest

  • Do: consider your appliances & electrical outlets

  • Do: be flexible on your budget

  • Do: check delivered materials for any damage


  • Don’t: forget to create a budget

  • Don’t: skimp out on the quality

  • Don’t: forget about the storage space

  • Don’t: abandon functionality for aesthetic

  • Don’t: overcrowd benchtops and cabinets

  • Don’t: always rely on DIY

The results are next level!| Photo: Alana Shinn

Thank You

A huge thank you to Hana and Ben for sharing their renovation story with us. And a special thank you to Matt and his team, from Otautahi Builders.

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