Converting an impractical and outdated kitchen into a beautiful and functional space on a budget.

Over 12 years, project manager and designer Katrina and her husband Jesse, a carpenter, have built and renovated eight homes, including two new homes as owner builders.

At the beginning of 2021, Katrina and Jesse started ‘The Reno Life’, a design and consultancy business. “Through The Reno Life, we offer floor plan design and 3D renders at an affordable price,” says Katrina. “We are focused on creating functional, budget friendly spaces and provide lots of free DIY reno tips on our Instagram.”

In 2019, Katrina and Jesse embarked on renovating House 7 - a 1970s brick display home with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. “House 7 was our family home for three years and it had a terrible layout and original features,” explains Katrina. “We modernised it on a budget using an IKEA kitchen and used a fair bit of Porta timber products to add some interest and custom touches.”

With every house they have renovated or built being quite different from one another, Katrina is never lost for design inspiration. “When you do so many houses and design for clients on a regular basis it can be fun to try something new. For House 7, I knew I wanted to do something a bit darker and moodier because House 6 was light and bright. When sticking with neutral interiors, texture is a great way to add interest and character,” she adds. 

For the kitchen, Katrina selected Porta Contours timber lining boards in Primed Pine. “We went with Porta Contours for this kitchen to add interest, texture and a custom element to our IKEA kitchen,” she explains. “Because we used a flat profile for the kitchen cabinetry, I wanted to include something different for the back of the island and above the shelves to give it that something extra.” 

The Cirque lining boards were painted black under the kitchen bench, and Katrina selected a white finish for the lining boards above the shelves. “We painted Cirque in a semi gloss interior paint. This meant it was wipeable, but not too glossy, which is important with little children,” explains Katrina. 

The cohesion that they have created throughout the home is one of Katrina’s favourite elements of the renovation. “We also used Porta Contours Cirque in the master bedroom as a bench seat, but this time in a natural Tasmanian Oak finish,” says Katrina. “We like to keep our houses interesting in ways like this which helps to make each room a ‘sibling not a twin’.” 

“I like that Cirque provides something a bit different to the usual half round dowel which we’ve used before (and love),” explains Katrina. “I hadn’t seen it done at the time and I liked the way it reflected light in a subtle way.” 

As experienced builders and renovators, The Reno Life has a wealth of knowledge for creating the perfect kitchen. “Function is first and foremost paramount,” says Katrina. “You can have the most beautiful kitchen in the world but if it isn’t practical, to me it’s worthless. And functional doesn’t need to mean large.” 

Katrina’s top tips for kitchens:

  • Have plenty of usable/uninterrupted bench space.
  • Use drawers wherever possible.
  • Ensure it gets plenty of natural light.
  • Have two exits/entrances wherever possible.

Katrina believes that material and colour selections should only be made once the kitchen layout is optimised. “I think that we will see people take more risks in the kitchen with colour and texture. I think white kitchens are timeless and I love them, but neutral doesn’t have to be boring.” 

According to Katrina, Porta timber is the perfect way to add texture and interest to your home. “It’s so versatile and there’s a reason we keep using it for different projects – I’m certain House 9 will feature them too!” she concludes. 

For handy DIY kitchen tips from Katrina and Jesse, check out their blog.

Featured Project:
DIY: Katrina and Jesse - The Reno Life (Instagram), The Reno Life (Website)
Product: Porta Contours in Cirque in Primed Pine
Finish: Black and White Semi-Gloss Interior Paint
Photography: J. Parsons Photography

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