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Thinking about a DIY kitchen renovation? Let’s look at the REAL cost of doing it yourself

Monday, May 02, 2016
Look at the real cost of DIY renovations


We’ve all seen the glossy catalogues and smiling people on the TV commercials showing off “easy and beautiful” flat pack kitchens and we completely understand why they look so enticing. The idea they present of being able to have a brand new kitchen in a flash at a “fraction” of the price certainly sounds good. But let’s take a closer look at these supposed savings of time and money and see how they really stack up.

Cost and quality of materials

On the face of it, it may seem cheaper to buy these kinds of kitchens, especially when you're just getting the flat pack but beware of the hidden costs. Like most things, the quality and finish is in the details so when you take a closer look at these “cheap” products you start to notice that generally speaking, the quality is just not there.

Some things to be on the lookout for:

  • Cost comparison - make sure you don’t just assume that flat pack kitchens will be cheaper. When it comes to kitchen cabinets and benchtops many of the quality brands we supply are available at a comparable price, but the quality is exponentially better.
  • Predrilled holes - when you first think about it, it probably seems extremely helpful to have all those holes predrilled to allow things like handles and drawer runners to be easily attached. But in order to give you maximum flexibility there will be A LOT of unused and unnecessary holes which you’ll need to cap off and which quite frankly, reduces the integrity of the product.
  • Support for your cabinets - Some flat pack kitchens come with basic plastic supports or need to be mounted on a wall via a suspension rail. Take a moment to consider the weight bearing down on these supports including the benchtop (particularly if it is something solid like stone or cement). You want to make sure that whatever system is used it will be able to withstand the weight and evenly spread the load. All our kitchens are mounted on load bearing solid bases for lifelong stability.
  • Make sure that the materials being used meet Australian chemical standards. Many are manufactured overseas, some may contain more nasties than you’d expect and you’re left with a stinky and potentially toxic kitchen!
  • Are the materials made using High Moisture Resistant (HMR) board? The brands we use are. This means a little water is not going to result in them falling apart on you.
  • Can you be flexible? Most prefabricated or flat pack kitchens generally only come in certain sizes/dimensions which means that you might not actually get the most out of your space.
  • Quality of fixings like screws, hinges and drawer runners - you use your kitchen every day so the wear and tear on these components can potentially be quite high. You want them to last so if you need to purchase better quality parts this will add to the costs on top of the flat pack itself.

Hidden Costs

Your time is valuable so be sure to factor in the cost of your own time when you’re doing the calculations of how much you’re “saving” by DIY. Don’t just think about the time you’ll actually need to install the kitchen itself, remember to think about:

  • The planning stages - many places that sell flat pack kitchens have software in store that allows you to plan out your design. But generally this is a cumbersome process, especially if you’re not familiar with how it works so you’ll likely need to allow quite a bit more time than you initially think.
  • Measuring and remeasuring - are you 100% confident in taking the measurements of your space and that everything is level? Being even just a couple of millimetres off can throw things out completely which doesn’t just waste your time but potentially materials too.
  • Project management - unless you’re a master planner and organiser you’ll be surprised at the time it takes for the logistics of organising several tradespeople to do the tasks you can’t. Tasks need to be completed in a certain order during a renovation so the task of organising everyone to be where they need to be at the right point in the process is time consuming. So be sure to factor that into your cost planning.
  • Marriage counselling - we’re kidding! Sort of… Renovations have the potential to add some stress to your life for a short while when done by professionals, but when you factor in all of the above as well if you’re DIY-ing, that’s a lot of extra burden on you and your family that shouldn’t be overlooked.

At Nu Look, renovating kitchens and bathrooms is what we do every day. We know exactly what we’re doing and take care of the time consuming logistical tasks for you so you don’t have to learn the lingo, worry about dealing with tradies (especially unprofessional ones as we only use ones we know and trust), or deal with all the stress that undertaking a task like a DIY kitchen renovation entails.

What you get is a custom designed space, made from exceptional quality materials that will stand the test of time all while supporting a local Canberra business who in turn supports a local Canberra cabinet manufacturing company and benchtop supplier.

If you have your heart set on building and installing your own kitchen, no worries! Give us a call and we can help you design your kitchen for success, supply you with quality cabinets that will last and provide you with some advice to get you started.

Rather have us take care of everything for you? Get in touch today to organise your free consultation and quote!

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To Frame Or Not To Frame? How Do You Like Your Shower?

Friday, February 26, 2016

When it comes to bathroom renovations, one of the most important decisions you’ll face in terms of the look and feel of the room is the type of shower screen you choose.

We’re very lucky that the age of mustard brown glass are well and truly behind us and you’ve got some great new options to choose from.

The main decision you’ll need to make is when it comes to framing the glass. These options can essentially be broken down into 3 categories.


This is the style that has been traditionally used for years and is still quite popular. A fully framed shower basically means that the glass has a complete frame around all sides, including the door.


  • Affordability - of all the options, a fully framed screen is the most economical choice.
  • Versatile - Fully framed screens are suitable for all layouts and sizes of bathrooms.
  • Options - Choose between clear, frosted or patterned glass.


  • Slightly more bulky looking
  • Doesn’t suit the style of otherwise ultra modern bathrooms


This style is by far the most popular choice for our clients. It gives you the best of both worlds with a less bulky look without the higher price tag of a fully frameless screen. Semi frameless also gives you design flexibility in being able to utilise frames on sides needing support with less framework required on others.


  • Look - More modern than a fully framed shower
  • Low maintenance - Less framework makes it easier to clean
  • Affordability - less expensive than a frameless shower


  • Lack of frame around the glass means it doesn’t perfectly seal which can lead to a small amount of water escaping (although pointing the shower head away does alleviate this issue)


For an elegant, sleek and ultra modern looking shower you can’t go past frameless. It makes the room feel bigger and showcases feature tiling work perfectly. Made from heavy duty, toughened glass that is thicker than standard to avoid shaking and rely on strong hinges to secure them.


  • Minimalistic - with no frames to break up the glass it creates a seamless, clean line
  • Reduces chances of mould - with fewer places for water to collect, the chances of mould are decreased
  • Flexibility - without a frame restricting door movement you can open a frameless door inward or outward to suit your room


  • Cost - this is the biggest disadvantage of this style. They are significantly more expensive than other options on the market.
  • Water escaping - not having a sealed door can lead to water escaping through the gap if it’s not setup properly. But don’t let this put you off installing a frameless shower screen. To minimise this issue, we recommend making the shower base level a little lower than the rest of the flooring, so that the water drips into the base.

Whichever option you choose, be sure that your new shower is professionally installed. Leaking showers are not fun and can cause all sorts of problems so don’t take the risk of having to pay a fortune in maintenance and repair costs later down the track - do it right the first time and enjoy the results.

Still not sure which option is right for you and your home? We’re happy to have a chat to discuss your choices and help you decide - contact us today.

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Stylish, Modern & Affordable - The Rise Of The Glass Splashback

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Glass splashbacks are becoming more common in modern homes thanks to their easy to clean finish, affordability and stylish simplicity. No grout means no mould, mildew or food stains will ruin the look and keeping them clean is as simple as wiping them over the way you would any other glass surface.

At Nu Look we use a supplier who provides 6mm toughened glass for use in bathrooms and kitchens because it is extremely durable, great quality. Glass is well suited to just about any kitchen or bathroom thanks to the huge range of colours to choose from. A glass splashback in a well chosen colour won’t date the way that tiles have a tendency to and with the range of textures and finishes available you’re sure to be able to find something that works beautifully in your space.

What are the main advantages of glass over other splashback options?

  • Glass always looks brand new
  • Low maintenance - no falling tiles in years to come
  • Looks sleek and seamless
  • Durable
  • Affordable

Glass panels can be installed on any structurally sound surface and needs significantly less preparation than traditional tiled splashbacks. Once painted glass is installed you can’t see through it so the backing doesn't need to look perfect. You may even have the option to install it over the top of existing tilework if it’s in good condition and adhered well, saving time and money.

Most people worry about the cost of using a glass splashback, expecting it to be significantly more expensive but while it’s true that per meter glass is more expensive than tiles, when you factor in the labour and drying time you really aren’t paying a huge amount more. Plus you have the advantage of glass being a better investment thanks to its longevity.

Why do we use toughened glass?

Quite simply because there shouldn’t be shortcuts and cost cutting when it comes to safety! Toughened glass is up to 5 times as strong as standard glass and is designed to withstand much more heat, an essential characteristic when you’re considering it behind a stovetop. Toughened glass also doesn’t splinter into razor sharp shards that can cause serious injury when broken the way normal glass does, it breaks into small and relatively harmless pieces.


How do you keep a glass splashback clean?

We’ll let you in on a little trade secret. Use methylated spirits or denatured alcohol to clean your glass and keep it looking like new. Alcohol evaporates quickly so doesn’t leave any residue the way a lot of cleaners do. Just spray the surface, wipe with a clean rag and you’re splashbacks will look brand new for their life.


When are glass splashbacks installed during a renovation process?

We generally install glass splashbacks after the cabinets and benchtop have been installed and we’ve identified where you want the electrical outlets to go. This way the splashback integrates into the space seamlessly.

Want to find out more about glass splashbacks and how you could use them in your home? Get in touch today to organise a free consultation and quote

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How to choose the perfect sink for your kitchen

Thursday, October 01, 2015


It's a part of the kitchen that doesn’t usually get a lot of thought but with so many options on the market these days you really can choose the perfect sink to suit your kitchen design, usage and look.

Today we’re looking at a few of the more popular choices for you to consider.


Stainless Steel

This is the type of kitchen sink that you’re most used to seeing. It’s estimated that around 80% of all sinks are stainless steel.


  • It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other options (but bear in mind there are some expensive stainless steel options out there too)
  • Available in a range of styles including undermount and top mount which gives you options
  • Excellent stain resistance


  • Although it can be noisier than other materials, stainless steel sinks are usually coated to dull the noise.
  • Stainless steel can scratch easier than some other materials


An older material used in sinks but still remarkably popular today.


  • bright glossy enamel finish
  • porcelain coating is resistant to scratches
  • Coating is very hard and will withstand day to day use in a family kitchen
  • Easy to clean and the coating means that water spots don’t show as easily so it looks great
  • Can be purchased in a range of colours to complement your space


  • Lighter colours may show stains more easily
  • Porcelain enamel can be prone to chipping
  • Usually more expensive than stainless steel - price depends on the size, style and colour chosen


These types of sinks are relatively new to the market and look great in modern kitchens


  • made by combining a resin with crushed granite or quartz
  • look of real granite or quartz without the price tag
  • tough and resistant to stains and scratching
  • Some manufacturers claim composite sinks are the toughest on the market


  • You’ll need to be more careful with the kinds of cleaners you use as harsh chemicals can damage your sink
  • It’s unforgiving when things are dropped on it. If you tend to drop your wine glass or plates in the sink you’ll likely find they break more easily
  • They can be expensive compared to other options


So you’ve got an idea what material you’d like to use for your sink, now you need to think about the style that will best suit your kitchen. Here are some of the options to think about.

Single Bowl

Unsurprisingly, this style has just the one bowl. If you have limited space this is the perfect option for you. The options within this style are surprisingly vast - you can choose from smaller single bowls if you’re really short on space, or go for a single bowl the same size as a double that makes cleaning larger items much simpler. Single bowls are also usually a cheaper option which is a big consideration if you don’t really need two bowls.

Double Bowl

This style has been the most popular over the last 2 decades because it offers the flexibility of being able to utilise separate spaces. Within this style you have some choices on the layout including 2 same size sinks, one big/one small and different depths.


If you’re looking for a more traditional or old school sink, you can’t look past the farmhouse style. The main characteristic of this style is that the front of the sink replaces part of the bench. This style usually has just one deep bowl however double bowls are available from some manufacturers. Something to bear in mind with this style is that it is more challenging to install and generally costs more to purchase.

Top Mount

As the name suggests this style is mounted on top of your bench with the body dropping through a cavity cut in the benchtop. They have a lip or rim to hold the sink in place. This is the most popular style of sink for those being very aware of budget because they are relatively simple to install and don’t usually require any additional support.


With this style the sink is essentially glued to the underside of the benchtop. With stainless steel that is usually all that is necessary but with heavier materials an additional support system is necessary. Because of this installation, it is usually more expensive. This style does create a modern look with no lip or rim which reduces the amount of places for debris to accumulate.

Before making a final choice on your material and colour it’s really worth taking the time to think about how you use your kitchen and the type of sink that will complement your style.

Not sure which way to go? We’re experts at evaluating your situation and providing experienced advice to help you make informed decisions. Contact us today for a free consultation and quote.

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