A 'jigsaw kitchen' is the simplest way to cut kitchen renovation costs - here's how this design trick works

Knowing where to spend and save on a kitchen is a puzzle at best - so we've asked the experts for the answer

A kitchen with sage green cupboards and two built-in electric ovens
(Image credit: Harvey Jones X Swoon)

Renovating a kitchen can get costly, especially if you have your dream kitchen in mind. There are materials, colours, appliances and finishing touches to think about, and you may want to opt for the highest quality of everything - which often means the most expensive. But there are areas you might not need to splash the cash on. Whether you’re starting from scratch or updating your current kitchen design, knowing where to spend and save is key to staying on budget. 

However, it’s not as simple as picking the cheaper kitchen utensils over pricier ones. Remodelling a kitchen is one of the biggest-budget house projects, and it should be carefully considered. A successful kitchen design should perfectly balance aesthetics, practicality and cost. 

To help you figure out how much a kitchen costs and where to save some pennies, we’ve spoken to the experts. From bags of budget kitchen ideas to strict advice on what is worth investing in, our experts reveal how to create a design-savvy space that will look great now, and last a long time. 

How to create a jigsaw kitchen

Termed the ‘jigsaw kitchen’, experts are noticing homeowners are now choosing to pair premium worktops with affordable cabinetry when remodelling their kitchen. 

Mixing and matching more expensive and cheaper elements has proven a cost-effective solution that allows for a beautiful kitchen on a lower budget. By knowing where to spend and save on a kitchen you can have a durable, long-lasting design that won’t put you out of pocket. 

1. Invest in premium work surfaces

kitchen with peach walls and marble splashback

(Image credit: Harvey Jones X Swoon)

All experts, including Summer Obaid, head of design at Abstract House advise to ‘invest in premium work surfaces to ensure longevity.’ 

Whether you’re cooking and enjoying meals, hosting, working remotely or simply socialising, your kitchen countertop ‘bears the brunt of all day-to-day kitchen life’ says Jonathan Stanley, VP of marketing at Caesarstone UK. ‘It must be able to resist heat, scratches and stains, whilst also being easy to look after and maintain.’ 

Kitchen worktops are not only the most used part of the kitchen but also take up the majority of visual space. ‘The design you choose will have a big impact on how your kitchen looks and feels, and how long it lasts. Picking work surfaces that fit with your ever-evolving style and needs is key.’ adds Jonathan Stanley.

2. Choose handcrafted hardware

Dark kitchen cabinets with gold handles and beige walls

(Image credit: Future PLC / Fiona Walker-Arnott)

Small details are often what make your kitchen look the most luxurious. Hardware is a great place to spend a little more since it often doesn’t cost a lot in the first place. 

Summer Obaid says, ‘Choosing beautifully handcrafted and gilded hardware can enhance your kitchen without breaking the bank.’ Bespoke or high-end door handles, light switches and other finishes can make your kitchen space not only look more expensive but also unique in comparison to kitchens with standard finishes bought from a local DIY store.

3. Value for money appliances

A kitchen with sage green cupboards and two built-in electric ovens

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

It’s worth investing in high-quality appliances you’re going to use each day. When choosing your cooker, fridge or microwave, for example, you should not compromise on performance. Rob Streather, director at Shape London suggests ‘considering energy-efficient models to save on long-term operating costs and benefit to the environment.’ 

Your appliances also need to cater to you and your family’s needs on a day-to-day basis. If you have a large family and need a lot of fridge space make sure you select the best high-capacity fridge-freezer for you. Like to host? A dual oven might be a must. 

4. High quality kitchenware

White kitchen worktop and oak shelving furnished with storage containers, trinkets and black KitchenAid stand mixer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

Don’t forget about the details. You might be focusing on all the big areas when it comes to designing a kitchen. But the essential items you use everyday make all the difference to how you use your space. Antony Joseph, CEO and founder of Joseph and Joseph, recommends investing in a good set of kitchen knives. ‘They will not only save you time and effort when cooking but also make the process a whole lot more enjoyable.’    

Small appliances that you'll use regularly are also a good investment - especially if they double up as decor. However, Julia Kendell from Kendell+Co and interior design expert for the Homebuilding & Renovating Show says ‘It can be easy to be taken in by the latest status appliance that claims to change your life, but do consider whether it will truly be a good investment once the novelty has worn off.’ 

Instead, Summer Obaid suggests, you should ‘choose hardwearing well-reviewed appliances that are built to last, without costing the big bucks.’ 

5. Opt for affordable cabinetry

5171 Arabetto quartz kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Caesarstone/Philippa Bloom Ross)

‘There are a lot of kitchen companies that offer high-quality cabinets at a relatively low cost,’ advises Jonathan Stanley. 

You should place less priority on your cabinetry as they have less wear compared to heavy-use areas like worktops, and it can be easily updated without having to do a full renovation. ‘Cabinets can be quickly changed with a coat of paint or new handles,' he adds.

6. Save on splashbacks

Teal blue kitchen splashback with kitkat tiles

(Image credit: Walls & Floors)

Kitchen tiles and splashbacks can be surprisingly affordable. They offer an excellent opportunity to save some money while still achieving a high-quality look. 

There are plenty of stylish options that look a lot more expensive than they are. If you want to save even more money, you can limit the amount of tiles/splashback you use. Realistically, you only need a few rows of tile or splashback above your countertop to catch any mess. The rest of the wall can just be painted in a coordinating colour. 

7. Find affordable lighting

Modern hwite kitchen, large lilac breakfast bar with high bar stools, low hanging pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Kitchen lighting ideas can make all the difference in any room of the house. Choose a decorative pendant and the space can look quite luxurious. Dimmable lights can create drama where you want it. But simpler, more affordable task lights are much more effective in a kitchen setting.

‘It's very important to offer task lighting when required and dimmable options for a serene evening/entertaining setting. Instead of splashing on lots of complex circuits and schemes, layer cheaper and more expensive lighting options for a flattering and ethereal effect,' says Julia Kendell.


What is a good investment for a kitchen?

Rob Streather says ‘Now more than ever, we need to consider the environment.’ Investing in eco-friendly materials when it comes to kitchen design ensures sustainability. 

‘Opting for more expensive renewable resources like cork, timber and veneer over cheaper plastics will have your kitchen looking beautiful and lasting longer. This also involves investing in the latest tech. 

Streather promotes buying ‘eco-friendly appliances that will save on energy costs and are better for the environment.’ Darren Watts, Showroom Development and Design Director at Wren Kitchens agrees. ‘Investing and installing the latest trending appliances, such as instant boiling water taps, self-cleaning ovens and eco-efficient dishwashers will help the overall workings of your kitchen, impress guests and potential buyers.’ 

What adds value to a kitchen? 

Kitchen island ideas add value to a kitchen space, especially if you pay attention to its work surface.

As Jonathan Stanley explains ‘the kitchen continues to evolve from a merely functional space to a hub for socialising, relaxing and working remotely.’ 

The kitchen island has become the central focus. It's no longer an additional workspace for meal prepping, but the primary work surface for all of the above. Investing in a good-quality kitchen island with luxury worktops will not only change the way you use the space but last for a long time. 

‘If you’re looking to sell, a kitchen island really adds that wow factor’ adds Darren Watts. ‘An island design appeals to most families as it will showcase a flexible layout for cooking, dining, socialising and everything in between.’ 

Which features would you prioritise splurging on in your jigsaw kitchen?

Ecommerce Writer

Louise Oliphant is the Ecommerce Writer at Ideal Home. Bringing a bunch of bedding expertise from her previous role in PR, Louise is eager to share useful sleep content, including what to look for, when and where to buy the best bedroom products. Think everything from gorgeous luxury bedding, to duvets that’ll keep you at optimum temperature all night long. Aside from reviews to help get essential shut eye, Louise also writes shopping content for homeware items that’ll add a decorative touch to your space.