Home Edit | New Kitchen.
I promised a lil while back that I'd talk about my kitchen refurb more in depth as it's where most of our time and money went when we were redesigning our house. We started the work for our kitchen just after Christmas and it was completely inhabitable for a few weeks until the work was complete.
The work we had done was pretty major, we had to knock down some internal walls to open the kitchen up and then have a new kitchen fitted, with appliances. We had new plasterboards and plaster on the ceiling, we had a window knocked through and fitted, we had units and appliances ripped out, we had new electrics....we really went to town on it and yet only did what was 100% necessary.
The room that is now our kitchen was a utility room before we had it and most of that was taken up with a cool room. It's essentially a walk in fridge, it was pretty big and it was housed in internal walls in the utility room and had a big cooling system in it and stored cider and wine. The first thing to come down was that room. The cooling system was taken down, the walls were knocked down and the lights were taken out.
Our builders were actually family friends and people my Mum had use the previous year so I knew I could trust them to do a great job and they knocked down the walls so carefully that none of the tiles underneath were damaged beyond repair. It's a big room, there's a lot of tiling on the floor and whilst it's not the tile I'd choose, I knew we didn't have the money to have it all redone so they made sure to keep them safe. Obviously though the ceiling was pretty damaged and full of holes where the internal wall had been so that was filled in, plaster boarded and plastered and then we re painted the entire thing (6 coats of white, nearly killed me.)
The next thing to be done was the window. We already had one massive double window on the far end of the room but it's actually pretty dark in there because it overlooks parts of the orchard and garden and is pretty densely packed in with trees. Before the cool room was installed around 13/14 years ago there was a window on the other outside wall of the house that was filled in, so when it was demolished that was reopened and a new double window was installed next to the back door.
Following that, we had the electrics done which was done in the same few days as the rewiring in the living room and the TV aerial. Because the room hadn't been used as a kitchen before it didn't have the right electrics so I requested extra double sockets all round the room for the worktop appliances, we had more sockets under the counters for things like the fridge and freezer and we also had the correct plugs for the cooker and hob installed. Because we'd knocked down the cool room we had the chance to change the lights which are two big strip lights as it's such a big room. Because of the pre existing internal walls there was one strip light horizontal and one vertical which was massively annoying so because the ceiling was being re plastered and the electricians were already working on the house we had them fixed so they were both the same way.
We also needed all the correct plumbing done for the kitchen appliances. There was a small sink in the existing utility room which wasn't suitable for kitchen use so that was removed and sealed up and a new sink put next to the new dishwasher. We also had a radiator fitted which hadn't been in there before because of the cool room and that was connected through the walls from our downstairs loo which is next door.
Because the cool room was removed and a new window installed there was one wall which needed tiling. The tiles on the other side of the room were white squared tiles but they had random green red and blue tiles every now and then. I wasn't mad keen on them but would have left them to save cash but in the end a bunch got damaged so they all came off and I replaced every one, and the new wall, with plain white squared tiles instead.
Finally we had the actual kitchen installed. We were lucky in that we had most of the white goods and the oven etc already plus our crockery and all the things that make a kitchen. We were able to move and install all our appliances into the new kitchen which massively saved on cash and meant I could design the kitchen around things we already had. We were super lucky that the utility room units were actually kitchen units originally and were in really good nick so there were two double wall units and two single wall units plus two double cupboards, one single cupboard and a set of drawers (including a pan drawer <3) that we could use.
In the end we needed a further double unit under one window and another double under the other window to hold the sink. By sheer luck our local Howdens still had the exact same units and doors so we were able to get the exact same look all the way round the kitchen, without having to have half units one side and others another unit, or rip out the whole kitchen and start again. The one thing that couldn't be salvaged though was the worktops. Because the whole kitchen had been rejigged and we had removed sinks in some places, added them in others and got rid of the dog shower the pre existing work tops wouldn't fit the new configuration. We ordered new worktops and because of the size of the kitchen we had to order the biggest single piece of worktop you can buy - in fact, the kitchen is so big we had to buy THREE of those worktops. It was £600, the biggest single expense of the whole project but the one thing we absolutely had to have and I went for one of the cheapest finishes.
I never added up how much my kitchen on it's own cost. I know the bill for the electricians but that included work in other rooms. I know the bill for the plumber and the builder and the carpenter but those bills included work all over the house. I know how much the tiles were, the worktops, the window, the units...but I never sat down and worked out how much the kitchen all in came to.
What I DO know is I was the most low maintenance client ever when it came to designing and fitting a kitchen. Having the appliances already and half of the units meant I only had a limited space to play with and having permanent fixtures like the windows and boiler added to that. I chose a very inexpensive hob, an inexpensive window, very cheap tiles, cheap paint - I am not fussy. I knew what I wanted and I knew I wanted to keep costs low but I also didn't scrimp anywhere or settle for anything less than what I wanted, I was genuinely happy with what I chose.
It's a country style kitchen - it couldn't have been anything less. It's in a country house on a farm in the middle of nowhere and it was never going to be a glossy white affair with blush pink tones and a smeg fridge. It's all cream and yellow and wood, it's all mismatching crockery and a big table for lots of people in the middle of the room. And I bloody love it.
My advice if you're investing in a new kitchen;
1. Design based on how you live.
Designing your kitchen is something that shouldn't be taken lightly and should be considered for quite a long time. Obviously there's places you can go for them to design your kitchen like B&Q etc but as mine wasn't a blank canvas and I knew instantly what I wanted, I did mine myself and drew my builders up a lil plan. Design your kitchen based on how you move around the space. Do you want your sink near the cooker to dump dishes straight in there? Do you want the white goods all together? I knew from my Mum's kitchen that what I needed most of all was plenty of uninterrupted worktop space so I put my hob in the middle so I had a giant expanse either side. Also remember to keep your fridge and freezer away from hot things like ovens and radiators so they don't have to work twice as hard!
2. Consider electrics.
Think long and hard about the electrics you need in your kitchen. The electricians will know what you need for your white goods and your oven and lighting but I cannot advise strongly enough that you really consider plug socket placement. I ended up with 5 double sockets on my walls alongside my worktops; one has the radio plugged in, one for the microwave, one for the toaster, one for the kettle and plenty of space for things that are only occasionally plugged in like phone chargers, toastie machines, slow cookers and hoovers. You cannot have enough mark my words. Also make sure they're high enough up from the worktop to accommodate plugs, so often overlooked.
3. Don't buy brand just because.
I actually cannot speak highly enough of Currys own brand appliances. We already had tumble drier, a fridge and a washing machine and we did have a freezer but it packed up like a week after we moved in. We bought a new freezer and a dishwasher and ended up opting for Currys own make and have had no complaints. Sometimes I think you end up buying branded items like Bosch and Hotpoint because they're well known but when we analysed the energy rating, the capacity and everything else against the branded items, the Currys own pieces were as good if not better in some areas and a fraction of the price at £100 each.
4. Shop around for furniture.
I mentioned this properly in this blog post but furniture can end up costing you a pretty penny but shopping around and mixing brands might just do you a favour. I was really against how much a dining table and chairs set was going to cost us and I just couldn't bring myself to pay a £500+ and in the end I mixed styles. I got our dining table which is extendable and seats 6 from Argos for an absolute steal of £49.99 down from £179.99. It's got white legs and a wooden top so was easy to find things that would just about match it but from other companies where the chairs were cheaper. I got 4 chairs for £15.00 each from Ikea and added padded cushions of different colours at £2.50 each and then bought an Ikea bench for £40.00 for the other side. FYI I love the bench and always sit there not on the chairs when we have dinner.
5. Do as much work as you can.
I mean sure there's a LOT in a kitchen refurb that you can't do yourself unless you're a trained electrician, plumber or carpenter but that's why it's so expensive. Once you've paid out for all the tradespeople you need to get your kitchen done, things like putting up blinds, painting ceilings and walls and taking wallpaper off walls should be down to you to save cash, no matter how many coats it takes (can you tell I'm still bitter?)
6. Don't scrimp.
I sound a little contradictory here when I've said how cheaply I did my kitchen but there are some things you shouldn't scrimp on. Think very carefully when you're investing in your kitchen as it's a big job and you probably won't do it again for a long time. Personally, no I didn't need the glossiest marble kitchen counter but I did need 3 of the biggest sold so I had no choice NOT to scrimp. If you're investing in something as big as a kitchen think about the next few years of your life - is there much point in getting a two person table now when you want a family in the next two years? Thinking of getting a tiny oven because it's cheap but host a lot of big parties? If you know it makes sense for the next few years then invest invest invest.
7. Move out!!
I mean I'm only slightly joking..... We were lucky in that we were still in with Joss' parents when our kitchen work was being done but it is a real upheaval. There's nothing you can do, it's messy, it's dusty, it's loud, you might not have water or electrics or an oven. You can't access your stuff, you can't cook, we can barely make a cuppa - if you can go somewhere else for the messiest part of your kitchen refurb I very much advise you do, for your own piece of mind.
Leave me a comment or drop me a DM if you have any questions on how we did our refurb and more details of what we bought!