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The very first blog post I ever wrote was all about how I intended to make the most of the kitchen that was here when we moved in by making a few simple tweaks to make it our own….. (you can read it here if you’d like a laugh!) as you might have guessed from the title of this post that isn’t what we actually ended up doing so I’m here to tell you how we went from a ‘few tweaks’ to a full kitchen makeover without even changing a cupboard door!
We couldn’t afford a brand new kitchen so I had put many hours into researching how to paint laminate kitchen cupboards but was too afraid to actually go through with it in fear it would look, well, rubbish! I then looked into replacing all the doors but struggled to find the right size to fit the units we had so the dream dwindled and weeks turned into months which turned into years of us living with a #shitchen.
That all changed when I saw a post on Instagram by the lovely @whiteandwooddecor of her DIY kitchen makeover and how she’d transformed her dated beech units into two tone shaker cabinets of dreams with no more than some MDF and a tube of no more nails! So inspired by her idea, and after she very kindly answered the 5000 questions I DM’d her, the wheels to transform my own kitchen were quickly set back into motion.
The thing was, despite my grand ideas this project still needed to be completed on a budget which basically meant we had to do as much of the work ourselves to keep costs down, or that was the intention anyway, it didn’t quite end up that way but I will explain all as I go along.
So, here is what we did
The transformation of these units is probably our single biggest DIY achievement in this house! I know that is a bold statement but if I told you these are the same cupboard doors as you see in the before pictures would you believe me?! Well cross my heart they are! You can read Vanessa’s blog post on how to create these shaker style doors here but in short we stuck 7mm plywood strips to the door fronts with a strong adhesive then once dry primed them with Zinnser Bullseye 123 primer. We then used a Farrow and Ball dark tones undercoat on the lower units before giving all the units (including the inside of the doors) three good tops coats of Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion in Railings and Wimborne White. Finally we replaced the handles with aged antique brass pulls on the doors and cup pulls on the drawers.
I’ve always wanted butchers block style worktops despite people warning me they were quite high maintenance so it didn’t take me long at all to choose the solid oak worktops from Worktop Express. Everything can be ordered online and they also offer a bespoke cutting service so all the worktops can be delivered ready for fitting. The pre cutting didn’t quite work out for us as we live in a Victorian house with very wonky walls and the service works on the assumption you have perfect 90 degree angles!
Due to said wonky walls fitting the worktops wasn’t quite as straight forward as we hoped, in fact we spent a whole evening just staring at the gaps between the worktops and walls wondering how we were ever going to make them fit! In the end we did employ a local carpenter to fit these for us to save our sanity then we protected them a few coats of Osmo top oil.
Our kitchen is north facing and quite frankly dull 90% of the year so I knew I wanted to keep the tiles white in order to bounce light off the walls. When we moved in there was very uneven blue mosaic tiles just underneath the wall units which I quickly painted white as a stop gap. These were chipped off by Mr T which left the walls in a pretty poor state so we did have them skimmed by a plasterer ready for our shiny matrix white subway tiles from Topps Tiles. We initially intended on tiling ourselves and borrowed all the tools we needed from my Dad but due to a number of factors including lack of time and Christmas fast approaching we ended up paying a tiler to do it and it only took him a day!
Oh how I deliberated over how to have the tiles laid and even put it out to a Instagram poll, I loved the herringbone style, I also liked a vertical stacked style but in the end we went for a standard brick layout. Do I regret this?, maybe just a little, but I still love the finished result and taking the tiles right up to the ceiling has made the room look and feel so much bigger.
Our kitchen is small. We have eight cupboards and one drawer….yes one drawer…in fact I told Mr T the other night the next house we buy has to have significantly more than one drawer or I’m not buying it! So removing all the wall units in favour of open shelves was not an option. I knew I wanted to get them in somewhere though so we removed a double wall unit that was on the opposite wall to all the others and replaced them with four scaffold board shelves which we made ourselves (DIY blog post on how coming soon). I love how they open up the room so much and allow extra light to flow through plus they give me endless hours of styling opportunities!
Fixtures and Fittings
We didn’t replace any of the appliances, there was no need to as the layout was remaining the same, so the oven, gas hob, extractor hood, washing machine, dishwasher and fridge are all as they were.
We did replace the stainless steel sink with a white ceramic one (another giddy moment for me after pouring over Instagram and Pinterest for hours!) and we fitted a new tap from Bristan called The Liquorice which is fab for watering plants as it has a flexible hose, others might say this is useful for washing dishes or cleaning the sink, which it is too of course!
The original light fitting was replaced with a industrial style pendant light from litecraft which made the room feel so much more sleek and modern. This was fitted by an electrician who happens to be my brother so didn’t cost us anything other than a cup of coffee and a cheese and pickle sandwich!
Finally we got a plumber in to replace the radiator with a white traditional column style radiator from Soak.com. I absolutely love this style of radiator and I’m slowly replacing all the radiators in the house with them! They look great, are superb quality and are a fraction of the price of traditional cast iron radiators.
When it came to decorating I decided to strip the walls of the lining paper the previous owner had put up (oh how he loved lining paper….) but unfortunately after borrowing a steam stripper from a friend the steam not only stripped the wallpaper but it also stripped massive chunks of the plaster off too so we had to get our trusty plasterer in to skim all the walls….another expense we weren’t expecting. Once done we decided to kept the walls white, again to keep the space light due to the lack of natural light and we used Earthborne Lifestyle Emulsion in white which is fully scrubbable and moisture resistant which is perfect in the kitchen. Last but not least we are just about to paint the inside of the back door in sulking room pink again by Farrow and Ball because well basically I wanted to get some pink in somewhere!!
What it cost……
- Cabinets – £30 (MDF and No more nails)
- Paint* – £166
- Handles – £44
- Worktops* – £345 (without bespoke cutting)
- Metro Tiles* – £23 per sqm
- Ceramic sink – £230
- Mixer Tap* – £149
- Column Radiator* – £234
- Scaffold Shelves and brackets – £38
- Pendant light* – £149
- Labour – £680
- Sundries (grout, adhesive etc) – £100
TOTAL – £2257
So that’s it, a whistle stop tour of our budget kitchen makeover. I haven’t gone into lots of detail in this post as you’d be here forever but I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have (like Vanessa did with me!) just leave me a comment below! Thank you for reading.