How to renovate a kitchen without breaking the monetary establishment | Kitchen DIY | Life and style


Splashbacks, soft-close drawers, integrated house apparatus, breakfast bars … If you’re grappling with a kitchen renovation on a just right value vary, those are all choices that have the potential to urge panic and/or entire apathy. What’s further, maximum high-street providers will value upwards of £8,000 for a fitted kitchen (which will or may no longer embody removing of your provide set-up). Forget about bespoke, shaker-chic fashions: realistically, yours is a bland choice of laminated worksurfaces and lacklustre fitted fashions that swallow up space and inspire stockpiling.

But I think I might want came upon every other. When my significant other and I moved into our Victorian terrace, we decided to way our kitchen as we’d each and every different room in the house and fill it with used furniture. Having lived with it for 2 years now, all of us comprehend it’s attainable for a free-standing, secondhand kitchen to hold out the equivalent options as a fitted kitchen, for a fragment of the worth. Here is how we did it …

Think about construction

Get the entire boring-but-vital stuff came upon first. Decide where the sink will have to move, the boiler, the oven and the refrigerator. Once you might want to have space allocated for the must haves, you’ll know what you might want to have left for garage, surfaces and seating.

We inherited a pokey, L-shaped kitchen fitted with MDF fashions, a integrated oven, and a mock-granite worksurface. It only made use of 1 end of the room. The space used to be dissected by way of a chimney breast fitted with a gasoline vary. This gave the impression of an obvious position to start, so we opened the chimney breast to create room for a free-standing oven (our best investment). By placing the oven throughout the centre of the movement, we might ship the opposing ends of the room jointly.

A freestanding oven with spanish tile splashback, some steel shelves and old school locker cupboards.

By placing the oven throughout the centre of the movement, the opposing ends of an L-shaped room were offered jointly. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

Limit your possible choices

Once you’ve decided in opposition to a fitted kitchen, you’ll have a much broader choice of the material, colour, shape and measurement of your cupboards and surfaces. If you’re in a hurry to get cooking, this will seem daunting, so prohibit your possible choices. Pinterest may assist, as can within magazines and online belongings ( is for sure value bookmarking). Spend a couple of evenings (if truth be told, no further) opting for photos that attraction and likewise you’ll all of a sudden uncover they’ve a typical theme. We gravitated within the route of stainless steel. It’s easy to scrub, heat and water-resistant and it sat with ease with the furniture we already had, this means that we might mix and fit pieces from our out of date house – an out of date oak table, a collection of school lockers – with our “new” (ex-kebab house) kitchen.

As good fortune would have it

A visit to a storage yard unearthed this steel surface with a couple of drawers at each end, a shelf below for pots and pans.

A move to to a garage backyard unearthed this steel surface with a couple of drawers at each and every end, a shelf underneath for pots and pans. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

Once you’ve narrowed down your seek you’ll have the ability to scour eBay/auctions/antique markets for devices that fit your aesthetic and – importantly – your measurements. International Antiques and Collectors Fairs ( kingdom) deal with 39 gala’s in seven puts throughout the year. If early mornings and brazen haggling isn’t for you, then you might strive a are living online auction, very similar to Criterion (, which lets you bid for lots remotely. The stock changes weekly, so it’s rich pickings.

Keep your seek huge, then again your measurements actual: linen cupboards, reclaimed science lab worksurfaces, unfashionable kitchen pantries can all paintings. (In our previous kitchen, we came upon an out of date oak door for £50 that served as a worksurface for numerous a 12 months. Our open shelving used to be a good looking narrow shutter that used to be held up by way of porcelain brackets that once supported a Victorian cistern.)

There is always a certain amount of serendipity at play when searching for secondhand. We came upon an eBay seller specialising in used stainless steel fashions. He used to be selling a sink unit we most popular for £340. A move to to his garage backyard unearthed a second piece that fitted precisely into the home at the reverse aspect of the chimney – a two-metre long surface with a couple of drawers at each and every end, a shelf underneath for pots and pans, and a half-shelf above for easy-to-reach cutlery, spices and such like. It used to be ours for £200. In 1 afternoon, we’d came upon exactly what we might have appreciated for £540, a worth slightly increased by way of an hour or 2 with a plumber to hook it all up.

Similarly, on an afternoon adventure to Sunbury antiques marketplace ( I came upon a box of out of date Spanish tiles for a tenner. I didn’t understand it at the time, then again they fitted precisely inside the home in the back of the freestanding oven. Splashback taken care of.

A coffee pot on top of the hob with a spanish tile splashback in the background

The Spanish tiles were came upon for £10 in an antiques marketplace. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

‘Where are your beans?’

The kitchen we’ve were given doesn’t have large amounts of garage. There aren’t any cavernous corner cupboards or overhead fashions stacked with teacups and Tupperware. We have 1 huge floor-to-ceiling linen cupboard we bought for £200 at Sunbury antiques marketplace. It properties all of our dried, jarred pieces, plates and bowls. (We eradicated the once more of it so it moreover hides the boiler.) Our cutlery sits on an open shelf, our teacups and glassware fill a smooth £70 glass cabinet. When a good friend visited for the main time, he mentioned, “But where do you keep your baked beans? Where’s your cereal?” I opened the secondhand school lockers and showed him how totally a huge box of bran flakes slotted into the fifth door along. Serendipity, another time.

cupboards storing cereal and books

These second-hand school lockers were merely the right measurement to hold boxes of cereals. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

The faff factor

For the entire money you save on eschewing a shop-bought fitted kitchen (our reclaimed fashions and surfaces price round £1,000 in entire), you should be able to spend somewhat of (OK, moderately so much) overtime on seeing it by means of to finishing touch. There’s research, taking a look and transporting to be completed – and plenty of heavy lifting. We briefly discovered that, although our glossy huge sink unit worked totally inside the home we had assigned it, it didn’t fit by means of our narrow kitchen door. We spent an afternoon removing a just-painted bay window sash so as to put up the sink in by means of the aspect of the house. Ouch.

Our freestanding kitchen does energy us to are living with a lot much less. It has in reality fostered a well-honed orderliness: we consume and use each and every phase, frequently. We fit our kitchen and our kitchen fits us. Just about.

  • Nell Card is a freelance foods and interiors creator based totally in London; @nellcard