How I Revamped My Kitchen On A Budget

I have never had a new kitchen.  In the 17 years that I've been with Joe, we have always updated what was there already.  Like many, we've never had the money to do a proper refit although we've spent hours planning our dream kitchen in the past.  That's not to say I didn't love my previous kitchens - I juggled them about to make the most of what I had, painting the units (very badly) and adding bits and pieces that made it mine.

So when we came to view this house in December 2014, we walked into the kitchen and were totally bowled over.  The house had been completed renovated by a property developer (it had previously been lived in by a farmer who only used two of the rooms) and the kitchen was brand, spanking new.  Light up cupboards, island bar, Corian worktop, lovely range cooker.  It had it all!   Joe loved it. I didn't.

 The nicest kitchen I've ever had in any house we've ever owned.

The nicest kitchen I've ever had in any house we've ever owned.

Now, like many of you, I spend, I would say, about 75 percent of my time at home in the kitchen.  I absolutely love cooking and have a long history of dinner parties that take me two days to prepare for.   I'm always hearing stories from friends about their children baking cakes, making dinner for them, emptying the dishwasher.   Due to poor training, mine are incapable of using the toaster or even pouring a glass of squash.  In a gung ho mood, I once allowed them to make their own packed lunches and they went in with two packets of crisps, a Kit Kat and a packet of Love Hearts.  For me, the kitchen has to be a place where I feel comfortable and, really I suppose, like 'me'.  The kitchen was beautiful and definitely a dream for many, but for me it just didn't work.

We'd been in our house a year when I decided enough was enough.  I'd been Pinteresting for months and had an absolute plan of what I was going to do.  After plying him with five Gin & Tonics, I managed to convince Joe that the wall cupboards needed to come off and that the units could be painted.  Most importantly - and the reason he succumbed to my gin based perseverance - is I told him I could do it all on an all inclusive budget of £1,500.  So, what did I do?

Whipped Off The Wall Cupboards

Many people would find it heinous to remove cupboards that had been there only a year but it had to be done.  After debating his DIY capabilities (common theme), Joe decided to do the job himself.  Luckily, they were literally screwed to the wall and came off easily.  Popped them on eBay whilst he was taking them off, sold for £70 within a day.  Quids in and I hadn't even got going yet.  

 It's a wall cupboard free zone.

It's a wall cupboard free zone.

Entered The Male Dominated Timber Yard Environment 

I'd noticed that my insta friend @katherine.ogilvie had sourced her living room shelves via a timber yard.  Spurred on, I found one in Clifton Moor, measured out what I needed and went to visit.  I don't know if you've ever been to a timber yard, but a woman visiting is a rarity and they looked askance at me before asking me if I knew what oak looked like.  Unfortunately, I didn't, so their initial assessment of me as a woman of no knowledge was confirmed.  They didn't have e mail (wtf) and so I had to phone them weekly in the month leading up to collection to check that all was going to plan.  Each time I called they denied all knowledge of me and it was hit and miss whether they would come up with the goods on collection day.  Luckily, it all went to plan and they produced four solid oak shelves with struts which are absolutely bloody gorgeous.

 These shelves are oak.  Yes, I know what oak looks like.

These shelves are oak.  Yes, I know what oak looks like.

Compromised On The Lighting

Initially my plan was to have Jielde spotlights over the shelves.  However, once I realised that they would cost £340 I had to reassess and instead went to B&Q in search of inspo where I found industrial style steel fisherman lights for £18 each.  Unbeatable.  Added to my brilliant (but tinged with guilt) bargain mud bead chandelier from BHS Home, I'd sorted out the lighting for less than £100.  There was a Kartell shade above the current breakfast bar which I eBayed for the fine sum of £94.  

 They are not Jielde but they still look cool.

They are not Jielde but they still look cool.

 My guilt ridden BHS bargain but I bloody love it.

My guilt ridden BHS bargain but I bloody love it.

Compromised On The Handles

I'd seen some amazing leather handles on the fabulous feed of @mad_about_the_house but once I'd discovered that I would need 24 of them at £15 each, I was forced to look at other options.  Pinterest came up trumps and I saw some D shaped brass handles on navy cupboards that I fell in love with so I searched eBay for similar.   I struck gold (or brass) and ordered 24 for under £40.  

 Never attempt to put on handles under the influence of a hangover.

Never attempt to put on handles under the influence of a hangover.

Went For A Totally Impractical Vintage Rug

Obviously it is totally impractical to have a vintage rug in the kitchen but I'd seen pictures of similar and was obsessed with finding one large enough to cover the space.  I set myself a budget of £100 which would usually just about buy a hearth rug but I persevered.  eBay was my home boy once again and I found a company that tarts up and resells vintage Persian area rugs. They start off bidding at around £40 and then fly up but after four attempts, I managed to nab a 10ft x 14ft for £120 with free shipping.  

 Best and most impractical rug ever.

Best and most impractical rug ever.

Didn't F**k Up The Cupboards By Painting Them Myself

So after years of ruining perfectly decent kitchen units, I decided that the vast majority of my budget should be invested in a decorator who knows what they are doing.  Miles Pote is my go to and he didn't fail me.  Whilst we were sunning ourselves in Thailand, Miles was painting the units, the walls, the ceiling and a blackboard wall.  We love Miles.

 My best ever chalkboard drawing as completely copied from  @artynads

My best ever chalkboard drawing as completely copied from @artynads

Managed to F**k Up The Handles So Had To Get A Professional

We decided we would be able to fit the handles ourselves.  Unfortunately, after a 'quick kitchen curry' with friends the night before which turned into a mammoth drinking session, this wasn't the best of ideas and we managed to totally mess up Miles' brilliant handiwork.  I cried a lot and we agreed to get a handyman in to fix the mess we made.  Am now boycotting Vina Sol and hold it fully responsible.

 Way too much Vina Sol drunk at this island.

Way too much Vina Sol drunk at this island.

Got An Electrician In To Do The Scary Stuff

My Dad spent years trying to show Joe how to do electrical work but with very little success.  So Miles' brother, Christian, a qualified electrician, came and put up the chandelier and routed the fisherman's lights above the shelves.

 Excellent electrical work by Christian who knows what he's doing.

Excellent electrical work by Christian who knows what he's doing.

Created Focal Points

I decided I would have two main features in my kitchen.  When I was small, my earliest memories are of being woken on a Saturday morning with the sound of Pink Floyd, Supertramp, Wings and The Beatles being played downstairs by my Dad who was always in a band.  He passed away far too early eight years ago and so when we moved in, I wanted a memory of him in this house.  I asked the amazingly creative Emma and Dave at @lightupnorth, an artistic team based in Saltburn who create neon art, to make me a 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' sign.  I think the juxtaposition of the modern art against the traditionally styled units makes the kitchen.   The final touch was three iBride trays from @tin_design_limited.  I absolutely adore these trays and love the fact that they are not necessarily something that you would expect in a kitchen and that's why they work so well.

 Just the best neon sign ever  @lightupnorth

Just the best neon sign ever @lightupnorth

 Ibride heaven  @tin_design_limited

Ibride heaven @tin_design_limited

Here's The Breakdown

Oak Shelves x 4 including struts:  £240

Cupboard primer, Valspar Hague Blue matched paint, Valspar Strong White matched wall and ceiling paint, radiator paint, Valspar blackboard paint:  £180

BHS chandelier and two fisherman's lights, B&Q:  £96

24 D shaped brass handles from eBay seller ppretail:  £40

Vintage Persian rug from eBay seller A2ZRug:  £120

TOTAL PRODUCT EXPENDITURE:  £676

Four days work for decorator:  £600

One days work for electrician:  £150

Four hours work for handyman:  £80

TOTAL TRADESMEN EXPENDITURE:  £830

TOTAL:  £1,506

So if you take away the £164 that I gained from eBay by selling the wall cupboards and the Kartell light, I'm actually a fair amount under budget.  Unfortunately we managed to spend far too much money in the Far East whilst this was all going on so I'm not getting much kudos for this fact, but nevertheless, I stuck to it and proved that it's possible to do it within a fairly modest budget.  Obviously, if you are a practical DIY type person who is good and precise at decorating, you can more than halve this cost.  The key to success is good and thorough sourcing and knowing your budget limits.

 A kitchen that makes me very, very happy.

A kitchen that makes me very, very happy.

Most importantly, what I now have is a kitchen in which I feel totally at home and am happy to be in.  The carpet adds huge warmth to the area and all the family are loving the new look.  Now all I have to do is to teach my children how to cook.  Roll on the dinner parties!