If you have been following our home renovation, you might know that we are very close to finishing. Our builders are great, but things have tailed off when their other projects started, so we’re crossing our fingers in hope that things will be sorted this week and next.
The final touches are mainly for the kitchen and the roofing outside, which definitely needs doing as we had a leak at the weekend with all the rain we had. It’s been hard, I won’t lie. The work started at the end of August and I’m still dodging rubble in the kitchen, from where the wall was knocked down. And it’s hard to start nesting when you have five rooms in your house to decorate, with a baby on the way. We’ve saved very hard and we’re scrimping as best as we can, but it’s going to be worth it!
I wanted to talk about our second-hand kitchen today, as I get asked a lot of questions about it and I thought it would be a useful post to write about.
It all began with choosing our builders – Exelby Developments. We ended up speaking to six companies in the end, and having three over to our house. I was eager to see their approach and see if they understood that we had a budget and we wanted the most for it. One builder tried to convince us to waste it on en suites and extras, and just didn’t listen. One disappeared off the face of the earth, and then we met Simon. A 6ft plus man (the tallest I have ever seen), who came in to my house one night, wiped his feet and took off his shoes (win) and totally understood what we wanted. Not only that, he worked out a way to stretch our budget, not waste it. He regularly recycles kitchens for his customers, understanding that not everyone has lots of money to spend.
He was also the one that suggested we knock down the dividing wall between the kitchen and the never-used spare bedroom downstairs, which is why we have this huge kitchen/dining/snug area that we do now. Or, at least, that we almost have now.
So the kitchen work began, with the old units and flooring ripped out, the wall going down, walls plastered, a new door and window that divides the kitchen from the conservatory, and then the kitchen units themselves.
So yes, our kitchen is second-hand, which saved us a lot of money. And I mean a lot of money! I’m not talking a little bit. What the team did was take the existing units (which actually came from a local celebrity’s house!) and they re-fit them into our space, with some adjustments. We ended up getting a double sink unit, a dish washer, plenty of floor storage, and two wall units, along with our Britannia oven, extractor fan, and silver SMEG fridge for less than £1,000. Which is a small fraction of what we would have paid for those items brand new.
Before you decide on doing the same, you need to be prepared to give things a good clean and be prepared to be flexible too. You won’t find everything ‘perfect’ when it’s second hand. We could have used the units as they are, as they are great quality and quite new, but we have decided to paint them instead because they had potential to be the stuff of dreams, rather than ‘quite nice’. This takes a lot of work, but it’s also worth it for the amount we’ve saved. Plus, I think it will be quite nice to have people round and if they say they love the kitchen, we can say: “Oh we did that!”
We are planning on using a glossy Farrow & Ball shade – I’m still undecided on the exact one yet, and I can’t afford to buy it yet anyway, which is just as well! We chose the brand as it’s regularly used by kitchen specialists, and I know it’s good quality and worth the investment. I don’t want to cut corners on quality, even if I do want to save money.
So we will have to pay for new paint, amongst other things.
One thing we did have to get brand new were worktops, which you can get separately, and at great value, from places like http://www.worktop-express.co.uk/. We paid a further £270 for those, and the biggest cost was actually fitting the whole kitchen and the units.
We also have a new kitchen island, from IKEA, which my parents bought for us as an early Christmas gift, which saved us a further £200. The unit is an off-white and wooden top, so it will match what I’m going for when everything is finished and I can’t tell you how amazing the extra space is. Especially when we get two bar stools so Bill can help me cook much more easily. He currently loves sitting atop of it and helping me chop vegetables, or grate cheese. It’s lovely!
I can really recommend putting in the extra effort if you’d like to update your home, but don’t have the budget of dreams. I regularly update our home and save money. Whether that’s from eBay wins – like our chalkboard fireplace that we made – or second-hand carpets, like the one that has been installed in our new bedroom upstairs that came from our grandparents’ immaculate dining room and is only a couple of years old.
I’ll be doing a full kitchen reveal and tour when it’s complete, if you’d like to see, but I hope this was at least interesting, if not a bit inspiring for those of you who don’t have the pennies, but would like to make the most of your home! It is doable. It just takes a bit of extra work!