‘My old kitchen looked like it belonged in a youth hostel or a student house,’ says the owner of this two-bed terrace in South London. ‘It was just a bland backdrop of beige and all my lovely chrome and silver accessories looked incredibly drab against it.’
‘I love to travel and was faced with the choice of an amazing trip to the Far East or a kitchen makeover. So I decided that if I could keep the budget to under £1,000, I could do both! I was inspired by my fearless mother – there was rarely a week that went by without me returning home from school to find her elbows-deep in a DIY project.’
Get ready for your makeover project with our kitchen ideas
‘The cabinets were perfectly sound, but the beech-effect doors were just boring, so I decided I’d try my hand at painting them myself. I researched the paint online, eventually choosing a technical paint specialist. Priming and painting was a lengthy process: I learnt that allowing days between each coat is the key to get the paint to “cure” effectively. I gave the units four coats of paint and left a full 48 hours between each coat. And I’m happy to report they have passed the spilled pasta sauce test!’
‘The biggest challenge was the floor. It’s a laminate that I repurposed from my guest bedroom. It’s not as daunting as it sounds, as it un-clicked and re-clicked very simply, but as I knew I had very little to spare, I drew a scale plan and cut each plank out of paper, giving each a number. I spent a tense weekend on the job but it worked amazingly well.’ Laying it perpendicular to the units has given the illusion of width in what could be perceived as a narrow space.
A beloved trestle table looks suitably relaxed with bright, clashing chairs around it. Potentially wasted space beside the fridge has been filled with a handy tower unit.
‘I gave this old crate a coat of paint to keep oils tidy and I keep napkins in these quirky cans.’
‘The tiling was an education – I watched some great YouTube tutorials for hints and tips. The tiles took a very long day to apply and I added the grout using my own, slightly unorthodox method – using a piping bag and squeezing the grout in the cracks. I’ve never seen it done before, but it made light work of a messy job. And once I got the hang of it, it was as easy as doing a blank jigsaw.’
‘I did all of the work myself but had to admit defeat with the worktops and got a professional in. With four metre lengths, they would have been impossible for me to lift, let alone install. I also paid a gas engineer to literally unhook the hob and then reinstall it. He was only in the house 10 minutes, but it was £50 well spent.’
‘To keep costs down, I made sure nothing was wasted. I used an offcut of the worktop vertically to clad the end of the unit, which gives it a chunky, expensive feel. I also used a couple of lengths of the laminate floor to cover the cabinet baseboards. I simply glued them into place and weighted them down with heavy books until they were dry.’
‘Due to all these DIY jobs, I’m now the proud owner of a very flashy drill, which made fixing up the brackets and shelves reasonably easy, although I practiced on the wall above the units before the tiles went up. I love open shelving. I went for a single row of shelves instead of wall units because I wanted to display my kitchenware, ingredients and some other favourite things, like my collection of white ceramic jugs. The shelves were made from a length of MDF, plus wooden brackets from Ikea, and I then painted all of them to match the cabinets.’
Get the look
Buy now: Farrow & Ball Dix Blue modern emulsion, £46.50 for 2.5ltrs, Homebase
Buy now: Ekby Valter brackets, £2 each, Ikea
‘I created a chalkboard out of an old breadboard and even this old stag lamp got a lick of paint.’
‘As a final finishing touch, I painted the end wall above the tiles in a cool blue to give the room a focal point. I really couldn’t be happier with my new kitchen. My mum would be so proud of me!’