18 things I wish I’d known before ripping out my kitchen

What looks lovely on a piece of paper can look terrible in real life. Our utility room, for example, looked perfect in the 2D sketch I gave the builders, with its hanging space for coats, bench, shelving and sink, but when I saw it in 3D I nearly cried.

It’s a tiny room and the cabinetry we’d designed blocked out the light and the shelves were too high. We pleaded with the builders to start again with something much more simple and unobtrusive. NB: this scenario also worked in reverse: a long window next to the back door looked insignificant on the plan, but enhances the whole atmosphere of the room.

You’ll struggle to find an oven

And maybe a dishwasher, fridge and hob, too. Due to the microchip shortage currently affecting Europe, appliances are like hen’s teeth, even on sites such as John Lewis, Currys and AO.

When I spoke to Siemens about the whereabouts of the oven, microwave and warming drawer I ordered back in February, the representative admitted there is still no firm delivery date, but it could be October. For a while it looked like spending £6,000 on a set from Miele was the only (unfeasible) option, until I came across the Appliance People, an ultra-efficient Midlands-based company with two showrooms and an online shop, who suggested we go for Samsung, which so far is weathering the microchip shortage better than other companies.

Mistakes are unavoidable

A radiator leaked all over our newly laid (and unsealed) oak floor; the paint colors I chose for the new laundry room looked gothic; a new light was delivered to the recycling bin, and subsequently recycled. I panic-ordered a sofa in a sale only to discover the fabric felt like a scouring pad and it was far too large for the room. Mistakes are unavoidable.

If the builders are to blame, so long as they correct them, don’t stress. If it’s your fault, feel stressed because reversing it will cost a fortune. A type: you’ll make far fewer mistakes if you avoid the internet and go out to the shops where you can see what you’re buying.

Sometimes it’s better just to leave it

Given the cost and the time it’s taken, I wonder if certain aspects of our build were really worth it. Reconfiguring the downstairs loo for example – it’s still small, it’s still a loo. In hindsight, a lick of paint and some better lighting might have been a better option.

You’ll regret not budgeting harder

I’ve been surprised by how much the cost of finishing touches mount up. Our kitchen cupboards need handles, the walls need lights and sockets, the island needs stools and the new television cabinet in the playroom needs a television. I was looking forward to upgrading our Ikea kitchen chairs, which I’ve had since I left university, but they’ve now been given an indefinite reprieve, along with the sagging playroom sofa.

You’ll wonder if you should have gone to Ikea

This applies to almost every purchase you make because there is always an alternative in Ikea and it is usually perfectly good.

Your standards will plummet

The images I saved before we started building show sleek, spacious rooms with thick curtains, designer lighting and ornamental orange trees. Our room will have none of these things and I really don’t mind.

You probably won’t get much for your old kitchen units

My builder assured me that I’d have to pay someone to take away our old units, even though they’re in good condition. I assured him that I could sell them on (once they’re released from the temporary kitchen).

There’s a growing line up of second-hand kitchen sites such as Used Kitchen Hub that will market your kitchen on their website. I’ve now discovered that my 1980s kitchen is much too old to feature on these sites – a 10-year-old kitchen is considered geriatric. I might make a few hundred pounds on Gumtree, but Freecycle is more realistic.

It’s mayhem living in a building site


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