Renovating A Kitchen – How I Did It

Renovating a Kitchen

Strip out old kitchen

Stripping out old kitchen

A recent YouGov poll revealed that the best improvement you can make to a property is to update (or replace) the kitchen.

If you have a large kitchen area then it might be a good idea to get a new kitchen designed by a professional so that you maximise and make best use of the space.

I recently renovated a Victorian semi-detached house on the Suffolk coast with quite a small kitchen. I had originally planned only to replace the kitchen cabinet doors which can be a good route to go down if the cabinets are clean and sound. Unfortunately for me upon closer inspection the kitchen cabinets I had hoped to keep were in poor condition, so I made the decision to replace them – which obviously also let to higher cost.

In my case I decided to simply replicate the existing kitchen so didn’t really have any design issues as such. My job was to rip out the old kitchen and replace with new cabinets and appliances.

Expect the Unexpected

Once I got stuck in to the work I realised that the previous owner had actually boarded up one of the

Boarded up window

Boarded up window

kitchen windows and hung wall cabinets in that area. When I removed the old and scruffy wall cabinets and removed the board it was as if someone had switched the light on – it was so much lighter in the kitchen and far better for it. This was an unexpected, and pleasant, surprise. Not all unexpected surprises are pleasant when renovating a house though – in fact most and generally unpleasant. When I next removed all of the kitchen cabinets and worktops, and worn out and battered carpet, two unexpected unpleasant surprises became apparent.

Levelling the Floor

Levelling the floor

Firstly the floor had obviously been levelled with a resin type compound at some point and was crumbling badly in places. Once this was swept up it became obvious that the whole floor was now very uneven and would require levelling anew. Cue a few days messing about with more resin levelling compounds until eventually the floor was even and level.

Secondly it then became obvious that the outside wall on the kitchen was single skin brickwork and

Black Kitchen Wall

Black kitchen wall

was almost black with dried condensation. Upon consultation with my plasterer it was decided that he would line the single skin external wall with what I think was 40mm insulation board before plastering the whole kitchen.

Note: While renovation a house it is good to know your limits. Although I knew I could tackle most of the tasks myself, I am not a plasterer, electrician or plumber so called upon skilled tradesmen when needed.

After a few days the plaster was dry and I could paint the kitchen. I chose white as it was my intention at the time to let the house out and, of course, it is good practice to choose neutral colours if you intend to either let or well the house after renovation.

So now I had my empty shell of a kitchen with level floor and nicely plastered, insulated and painted walls and ceiling.

Laying the Laminate Floor

Laying a laminate floor

Laying a laminate floor

The first stage of this process was to lay a plastic damp-proof membrane, which had to be cut to size and around recesses etc. Once that was done I laid the foam underlay which fitted together like a jigsaw and had to be cut to suit at edges and recesses. So far so good. Then it was time to actually lay the laminate floor. This was of course the most time-consuming process as it involved cutting boards at edges and recesses. I used a special fine-toothed saw for all the cuts which gave finer cuts with smoother edges.

Fitting laminate floor is not a difficult thing to do and is something the keen amateur can confidently undertake. Just be sure to follow the instructions carefully! On more than one occasion I cut the wrong end of the board I was about to lay. For this reason it is always a good idea to order more laminate floor boards that you actually need.

Fitting Kitchen Units and Appliances.

Although there are of course trained and experienced kitchen fitters out there which you can hire,

Fitting kitchen units

Fitting kitchen units

again it is something that the keen, amateur handyman can take on. There are now so many videos on YouTube on all kinds of DIY tasks it is easy to research the best way to do something before you actually undertake the task. Also, all kitchen units come with detailed instructions about how to correctly put the units together.

Completed kitchen

Completed kitchen

The most nerve-wracking part of the process was cutting the openings for the sink and hob. Worktops are not cheap so you really don’t want to make a mistake with those. In fact I did make a mistake with the opening for the hob having misunderstood a YouTube video. Luckily I could slightly rearrange the units to make it work, so I got away with that one.

It was then a relatively simple process to cut and fit the upstands where the back of the worktop reaches the wall and fit the hob and oven into the units. Of course I had to get in a qualified Gas Safe plumber to connect the new hob to the gas supply and after that was done it was time to admire and begin to use my new kitchen.

Once you have completed a task like this you do feel a huge sense of satisfaction that you managed to successfully do it yourself, and have managed to save a considerable amount of money.

There are additional photos of the kitchen renovation below.