Ch-Ch Changes. Turn and face the strange

Including a brighter kitchen. Pink flamingos and tigers optional.

As David Bowie might have mused. Perhaps you’ve just bought a property and are already rolling up your sleeves, hammer at the ready, to rip the existing kitchen out. Maybe your existing kitchen is completely uninspiring and needs a refit. Either way, if you’re about to let loose and Ch-Ch Change, read this first.


Make a wish list

Write down the all the things that aren’t working with your kitchen’s current layout. Maybe you need more storage for pots and pans? If so, consider a corner pull-out unit. At the same time, chuck out or donate anything that you haven’t used in the past year. If you need a bigger oven you’ll have to sacrifice space somewhere else but it’ll be worth it when you can cook an entire Christmas dinner at once. Don’t forget worktop space, too – maybe you’d prefer that giant bread-maker hidden away and have always wanted a coffee maker. Put mugs away rather than keeping them on a stupid mug tree. Take a look at the Orla Kiely range of storage jars and tins at John Lewis – sometimes basing your kitchen décor around accessories is a great place to start. If you don’t want an under-the-sink bin, pick one in a bright colour and make a feature of it rather than trying to hide it. We’ve got a bright yellow one and matching bread bin in the same shade as our kitchen chairs and I love it. I love a bin. That’s right.

Choose your tradesman carefully

Once you’ve been to a showroom and chosen your kitchen, get it designed. You don’t have to go with their fitters - they are almost always more expensive than finding your own – but take the time to research your fitter if you do opt out. Choose one whose company has been around for a few years. Make sure they have liability insurance and guarantee the work they do. Ask to see a previous client’s kitchen if possible. Make sure everything is costed and get a contract. Never pay cash – you’ll have no proof of works carried out in case something goes wrong. Ask for timings and don’t pay upfront unless it’s to cover items they’re purchasing on your behalf, such as white goods or a cooker. Consider paying some of the deposit on your kitchen on a credit card as it will protect you on anything you buy between £100 and £30,000, irrespective of bankruptcy, damage or problems with a supplier.

Save on the big stuff

Once you start moving light fixtures, sockets, pipes and radiators, costs mount up. If you’re on a budget, design your new kitchen with this in mind, you’ll save big time. Keep your cooker, sink and washing machine/dishwasher in roughly the same spots and if your existing kitchen and white goods are in good condition, sell them (via PayPal or cash on collection) on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Ask showrooms when their new collections are coming in and work around that, as you might get an ex-display or end of line kitchen for a bargain price.

What do you need from the space?

Will your kitchen also be your entertaining space? If not you can probably get away with a breakfast bar. If you want to have people over for dinner and drinks, consider where you’ll put the table, and how much room you need for the chairs. Perhaps a bench seat will work better, as you can tuck that against the wall when not in use. You could even have one built with storage underneath it if you’re short on space. If you have the budget for it and are already changing pipework, remove a radiator to give you a clear wall space for a dining area or units and install (water-based) underfloor heating.

Set up your temporary kitchen

If you leave in a couple of units and chunk of worktop you can set up a toaster, kettle, microwave and camping stove on it. Store as many plates as you need, utensils and a couple of pans underneath. We bought a small fridge second hand on eBay to get us through our kitchen refit and sold it for the same price afterwards. Consider where you’ll wash up – you might have to take over the bath or shower. If you have a loo or utility room, set everything up in there. I had to put up with that for nine months (don’t ask) so a few weeks of faff will be a breeze.


Juliette Wills
Journalist. Broadcaster. Author.


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