So how did it go from this...
... to this? Read on...
1. Don't try and do it all at once. We just didn't have the funds to do all of the work at the same time, so we prioritised. First up, two years ago, we replaced the horrible lino with slate-effect tiles and, at the same time, repainted the walls, added chalkboard paint to the door, made new blinds and put up some shelves: all small changes and cheap, too, but they made the room much more liveable while we saved for phase two.
2. Ask yourself: do I need a whole new kitchen? The cost of new units was prohibitive but we realised that replacing the whole kitchen wasn't actually necessary. By replacing just the worktops and sink, the whole kitchen has been revitalised. If you want a more drastic makeover, you can replace cupboard doors, paint the existing doors, or - as I did when I first moved in - just replace the handles. Think, also, about using open storage: our shelves, teamed with a wall-mounted pan rack, mean that the majority of our pots, plates and dry goods are out on display and easy to access, leaving the limited cupboard space for the ingredients and equipment we use the least.
3. Can you keep any existing appliances to save cash? I love the original 60s freestanding oven and hob that was in the house when I bought it, so there was no need to buy a new one: having new worktop & tile surrounding it is enough to completely change the look. Likewise, our existing fridge-freezer & washing machine are both still going strong and, as we weren't redesigning the layout, could stay put and save us £100s.
4. Do it yourself and, where you can't, utilise the expertise friends & family. We were incredibly lucky to have my good friend Abby on board to help us out with this makeover. Abby is a PE teacher by trade but has done three house renovation projects of her own and absolutely loves big DIY jobs (weird, I know). She was more than happy to give up some of her time - paid, of course, but at mates rates rather than full market price - to do the jobs we couldn't manage, like... well, pretty much everything! Abby installed the worktops and the sink and also did the tiling (although I got her to teach me how to tile so that, come the next project, I can have a crack at it myself).
5. Know where to find a bargain. Abby's advice was once again invaluable for us: because she's done so many renovations, she knows where to source affordable yet good quality materials. She pointed me in the direction of Wickes for our worktops where, thanks to a discount event, two 3m lengths of solid beech worktop set us back just £130, and Homebase, who had the white metro tiles we wanted on special offer. Do you know someone in the building trade who can give you tips on where to find what you need at a good price, or have any friends or family recently completed a big project? If so: ask them where to shop.
We spent just over £500 on this second phase of the makeover, which included all materials - worktops, new sink and mixer tap, tiles, shelving timber, brackets, and jars - plus labour. And the result is nothing short of amazing, turning a dingy space into one of my favourite rooms in the house: light, bright, airy and modern.
* Beech workstops: Wickes *
* Orla Kiely coffee jar: Douwe Egbert's Ltd edition *
* Screw The Patriarchy print: Redbubble *
* Quotation chopping board: handmade by Abby *