The Saga of our IKEA DIY Kitchen

Our house needed a lot of aesthetic work when we bought it in 2014. The kitchen was a BIG project – original 20 year old cabinets and poor use of space. Outdated design aside, the entire kitchen was filthy dirty with years of chip fat grease lingering in every crevice. I couldn’t wait to rip it out!

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First things first – removing an old extractor unit with 20 years’ worth of grease!

As this is our first house and we might not be here in 5 years, we wanted to keep the cost down. We were also restricted by  the room layout and the type of house, keeping future potential buyers in mind. It is a galley kitchen and we kept the oven and sink in the same place to save moving the services. We considered keeping the relatively new cooker and under counter fridge that had been left behind. We eventually decided that in-built appliances would not only help the re-sale value, but be a better use of space.

We didn’t go all out on a ‘dream’ kitchen for the reasons I’ve already mentioned.  It’s not the most radical design ever – the worktop, cupboards and laminate floor are all identical to one of the display rooms in the Bristol store! I’d read a lot on blogs about customising with more unique hardware from other stores, but in the end I was so keen to get a new kitchen that we decided to go all-in at IKEA.

I am terrible for diving head-first into projects whenever I have a spare minute. After just a few months I enthusiastically started ripping tiles off the wall. While we were prepared for the hard work of a complete DIY re-fit, I don’t think we were prepared for the amount of time it would take (7 months) or the stress of unforseen setbacks.

The main stages of the project:

  • Remove all tiles
  • Remove all cabinets
  • Move sockets and re-plumb sink to accommodate movements to washing machine and addition of dishwasher
  • Wire in underfloor electric heating
  • Plastering (An unexpected delay. The tiles had been stuck directly to the plasterboard (d’oh) and after they had been removed the wall surface was a complete mess)
  • Decorate
  • Assemble new cabinets and fit
  • Install worktop
  • Finishing details (e.g. splashbacks, light fittings)
  • Lay underfloor heating and laminate floor.
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    Taking over the house with cabinet assembly

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    Father to Son plumbing lessons…

Given this was spread out over such a long period of time, it was incredibly inefficient. We still needed to cook, so things were moved in and out. But the biggest and entirely unexpected delay was with the worktop.

We chose a pre-cut Acrylic worktop. As the name suggests, the dimensions are taken and the worktop is cut to size, including the holes for the hob and sink, in Germany. This means a 6 week lead time. It was a crucial stage of the project and was already holding up the installation of half the kitchen.

Unfortunately for us, when the sink section of the worktop arrived the hole had been cut in the wrong place. The kitchen designers responsible for interpreting our measurements had made an error. (They also use a ridiculous system which is very open to interpretation, but that’s another story). It wasn’t our fault so the bill was on IKEA – lucky for us, as the worktop wasn’t cheap – a third of the cost of the entire kitchen!

It’s a well-known fact that IKEA customer service is terrible and it took over a week to painstakingly explain to them what they had got wrong. The replacement took another 6 weeks to arrive. We had removed the sink on the day of the original worktop arriving, so were without water in the kitchen for the entire time. It was incredibly frustrating!

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Spot the mistake with the sink cut-out….

Once that drama was over, we were able to get on installing the sink (YAY) and actually finish the rest of the kitchen.

Last thing was the floor. Originally it was tiles laid directly onto concrete and was freezing cold in winter. We removed the radiator to give us space to fit cupboards right up to the wall and plumped for electric underfloor heating, laid on a thick wodge of insulation. The kitchen is so narrow that the area of the mat is only 2m2 – it wasn’t too expensive and we’re hoping that running costs won’t be too high at the low levels we’ll be using.

We have now had our lovely new kitchen for nearly a year and we still love it.  For months I just reveled in the joy of having a working sink! I wanted to try to capture a few memories of the project so that we don’t forget how difficult it was at times. We had an electrician and plasterer in but the rest was LOTS of hard work by the two of us and my boyfriend’s dad.

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Half a new kitchen!

I’ll throw in some more pictures and decorating detail in my next post. If you’re struggling with kitchen re-fit at the moment, keep at it – you’ll get there!

H x

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