A DIY kitchen – everything you need to know – Part 1.

If you’ve been investigating the possibility of a new kitchen recently, then you’re probably in shock at the price of everything. I know we were. The events of the last few years have doubled if not tripled the cost. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s the high end of the market, or something from your local diy store. By the time you add everything up, including the installation, the total is enough to make your eyes water. Some of the companies we looked at were so ridiculously priced we’d have needed a second mortgage! That’s why we decided to design and fit our very own DIY kitchen.

A DIY kitchen doesn’t have to skimp on quality and design.

But, a DIY kitchen though?

As soon as I hear the phrase DIY kitchen though, it conjures up images in my head of low grade products and an inferior finish. If you know me and my style at all, then you’ll know that there was no way in a million years that I was going to settle for that. However, serendipity played its part, as the very lovely kitchen company that we had used on our last two kitchen projects had just started making a flat packed version of their traditional timber cupboards. Hallelujah!

I have to say I was a bit sceptical at first. I had visions of multitudes of chipboard and Ikea style fixings. But, I could not have been more wrong. Their traditionally made wooden cupboards and drawers have been very skilfully adapted for us to build at home. That is an immediate saving right there people! Classic Kitchens Direct offer Neptune Home style at a price you can afford, whether it be the flat packed option, or their bespoke and ready built range. Of course, you don’t have to use the company we used to create your own DIY kitchen, but I thoroughly recommend them.

There is very little difference between a Neptune Home kitchen and one from CKD. Granted, you will not get the fancy schmancy showroom and the slightly aloof staff, but I tell you one thing: you’ll get a darn sight more choice and the quality will be the same. The in-frame carcasses are oak veneered mdf, just like Neptune. The doors and frame are tulip wood and mdf and the drawers are all dovetailed solid oak. They come primed ready for paining too!

Measure up!

Before you create your own DIY kitchen you need to start at the beginning. First things first: measure up! If you’re hoping to save money on your kitchen design, then this is so important. Most kitchen companies, whether they be from a D.I.Y store, or top end handmade suppliers, will have a free in-house design service – use this to your advantage. We generally design our own kitchens, but even after all these years, we still take the drawings to our kitchen supplier for their input.

[mailerlite_form form_id=2]

Measure your floor area first and then the height from floor to ceiling. In older houses, remember that walls may not be true. The length of a wall may be different at floor level that it is at ceiling height. A filler panel may be required to hide walls that aren’t straight.

Our kitchen design.

Write things down & sketch them out.

Once you have your room dimensions you are ready to draw a basic sketch of your DIY kitchen using graph paper. First you need to decide what shape kitchen you want. Is it going to be U-shaped, a galley kitchen, L-shaped? If you read last week’s post, then you’ll know that we created a triangular kitchen!

Make a list of all the things you want in your kitchen including the finer details. How big do you want your sink to be? Are you having an American style fridge freezer, or something integrated for a seamless look? Do you want the hob on the island and where does the bin go? All these things and more need to be answered before you start your design.

Our design

The main wall of our DIY kitchen is roughly 4.2 metres long. I knew I wanted a pantry and the flat packed version from CKD is 1.2 metres wide. All the base and tall cupboards are 600mm deep. So, that’s taken over a quarter of my wall already. I knew we had to have a tall integrated fridge in this kitchen, although I’m not a fan. The matching door attachment is a complete nightmare and constantly needs adjusting. Not CKD’s fault, but the fault of the attachments designed by the fridge manufacturers. If you are having an integrated fridge, then make sure it has a sliding mechanism for the door, not the fixed version like ours. This unit was also from their flat-packed range and is 680mm wide. We then wanted a tall unit that could house two full single ovens and grills, with a cupboard above and a drawer below. This we ordered from their bespoke range. These come ready built.

The key to your DIY kitchen costing as little as possible, is to order as much as possible from the flat packed range. If possible, get the entire design from plat packed. Next to the ovens is a worktop area with a refuse/recycling bin cupboard below at 500mm wide and then the dreaded corner base cupboard at 900mm. Both of these were from the flat packed range. I talked about the corner cupboard in last week’s post. I cant stand them, but there was no other option here. It also didn’t matter too much as it houses the sink, the Quooker tap tank and descaler and then all my cleaning products. It’s still a waste of space in my book, but we’ve made good use of it. All of this adds up to 3,960mm, leaving us 240mm to play with. We decided to use that space to house the ladder that would be needed to get to the top cupboards.

The top cupboards and the library ladder of dreams!

Our ceilings are incredibly tall, 3.2m to be precise! So, it was important to me that our kitchen suited the space. That meant adding glazed top cupboards to all of the tall units and also bringing them across over the worktop. All of these had to be made bespoke, so that brought the cost up a bit for us. It was worth it though as it totally makes the kitchen. It also meant that I could finally have the library ladder that I’ve been hankering after for years! Want to know all about the ladder and rail and how I saved a fortune on it by making it myself? Here’s the link.

The kitchen triangle

Last week I also talked about the kitchen triangle rule. This is an old rule that kitchen designers and architects have used for years. The rule basically states that the main three work areas: the stove, the sink and the fridge should be no less than four feet and no more than nine feet away from each other. The three work areas create a triangle.

I think the best way to make sure that the layout works in practice in your new kitchen is to concentrate on the important activities within the kitchen. Make sure everything flows. Imagine yourself in your kitchen with your new design and physically walk out the “journey” from stove to sink, from fridge to prep zone, etc. Do any of the journeys seem overly laborious or convoluted? By actually walking the journeys you can really envisage whether the design you have created is actually convenient and easy to use in real life.

Does it flow or does it feel awkward? Imagine yourself taking hot goose fat out of the oven ready to baste your roast potatoes. Where is the most convenient place to set down your roasting dish? Try to think of all the tasks you will do in the space. You are taking a pan of boiling water from the hob to the sink. How far is the journey? Walk it – I promise it works!

The tall units and where to place them.

Now this isn’t an actual kitchen rule, but it is a rule in my book. You’re reading my blog, so I presume you’re interested in what I have to say? Make sure you put the tallest units in the corner as far away from the kitchen entrance as possible. It’s important the space flows with your eyes being led from shallower units up to the taller ones. Otherwise your kitchen will feel small and cramped and somehow oppressive as you enter. We have placed our pantry, fridge and oven units on the furthest point on the wall from the kitchen entrance. Btw – I’m not a fan of base unit ovens. The older I get, the more I want cooking to be at my level. To me, cooking should be fun, so if actually using your DIY kitchen is a breeze, then it will be more conducive to fun and frolics.

The rest of the design

We already had a double drawer-dishwasher from Fisher & Paykal if you haven’t seen one of those, then do check them out. For a couple they are perfect as we can use the top drawer most of the time. But, if we have guests, then we can use both. We placed that next to the corner unit. It’s a good idea to place your dishwasher close to the sink unit as the waste pipe will have far less to travel and can connect to the sink waste.

Now, here comes the unusual part. If you read last week’s blog, then you’ll know we added a diagonal peninsula at 3.2 metres long and 1.1 metres wide. This was made up of two 1000 wide pan drawer units (flat packed) and a bespoke base cupboard for a combi microwave, with a drawer below at 680mm wide. There is also a 100mm pillar at both ends, making the whole design look nice and chunky. Substantial, if you like. The rest of the 3.2m is made from a corner cupboard on the other side of the peninsula.

Next Sunday in Part 2, I will be talking about DIY kitchen islands, how easy it was to build the units and fit them and lots of other DIY kitchen tips.

JP Clark signature

If you liked this then why not read: How to make your own lampshades

1 Comment

  1. Tina Ward
    March 26, 2023 / 12:08 pm

    A other brilliant newsletter, cleverly insightful, great tips, and so well written that it reads like kind and helpful chat with a skilled craftsman. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Deckhouse - Book Now