DIY Kitchen Installation Guide - Figure Out Your Budget (Step 2 of 10)

Hello everyone! I’m back with step two of my DIY Kitchen Installation Survival Guide. You can read about step one here (creating an inspiration board), and about the general concept of the guide here (including an overview of all ten steps).

Of course, I’m not going to tell you how much you should pay for your kitchen – or whether it’s preferable to save up your pennies in advance, or get a loan – it’s entirely up to you. However, what I can tell you is that in my opinion, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to install a kitchen that looks great – you just have to be clever with what you choose to spend your money on.

Here are four different kitchens taken from the September 2009 issue of House & Garden magazine – one is inexpensive, one mid-range, one expensive and one luxury.

Can you tell which is which?

So, the first kitchen is by Plain English and is the luxury option. The second kitchen is by John Lewis, and is the mid-range choice. The third is by Howdens, and is the inexpensive kitchen – and the fourth is by Poggenpohl, and is the expensive option.

Did you guess right? Personally, I had no clue. They all look pretty nice to me!

For me, style is something that can be achieved in any price range. The luxury kitchen shown above costs from £30,000. Personally, I think you could create a similar look if you choose the right cabinets from B&Q.

Sure, the Plain English kitchen will have some super-duper features that aren’t visible to the immediate glance. The cabinets are made of solid, hand-carved wood. The cabinet handles may be made individually by artisans. The lamp will be designer. And of course that’s all worth paying for. But my point is – if you don’t have £30,000 to spend on a kitchen, don’t despair, because you can achieve a similar style with some careful shopping around.

Our kitchen is from Ikea. Yes, we had to assemble every unit by hand. Yes, I’m not so keen on the grey insides of the drawers and cupboard (but nothing some fancy wallpaper wouldn’t fix – do I hear a new project calling me?).

But I think it looks great – and it’s actually totally bespoke, because the units come in zillions of different sizes, so you can choose exactly the right fit, and for the ones that weren’t quite the right size (the boiler, the sink) we simply customized them by getting busy with the jigsaw and some sandpaper to reduce the height/width/depths as required:

This picture is taken in the evening (I literally took it five minutes ago). To see one taken during the daytime, along with some before and afters, click here.

A word of advice on building a DIY kitchen from scratch. You will spend A LOT of money on tools. And you will spend  A LOT of money on DIY hardware. For example, you’ll need these massive screws to hold the cabinets to the wall that cost about £1 per screw.

If you are well-planned (which we weren’t), you can order these in advance from a company like Screwfix, who can be about half the price of B&Q. But despite all your plans, you’ll probably still need to high-tail it to B&Q at least once a day to pick up all the things you didn’t realise you needed.

All in all, we spent around £1000 in B&Q. Power tools, regular tools, big screws, little screws, fastenings, wood, plaster, paint, protective goggles, sandpaper, piping, cabling, light switches, conduit – the list is endless. B&Q swallowed a quarter of our budget. But it meant that we now have a cupboard full of dozens of lovely tools that have been completely invaluable to us for all the other DIY projects we subsequently completed.

And if we had hired people to do the work for us, it would have cost a lot more (and robbed us of the glorious opportunity to spend two months laboring away in our own mini building site until midnight and living off shepherd’s pie).

So it’s definitely worth it – but just remember to factor the bottomless pit that is B&Q into your budget if you take the fully DIY approach.