It’s taken a lot of time and energy for us to get the kitchen we wanted at a price we could afford. I thought I would share a few ways we managed to save money without compromising on quality.
1. Invest in a great builder with a range of skills
I’ll do a full feature on Simon Wilson, the man behind our entire kitchen transformation, later on. But having someone who ‘got’ our vision, could see the big picture as well as the detail, and knew how to make it all happen has been amazing. Simon has managed everything from electrics to installing appliances to perfectly fitting cabinets against our wonky Victorian walls, and this has been a life saver in terms of time and money. Had he not been able to rewire our kitchen himself, I would have been calling around on Tuesday to find an electrician who could come out last minute to sort this for us, which would have delayed the whole process and added to our bill. He has been worth every penny.
2. Price match where possible
When we got our original quote back for the entire kitchen, it was definitely not in our budget. We went straight online to look at appliances, and found comparable models that we would have been happy with. Not the cheapest, but the right size and quality with good reviews on Amazon and other websites. We went back with these prices, and links to each one and asked whether they would match our prices. Luckily they agreed, which cut quite a bit off the final bill. If they hadn’t, we would have simply ordered our appliances from the places we’d sourced, but it has been great to have everything arrive at once.
3. Shop around
A few items we simply couldn’t afford, even after negotiating. For instance, the solid wood worktops were something I WOULD NOT compromise on (after ten years in rental properties with horrible chipped laminate counters, it was either solid wood or concrete) but the quote was quite steep. Instead, we ended up getting these from a place called Kitchen-Direct, and they delivered within two days of ordering. Our tap we found online as well from Tap Warehouse (click here) and that was delivered within two days. Our tiles came from wallsandfloors.co.uk (click here). The effort was definitely worth it, and in the end helped us cut quite a lot of costs.
4. Keep your design simple
When starting with a blank slate, it can be so easy to keep adding cupboards, gadgets and features. But after a lot of reading, my theory is the fewer built-in gadgets the better – less to break, maintain or date! So while we started off like kids in a candy shop, we slowly whittled the list down to what we really needed, and what would help us maximise our space. Getting a measuring tape out to actually see how much space we’d be left with when everything was installed helped us be realistic about what would fit and what wouldn’t.
The key to keeping it simple is really thinking about what will live where. We have a spot for everything in our kitchen, and even though we might shift things around after living with the kitchen for awhile, I know that no space has gone wasted. This has allowed us to treat ourselves to one or two nice things like a wine fridge and a washer-dryer without feeling too guilty.
5. Be on hand to make live decisions
I would have loved to use this week of holiday to disappear to a gorgeous beach somewhere and miss all the mess, but I can’t stress enough how useful it’s been to be here and course correct as we’ve gone. Little details like electrical sockets showing up in polished silver instead of brushed (didn’t match our appliances), needing to upgrade the size of a cupboard so that it would fit the space, and making the call on drywall are all things that would have been a nightmare to manage by phone. I realise sometimes it’s not possible to be in the same place, but in those instances, I would suggest having daily catch ups and using lots of Skype so that you can see the challenges and decisions that need making. Correcting these sorts of things afterwards is even worse, and it would drive me nuts to live with a kitchen that was only 80% the way I wanted it.
6. Clear what you can beforehand
There’s a reason the saying ‘Time is money’ exists. And while you may think ‘I’m paying a lot for this to happen’, if there are things you can do to make your builder’s life easier it’s definitely worth it. Divine intervention meant that our massive fridge died on us a month before work began, so that was already out of the flat and saved a few hours of demolition and moving on Monday. We took down shelves, cleared rubbish and left only the basics in place to deal with. We also used Gumtree to organise people to come and collect the appliances we no longer wanted. Car trips to the skip are time consuming, and that’s all time that could be spent much more wisely.
So that’s it for now – we’re just over 1/3 of the way through and I’m sure I’ll have a few more tips that we learn along the way. Any suggestions that you have, please do share! I’ll be back later with an update on yesterday and today’s progress – there’s a lot happening and it will be fun to share it all at once!
Wishing everyone a great weekend!