Bitchen in the kitchen

So we bought a kitchen.

By we, I mean Rebekah.
By bought, I mean overpaid.
And by kitchen, I mean half – as in half of the required cabinets to fill the space we have planned for our new kitchen.
That’s what happens when you leave your pregnant Mrs alone with a smartphone, access to your Trademe account and 30 minutes to kill.


The new kitchen complete came with as-new smeg oven, gas hobs and rangehood

If you follow her logic, it’s my fault because the only reason she was at kindy early was because she had to drop me at work (it was raining and I couldn’t ride my bike) and the kitchen was on my watchlist.
If you follow my logic, she is nuts for buying a major purchase for our house without considering it’s dimensions, checking our plans or consulting the person who is managing the project.  Me.

The only warning I got was two short text messages:
“I just bid on a kitchen”.
Followed 2 minutes later by
“I just bought a kitchen”


The sink and tap were included by the dishwasher wasn’t

At first I was bit gutted (my response resulted in my buying a bunch of ‘sorry I said you’re nuts’ bunch of flowers) because the kitchen is a delicate part of the renovation puzzle and I had spent many hours researching our options.
From the outset I earmarked the kitchen as a one area where we could save some money without compromising on the finished look and feel.



They say it is the heart of the home – and sure it’s where you prepare the family meals and share a cuppa with the Mrs in the morning – but it’s essentially a bunch of MDF boxes and there are plenty of ways to achieve a brilliant finish without paying the dazzling, custom-made prices.

In our last house, we bought a $12,000 ex-display kitchen from local joinery The Seller’s Room for just $3,400. I installed it myself and it looked brand spanking new and significantly improved the value and our enjoyment of the home.

brunner street kitchen

Our old kitchen

This time the kitchen space is much larger. An L-shape with a double return (I think Rebekah just made that description up –does it make sense?) and the longest bench runs for over 4metres. When it’s finished it has to look and feel brand new. The brother-in-law says we are looking at the wrong side of $20,000 to walk in through the front door and order that through a joiner. But I’m not a front door kind of guy.

kitchen layout
The best case scenario would have been to land another load of cabinetry from a local joiner who’s updating their show room. If you’re can find one these, you basically get a brand new kitchen at a second hand price – with the added bonus of building a relationship with someone who is actually skilled at making kitchens. The Seller’s Room were a top bunch of people: they gave us fixings, and installation advice and follow up service. You’ll see these kitchens come up every now and again on trademe but they often go for a premium. I think you’re better off to simply hit the phones and call all your local guys and ask them if they’re updating their show room anytime soon.
Our second option was to buy a second-hand kitchen and make it new again. With the Christchurch rebuild in full swing, there are heaps of kitchens coming out of red-zoned houses all the time and you can pick them up for a song. The thing when looking at a second hand kitchen is to forget about it’s current shape. It’s very unlikely you’re going to find one that you can copy and paste into your home. Instead think of them as a jigsaw puzzle. Modular kitchens are just a collection of standard-sized boxes called carcasses lined up next to each other with doors and drawers and a bench on top. It’s the carcasses that you build the kitchen with and to some extent, it doesn’t even matter how old they are. They’re all made from the same stuff and spend most of their lives hidden from view so you won’t notice the difference between them in a $5000 or a $50,000 kitchen.

My approach was to get cheap carcasses and spend good money on the things where you can feel the quality – door handles, bench tops and tap ware. If the doors are dated you can get the repainted or replaced or even relaminated. You can get cool handles cheap from ebay. Tapware and bench tops are something I’ll look at in more detail in future blogs.


It comes with a massive pantry

So obviously we (or she), has opted for the second option and I should point out that its not all bad. The kitchen cost $4000 (+ $700 delivery), and was part of a renovation that was underway at a Mt Pleasant home when the earthquake struck. It’s mostly white and comes with Smeg appliances, a glass splash back, a sink and a tap. It’s actually really good value. But the problem for us is that we can’t use either of the benches and we still need to by a bunch more cabinetry. And here lies the dilemma. It doesn’t make sense to refinish new joinery and its unlikely we’re going to get another lot of second hand goods to match.


So what do you think? Was this kitchen a bargain? And how do we make it work….


Budget update:

Total cost of project so far:

$1100 Architect concepts
$115 Floorboard salvage
4700 Kitchen

$5915 Total so far


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