How to renovate a kitchen

How to renovate a kitchen

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

In this guide, we'll cover all the key steps for a successful kitchen renovation. In addition to design inspiration, we'll help you pick the best layout between L-, U- and I-shaped kitchens. You'll also find tips on the best kitchen units, island and splashback to choose. Read on to find out how to renovate a kitchen.
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Preparing for a kitchen renovation

Planning a kitchen renovation 

Most kitchens can be expected to have a lifespan of around 20 years and the average adult spends about an hour a day cooking which adds up to about 15 days a year. As a general rule, the cost of a mid-range kitchen refit – not including appliances – ranges from £300 to £600 per m². Of course, those prices will differ depending on the scale of the project and will increase substantially if you're looking at high-end units or appliances.

Standard kitchen renovations

If you are simply replacing your old fitted kitchen with a new one without changing the layout, costs will be limited and the work should be completed within the space of one to three days, depending on the size of the space and the complexity of the design. If, on the other hand, you decide to move your plumbing, add plug sockets, repaint walls and/or change your tiles, you won't be looking at the same prices nor the same time line.

Renovating an old kitchen

Unlike other homes of the house where you can be a bit imaginative, kitchens need to be practical and functional, and designed in line with a carefully planned layout. Even in an older home, you should be looking to get as close as possible to one of the three main layouts (i.e. L-, I- or U-shaped). If the walls aren't plumb or square, you might want to think about putting up some plasterboard to create right angles before making any changes.

General rules for any kitchen renovation

As for any type of renovation you must carry out a few preparatory steps before you get stuck into the work. This is even more important in a kitchen given the complexity and scale of the project.

  1. Determine the kitchen layout

  2. Take inspiration from other kitchens

  3. Evaluate your needs

  4. Take measurements

  5. Set a budget

Take the time to think your plans through carefully and never rush decisions, especially if you are renovating an older building and the current layout is a bit tricky.

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Sockets

Get stuck into planning the kitchen renovation

Kitchen layouts

Kitchen layouts can be L-, I-, or U-shaped depending on the size and shape of the room. We'll come back to that later under the 'Kitchen layout plans and ideas' section.

Your remodel plans may require you to create partition walls or cover existing walls with plasterboard. If this is the case, it is essential that you strengthen the plasterboards with wood panels like OSB where you plan to secure your units. Plasterboard boasts many advantages but strength isn't one of them! Alternatively, you might want to use Fermacell which is a much denser material than plasterboard and won't need to be reinforced.

Kitchen work triangle

The number one rule when it comes to laying out a kitchen is to apply the kitchen work triangle theory. In short, this means that the clean-up, cooking and food storage zones should all be placed within reach of each other.

Water and electricity

Plumbing a kitchen

If you plan to move a sink and/or dishwasher, you need to check that you can meet the minimum waste drop required in the new location. This drop should be between 1/40 (meaning for every 40 units of length the pipe will drop by 1 unit) and 1/100.

Wiring a kitchen

If you're switching from gas to electric, you should ideally use a 30 mA residual-current device (RCD) to protect the socket to which the hob is connected. Rewiring a kitchen requires building notice under part P of the building regulations which restricts DIY work for safety reasons. This means you have to call in a professional electrician to do the work for you.

Taking measurements in the kitchen

It is absolutely essential to draw up detailed plans of your kitchen including all dimensions. Take the time to observe your habits and refer to your current kitchen. Do you find that the worktop is too low or too high? Would you rather have your pan drawer next to the oven rather than next to the dishwasher? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. Be sure to think about the clearance required to open cupboards and units when drawing up your measurements. You must be able to open all unit doors without having to close another first.

Taking inspiration from other kitchens

Kitchens come in all sorts of designs and it's a good idea to look for inspiration anywhere you can find it. Why not see what next door has done with their kitchen? Or if you've got a friend who's recently refitted their kitchen, ask them for advice! Their experience can be really useful and they can even lend a fresh eye to your plans. You won't find that kind of help in a manual!

Setting a kitchen renovation budget

Another essential step is to determine how much you can spend on the kitchen remodel. If you're on a tight budget and you have some choices to make prioritise investing in appliances where quality really matters.

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Kitchens

Kitchen design plans and ideas

L-shaped kitchens

L-shaped kitchens

L-shaped kitchens are best for rectangular rooms but will work for most spaces. In this layout, the work triangle can be adhered to but will largely depend on the layout of your plumbing and/or electricity supply. You can choose to move water pipes or sockets but this will increase the scale of the work. If you can, installing a table or island in the centre of the room can be really handy whether you're looking for extra worktop space or even a spot to enjoy meals.

I-shaped kitchens

I-shaped kitchens

I-shaped layouts are best for long and narrow kitchens. In this case, all appliances and units share the same side of the room meaning the traditional work triangle won't not possible. However, if you have a long kitchen you should still avoid setting the different zones (clean-up, cooking and storage) too far from each other.

U-shaped kitchens

U-shaped kitchens

U-shaped kitchens are best for large rooms. Appliances and units will take up three sides of the room meaning the work triangle design can be utilised. It's worth noting that it is not a good idea to set up the cooking zone too close to the fridge since heat can be transferred to the appliance which will drive up your energy bill.

Kitchen islands

Island kitchens

An ever-fashionable option, a kitchen island will complement an L-shaped kitchen best but can be installed as part of the other layouts where there is space. You can even install a decorative cooker hood over your island and use it as a cooking zone. Choose an island to match your kitchen units and fit it out with storage and tall stools to turn it into extra dining space.

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Fitted kitchens

Kitchen floor and wall design

Like bathrooms, kitchens have to deal with a lot of moisture. For this reason, the walls must be waterproof and washable.

Picking the right kitchen wall covering

Kitchen cabinet doors: materials and finishes

Tiles can cover both the walls and floors in a kitchen. Alternatively, a tiled splashback can be used to protect the walls surrounding cooking and cleaning zones while any surface that is far enough away can be painted. Other types of wall covering are possible provided that you choose a material that is waterproof, washable and suitable for kitchen use.

How to choose a cooker hood

How to choose a cooker hood

If there is one essential piece of equipment for a kitchen, it is the cooker hood. Once again, a wide range of choice is available depending on the type of installation. From ducted hoods to easy-install recirculating hoods, your choice of cooker hood all comes down to layout and the amount of work you're willing to carry out.

How to choose kitchen fittings

How to choose furniture legs

The style of your kitchen all comes down to your personal preferences. But you'll also have to pick out functional fittings like sinks, taps, cupboard organisers, cooker hoods and lighting. When it comes to choosing kitchen equipment, think about your habits and any specific needs you might have, and check out ranges within your budget.

Remember: a keen chef won't have the same needs as a ready-meal cook!

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Kitchen units

What tools do you need for a kitchen renovation?

What tools do you need for a kitchen renovation? 

Just like for any other renovation project, a kitchen refit means using a few essential tools. Of course, the types of tools you need depend on the scale of the work but assume that you will need, as a bare minimum, a cordless drill to install units, a jigsaw or circular saw to cut your worktops, screwdrivers, a hammer, open ended spanners, pliers and a whole range of consumables including wall plugs, fibre washers, PTFE tape, silicone and a caulking gun.

If you are planning to lay tiles, you'll need basic tiling tools. Planning to paint? Stock up on painting supplies.

How much will a kitchen renovation cost?

There's a kitchen to match every budget. The price of a kitchen ultimately comes down to the following factors:

  • the quality of the units and appliances;

  • whether or not you are replacing flooring or wall coverings;

  • any modifications to plumbing or electrical lines.

Budgeting for a kitchen

A set of kitchen units will start at about £500. From there, the only limit is your budget. If you plan to replace flooring or lay tiles, install a new HVAC system, oven or fridge, or even move around plug sockets, the numbers will quickly add up.

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Sockets

Planning permission for kitchen renovations

Planning permission for kitchen renovations

A kitchen renovation generally won't require planning permission unless it is part of a new extension. However, if you live in a listed building, you will have to apply for Listed Buildings Consent.

PPE for kitchen refits

The type of personal protective equipment (PPE) you need depends on the type of work you are carrying out. Ear defenders, gloves, safety gloves, knee pads for tiling... your workwear needs to be chosen to match the task at hand. There's no such thing as overkill when it comes to safety and workwear so evaluate each job and protect yourself adequately.

 
Shop the kitchen

Guide written by:

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter

Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check. Advise everybody in the DIY shop? Check. Redo bathroom plumbing? Check. If it doesn't work, try again! I'll do my best to advise you in your projects.

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