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    Refurbish a kitchen, the options.

    To refurbish a kitchen is no easy undertaking, but it is a very attractive proposition compared to the expense and disruption of installing a new kitchen.

    The kitchen is the hub of the home for many, and secretly, could always do with more storage, a smarter layout, or be a different colour… But looking at it financially, practically, and environmentally, throwing out a pretty decent kitchen and fitting a brand new custom kitchen is rightly the last thing on many people’s minds. (This is particularly relevant if you are selling your home and your estate agent is pleading with you to upgrade or If you want to sell your house, please do something about the kitchen!)

    However, rather than putting up with less than perfect for another 10 years, or fitting a new kitchen to make a sale, there are creative alternatives to a full blown kitchen re-fit.

    Although you may have dismissed the option of a brand new Mark Wilkinson kitchen for tens of thousands, (or a B&Q kitchen, which isn’t exactly cheap as chips either), there is no reason why you can’t completely transform your current kitchen with a few smart modifications and upgrades – and end up with a more sophisticated new look at a fraction of the price and hassle of ripping out and starting afresh.

    New kitchen doors

    1 – You can replace the doors with like-for-like sizes in a new style -

    single panel, raised panel, Shaker… in laminate, natural timber or painted. This is an example of one of many on-line suppliers of replacement doors

    A birch effect foil-wrapped laminate door with hinges and a handle can cost about £50 delivered. Painted doors from an “economical” online supplier delivered to your home are about £70 each.

    However, the cost of the replacement door is a starting point. What to do about the sections with red arrows?

    the arrows point to elements of a kitchen that would not match new doors

    Things to consider »

    a – Factory replacement doors are easily selected and purchased but not so easily blended into an existing kitchen. (The arrows point to existing frames, end panels, pelmets, plinths and cornices that aren’t easily replaced and will probably not match new doors – without extra work.

    b – If you select new natural timber (or timber effect) doors, skilled joiners can re-laminate end panels and fit replacement plinths, cornices etc to match. Whether it is cost effective is another question.

    c – The easiest replacement doors to blend into an existing kitchen are painted, but you still have to employ a specialist painter to prepare, prime, paint and colour match the red arrowed areas with the new doors. As an idea, a specialist painter would need 3 to 4 visits to match the immovable fixtures to the new doors.

    d – With budget factory painted doors, you get a sprayed finish, which is fine, but aesthetically, you should be aware that the finishes tend to be more laminate-looking than traditional hand-painted finishes.

    e – For either of the above options, unless you are a good DIYer, you would also need to employ a joiner to remove and refit the doors and drawers, tweak the hinges and re-align them. Not the end of the world, but the basic cost of a door is only a starting point!

    2- You can replace the doors with hand-painted custom-made doors . In Cheshire, I believe a door with a hand-painted finish from a good joinery shop would cost about £100 each.

    Things to consider »

    the cost of drawer fronts, cornices and pelmets are extra, and again, a painter would be needed on site to match the new doors with existing units and panels.

    3 – A spray shop, joinery shop with painting facilities would probably be able to take your existing doors away and spray them. As with all the above options, depending how far you wanted to dissemble the kitchen, they could also spray most components.

    Things to consider »

    You need the doors to be removed and taken away, leaving you with a fairly impractical kitchen for the duration of the re-paint. Then re-fitted; and again, a painter would be needed on site to match the new doors with the red-arrowed units and panels that cannot be removed. That is quite a logistical effort to organise.

    4 – Hand-painted kitchen in-situ.
    I know you would probably expect a master painter to say this, but my clients seem to be of a similar mind too! – one person hand-painting your kitchen is the simplest way to completely transform a kitchen in terms of organisation – and the price is more economical than any of the above options.

    You deal with one painter.

    Nothing needs to be taken away.

    Using paint, it is easy to colour match the whole kitchen.

    Highlighting and featuring all sorts of items from open cupboards to plinths is straightforward.

    A hand-painted Little Greene Paint Co oil eggshell finish is stunning and durable (Their eggshell is suitable for interior AND exterior use!) These are other best paints for kitchen doors

    Things to consider »

    You need to have any structural modifications completed before painting is started. I am part of a team used by Lilou Interiors who provide colour advice, design and installation of simple items such as handles, right through to project managing the installation of flooring, worktops, appliances. The painting is the last item on the list!

    When painting work is in progress, you have access to cooker, sink and kettle, but it is fair to say that the kitchen is not really the hub of the home while I am working – from one to two weeks depending on size of kitchen. This is what your kitchen looks like during the painting process.

    And this outlines the process to hand-paint a kitchen.

    Real life examples

    Most of my work these days involves painting existing kitchens as part of a simple, or sometimes not so simple refurbishment.

    Example A This client had looked into the option of a Mark Wilkinson kitchen. Although they loved the existing layout with a very creative sink / washing area, they hated the overall look – distressed paint with an aged antique finish. Dare I say, the paintwork looked more akin to nicotine staining and cheapened the appearance of an otherwise well-made kitchen.

    Before and after

    This is what the clients thought of the kitchen after a new paint job and new handles. (A high-end kitchen company could not have supplied a section of worktop for the cost of our refurbishment!)

    Example B There is a misconception that only high end kitchens are worth refurbishing, but that is not so. Base units on 10-15 year old budget kitchens are actually pretty robust, and unless your home is inhabited by vandals, doors last well, and saggy hinges can be easily replaced.

    This client had looked into replacing their white foil wrap laminate kitchen. It had worked perfectly well for years in terms of layout, but aesthetically had become tired and dated. They were toying with a DIY superstore kitchen, but on closer inspection, there was very little wrong with the nuts and bolts of the kitchen. Wth a realistic refurb budget of £3000, the £7000 superstore option was vetoed and I called in paint colour consultant Ingrid from Lilou Interiors, and joiner/tiler/small works expert, Steve Evans to refurbish it before I painted it. This is what they thought of the service they had received.

    A kitchen refurbishment »

    The wall tiles had to stay, but, Ingrid selected the materials and colours to show off the kitchen at its best. Steve laid a new floor, modified a base unit to improve a clumsy microwave setup, fitted new handles, a new natural timber plinth and tweaked all the hinges.

    I painted the foil wrap doors, drawers etc in oil eggshell.

    I also redecorated the rest of the room, giving it a more contemporary look and really brightening the whole room.

    and now

    When you are in the kitchen now, your eye is drawn to the kitchen units, as intended, and the walls, ceiling and floors are “just there” in the background.

    That particular refurbishment came in at less than half the cost of a painted DIY supermarket kitchen, (which hadn’t even included cost of redecoration) and, to be sure, the doors would never have had the traditional finish of hand-painted Little Greene Paint Co paint.

    And the beauty of this approach is that over time, the refurbishment can continue as funds allow. Worktops can be upgraded, a new sink and taps can be installed, the tiles could be painted or replaced with a simple stone upstand and painted walls… Disruption is also minimised by upgrades, and if the units are sound, the imagination and budget is the only barrier to improvements.

    Before you go for a refurbishment

    The considerations are:

    Do you like the layout of your kitchen in its current state? If not, you would need to think about modifications. Too many modifications could be cost in-effective.

    Are the doors in structurally good condition? Are the doors warped? Is the laminate lifting? If so, you can replace affected doors, or consider all new style of doors.

    Are the carcasses water damaged? Sometimes water can leak down the back of sinks and rot out units. If this is the case, you are looking at the cost of employing a plumber and a fitter to remove and replace the sink and install a new base unit. On the plus side, it is a good opportunity to upgrade your sink and taps at the same time.

    How much to budget for a 10 door kitchen?

    Budget online stores charge between £500 and £700 and upwards for 10 laminate or spray painted doors, 4 drawer fronts plus hinges and basic handles. On top of this you need to allow for fitting, and you have to tackle the issue of matching the units and plinths etc to the new doors.

    Custom made hand-painted doors from a specialist joiner You would be looking at about £1000 for materials, plus labour for fitting plus the extra costs of matching the units and plinths etc to the new doors..

    Hand painting a kitchen in situ Count up the doors and multiply by £100. So if you have up to 12 doors, I would usually charge about £1175 to paint the WHOLE kitchen – ie 12 doors, the drawers, end panels, cornice, pelmet and plinth – including paint. If there are custom installations such as wine racks, plate racks, cooker hoods, or exposed corner units with shelving,for pricing purposes, I would tend to treat each those as an extra door.

    Occasionally, a kitchen has a large number of pan drawers relative to the number of doors, so again, this might slightly skew those guide prices, but not by much. And before any work was started or commitment made on your part, I would obviously give you a fixed price quote.

    If you have over 15 doors, the kitchen can be painted a little cheaper, pro rata. I can price from photos and a few emailed questions.

    The labour cost for fitting new handles It can be as cheap as zero, ie a like for like swap. If you want to replace knobs (single screw) with handles (two screw fixing) it costs around £200 for 12 to 15 doors and 4 or 5 drawer fronts. (Handles need to be ordered and delivered and fitted BEFORE the painter turns up!)

    Refurbished floors, tiling, worktops, appliances This is hard to pinpoint, and really needs the client to state their budget so fitters can specify changes accordingly.

    In conclusion

    Refurbishments aren’t an uber cheap option, so if you have a very limited budget, you might want to focus on new handles and general redecorating only. But in comparison to a new kitchen, the above refurbishment ideas on average are 10-20% the cost of a new kitchen. (They can be from as little as 5% up to 40% at worst!)

    For many people, it is fast becoming unacceptable to add perfectly good timber components to the local landfill in the name of fashion. On many levels, kitchen refurbishment is a stylish and rewarding way to buy time and extend the useful life of the hub of your home.

    Second hand kitchens

    There is a market for reclaimed wooden kitchens, from luxury bespoke to solid mid range and everything in between. We have explained the ins and outs here, and if you are removing your kitchen and think it might sell, or you are looking to buy a pre-loved kitchen with a designer name, look at the Traditional Painter Second hand Kitchen mart we have set up on the forum.

    Kitchen design resources

    To whet your imagination: Kitchen splashback ideas.
    Kitchens I have hand-painted
    Pictures of hand-painted kitchens ideas

    If you need any advice or guidance, send me an email or phone. If I can’t help you, I will know someone who can.


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    7 comments to “Refurbish a kitchen, the options.”

    1. acmasterpainter

      [watch out!] Refurbish a kitchen, the options. – via #twitoaster http://traditionalpainter.com/refurbish-

    2. castlebod

      Great article.

      I agree if the kitchen is from a well known DIY chain or a Swedish flat pack emporium there is a good chance that the units will be fine and if not try and find the receipt as they can have a 25-year warranty! (10-years is more common).

    3. Andy

      good point about warranties, although I am sure manufacturers rely on people not keeping receipts for 25 years.!!

    4. Fresh Fresh

      Great article but what spec is the £100 per door based on? 2 primer + 2 Top coats?

    5. Andy Crichton Andy Crichton

      To prepare and paint existing lacquered wooden kitchen ie the full monty refurb with suitable full coat spec.

    6. Fresh Fresh

      Thanks really helpful

    7. Dennis

      Thanks for this article, very helpful to me now that I am planning to renovate my kitchen.

    Please ask a question or leave a comment

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