How to plan and build a new kitchen, is an unusual departure from my usual recipes and articles. I started to post pictures of my kitchen renovation as it was progressing on Facebook and Instagram, and I was overwhelmed by the questions and comments I got from readers who wanted to know how to do it.
So you know what? I thought it’s my website, I can write a random post if I want to. You wanted to have an old nosey behind the scenes, so here we go.
How to plan and build a new kitchen – a real food kitchen
The 90’s called – they want their kitchen back!
How to plan a new kitchen
This is the fun part. Spending hours looking in magazines, kitchen showrooms and creating boards on Pinterest. We live in a 1907 wooden villa so I new I didn’t want anything too contemporary. I wanted a villa style kitchen, but not at all fussy and old fashioned. I have waited 12 years for my new kitchen, I wanted to get it right.
I went for a wonderful kitchen company who are local and came highly recommended to me by friends. The team were simply incredible to deal with throughout the entire process. They planned, designed and built the most beautiful kitchen I could hope for.
There were no major problems along the way and any niggles were swiftly sorted. This is no way sponsored or paid by any of them, in fact most of them only knew I had my website halfway through the build. This is a genuine thank you to them all. I’ll list the companies and appliances I used at the end of the post.
How to build a new kitchen
Week 1 – Pack up and demolition
Over the weekend, we had to pack the entire kitchen into boxes and haul them downstairs for the duration of the build.
I donated 6 boxes to the charity shop of kitchen items I just never used any more and would take up valuable room in my new kitchen. So someone right now may be enjoying my gold rimmed 90’s blue coffee cups with sunflowers. I managed to throw away 3 boxes of bits and pieces that either didn’t belong in the kitchen (hello water pistols), or were old and broken. If you ever want to declutter, this is the time to do it.
Next the plumber, gas man and electrician had to call to disconnect everything before the kitchen was ripped out.
I managed to sell our entire kitchen for the wee sum of $102 NZD (I’m sure the tap alone was worth more than that). But I was happy to see it was repurposed. The men who came and dismantled it did an incredible job. They estimated each piece of granite weighed 200-300kg. They sweated and cursed every step of the way, had to make a few trips with their truck and trailer but they did me a favour, I didn’t have to hire a rubbish skip and they got an entire kitchen, oven, hob, extractor, granite bench and I even gave them the bar stools. Win win.
The only building work that was required was to demolish the breakfast-bar wall. It took two incredibly fast builders just an hour. Thanks goes to my electrician who pulled in a favour and found them for me at such short notice.
Week 2 – Flooring and preparation
This is when it gets complicated. Our house has native wooden flooring throughout, but a previous owner in their wisdom in the 90’s (that era that style forgot) ripped out those amazing floorboards and replaced it with particle board covered in terracotta tiles. To make it even worse, they were set on an angle (dear lord, what were they thinking). Anyhow, this was our one and only opportunity to reinstate the native wooden floors.
The floor had to be completely ripped up and more floor joists installed because the old joists were too far apart for the current building code. The new floorboards were installed which seemed to take forever (three boards laid in the first day) but he did such an incredible job, I just had to be patient.
Once the floor had been laid they needed sanded and sealing. Unfortunately a small strip of the dining room was sanded in the process which meant a huge knock on effect later.
Week 3 – Kitchen installation
Who knew an entire kitchen could come wrapped in plastic and in the back of a van for one man to carry in by himself?
We chose thermal wrapped doors by Designatek. They are pretty darn tough and will withstand all kind of wear and tear. The finish is similar to a car dashboard, and just as tough. After my battered and bruised blue kitchen left, I never want to go through another kitchen renovation so this one has to be built to last forever.
I have never seen anything so amazing, the entire kitchen was assembled in our dining room and installed in just under 3 days!!! Incredible. The kitchen installer made himself a slot-together workbench where he made every cabinet and drawer then installed each one. Just look at his hand-crafted toolbox.
The workmanship throughout the entire kitchen was superb. He was a top notch carpenter and had incredibly high standards. One small strip between the wall and a cabinet he felt wasn’t quite right so he ordered another piece and did it again. What a lovely guy.
Week 4 and 5 – Bench-top manufacture
Only once the kitchen is installed, can the bench-top company come and measure on-site accurately. They used some kind of laser measuring device on a tripod connected to an iPad to make a 3D image of the kitchen to create a digital bench-top template.
We chose a Trendstone manufactured stone called Mountain Mist. It is a very light beige with a very subtle design in it to appear to be natural stone. It takes 2 weeks for the bench-top to be manufactured so the entire kitchen progress comes to a halt.
In this time I was hoping for the flooring guys to come back and fix the sanded strip in the dining floor and give the three top coats of polyurethane it needed. But with miscommunication, their heavy workload and an office relocation, it didn’t quite happen that way.
All the floor prep and finishing should have happened in these empty weeks when I had zero tradesmen calling and before the toe kicks were installed.
But no, it was sealed then the top coats were applied after the toes kicks went in in the following week.
Week 6 Bench-top installation, final kitchen install and flooring finish
The bench-top was installed in a few hours, joints sealed and sink installed (did I mention I was brave and chose a black sink – it’s beautiful). We weren’t allowed to touch it for a day until everything had dried and cured. It looked beautiful, I am incredibly pleased with it.
The kitchen installer was able to come back and put the bench-top pantry in place, the toe kicks and the cornice around the top of the units.
I could finally start to clean and feel we were almost nearing the finish line.
The flooring saga continues. They came back and did two topcoats on top of the sealant but the final coat was a matte finish not a semi gloss to match the rest of the house!! This would be my one and only complaint of the entire renovation – miscommunication, especially when they are so busy (and when it is most important) so they had to come back AGAIN and do one more coat of the correct finish.
Week 7 – Tiling, plumbing, electrician
My amazing tiler came and tiled the splash back and under the windows. He also sealed all the kitchen cabinet toe kicks to the floor for me. Because the flooring wasn’t finished until after the toe kicks went in, the kitchen installer couldn’t seal them because he was still working on unfinished floors which is the wrong order to do things.
I sealed all the grout with a tile sealant which stops oil and water penetrating the grout. It will keep the grout looking clean and new for many years to come.
Once all the silicon cures, then it’s time for the plumber to install the tap, water filter and dishwasher.
The electrician did the final fix of power points, light fitting, oven, hob and extractor. I now have more power points than I know what to do with. It is so nice to have all the power circuits back on, for 8 weeks we had been living with no Tivo, no extractors, random lights and random switches not working. With old houses, you often find they are wired in quite peculiar ways.
Week 8 – Final niggles, unpack boxes, start cooking
Now the fun part. Bringing all my cooking equipment up from the laundry and starting to make meals in the new kitchen. For 8 weeks I have been making dinners with my yellow gnome in the laundry (see below) and making lunch boxes on the lounge coffee table. I am in kitchen heaven.
There is not one single thing I would change about the kitchen. I am loving my kitchen island and breakfast bar where the children can now sit while I make the lunches. I love the window seat where one day I hope to sit while dinner is made for me, and I love the soft close drawers. I no longer will have ‘stuff’ hiding at the back of the cupboards nor wasted space above each shelf. Where there were cupboards and one shelf, is now four drawers, fully accessible.
Appliances I Used
I did some initial research from Consumer magazine and other appliance reviews. But I snooped online forums with building developers who build huge apartment blocks with hundreds of kitchens, they don’t pull punches when it comes to reliability issues.
We decided to go for all Bosch appliances, and to make sure they were German built as some models are made in China or Turkey which aren’t so reliable.
I was brave and decided to rip out our gas hob for cooking and we now have an induction cooktop. Everyone I spoke to said once you switch to induction cooking, you will never go back. My experience so far backs this up. It is just as responsive as gas but so incredibly easy to clean. The bench looks sleek and tidy when all the pots are put away. And as an added bonus, it matches my sexy black sink (did I mention how much I love this sink?)
The oven has telescopic rails. How often do you try to pull out a baking dish to see if it is cooked and you can only see the front of the dish or the baking tray bends because you have pulled it out too far? The telescopic rails allows you to pull out the entire dish. And best of all, the oven door is soft close and has a gazillion functions which I will probably never use but if I did ever want to pre set dinner to start cooking tomorrow, I could. And if I wanted the oven to calculate cooking times, I could.
My sink. I never thought I could love a kitchen sink but this is a little black beauty. Everyone who sees it falls in love with it. It matches the induction hob beautifully and the tap I chose has a built in water filter, so no more ugly large water filters cluttering up the fridge.
Finally, my tea towel cupboard. With three children who come kicking and screaming to help with the dishes, we can sometimes have numerous tea towels hanging around. We designed a cupboard with a tea towel telescopic rail and a shelf below for the clean tea towels (and my window vacuum lives hidden behind them). A final detail, but the kitchen looks tidy every night.
How to plan and build a new kitchen – my TOP TIPS ::
- Don’t run your schedule too tightly. I left days (and sometimes weeks) in between each trade, yet there were still last minute panics when one job ran into another. If you expect a new kitchen will take a couple of months, and plan for it, it is more relaxing than trying to squeeze it into a week or two less.
- Don’t organise a new kitchen around an important date like christmas or a birthday. It won’t be ready and you’re adding unnecessary stress. I organised mine mid year (winter here) and other than work was crazy (I ran the most successful Sugar Free September yet and launched my eBook), it was all mildly under control.
- Go to your local electronic store and collect a huge pile of flattened cardboard boxes. Line your hallway with them, tape them together and workmen will love you for it. No more boots off at the door, no dents from dropping appliances or tools and no scratches from the bench-top guys who have to wear steel capped boots inside for health & safety regulations. Genius!
- Make a seperate space to cook. Whether it is cooking in the laundry or setting up the bbq in summer outside, just keep the cooking away from the lounge.
- Spend $10 on buying super thin plastic drop cloths. We taped them in between the kitchen and our lounge to keep all the dust out. Tape the perimeter on all four sides to make life bearable.
- Set up a really good temporary kitchen. I bought an electric frying pan and a two ring hob. We managed to use this, my slow cooker and microwave to cook every night. We managed to survive eight weeks with zero takeaways. We occasionally ate out on Tuesdays, when we sometimes go out anyway to have steak and salad at The Meatery (yes, that really is the restaurant’s name).
How we survived cooking in the laundry
I purchased an electric frying pan and a two hob electric plate before the renovation. We managed to cook our usual dinners by relying on these and my slow cooker and microwave. We could have stir fries, curries, whole chickens, steak and salad, waffles, bacon and eggs, crumbed fish, mashed cauliflower, and a whole host of other low carb recipes.
Funnily enough I came to LOVE my electric frying pan. I can finally fit 10 fried eggs in the frying pan at once, and if you fry eggs with the lid on, they don’t burn, they steam from the top whilst the underside cooks. I can also cook 5 decent sized steaks at once.
I had to stop developing new recipes for the 8 weeks we were without a kitchen, but I made sure I had plenty sitting in my drafts from a previous holiday (strangely that’s when I develop new recipes the most). Now I have to get back up to speed an develop a whole lot more now my drafts folder is empty!
How to plan and build a new kitchen – Companies I used ::
- Kitchen Vision, Takapuna – I cannot rate them highly enough. The planning, measuring, advice, installation, quality, price and service cannot be faulted. Please tell them I sent you. I would love them to know how much I appreciated their service and workmanship.
- Freedom flooring – although slightly disorganised through this project (due to their high work load at the time), I would still recommend them as their quality of work was superb.
- Devonport electrical – I have used these guys for all my electrical work for years. They are quick, efficient, and do it once, do it right pretty much sums them up. And they’re pretty good guys to have a laugh with which always helps.
- Caledonian tiling – for the best accurate tiling with superb attention to detail, grouting and a damn fine Scottish accent.
- Riddington builders – for the fastest breakfast bar demolition ever.
- Bruce Withers – window seat upholsterers.
The final reveal. After everything was finished, this is how it looks. I am overjoyed with the result. My favourite things in my new kitchen would have to be –
- Drawers – no more plates and dishes hiding at the back of a cupboard. Where I had two shelves, I now have four drawers. Soft close drawers are beautiful to use and no more slamming doors.
- Kitchen island – I was reluctant to have our microwave below the bench and in the kitchen island, but it saves bench space, is integrated and easy to access.
- Bench top pantry – our previous pantry was a full length one. The doors gave way because of the weight of them, it was far too difficult to sort or access items and now I have gained more power points and extra bench space.
- Window seat – If nothing else, somehow design a window seat into your new kitchen. I dream of the day that I sit there drinking my wine while I watch someone make me dinner. I am having a special squab (cushion) made for the seat, but until then, I have made a soft spot with a quilt and cushions I stole form a child’s room (meanie huh?)
So sorry for boring you all with my photos, stories and advice. I hope I have helped you all learn how to plan and build a new kitchen. I am going to miss all the tradies coming and going, but now at least I can get back to recipe developing for you.
How to plan and build a new kitchen – Appliances I Used
As soon as I publish this page, the model numbers may change, and will differ between countries. I have linked each one to the manufacturers page on Amazon (aff. link) so you can select current models.
- Bosch oven with telescopic rails HBG655H21A
- Bosch induction hob PIE675N14E
- Bosch dishwasher SMU50M05AU
- Bosch range hood extractor DWW098E50A
- Sharp Carousel microwave R395Y S
- Fisher & Paykel fridge
- Electric frying pan
- Twin hot plate
- Slow cooker
- Blum orga line kitchen accessories – 5 piece pack, spice drawer rack, foil dispenser, knife holder, cutlery trays, plastic wrap dispenser.