6 things anyone doing up a kitchen needs to know

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  • Don't even think about ripping out the old one till you've read this...

    You’ve been dreaming about doing up your kitchen for months, years even. You’ve scrimped and saved and researched like a demon, ripping out tearsheets from magazines, creating moodboards and gathering brochures and catalogues. The funds are in place and you’ve even found a fitter who’ll take the job on at a decent price.

    So you can look forward to farewelling the ill-fitting pine cabinets that have been held together with gaffer tape since the early 90s and welcome in a sleek, new cooking space. Stop right there. Before you get too excited, take a reality check and consider the six things you really should know before embarking on a kitchen project.

    1. Your builders may cheat on you

    Get used to it, you’re just another number in his black book. Rather like Tom cats, builders will make an initial appearance to whet your interest, shower you with attention only to disappear as soon as your back is turned, off to share their love with some other unsuspecting homeowner.

    They’ll leave it a few days, just till you’re about to call the whole thing off, before returning, full of remorseful apology, promising it won’t happen again. It will. You are at their mercy. Get used to it. You’ll have a lovely kitchen at the end of the day, so keep your eye on the prize and keep pushing on with the plans.

    2. Microwaved pizza actually tastes okay

    You better get used to it, because that plug-in reheating appliance that can be moved to the hall will be your best friend, feeding the family with jacket potatoes and ready meals for at least a fortnight. Hang on? Didn’t they promise things’d be back to normal in a week? They lied. It’ll be two, at least.

    3. Hitches happen

    You know that handy planning spreadsheet you set up? The one with all your dimensions, delivery times and contact numbers for all the contractors on it? Tear it up. Because whatever can wrong, will go wrong.

    There’ll be a snag with the worktop. The imported taps will be stuck in customs. You’ll be delivered a cupboard short of a wall unit. Even if you aren’t, chances are the electrician won’t be able to fit the lights till the plumbers been and he’s been called out to a flooding emergency (see #1). The trick is to breathe deeply.

    4. A newer model will come out six months after the job is finished

    The man in the showroom assures you you’re getting the most up-to-date of everything. Yeah, right. Within weeks of you signing-off your new state-of-the-art cooking space, there’ll be new models of all your appliances. A more efficient hot-water tap, an American-style fridge freezer that talks back. Kitchens are like new cars, the minute they’re out of the traps, they start losing value. And they’re the software of the home, too – there’s always an upgrade right around the corner.

    5. Bespoke beschmoke

    Apparently everything’s being made to measure. Your dimensions have been taken three times, checked and triple checked. So how come there that awkward gap between the larder unit and the external wall?

    No doubt something to do with your walls not being square, or room needed for expansion in the changing climate. Whatever. Get over it. It’s somewhere you can put a cookbook. (You did remember to leave somewhere for one of those, didn’t you?)

    6. It may never be actually finished

    Every project has a snag list, and getting that last 10 per cent done will haunt you. Once the oven’s fitted, and your water’s restored, don’t be surprised if it takes months for the builders to come back and do that final top coat, screw on the handles (or even collect their tools).

    You may well end up having to do these bits yourself, out of sheer frustration. You have been warned.

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