Updating my kitchen

When I bought my house the kitchen was in desperate need of updating. It had a (incomplete) free standing cooker, a butler sink with metal drainer hanging off the side, a small, free standing 1960s worktop unit, an ancient central heating boiler and a massive 1930s built-in floor to ceiling unit.

As I did not move into the house until more than a year after I bought it, I had time to do a thorough refurbishment. I started by removing the kitchen units and then preparing the walls and ceiling for painting.

The worst job was removing “Artex” textured paint from the ceiling. Working above my head with a steam wallpaper stripper and scraper, day in day out, was a most demoralising experience.

The old central heating boiler was a very heavy cast iron lump. I didn’t fancy trying to lift it off the wall by hand, so used a rope and pulley system to lower it gently to the ground.

I cut my first short cable chase and socket back box hole with hammer and chisel, taking most of a day to do so. Then I went out and bought an SDS drill and chisel bits, and dug the next two long chases and double socket holes in a day.

I buried plastic conduit in the cable chases to enable cables to be run later.

After removing the old boiler I discovered that as well as the hole for its chimney there was an inadequately filled hole where the original coal fired boiler chimney would have been. After drilling holes for the new boiler’s air intake and exhaust (both of which use 40mm plastic pipe) I filled the old holes and then installed the new boiler. (Yes, I did get a CORGI registered fitter to connect it to the gas and commission it.) The 22mm plastic pipe below the boiler is its condensate drain. This was temporarily run across the kitchen to the old sink.

After painting the walls and ceiling, I started installing the kitchen units. The first to go in were the wall units on left and right hand walls. The left hand side includes space for a cooker hood, with a flexible pipe to a convenient airbrick. This is just visible behind a cutout in the unit’s back, along with the electrical connection point for the extractor.

To hide the central heating boiler I bought an extra kitchen unit door, so I needed to build a wooden frame around the boiler. In theory I can still remove the boiler if necessary, but I hope I don’t need to test that theory for a while yet!

Before installing the base units, I put down vinyl sheet flooring, over a layer of hardboard. These pictures also show the water and gas pipes, drain pipes and conduits for electric cables, which will be mostly hidden by the units.

The first base unit to go in was the one that will support the sink. I cut out half of the back panel to give easier access to the hot and cold water pipes. The pipe that enters near the top right of the unit is the boiler condensate drain.

This group of base units houses the electric oven and gas hob. I left out the back panel of the left hand unit to give access to the gas pipe (for the hob) and electric sockets (for the oven & hob). The oven unit includes a very useful under-oven drawer – Ikea units were the only ones to offer this at the time.

The worktops are solid beech, again from Ikea. Before cutting the mitre joints I cut the worktops roughly to size, and then made cutouts for the conduits and pipes at the back. The right hand side worktop also had to be cut to fit around the transition from tiled to plain wall.

Once the worktop pieces had been correctly positioned against the wall, I made the mitre joints. I made a simple router jig to cut the recesses in the underside for the clamps to hold the joints together. Before final assembly I smeared some clear silicone over the joints to give them some water resistance.

Having fixed the worktops, I then cut out holes for the sink and hob.

These pictures show the installed sink and its plumbing. The sink’s drain kit includes a washing machine drain point, but I had to include another U-bend for the boiler condensate drain, with an open ended pipe for it to drip into. (There must be no possibility of any back pressure on the boiler drain.) Routing the hot & cold water pipes around all this to reach the sink tap was not easy.

The next job was to install the oven and hob, followed by the extractor hood.

After fitting the doors and door handles, I have a finished kitchen.