When they heard about the DIYer of the Year competition Ross and Becky Beveridge from Newcastle, NSW, knew they had to submit their recent kitchen renovation.
Says Ross, ‘My mother-in-law bought me a subscription to Handyman and when I saw the competition we agreed we were so proud of what we’d achieved with our new kitchen that we should enter.
‘Winning is such a validation of all the time and effort it took.’
Voted number one by readers, the couple wins their choice of $2500 worth of Ryobi power tools and garden equipment plus $1000 cash.
WHY CHOOSE TO DIY
The dark 1950s kitchen in their new home was fi rst priority for renovation.
Says Becky, ‘It was a small space with little natural light and nowhere to sit and eat or even enough bench space to cook. But with our wedding coming up we had a limited budget.’
The solution was to DIY. Ross had used his handy skills on a small renovation but the scale of this took the couple’s dedication to another level.
KEEPING THE PLANS SIMPLE
Says Becky, ‘It’s easy to be inspired by pages of magazines or TV home reno shows but in reality who wants spend $1000 on taps? I learnt early that simplicity was the key keeping costs down.’
The couple used a computer design program called Chief Architect to draw the plans. ‘We included what was important, more light, more bench space and room to entertain,’ says Ross.
EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED
Ross and Becky planned the project in stages, starting with ripping up the vinyl floor.
Says Becky, ‘We assumed there would be floorboards underneath that just needed a polish. But it turned into the most time-consuming job of all.’
Under the vinyl was a thick layer of glue and the remains of numerous paint jobs that had to be removed by hand. ‘I spent hours crouched on the floor with a paint scraper,’ she says.
Ross estimated a day to get the floor ready for sanding until he came across hundreds of nails in the boards. ‘It was the most frustrating job picking them all out. Just when I thought I was finished I spotted more.’
FOLLOWING UP ON GOOD IDEAS
On pondering the size of the kitchen the couple had all but written off the possibility of opening it up into the living space as the walls to be removed were load bearing.
But one night at the pub, while meeting up with some mates the idea came to life again.
Says Ross, ‘We were chatting to an engineer friend and mentioned our dilemma with the walls.
He worked out a plan to insert two five metre steel beams into the roof space rather than in the room.
‘We discussed the practicalities with Dad and a few other friends, and with a bit of manpower we finally got the job done.’
RECOGNISING A BARGAIN
To keep costs down the kitchen carcass was bought on eBay for just $2000, complete with CaesarStone benchtops, the induction cooktop, new oven and soft-close drawers.
‘It was lucky to find such a good deal. It took months of looking and a willingness to not be fixated on a particular outcome. Whatever
we found within the budget had to be the one,’ says Ross.
‘I got a text one day at work from Ross saying he’d just bought a kitchen,’ says Becky.
‘I had to trust that he knew what he was doing and no matter what it was like, it was going to be a million times better than the old one.’
LIVING IN THE MESS
You can’t plan against setbacks and the Beveridges faced a few of them.
During winter part of the ceiling was removed so they ate dinner in bed every night to beat the cold.
The new glass doors took two months to arrive, leaving a gaping hole in the wall and setting everything else back, including installing the benchtops.
‘We had no sink for two months and had to use a bucket with water from the bathroom, boiling it on the stove,’ says Becky.
‘I had girlfriends asking how I could live like that but getting irritated with little inconveniences would be a sure way to go mad.’
MATCHING THE MOULDING
Of all the testing times and the big successes of this kitchen reno, the couple found that one of the last jobs was one of the most significant.
‘Because we’d taken down walls, we wanted to continue the moulding. When we looked into getting it copied, we discovered Ross’s grandfather had made the originals. We liked the connection to the new space,’ says Becky.
Ross and Becky are thrilled with the result and are already onto the next big project of building a deck.
‘We were planning our wedding during the kitchen reno and I’m six months pregnant now,’ says Becky.
‘There’s no stopping us.’