What you'll need
- Flathead and Phillips head screwdriver set
- Electric jigsaw
- Utility knife
- Spirit level
- Electric drill and drill bits
- Power saw
- Electric planer
- Mounting template
- Stud finder
Getting started on my easy-assemble kitchen
1. Go Shopping!
Lots of flat-pack kitchen suppliers have showrooms, so to suit your needs. (I’ve made a list of the ones looked at to give you a starting point – contact details are at the end of the story.) I went for basic white; I figured it would make my kitchen look bigger. But there are tons of colours and different finishes, so go nuts if you want to!
2. Measuring Up
Heeding first my Dad’s warnings of ‘not once, not twice, but three times’, I measured up my space. He kept stressing how important it was to get this first stage right – so I made sure I took my time. I checked out where the existing plumbing and electrical points were to work with because, as my friends who are tradies told me, the less you have to move around – the cheaper it will be!
3. Draw it Up
Next, I did some sketches for my new kitchen layout. A lot of the kitchen websites have online kitchen planners to help you out. Flat-packs use standard measurements for their cabinets, so it was like a mini jigsaw puzzle, working out what was going to fit – I got there eventually.
4. Get Ready
Finally, in an attempt to look really organised (OK, I was really trying to impress my Dad – there are some things you never grow out of), I made a list of everything needed for my new layout – including all the little cash-consuming extras, like handles, kickboards and, of course, the benchtop. Parting with my hard-earned cash was tough, but when all the stuff arrived, I really felt I’d got my money’s worth. We were ready to go!
The fun part – destroying the old kitchen! I needed to curb my enthusiasm, so I didn’t damage the existing walls. A professional plumber re-positioned the old sink drainage and water pipes into the corner and capped them, and an electrician moved a couple of power points for the new rangehood and microwave.
Pre-assembling the cabinets was like a real-life Lego project. To keep things easy, I left the doors off at this stage. I found the flat-pack instructions really easy to follow. Although it took the best part of a day to assemble all the units, it was all pretty straightforward.
Time to work out bench height. I wanted the bench to be level with the existing oven, so I drew a level line around the walls to use as a guide. This also allowed me to do a quick measure to the floor, to check whether it was level. Surprise, surprise! My floor was a good 20mm out at one end, making me realise why the units come with adjustable legs.
At last, it was time to place the assembled base cabinets into their position. I used a trusty old spirit level to ensure that all the prefab cabinets were level in both directions – front to back and side to side – and adjusted the legs up or down where necessary.
Once the cabinets were in place, we screwed adjoining cabinets together, keeping front edges flush. They had clever little connectors that screwed into each other for a nice tight fit. Then, last of all, we fixed the cabinet backs to the wall through the brackets supplied. We needed to use wall anchors in a couple of places where there were no studs available.
Whew! Time for a coffee break, and to sit back and admire the bottom half of my new kitchen in place. Then, with renewed energy, I was ready to tackle the installation of the top cupboards. This was going to be tricky; how are you supposed to support them while you’re fixing them in place?