So my stove was cr*p. The geriatric oven could just about manage a pot roast, but otherwise even simple stuff such as baking nicely browned potatoes or pumpkin? More like dry boiling them in their skins.

The hotplates didn’t work very well either, at least one of them was either heating full blast or not at all, no matter what setting it was on.

I needed a new stove. That’s how it started.

A months later, my kitchen has been demolished and my whole house is in an uproar, with stuff absolutely everywhere. Tasteful raw chip board floors. The only functional living spaces left are our bed and a couch, with sight line to the TV as a bonus. Otherwise every bit of floor space or surface is occupied with the former contents of all our cupboards, book shelves and other assorted furniture. To top it off, there are 130 packages of my new flat pack kitchen cluttering up my back patio.

How did this happen? Well, be warned, once you start looking at all those glossy new kitchens it is hard to draw the line where to stop.

When we bought this house a couple of years ago, we always planned a major renovation, or possibly demolish and start again. But after drawing up the plans and watching a gazillion ‘Grand Design’ episodes we kept putting it off, deciding that we could not cope with managing our business, which was at a complicated growth stage, and a house build as well. So we put up with a 30 year old kitchen, inadequate storage and horrible carpet. For 3 years.

Until we cracked.

The deal was that I was getting a new stove and Mr Rivergum was getting a new floor in the living room and hallway. But, oh how easy it is to get carried away!

Letting yourself think about home improvements is a very slippery slope, so now I am getting a new kitchen, a bank of wardrobes for storage in the hallway, new floating wooden floors throughout, and a walk-in storage room, taking the floor space from part of the laundry and a small access corridor to our toilet, which is separate from the bathroom.

Just a second, don’t we still need to get to the toilet??? No problem! Just relocate the vanity in the bathroom to make room for a direct doorway straight from there.

That is a lot of work on a house we might possibly demolish down the track, or at least reconfigure again with a major reno. Wasteful, so very probably not all that smart. But the labour involved is by far the greater part of the expense, and we have no trouble justifying our extravagance by intending to do all the work ourselves. Ahem, in the evenings and on the weekends.

— Come on, it will be fun! And we will be a whole lot more comfortable afterwards. When we retire in a few years we will tackle the rebuild or whatever. Or, having made the improvements, we will sell and buy something else.

See how easy it is to talk yourself into something you really want to do? So here we are, a month later, surrounded by utter chaos, aiming for the stars and hoping to clear the hedge.

We were sure from the beginning that a custom built kitchen was out of the question. Too expensive to have done, and beyond our skills or time available to do properly ourselves. So it was always going to be a flat pack number. Elsewhere there might be more choice, but Australia is a small market and there is either Bunnings or IKEA. Some independent businesses also do flat pack, and there are direct importers from China on eBay etc, but we considered this a bit more risky than buying from an established brand with a track record and a local presence.

I had a look online to check out the reviews. There were quite a few negative comments about the quality of the board used in the carcasses of the Bunnings Kaboodle kitchens. IKEA had lots of complaints about installers and delays in delivery etc, but nobody had a bad word to say about the quality of their kitchens.

We really liked their designs and interior fittings when we looked at them in the store. Then they had a 25 year warranty compared to Kaboodle’s 10 years, we could get the light grey colour we wanted and hallelujah! — they were actually cheaper! That clinched it, IKEA it was.

I am really big on planning, so I appreciated being able to do that myself using their online 3D planning software. What I appreciated much less was that, even though it is browser based, it needed a proper PC or laptop to run, and could not be used on my iPad. Very inconvenient, when I mostly use an iPad at home like a lot of people, and surprising that such a big company would ignore this in this day and age. Maybe because iPads are not Swedish? Just kidding, but get with it IKEA!



That said, the software worked really well and I soon had my kitchen planned out. Next was a trip to the store, to get their their human kitchen planners to check it all and get their expert advice on a few things I was not sure about.

Big tip: measure, measure and measure your space again! Then double check your measurements! Then check with the in-store kitchen expert what extra few cm more you might need for cover panels and for doors/drawers to open properly in corners. You don’t want any nasty surprises!

We chose the Ringhult light grey glossy fronts for the bottom cupboards and the white version for the top. As many drawers as possible and a good balance between bench space and high cupboards for maximum storage.


As for the benchtops, I know stone is all the rage, but we wanted a budget kitchen. In any case, though stone is undoubtably beautiful, it is a bit of a primadonna and not as easy care as laminate. After a brief flirtation with natural wood, which I have always loved, we decided that the maintenance required was too off-putting. And even though I have always hated laminate that pretends to be stone or wood, in the end we settled on wood look-alike laminate benchtops. After scouring Pinterest for pictures of IKEA kitchens, we decided that wood benchtops looked so much better than the grey concrete I had originally picked, and after scrutinising them in the flesh I decided that they did not have the visually offensive fake look I had feared. IKEA seems to fake it so much better! The laminate actually has a pleasing natural looking texture, not just a printed wood grain picture, and the colours are really good. So for us, light oak laminate it is.


I have to say, the process of buying the gazillion individual pieces that comprise my kitchen was surprisingly easy. After finalising the design on the computer, the kitchen designer will print out a list for you of everything you need. It is long! You can pick it all out yourself from the racks and put it in your car, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you have it delivered, everything is picked for you and all you have to do is pay with your printed list at the checkout. Then it will all turn up on your doorsteep a few days later. There is a flat fee, which was very reasonable, considering it was well over 1 tonne of weight, 130 individual packages, and everything had to be carried up a steep driveway and another 35 steps to our house on the high side of a hill. The two guys delivering weren’t thrilled, but they did it cheerfully, and were even polite enough to initially refuse my tip. I insisted. 🙂

Not much sewing will be happening here in the next few weeks, as we are installing our kitchen, but plenty of blogging about the process. So if you are interested, watch this space!