Friday, 27 October 2017

My New Ikea Kitchen + Space Saving Hacks

I'm inviting you to have a look at my new Ikea kitchen, complete with lots of space-saving and clutter-free hacks. Hopefully it will give you some inspiration if you're thinking about making changes or de-cluttering your kitchen space. 

This post contains some affiliate links. This means that if you decide to click on them and make a purchase, I may receive, at no extra cost to you, a small commission that helps me keep the blog going. 

So. Back in July, we took out the kitchen cupboards and had a new limestone floor laid in the bare kitchen. The planning took place throughout July and August and finally, installation began in late September and was finished at the beginning of October (we still need to do some painting to finish it off). I lost my oven around late August, so meals after that were cooked in the microwave or one of the handy electrical appliances I had set up in the garage. Or on the BBQ (yes to that, we love barbecues). 




Apart from being obviously thrilled that I can cook fresh food again (we spent the summer eating too many meatballs (Ikea is only a 20 minute walk from our house), along with salads and microwaved soups) I also thought it might be a good idea to talk about my kitchen, because we kitted it out with a few space saving and de-cluttering ideas that might be useful if you're thinking about making changes to your kitchen space, too. 

Why Ikea? 
We decided to go with Ikea for a number of reasons. The first was that it's just a short, 5 minute drive from our house, so it was easy for getting to planning consultations or if we needed to pick anything up or take it back during the fitting. The second was cost. Ikea are incredibly budget-friendly, and we decided that they had the best value for money, along with potential for design. They also have a 25 year guarantee, which is fantastic. Our kitchen is pretty small - and we had a quote from one kitchen place for a standard, budget-quality kitchen for £21,000. Quite a lot more than what we paid for ours. 

We've bought furniture from Ikea before, and we loved the amount of thought that always seems to go into their design. A bottom drawer under the sink becomes somewhere we can separate our recycling and rubbish (saves kicking a bin around the floor every time I want to access a cupboard behind it). A small cupboard is built into the unit above where the microwave sits, so we can keep something in there. Hooks dangle from under counter lights so you can hang your tea towel (I usually keep my UE Roll speaker there though, so I can jam to Aerosmith while chopping my veggies). 




Appliances
And now onto the appliances. Built in washing machine and dishwasher - the dishwasher beams the time remaining onto the floor in front of it, which is a nifty design. The dishwasher door also cleverly pops open at the end of the cycle, releasing the steam and allowing your plates and cups to dry. 

We chose an induction hob, which is much easier to clean up any spills than my old gas hob, too. The oven is digital, and beeps at you when it's preheated, so you know when to put your food in. It has special settings for conventional or fan oven - it even has a pizza setting in there - and a little spout where you can pour in water so you can cook with steam (to keep your chicken or fish juicy). There's also a thermometer that plugs into the oven too. The display also tells me the temperature inside the oven once it's turned off, in case I want to use the residual heat to gently heat anything through. 




It's like cooking in a kitchen in the future. 

We also decided to go for a tall fridge. We had a small under counter style fridge before, and it was difficult to fit in all the veggies we'd have in a week. Now, they fit in perfectly. And if one of the kids accidentally leaves the fridge door open, it beeps to let us know to shut it. We don't really store a lot of packets and tins, but the few we have we keep in the shallow drawers. We have a freezer in the integral garage so it means we can free up a lot of space in the kitchen. 

The Units and Doors
We chose the Kallarp unit fronts and doors - they're a blue-grey turquoise colour, in a high gloss. The worktop is white acrylic, with a moulded sink. Ikea say that the acrylic is stain resistant as long as you wipe up spills straight away, but I've heard otherwise from friends who have acrylic worktops. We just make sure we clean up any drips and spills as we see them. You get a little cleaning kit with the worktop, so you can gently buff out any slight stains or scratches as you find them, but I've actually found it to be harder wearing than I thought it would be, so that's all good.

My spices all fit in one of the drawers, and it means I can see clearly exactly what I need and pick it out. Before, they were all toppled over in a small, narrow cupboard, so I had to get a chair to stand on (I'm quite short!) and take half of them out to get to the one I was looking for at the back. My saucepans and frying pans fit perfectly, all stacked, in one of the larger bottom drawers. 

The tall larder unit is where we keep our utensils and cutlery (in little tins - it's easier to give them to the kids and get them to lay the table and it keeps them all separate), along with the plates and bowls. We also use a shelf insert so we don't have tall, toppling piles of different-sized plates and bowls, which is what we had before. 




Lighting
In the old kitchen I always found light to be a real problem. When I cook, I turn my back to the window, and chop food and cook looking down into my own shadow. So we had lights installed under the kitchen cabinets, along with plug sockets with USB cables for charging phones or (in my case) UE Roll speakers. These are operated using a remote control, and they cycle through dimmer and brighter options before turning off. This is just right for giving enough light on a dreary grey day, or for making a cup of tea before bed, when you don't want to be blinded by white light above. 

The ceiling light is also remote-controlled, and is dimmable. We don't tend to use the dimmer switch on this though, as the worktop lights do give off a lot of brightness, if needed, and they give a cosier atmosphere in there, too. 





Finishing Touches
Once the kitchen was done, we headed on down to Ikea and celebrated with breakfast. 

And then we stocked up on finishing touches. 

Things like a couple more pots and pans (going from a gas to induction hob meant we had to ditch quite a few of our old pots so they worked with the new hob), as well as trivets, some glass bottles and some artificial plants, which mean the kitchen has that homely feel even if I don't have any fresh herbs in. 

I also have a stand up blackboard where I write the week's meal plan on, so I can see straight away what's for dinner and what to make with the ingredients I have. The chalkboard pens I bought seem to stain it, even after wiping off with a damp cloth, so I use standard chalk. It just helps me to waste less food and saves me time as I can see what I'm cooking each day and it just sits there on the worktop looking perdy

We're honestly so pleased with our kitchen. Our planner at the Ikea store, Tim, was so knowledgable and could advise us on units that would fit in the space we had. We had our kitchen installed by Ikea's fitters - Kitchen Inspirations - and again, they came out and measured the kitchen before starting work and were there to answer any questions about how the kitchen would come together and queries about the work quoted. We opted to have some extra electrical work done and that was added to the job. Fitting an entire kitchen from scratch is a big job, and, as with anything, can come with unforeseen setbacks, which were quickly resolved. They were brilliant and we had total faith in them. Andy and Alan from Kitchen Inspirations fitted the kitchen beautifully and were really friendly. The electrician, Steve, was great, too, and took the time to install the lights to give the look we really wanted. We're so pleased with it. 




Things You Should Know Before Having an Ikea Kitchen Installed
If you're thinking about getting an Ikea kitchen, maybe have a think about some of these points, which were things we learned doing ours. 

Take Your Time
You're not going to walk in to an Ikea showroom, sit down with a kitchen planner on the spot and then get your kitchen fitted the following day, or even the next week. Or if you are, that's extremely lucky. We had Kitchen Inspirations come out and measure our kitchen first, and provide us with a design. There's a charge for this, I think it was about £50. Otherwise, you can take your own measurements and go down to the store, but there are things we would have missed. Then at the store, it took two or three design appointments over a few weeks to finish it off (the team had to get quotes for the worktop as it was custom made, etc). Finally, the lead time for the fitting once everything was ordered was about 6 weeks or so. So take your time, don't rush it. And don't expect it to be done overnight. The good thing was that Ikea worked alongside the fitters with dates, so they delivered the kitchen as close as possible when work was going to begin, so we weren't tripping over boxes on the floor for weeks. 

Trust Your Fitter
When the fitter does their work, there will most probably be small setbacks. Things like cupboards not fitting quite right, or pipes getting in the way of the back of units. Trust your fitter, as they do this job all the time and most likely will have a solution for you. A couple of unforeseen adjustments had to be made but honestly, now it's all in, you'd never know. They do a great job. Just be nice to them and make them cups of tea. 

Be Around
Although the paperwork said that we only had to be around for the fitter on the first and last day of the kitchen going in, we made sure we were around for the whole week. This was good, because there were odd questions about location of handles, or quick demonstrations on how things worked, that we would have missed if we weren't there. We were also around to quickly grab things from the store (we're lucky we live so close) if needed. They do fit kitchens with people at work, or away, but in our experience it worked really well that we were about. You also see it taking shape, which is good fun for you. 

Be Prepared
Prepare for having your kitchen ripped out, and to live without one for a bit. We used the garage as a makeshift kitchen and I kept some small appliances - like my Optigrill and Actifry - in there. The kettle and microwave were in there too, along with our old fridge. We bought some recyclable paper plates and bowls made out of sugar cane, because we had no water (or a sink) to wash up plates. It was only for a few days but you'd be surprised how long it feels. Also, if it's more than a few days that you'll be without a kitchen, how are you washing your clothes? Friends stepped in and offered use of their washing machine, which was handy. It might be worth factoring in a little extra money for meals out and even the odd takeaway while you get things sorted. Also have a think about where you'll be having the kitchen (units, appliances, etc) delivered and stored before the fitting. We used one end of our lounge and lived in the other end during the fit. 


Note: This post is not associated in any way by Ikea or Kitchen Inspirations - I just had a new kitchen fitted and wanted to share the info... 

What do you think? What time or space saving hacks do you have in your kitchen? Let's inspire each other! Let me know in the comments below... 




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