Buying a used kitchen is a savvy way to keep your budget balanced when renovating your home. After all, a new kitchen can cost more than the latest car.
When you start perusing modern kitchen ideas, and pinning the latest looks, or gathering swatches and samples, costs can easily spiral, particularly when you have your heart set on a certain style.
Even those with big budgets like to be canny with their cash so buying a used kitchen is a good way to save thousands of pounds on cabinets, appliances and more, with top brands, such as Gaggenau, Rotpunkt and Harvey Jones available at heavily reduced prices.
Buying a used kitchen can also save up to 7 tonnes of carbon (depending on its size) which would make a family of four carbon neutral for at least twelve months - and prevent perfectly good cabinets and appliances going to landfill.
The Used Kitchen Exchange (UKE) has been selling ex-display and used kitchens since 2015, and they know a thing or too about what to look out for when buying a used kitchen.
Here's their expert advice for those who are considering an ex-display or pre-owned kitchen.
On a pre-owned or used kitchen, look for cabinets that are 18mm thick or more and are of solid construction (not flat packed). Cheaper cabinets may be as little as 15mm thick – not ideal for re-use and have a much shorter life expectancy.
GETTING IT TO FIT
Measuring for a new kitchen is relatively simple and if you are keeping the current kitchen layout, then it’s even easier. Check the space you are working with including the siting of doors, windows and utilities plus the height of your ceilings. Having designed the layout you would like then you need to simply match the units available against this.
In the case of a pre-owned kitchen, buying one a little bigger than you need gives you far more flexibility with reconfiguration.
PLAY WITH THE PLAN
Mark out your kitchen to scale on a piece of graph paper and get yourself a scale ruler and cut out post it notes to the sizes of your kitchen cabinets. Write on them what type of cabinet it is and then you can play around with the layout as much as like, sticking and re-sticking them in place until you have the right layout for you.
Got a small space left? Fill smaller gaps with a 300mm wine cooler, homemade wine rack or tray store.
COLOUR AND FINISH
Painted and wood kitchens can offer a little more flexibility when buying second hand as they can be easily re-painted and handles replaced to create a new look. Laminate kitchens can also be painted or alternatively vinyl wrapped.
Lacquered finish kitchens don’t have this level of flexibility so consider the longevity of your colour choice.
Many manufacturers are working to extend the lifespan of their appliances to enhance sustainability, therefore, if you go for higher end brands, there is no reason why these cannot be reused. Miele appliances have a lifespan of up to 21 years!
It would be advisable to have these re-installed and tested by a qualified electrician.
If the kitchen you are looking at has laminate worktops, don’t expect to reuse these. They are almost impossible to reinstall.
Stone worktops cannot be transported flat or they will break, they must remain vertical when being moved.
PROFESSIONAL DISMANTLE IS KEY
Removing a pre-installed kitchen is a technical job, requiring experience and know-how. Many builders may have installed a kitchen, yet few have removed one. Any shortcuts here may have dire consequences and ultimately damage to your kitchen. Removing stone worktops takes a lot of knowhow and specialist tools.
If you are looking for a courier, ask if they have the right experience, skills and insurance to collect and deliver a kitchen safely.
If you don’t feel able to install your own kitchen, you can find a qualified professional through the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installers (BiKBBi). Used Kitchen Exchange are official partners of the BiKBBi.
See more modern kitchen ideas
Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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