Easy Budget Kitchens

If you are starting from scratch on a really rock-bottom budget, essentials can be pared down to a sink, a cooker, a fridge, a work surface and some from of storage. A n all-in-one cooker is cheaper than split-level; the separate hob and oven are more expensive to buy and they also demand good-looking housing units.

Self-assembly kitchen units are cheaper than ready-made equivalents, and need no more than a screwdriver or adjustable spanner to assemble-plus a practical bent of mind. For those who lack the latter, cheaper ready-made units are likely to have doors and drawer fronts finished in a melamine skin-nowhere near as tough as a proper laminate. They also, inevitable, will be more poorly constructed so check that drawers run smoothly and doors fit and hang level. Alternatively forget about units altogether. Cheap second-hand cupboards and chests of drawers can cope with storage perfectly adequately, especially with the addition of open shelving and a second-hand table to provide a work surface. These come cheapest from the less prestigious auction rooms, and can be resold when you have more money, and can afford to do the kitchen properly.

The add-on kitchen.

If you are short of money but don't want second-best buy what you can afford of the best now and fill the gaps later. This will demand some forward planning. If you hope to add a washing machine or dishwasher in the future, you will need to leave an appropriate space near the sink, so that plumbing will be a simple matter, and you will not have to re-jig the entire kitchen. Even if you never manage to buy the equipment, the existence of suitable plumbing positions will prove a useful selling factor come the day you decide to put your home on the market.

If you are starting with the minimum of kitchen units but intend to add more as finances permit, do have the whole work surface made at the outset cover the full length of future acquisitions.

Otherwise you will have to make joins in the surface that will look unsightly and act as dirt-traps. The work surface will also have the advantage of making whatever you slot into the gaps beneath-whether open shelving filled with attractive items or just a vegetable rack or rubbish bin-look reasonably integral and intended.

The inherited hotch-potch

If you are not starting from scratch, but are having to make do with a previous occupant's disastrous kitchen, there are one or two cheap and fairly speedy ploys you can use to improve matters visually. One good way of co-ordination lots of miscellaneous bits and pieces is to pick a strong color and paint them all to match. But don't stop there if they are really dreadful: paint the walls as well, so they disappear into it, and include anything else that looks unsightly-stray pipes or even an old saucepan rack.

Alternatively if you can't abide strong colour, you could paint walls and all the bits and pieces white and then introduce a few brilliantly-colored extras to draw the eye and hold its attention, like bright primary-colored vegetable racks and plastic bowls.

Another useful ploy for uniting miss-matched items is to establish strict horizontal line-ups. Pick whatever sticks up highest (probably the hob of the cooker) and span the wall with a work surface at that height. Then, however different the heights of cupboards or fridge, they will be contained within the same clear-cut limit, and will give a much more streamlined impression.
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