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Interiors-Savvy Instagrammer Gets A New-Look Kitchen On A £130 Budget

November 20, 2020, 5:10 PM
  • Gemma Shaw, from Redditch, says she saved thousands compared to shelling out an estimated £10k for a new kitchen
  • Spent just £130 on chalk paint and accessories from Amazon and Asda
  • Budget makeover took just 24 hours in total, which she completed in her spare evenings after work

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so if yours isn’t sparking joy – and you don't want to splash out on a brand new one – then it may be time to roll up your sleeves and give it a makeover.

If you're not sure where to start, take a cue from Gemma Shaw, 29, from Redditch in Worcestershire, who gave her kitchen a top-to-toe revamp on a £130 budget.

“I’d never been a fan of my white gloss kitchen – it just wasn’t to my taste,” says Gemma, who runs an exhibition stand build company. “I prefer darker kitchen cupboards, such as black and dark greens. But my biggest bugbear was that it showed every bit of dirt. As I’m quite particular, I found myself cleaning every cupboard door each time I spotted a mark. This became quite a chore, as there are 17 cupboards and drawers in total.

“I hadn’t got as far as getting a quote for a new kitchen, but my mum renovated hers earlier this year for £6,000. It’s half the size of mine and she chose from a budget range, so I estimated that mine would cost at least £10,000 to rip out and replace," she told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk.

Gemma’s passion for home interiors, and her experience of modernising the 1930s house she shares with her partner Josh, means she was ready for a challenge.

“I have a home-related page on Instagram where I post other pictures of my home,” she says. I also follow over 1,000 other home interiors-focused Instagram pages, and I love all the dark interior vibes that people are experimenting with at the moment.

“As this isn’t our forever home, I decided to go down the DIY route,” she says. “We’re thinking about moving in a couple of years, so I would rather save the money for another house than invest more into this one. Also, the pandemic has meant that my husband and I have experienced huge pay cuts and so we have had to tighten our bootstraps a lot.”

Gemma discovered chalk paint paint through a friend, and joined a forum on social media where she learnt that the Frenchic Al Fresco range could be used on gloss cabinets.

“I decided to give ours a shot,” she said. “I wanted to switch to a dark colour and I knew it would work, as the room benefits from lots of natural light thanks to the skylights and large bi-fold doors.

“I had painted the skirting boards and back wall a very dark grey – almost black – at the beginning of lockdown in April,” she continues. “We also had the dark wood-look herringbone floor fitted last October, so I thought black cupboards would go best with the feeling that I wanted to create.”

Gemma bought the paint directly from the Frenchic Furniture Paint website in a shade called Blackjack (£17.95 for 750ml), as well as a blending brush (from £8.95) and sugar soap (£3.45).

“I started by lightly sanding all of the cupboard doors and drawers. I found this part really boring, so I didn’t spend long on it – probably half an hour in total – just so they just had a bit of scratch to them.

“Next, I took all the cupboard doors off the hinges and laid them out on a blanket on the kitchen floor. I used the sugar soap to give them a wash.”

After that came the lick of paint.

“I used the blending brush to paint very thin layers of the paint on each door, using the paint as though it were about to run out,” she says. “I had read that this was the best method, in order for each layer to dry quickly and prevent drips. It also builds up a more durable coating. The white gloss cupboards and drawers took five coats in total.”

Gemma also painted the kitchen bar, which was already a shade of dark grey and took just three coats to cover.

“The most challenging part was the bit around the oven hood, as I couldn’t get the hood down by myself so I had to paint around it,” she said. “My arms were aching, but it was worth it in the end.”

Overall, Gemma used around 950ml of paint. “It goes far,” she says.

“I added brushed gold accessories to match the warm feeling of the room,” she says. “I bought the cabinet handles and kitchen tap, which was fitted by a friend, from Amazon. I also bought a new black kettle, toaster and tea and coffee jars from Asda. In total, the cost of the paint and all the new accessories came to around £130.”

What's more, the entire project took just 24 hours to complete. “I spread the work over eight evenings, after I’d finished work,” she says.

The dedication certainly paid off.

“I am extremely happy with the end result – the kitchen is massively improved,” she says. "I would probably have bought cupboards that look the same as they do now.

“The only thing I’m not 100% happy with is the grey granite worktop, as I would prefer it to be a lighter colour. I did try to D-C-Fix it, but it didn’t stick well to granite so I had to remove it. They will stay as they are for now, as we don’t want to invest too much more money into it, and it still feels and looks a lot nicer than before overall.”

Gemma advises anything thinking of starting a similar project to dive straight in. “It mainly requires time and patience and while we are restricted on the things we can do outside of the home right now, it’s a good time to give it a go.”

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk comments: “A brand new kitchen can be a big investment but if you don't want to take the leap, and deal with the disruption of a rip-out, there’s a lot you can achieve on a budget.

“Painting the cupboards is one of the easiest and most effective ways to give your kitchen a completely new look.

“Plus, you can customise it with your choice of accessories. There is a brilliant range available online that can be delivered directly to your door.”

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