Anne Interiors Interior Designer Glasgow UK

5 Tips on How to Plan an Amazing Second Hand Kitchen

Second hand Kitchen

Table of Contents

To be completely honest, I never planned to use a second hand kitchen in our home. Being a designer and this being our first family home, quite the idealist I have my own “vision” drawn up for our dream home. Although I appreciate that the dream may take time to realise, I didn’t quite expect that we would be too far from that after major blows in the budget early on in the reno. 

Naturally the biggest ticket in the house which is the kitchen will need re-thinking and consideration.

Affordable Kitchen Options

The initial option that came our way is a showhouse kitchen. The hubby works as a Construction Manager for one of the big real estate companies in Scotland and they were planning to renew their kitchens in their showhouses. We were lucky to get the prime pick of the lot.

This greige modern shaker style is neutral enough to go well with my Scandimodern theme. But just as I began revising layouts, the company decided to hold off the kitchen refresh for another year due to the pandemic. 

So back to square one. While I was considering IKEA and other kitchen companies that offer discounts if you allow to be featured in their brochure and ads, Alex was on his laptop looking at second hand kitchens on Gumtree. I’m really glad it crossed his mind to look in there! 

Gumtree vs. Ebay

I didn’t realise that a lot of homeowners sell their kitchen for cheap when they do their own kitchen renovations! But do note that there are more second hand kitchen options in Gumtree than in Ebay (in the UK at least, I’m not sure how the availability situation is in other countries). I noticed that most if not all Gumtree listings have the full kitchen for sale (most even including appliances) in comparison to Ebay where most listings are just bits and pieces of kitchen cabinetry.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a second hand kitchen?

Advantages:

  1. Obviously it is the cheapest alternative! None can beat it!
  2. No lead time. Unlike bespoke new kitchens where you wait between 4 to 12 weeks for delivery and install, buying second hand is as immediate as you find the listing!
  3. You could possibly end up with a surplus of units which you may use elsewhere in your home (eg. Utility room, garage, etc.)
  4. Many listings come with most if not all appliances included in the asking price.
  5. You are helping the environment.

 

Disadvantages:

  1. Requires a more careful planning and logistics than you think.
  2. It is not flawless and as clean as brand new.
  3. You may need to order other parts that will never be an exact fit to your configuration (eg. worktops).
  4. There is no guarantee that the second hand appliances that came with it will work.

Best uses for second hand kitchen

  1. Transitional or temporary kitchens: when you definitely know that you will one day end up having a kitchen renovation or extension there’s no point on investing on brand new (even on the cheapest brand because it will still cost at least £2,000 +appliances). Yes you may reuse some of the cupboards during the renovation, but if it’s of a cheap make, it will likely collapse and that’s money down the drain. Also you might end up wanting a complete change of style altogether for your new “dream” kitchen.
  2. Dream kitchen: Your dream kitchen doesn’t necessarily have to be brand new. If you end up finding a listing from a very good name brand, it’s a treasure worth keeping. The good brands will also still likely carry the same model that you have such that if you ever need extra bespoke cupboards or just thinking of upgrading some cabinet doors into drawers, they can easily match your existing.
  3. Rental property: You don’t need to feel guilty anymore about spending on a property that you don’t own. You can now update a tasteless rental kitchen and stamp your own style on it (after seeking your landlord’s approval of course).
  4. Garage: extra storage for tools and other materials. Sometimes one might want a “mini utility” with a sink especially if you are planning to convert your garage into a workshop.
  5. Utility Room

What is the average cost of a second hand kitchen?

We bought our preloved kitchen in 2020 for… wait for it… a mere £750! That’s including most integrated appliances— 5-burner hob, extractor hood, fridge/freezer, oven, microwave and food warmer which are of a good make (Siemens). We only needed to source elsewhere are the integrated dishwasher and freestanding washer-dryer for our separate utility room. We bought them also from Gumtree for £50 and £55, Siemens and Samsung respectively.

Decent kitchen listings that look barely used go between £400 – £5000. Styles vary as well from modern to traditional— hi-gloss laminates to wood finishes, laminate to granite and even corian and quartz worktops! You’d be pleasantly surprised that there are really fancy high-end appliances included within that price range too.

So make sure to narrow down your search according to your maximum budget and location. I set my search to within 30 miles because that’s how far my husband is willing to drive to pick up the kitchen units himself. We just rented a truck and a good friend volunteered to help as well. 

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of a truck rental, ours was £120 for a full day; and labor cost to dismantle in case the owner doesn’t cover for it. We were lucky to buy from an owner who has his renovation underway so they have done the proper dismantling accordingly. 

Now we move on to the exciting part.

How to plan and incorporate a second hand kitchen in your build:

1. Draft your ideal kitchen layout/ floor plan.

This will serve as your guide with regards a suitable layout to look for in the listings available. It will dictate the cupboard sizes and orientation that you will be needing: cabinet sizes, shape and cut of the worktops, orientation of corner cabinets- because it matters whether you need a left or right-hand corner since it is a nuisance to alter how the cabinet door opens. However this is not cast in stone.

Sometimes you will come across a listing that will urge you to reconsider your layout and make minor adjustments wherever necessary. You can also find big kitchen listings that have a lot of cabinets that will allow you better options and freedom to swap around.

In our case, I specifically wanted a kitchen with cabinets that integrate appliances and tall tower cabinets to house the fridge and ovens at eye-level. So that’s what I keep an eye out for. I almost always rule out any listing with freestanding appliances.

We were lucky to find a listing that is a big kitchen with utility room included. So there’s plenty of cabinets to choose from and swap around. We even have enough spare to use for our own utility cupboard located in the ground floor shower room and additional cabinetry for our garage (once we are ready to tackle that!).

This is what our second hand kitchen listing looked like in its original Cala Home:

Bear in mind that there will be parts that you may not be able to reuse, like the worktops and splashbacks/ upstands. If you need a short worktop, it’s easy to cut. Otherwise you need to prepare yourself (your budget) to order in new counter tops.  Also you will have to be lucky that the sink is in the exact spot where you want it to be (or at least close enough) because that’s a hole in the worktop that you cannot adjust or cover up.

We bought a kitchen with a former cooktop peninsula and placed it against a wall instead (as it is with its full 90cm depth) for an extra deep countertop is always a handy small space solution. But the upstands and splashbacks are of no use because they are either just too short for the space or have pre-drilled holes for switches and sockets.

Buying a brand new worktop can easily cost as much as (if not more than) your second hand kitchen depending on which material you choose. So factor that in your budget. If you don’t have the budget for a brand new worktop, look out for a listing that is closest to the layout you have planned out (paying careful attention to the position of sink and integrated hobs). You would rather choose a worktop that is too long rather than too short or just right to make way for allowances just in case something is off in your pipework measurements.

Materials-wise, based from experience, laminate worktops offered better flexibility to us. It is easier to cut ourselves and adjust accordingly as opposed to natural stone worktops where you’ll need to pay for extra labor (or power tool) for a proper tradesman to cut. Laminated worktops nowadays are more durable and besides you can always use trivets to protect your worktops.

The tip is to make sure that the kitchen is already bought before you schedule the plumbers in for a first fix so that you have enough time to revise your kitchen layout. But then, you need to plan a holding area for your second hand kitchen bearing in mind that a dismantled kitchen occupies more space than a fully assembled one.

Either a garage or a big spare empty room in the house should suffice. If opting for a garage, make sure to add a layer of floor protection and a water-repellent covering above the units (in case your garage roof leaks) to avoid damp and moisture seeping in your kitchen units. Our units sat for two months in the garage until we are ready to install.

The Planning Process

Flowchart of Planning a Second Hand Kitchen

That’s how we did it: bought a second hand kitchen that fits in the planned area allotted for. Then revised the plumbing, electrical and lighting plan to suit the second hand kitchen’s (sink and appliances) layout. 

2. Decide whether you want freestanding or integrated appliances.

In my professional opinion (unless you are going for a traditional kitchen and you found a stunning freestanding range or fridge) integrated appliances always look better. It gives the kitchen a cleaner, more cohesive and considered look (even for a second hand one!). 

And keep in mind that some second hand kitchen listings don’t have all appliances included. Sometimes the homeowner decides to keep an appliance or two for reuse. I noticed the most common ones that are excluded are integrated dishwashers. Consider yourself very lucky if you get all of them included. 

The only downside in choosing integrated appliances is the installation. Make sure you have a good electrician, plumber and joiner handy. You may have to make a few impromptu tweaks onsite (like we did to the plumbing of our dishwasher which needed to be moved a few centimetres to the side because the sink cabinet sat right smack against its pipe). Where pipework cannot move, a good joiner can chop off part of the back cupboard and reinforce it accordingly.

Sometimes the doors also don’t end up perfectly flush and aligned to the rest of the cabinet doors. We had this issue with our integrated dishwasher, however a small price to pay for a £750 preloved kitchen including appliances! So we’re not complaining.

Find below some kitchen examples with freestanding and fully-integrated appliances.

Freestanding

Fully-Integrated

3. Drawers vs. Cupboards

Ideally if you want a kitchen to have the maximum use of storage space, you’d go for full drawers fronts. That’s a no-brainer. Drawers are also very forgiving to your back as it is more convenient to rummage through drawers than knocking everything else in front of you as you reach for the item farthest behind that door. There is valid reason though why not many choose full-drawer cupboards— it could easily double your kitchen price. 

So this is unfortunately one disadvantage of second hand kitchens, most if not all listings that you’ll come across with have full cupboard doors with maybe just 1 or 2 units at the most which incorporate drawers. This is usually the standard configuration of kitchens from home developers when they sell a house.

It is up to the homeowners to pay extra for a few tweaks here and there but most of the time they buy a “builder grade” home. Eventually in the long run they decide to upgrade their kitchens or do an extension. And that’s when they put their builder grade kitchen up for sale.

But don’t lose hope! As a second hand buyer you can achieve more functional and organised cupboards by installing interior cabinet drawers/ wire baskets in them in the future as soon as your budget allows. There are lots of choices from big box stores and even Amazon. Just always double check measurements and especially taking into consideration the door hinges which may catch your drawers as you pull.

4. Be patient and wait for a listing most suitable to the style that you are going for.

It is advisable to have a set design style in mind for your entire house and try not to compromise on that. This discipline will help you achieve a very cohesive look in your home— not just for your kitchen, but to your living room, dining, bedrooms and yes, even bathrooms and toilets.

Having disjointed rooms throughout the house where you either have different styles per room or clashing materials and colours jumping from one room to another is so passé (unless of course you really are an adventurous artistic person, but in which case you should be truly bold and OTT to pull this off otherwise you risk it looking half-baked and accidental or you chickened-out).

Apply a “golden thread” that runs throughout your house: be it a set of main colours with one accent or similar material finishes that repeat in every room. In our case our main colours in keeping with the Scandi-modern style are white, grey and black (for accent) and accentuated further by wood materials, natural fibres and plants. 

Now that we all have understood the importance of a home as a calming and nurturing environment amidst the pandemic outside, you don’t want a home that sends off visual clutter and stress.

Applying your style when choosing a second hand kitchen should be easy. Because the kitchen covers such a big surface area, whatever style or finish you put on is very definitive. It’s either you’re Modern or Traditional. Other styles like Scandinavian, Contemporarty, Boho, Japandi, Wabi-sabi, Industrial are only sub-styles that all fall in between. What I mean by this is, the amount and kind of objects and textures that you decide to add in will dictate where your “end look” lands on the style scale. 

Certain choices can lead to a more modern look while another will achieve a more traditional vibe. You define your style further by your choice of tiles, dinnerware, cookware and decors that’s why the sub-styles that I mentioned previously may either be modern or traditional. I maybe do a separate blog on interior styles to demonstrate this concept further.

In the meantime, here’s a chart to guide you on the basic elements of modern and traditional styles.

Basic Design Style chart

What about the famous Shaker style?

In my opinion Shaker will always have an element of traditional in it, no matter how plain or squared the panels and profiling. But in saying that, it is more adaptable to modern finishes and decorations precisely for its plain, squared profiles. So it is safe to say that it is a style that transitions between modern and traditional. It could be contemporary, I should say. It is also a very popular choice of cabinetry in Scandinavian design.

And since most Shaker cabinets are made of real wood, it Is easy to up-cycle with a lick of paint. However painting kitchen units could be overwhelming and expensive because you need it done right preferably by a professional because kitchens should be high-performing therefore cabinets must be hard wearing. 

 

So essentially your choice of second hand kitchen is going to be a blank canvas, almost. You’ll find that the listings in Gumtree are either plain/ sleek, or panelled/ framed; light or dark. That should narrow your choices down easy if you have a set design style in mind.

Remember that colour doesn’t necessarily dictate whether a style is modern or traditional. It is more down to the details/ shapes/ patterns on your cupboard doors (and handles and taps – which should be relatively affordable to replace anyway) and then (as mentioned  previously) further defined by your choice of decors and wares. Just make sure to note the width of the holes on the doors to get the correct size of handles, while knob sizes are all mostly standard. 

So be patient and wait for a listing most suitable to the style that you are going for. 

I could’ve picked a basic white kitchen because there were loads of it out there, but I was really keen on grey or light wood to suit our scandi-modern style. Repainting wasn’t also an option for us because a good repainting job still costs money and time. 

Thankfully we were not pressed for time so I had a few weeks to shop around online. Instead I painted all the kitchen walls the matching grey of the tall units for a clear coherent look. And since I decided to forego tile splashbacks for now, I opted for a kitchen-specific paint from Dulux. It claims to be grease proof and stain resistant. So far so good, it wipes down easy-peasy.

IMG 9456

5. Be picky where or who you buy from.

I don’t mean to be a snub (my sincere apologies in advance if I offend anyone) but you get quality kitchens from either house development (catering to mid and high-range clients) properties that are at most 5 years old, OR from localities that are good and affluent. 

Top reasons why:

  • Good home developers are more likely to source their fitted kitchens from suppliers that carry a minimum of 10 to 25-year guarantee (some even a lifetime) which obviously reflects on the quality of the kitchens they provide.

So if you buy a 5yo second hand kitchen from homeowners of these developments you still get a decent 3 to 5-year wear out of your second hand purchase maybe even more. On top of this, you get a well put-together kitchen with matching good quality appliances all from one good name brand.

 

  • Logically homeowners in these areas are more likely to take care of their properties ergo their kitchens and have invested on quality kitchens themselves and just looking to refresh their homes. Most of them would have employed proper installers/  dismantlers so you are assured that your second hand kitchen is still in good condition after dismantling and properly stored awaiting your collection.

 

Last thing you want is waste money (even as little as £750) on a second hand kitchen that will collapse in a month. You need to be able to trust and have peace of mind that all included appliances will work on the day of your install because you can never fully guarantee that it’ll work after dismantling and sitting stagnant in the garage for 3 months.

Only quality kitchens and well-branded appliances can stand that test (of course bearing in mind proper storage practice which is your sole responsibility). That’s why it pays to be picky and wait for a quality listing.

It is by sheer luck and determination that we are successful in our quest to find our preloved kitchen by Kelvin KBB from a Cala Home development that is only 3 years old and inclusive of all Siemens appliances— which thankfully all worked on install day! Whew!

Main thing to remember:

A second hand kitchen will never be a perfect fit. But it sure saves you A LOT of money and there are a lot of good designs and options at this time in the market.

Now more than ever since the beginning of the pandemic homeowners have looked to improve their homes and a huge percentage of that is a kitchen makeover. Now is the perfect time to scour the second hand sites for preloved kitchens.  So if you have the skills or plain guts, take advantage of that! Otherwise, you know where to contact me!

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