Thanks for sticking with me throughout this installation guide. By the end of this issue you should have a far better idea of the process involved in planning, designing and installing your own dream kitchen.
Successful kitchen design comes down to one thing and that's planning. It's not a complicated task and if you take it in logical steps, I know you can design a safe, efficient and eye-catching room - even if you've never done it before. :-)
You may be surprised to find that many so-called 'designers' working in your local big DIY store (you know the ones), have only limited experience. Nothing compared to the real-world knowledge you've gained from reading our kitchen guide and this series of emails.
Kitchen Installation - Section 3
- Now that the plumber and electrician have finished the power and piping for all the appliances, these can now be installed. When installing washing machines and dishwashers make sure your connections are leak-free before going any further (sounds obvious I know, but the last thing you want is to have to lift flooring and remove plinths etc. to repair a leak later on).
Tip: to save you having to unscrew the height-adjustable legs too much on floor-mounted integrated appliances, sit them on an off-cut of worktop if need be - they will be a lot more stable that way.
Now put the doors on
- You've probably been desperate to attach the doors on the units, but your patience was well worth it. Not only did it make installing the wall and base units easier (because they were lighter and the door didn't wedge your hand when you lifted them), but they were less likely to get damaged. The kitchen can be a busy environment during install time with tools and materials lying around and it would be a shame to damage a real oak or walnut door because you couldn't wait.
If you're doing the installation yourself then take your time to align the doors properly - nothing detracts more from a finished kitchen than if the gaps between the doors are uneven. There are adjustment screws on the hinges which I suggest you have a dabble with to see what they do - up, down, left and right.
- Now is also the time to hang the doors on any integrated appliances you might have. They're usually attached with screws and brackets which have to be in a precise position, so follow the instructions closely and if a template is supplied then use it.
- If you haven't done so already then also attach the cornice and pelmet if supplied. These are decorative mouldings that finish off the top (cornice) and bottom (pelmet) of the wall units. Cornice would also be used around the top of a larder unit or dresser if fitted. If you have a manual or electric mitre saw then great - have a go. Measure the lengths you need and note them down on a quick line drawing. Cut your pieces to size then use mitre glue to join them (this is a very strong 'super glue' and 'activator' which dries quickly and produces a very strong joint). If your joints are accurately cut and the glue has been applied properly it's possible to lift the full length of cornice or pelmet and fit it in one piece.
Tip: if you're not confident doing this then, as with worktops, pay a professional to come in and do it - it's not worth ruining the look of an otherwise good kitchen installation with poor detailing.
- You can buy individual stainless steel splashbacks for use between the hob and extractor. In this case though, I'm referring to the area between the kitchen worktops and the underside of the wall units. Like worktops and flooring this can be a large area and one you can use to visually 'tie' various elements of the kitchen together. Some manufacturers of laminate worktops also supply matching splashback panels, which can look very effective. They can be a bit expensive though, but at least they're relatively easy to fit so long as you measure accurately.
- Of course you could just have this area papered or painted along with the rest of the walls, but these finishes tend to mark easily and don't wipe clean. Tiling is probably the most common surface to choose because of the huge variety available at prices to suit every budget (I give some handy pointers for any would-be tilers in the Kitchen Guide).
- Assuming the splashback is now finished it's probably safe to get the electrician back and have him install your lights, switches and sockets. If you are installing stainless steel appliances then I would recommend fitting stainless steel faceplates to match. They're a bit more expensive but the overall effect is far better. These are normally supplied with either white or black switch inserts which you can specify to match your worktops - light colour: white, dark colour: black
- Now that the units and appliances are fitted it's time to have the flooring laid. Do this prior to fitting the base unit plinth so that the flooring can be laid underneath it (looks better and is easier to do). Once this is done you can then fit the plinth for the finishing touch. Unless of course you have used a 'decorative leg' system which is designed to be seen (unlike the usual black plastic ones). In this case your floorcovering will have to go all the way back to the wall and would have to have been done prior to the units being installed.
Tip: If you are ceramic tiling on top of a wooden floor, lay a base of 6mm plywood first, nailed at 4 inch square intervals. That's an awful lot of nails I know, but this will stop the new floor moving and cracking the grout or tiles. (I'm dubious of these 'Tile on Wooden Floors' type adhesives as I've still seen tiles crack if not laid on top of a sheet of ply first).
- Even if installing appliances and units is beyond you then decoration is one DIY task most of us can accomplish ourselves. Just remember preparation is the key to a good finish here and cutting corners will only show up through the paper or paint.
Try to balance dark doors and worktops with a lighter colour on the walls - otherwise it might feel like the room is coming in on you.
Stand back and admire your dream kitchen!
- Okay, I think that's about it! You should now be able to stand back and admire a beautiful kitchen and an asset to your home.
Like I said at the start it might seem like a daunting task, but when you break it down into manageable chunks it becomes 'do-able' and something you can play a significant part in achieving.
That brings this series of kitchen design and installation tips to a close and I really hope you've learned something.
Because we're an offline kitchen company as well as online, we often come across situations which need experience and some creative thinking. So if there's a tip to pass on that might assist you I'll be sure to do so. If I can be of any further help in the meantime then drop me a line.
All the very best with your project.