Thursday, 26 March 2015

My kitchen rules (in my opinion) - part two

So as I discussed in my previous post (you can read it here) we put in a new kitchen before we moved in with the help of Kitchennet in Drummoyne.  They organised all the cabinets and trades for installation - but to lower some of the costs I sourced the appliances and also the other essential items.

Be warned - when installing a kitchen - don't forget to ask about what is (or is not!) included.  Things that are necessary but might not be included are -

Tapware - 

There are lots of types and choices.  Mixer taps are the type of taps that have a single unit, and you lift the lever on the top of the spout itself to turn on, twisting to either side for hot or cold.  I think most taps seem to be this type now.  I didn't really see any or many units with a spout and two separate taps, and those really old fashioned ones with two separate taps and spouts don't seem to be around at all.

Mixer tap which is quite common

Old fashioned two separate taps

But we had to get the top of the line tap (of course).  My husband is a great cook, and enjoys spending time in the kitchen (which I encourage!)  He was keen on what is known as a mixer tap with vegetable spray.  Basically you have one part of the spout over the sink and another part that pulls out of the holder and is flexible, and can spray your vegies, or salads, or anything really.  You can get some mixer taps that pull out and retract, but I have been told that they sometimes may no longer retract after a some use.  So our tap is taller, but will not need to retract at any time -

The famous tap - one spring out arm with spray, the other fixed arm (although it does rotate) for getting a glass of water

It really is great.  I can fill up tall vases and rinse out the bins so easily.  I know they look a bit strange and my parents complain they can't just get a drink out of it but I recommend them if you can fit them in!

The cupboards had to be moved upwards to fit the tap in
We actually even had to change the plans for the kitchen to raise the cupboards above the tap - but there was never a question in my husbands mind, we were fitting it in somehow!


You would think that was a given in the kitchen plans, but turns out that you have to pay extra for this too!  And then there are more choices than I expected.

First of all you can get a drop in sink or an undermount sink.  Drop in is the type with a draining board as part of the unit, and as it sounds, you "drop it in" to a hole in your benchtop.  The metal part of the sink sits on top of the bench top.  You can get all different configurations - single bowl, double bowl, single and a half bowl, left draining board, right draining board, double draining board - it goes on and on.  With a drop in sink, there is often a tap hole already cut into it, so you are limited to that hole what type of tap you install.  (Generally this will be a single hole in the middle of the sink, so a mixer tap will fit)

Double bowl sink

Single bowl right drainboard
Reece Bathrooms - this is a Franke Granite sink
Reece Australia -  Franke drop in sink
Obviously space is an issue for this - I always think two bowls are helpful so you can tip out water or rinse out in one bowl while washing in the other.  But it depends on your kitchen. You need to measure up carefully to see what you can fit. And also think about how you prefer to wash up or what is around your sink which might affect which side the draining board goes on.  As these pictures show, there are different shapes and materials as well that you can choose from.  Lots of websites have good choices, but Reece and Clark both are good places in Australia to have a look at.

Then you have undermount sinks.  Again, the name is a hint.  These sinks attach underneath your bench top so all you see is the benchtop, a smooth edge and then the sink bowls.  Some people prefer the look of these, as you don't have a drain board to collect grime.  You also have more bench space. However when washing up you still need to put your dishes somewhere so you need to think about a draining rack etc.  I assume you would only really do this with stone bench tops, as a laminate bench top would not look as attractive on the edges.  When the stone bench top is cut your stone mason will need the sink so it can be attached.

Undermount sinks can be single or double bowls, and also come in different shapes and sizes.

A single undermount sink from Clark
We chose the double undermount sink, which I think looks nicer, is deeper than other sinks, and has plenty of room.  We also got a built in colander with it and you can buy other draining boards to use with these sinks, to cover one bowl.

One side of our undermount sink - I think it has a nicer finish on the edges.  The other side is full of dishes so no photograph today!


You can choose many different materials, but check it is suitable for use, particularly for ceramic or gas cooktops - a melted splashback would not look good.  Tiles are often used, but you can use glass, acrylic, or even just a painted wall.  And of course there are a multitude of choices in tiles.  For our kitchen our tiler was included in the price but not the tiles! I ended up choosing very plain white tiles, with a trim of grey mosaic tiles.

Plain white tile splashback with grey mosaic tile trim

Handles on cupboards or drawers

Again - I would expect these to be included but they may not be.  So check!  And same as tiles and really all accessories - there are many choices ranging from basic and less expensive to much more expensive.  Handles can often be changed at a later date if you want to give your kitchen a bit of a make over.  I don't really see the point of spending a lot of money on them, but I'm sure some people do!


The final thing you need to buy and consider - appliances.  Again, prices can vary greatly and you can buy all different sizes and types.  This is going to depend on your situation (a family may need a bigger fridge than a single person, or a person who loves baking may want a bigger and better oven) and of course your price range.  You can make your own choices on appliances - but you will need to consider and buy - an oven, a cook top (or an upright cooker combining both) and a range hood.  A dishwasher is very common but not essential (although I couldn't live without mine!)  And although you might already have a fridge, you do need to consider the size to make a large enough space.  So if you're going to buy a new one - decide before you get the kitchen made!

We were lucky enough to be able to use my parents old Smeg oven, which was given to us for free. I purchased a Bosch glass cooktop from The Good Guys and bought the floor stock to save some money.  The Bosch dishwasher came from Harvey Norman on a super Saturday sale.  And the Blanco rangehood was also negotiated from The Good Guys.  Shop around for the best prices and some places negotiate more than others. 

Blanco pull out range hood

My favourite appliance - the dishwasher

We ended up getting a bigger range hood than necessary - originally we thought we would put in a donated 90cm cook top so needed a 90cm range hood to go over it - but then later we changed to a 60cm cook top.  Range hoods can be pull out or fixed (you pull out one section to make them larger - my preference) and can also be the canopy type that seem most popular in all the magazines I read.  Best to do your research depending on what you can fit in (can you duct it outside?) and so you don't knock yourself out every time you are cooking.

And one final thing - which I will go into more detail on a separate post- do your research on your necessary purchases.  I bought our taps, tiles and sink at the Sydney Renovator Auctions.  This place is fantastic and so much cheaper than other retail outlets.  I paid $300 for the sink, approximately $300 for the tap, and $4 per square metre for the tiles.  There is a buyers premium added but it was still significantly cheaper than buying retail.  Some of the sinks I have pictured above cost between $1600-$2000 just for the single or double bowl!  Taps can also easily cost hundreds of dollars.  While you don't want to buy cheap rubbish that will leak immediately, you can source good quality items.  Our kitchen guys and plumber couldn't believe the prices I paid, to the point they tried to buy the tap and sink off me!  I also bought toilets and vanities (posts coming up) at a reduced price.

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