In my last post I mentioned that planning for a new kitchen has taken up a lot of thought and effort over recent months. To be honest though, most of the thought and effort has been undertaken by my wife. This is only fair: after all she’s the one who really wants the new kitchen.
Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge that the old kitchen is looking a bit dated and tatty, it just doesn’t feature high enough up my priorities for me to worry about it that much. I’m told that these days many men regularly do the cooking (mostly I’m told this by my wife). No doubt these men are inspired by the many celebrity chefs who dominate the TV schedules, but I’m not one of them. All that I need from a kitchen is a surface on which to dish up a take-away curry and a cooker to warm stuff up when the take-away is shut.
However, my wife and I have a symbiotic relationship: she likes to cook and I like to eat. Apparently, this happy state is only likely to continue if we have a new kitchen. When I complain about the cost, I’m told that it is cheaper than a divorce. Having looked into it further I’m not so sure!
Anyway, I was talked around to the idea of a new kitchen. But it’s not as simple as that. Even before we began looking at kitchen brochures there were lots of other considerations. The kitchen needs new door and windows, there is some building work to be done, there is (as I’ve mentioned previously) knock-on work to be done in what was my darkroom and is now to be the utility room, and the gas boiler needs to be moved.
This latter point raises further issues: can it be moved where we want it? Opinion between boiler installers was divided. Also, it’s getting on a bit, is it worth moving or should we buy new? The latter question was answered when the boiler sprung a leak: we need a new one. What sort? Again opinion is polarised and costs vary enormously. Anyway, we finally resolved all of this, as I watch the mental bank balance gauge dropping precipitously even before we’ve started thinking about the cost of the kitchen itself.
It is, of course, the kitchen itself which is the biggest and most difficult decision. We went through a full gamut of options from Ikea and B&Q at one end of the scale, to eye-wateringly expensive bespoke custom designed German units at the other. We also had a range of different kitchen plans offered to us: decisions, decisions.
What really irritates me though, even more than the cost, is that pretty much wherever you go you are offered what I can only assume are ‘mock’ sale prices. ‘This kitchen would usually cost you £3 trillion pounds, but buy it today and you can get it for £3000 and we’ll throw in a free gold tap and a massage from the manager’s wife!” And you have to hurry, because the sale is only on for 364 days of the year, so you wouldn’t want to miss it. This is not only clearly nonsense, but also an affront to common sense and an insult to my intelligence (yes, even my intelligence!).
In the end, we found somewhere that didn’t do all of this: they gave you a price and that’s that. The guy who runs the place is an ex-fitter and not only knows his stuff, but is also passionate about the job and determined to get you the right kitchen. Most importantly, they had a kitchen my wife likes. What’s more, after all that traipsing around, they are only just up the road from us in Brockworth. The name of these bastions of kitchen retail excellence? The Kitchen Broker. I can’t recommend them yet as the kitchen’s not in, but so far they seem very promising.
Despite my reluctance to go into this kitchen buying lark in the first place, now we’re doing it I want to do it properly. My philosophy is that we should get the best that we can afford, but I want to feel comfortable that we are getting good value – I don’t want to feel we’re being ripped off or taken for a ride by spurious offers. The Kitchen Broker guy, Chris, put it best: the cheapest way to do a kitchen is to do it once and do it properly. Based on what we’ve seen elsewhere, the quality of the units seems very good: the right balance between the outrageously over-engineered and the pathetically inadequate.
So what about cost? Well, funnily enough, even without a “95% off for this weekend only” sale deal, it comes in very competitively. It’s still damn expensive though: I am confident that the kitchen that we have chosen will stay looking good for years – not least because we can’t now afford any food to cook in it!
Nonetheless, we finally put down a deposit on the kitchen last weekend; if you think I’ve been looking a bit pale this week that is why: wallet fatigue. My super-organised wife has all of the various deliveries and craftsmen lined up to begin in a few weeks time, so we are now in the quiet before the storm.