Kitchen makeover: ‘My second-hand units were an eBay bargain’

Knocking through into her adjoining dining room allowed Amberley Rainey to create her ideal kitchen-diner for entertaining friends and family

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'

Amberley Rainey bought her 1960s, three-bedroom, semi-detached house on the Wirral four years ago knowing it would be a big renovation project, especially when it came to the tiny kitchen.

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Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
Amberley’s kitchen-diner complete with clean, modern lines and an inviting central table that allows her to host family and friends

‘Whenever I had friends around there was only standing room for them while I cooked dinner,’ she explains. ‘I’m a sociable person and the layout was so impractical if more than one person was in there at a time. My plan was to knock down the wall separating the kitchen and dining room, and turn the space into a bright and airy kitchen-diner.’

Insider info…

Who lives here? Amberley Rainey (@raineysresidence), 36, an office manager for an entertainment and technology company, lives in this 1960s three-bedroom semi-detached house on the Wirral.

What was wrong with your old kitchen? ‘Everything – it was tiny and not at all practical, with no space for entertaining my friends.’

What do you like most about the new room? ‘My bargain £400 kitchen from eBay. And the kitchen table, which means I can sit with my friends.’

What did you learn during this project? ‘Be inventive. I managed to get a very expensive kitchen for next to nothing by shopping around.’

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'

The original kitchen dated back to the 1990s with ill-fitted MDF base units and a wood-cladded ceiling. ‘There was nothing in the old kitchen that I wanted to keep as it was very impractical. Even the floor tiles were grooved, so they collected crumbs. There was also a free-standing fridge that took up lots of room.’

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
Amberley was able to buy her vintage country-style wooden table for just £20. She painted the dining room chairs herself to match the kitchen units

Amberley’s first task was to get plans drawn up to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room. While she saved up for the building works, Amberley tackled many DIY jobs herself – she ripped up the carpets, steamed off textured wallpaper and unscrewed the kitchen units.

‘As a first-time buyer, my savings had gone into buying the house, so I didn’t have much left to spend on the kitchen,’ she explains.

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
This cute and classic ceramic chicken is a Dunelm find, but looks like it could have come from an antiques market

Amberley dreamed of having a country-style kitchen, but couldn’t find anything she liked within her budget. ‘That’s when I decided to be inventive. I did some research online and came across the idea of installing a second-hand kitchen.

I found the Stuart Henry units on eBay for just £400. The seller lived locally so I popped round with my tape measure to make sure they would fit. They were exactly what I was looking for so I managed to get a very expensive kitchen for next to nothing.’

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
Keeping most cabinets on the floor frees up wall space for shelving where cook books, ingredients and utensils or pretty display items can be stored

Amberley’s nearly-new kitchen lived in her garage for six months while she renovated the dining area. By the time the builders came in to tear down the wall in June 2019, it was finished. ‘They had to seal the room off to protect it from the mess caused by the building works,’ she says.

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
Look for vintage-inspired accessories for a rustic look

Once the walls were plastered and painted, Amberley hired a joiner to fit her new kitchen units and worktop. Every cupboard had to be adjusted, which cost £1,000 in labour, but it still worked out cheaper than buying a new kitchen. The joiner included the worktop in his costs, saving Amberley even more money.

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
Clever solutions like this ladder shelf are perfect for displaying accessories and saving space at the same time

Once the cupboards were fitted, she painted them with white melamine paint for a sparkling finish. Then, she set to work styling her new-look kitchen.

‘I had shelves made of wooden pottery boards from eBay and looked for affordable antique furniture.’ Her favourite buy is the country-style table for £25. ‘It transformed how I use the space. Now I have somewhere to sit with friends and enjoy a cup of tea together.’

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Shopping list…

Apollo slab worktop in ice white, £2,305, Benchmarx (included in joiner’s costs). Kitchen units, £400; pitch pine potbank wares boards (shelving), £30; tap, £24.99, all eBay. Belling range cooker, £799, John Lewis. Stainless-steel sink and drainer, £60, Screwfix. Chalk Farm Metro tiles, £45, Walls and Floors. Baletrio Quattro laminate flooring in Old Oak, £10 per sq m, Total Floors. Stainless-steel lighting bar, £24.99, Amazon. Melamine paint, £12 per litre, Wilko. Wimborne White eggshell paint, £64 per 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. Textured cross-hatch lavender cushion (on sofa), £8; blue-lustre wine glasses, £4 each; ceramic storage jars, £6 each; pink utensil pot, £8; pink plates, £2.50 each; yellow ombre vase, £10; pink plant pot with stand, £12; belly basket, £10; purple faux hydrangeas glass vase, £16; diamond-textured tea towels, £4; spatula set, £5; wooden salad servers, £5; metal tin, £6; duck egg bowls, £2 each; duck egg mixing bowl, £8; colander, £6; cake stand, £6; tufted spots ochre cushion (on chair), £12; lilac vase, £14, all Matalan. Butterfly cushion, £12; Camden throw in blush, £24; Ruby table lamp in ochre, £3.50; Brabantia ‘Minty’ saucepan, £16; wire fruit bowl, £15; pastel pink mugs, £3 each; Chicken egg basket, £12, all Dunelm. Splatter jug, £12.50; faux plants, from £5; short geo vase, £12.50; React vase, £15, all Marks & Spencer. Rattan Tray, £25, Zara Home. Leaning shelf, £100, Habitat. Rugs, £70, IKEA. Black Fleur de Lis shelving brackets, £6.99, Knobble & Bobble. Total cost: £4,251.97. 

Kitchen makeover: 'My second-hand units were an eBay bargain'
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?