How one couple fashioned a £1,200 kitchen by reusing items and going to car boot sales

We all want a new-look kitchen but with inflation soaring, the cost of borrowing going through the roof and energy bills to make your eyes water, affording one is quite another story.

Faye Hindle and her partner, Anthony, didn’t have much money to spare – but they did have plenty of imagination. And the couple have certainly made the little cash they had for their kitchen project go a long way.

Having just bought a new-build, three-storey townhouse at the top of their budget, and faced with a huge empty space where the kitchen was meant to be, they had to find a way to create their dream… for the price of a decent espresso machine.

Fashion designer Faye is always thinking of new ways to update her wardrobe on a budget, giving old garments a new lease of life instead of buying new. So she applied the same way of thinking to her new home in West Yorkshire. This meant regular trips to car boot sales, reusing items that would normally be thrown away – and keeping a spray can handy for quick paint jobs. The result is a kitchen/dining space with a high-end look that cost just £1,200.

‘Sticking to a budget was really important as we had saved every last penny for our house deposit,’ says Faye.

‘Plus, everything we tend to like and want for the house is very expensive. So rather than buying something much cheaper and off the peg that will “do for now” we always try either to recreate the look that we want using cheaper, more affordable materials – or we wait for sales and discounts if possible.’

You often hear the positive phrase ‘starting with a blank canvas’ on television interiors shows. But the canvas was perhaps a little too blank in the case of Faye and Anthony’s new kitchen. It felt as cold and stark as a walk-in fridge.

‘It lacked any character whatsoever,’ says Faye. ‘The kitchen felt very cold to be honest, really lacking any warmth and felt very clinical.’

Anthony adds that it had all the characteristics they desired but needed that personalisation and homely touch.

‘The kitchen was an open square of nothingness. The size and how open it was – it was so overwhelming. Before we even moved all our items in we made sure the kitchen table was in and placed as the centrepiece, to break it up a bit and have a base. I’d never seen a table so big, but once it was in it looked small.’

The list of influences for the planned new kitchen were plentiful, ranging from Anthony’s love of mid-century modern, to clean-cut Japandi and Scandi, with some Stanley Kubrick for good measure.

‘My influences have always come from my love of classic films,’ says Anthony. ‘Growing up watching 1980s classic movies, they always had mid-century modern-style 1960s family homes. A lot of wood, large glass fronts, Space Age furniture. I really enjoy how in the past they wanted to depict how the future would be for architecture and interiors – A Clockwork Orange for instance, dystopian futurist setting but all the interiors were still Sixties.

I loved that and wanted to live like that. To try and have a mix of all the things we love is hard but rewarding.’

The kitchen is the main hub of the property – you walk in through the front door, down the corridor and it is the do-it-all space for most family activities. The couple have made sure that everything is hidden away for a sleek, streamlined look but the organic wooden features, ranging from the three wishbone chairs (found on eBay for £200) and the John Lewis bench (reduced to £220) to the salt and pepper shakers (£15 from AliExpress) give it a homely vibe. ‘I like to call it clean chaos,’ says Anthony.

The huge table is La Redoute which is included in the budget, having been grabbed at a frankly ridiculous price. It was originally £850 on the website but they got it for £400 from the ex-catalogue store. The tableware and sheepskin are from John Lewis.

Faye had seen a beautiful vase that was very much out of her price range but already had something similar. ‘It was just a really vulgar, red gloss colour so I spray painted it with Rust-Oleum multi-purpose spray paint in antique white and it worked perfectly.’

The huge shelf was an old scaffold board left on site by one of the builders. Faye and Anthony cut it to size, then sanded and waxed it.

‘Try to reuse anything that’s just lying around,’ is Faye’s advice. ‘The best thing is that nobody else will have the same if you personalise it to your taste. Wait for sales before you purchase anything on impulse, we love searching for a discount code.’

Faye designed and made the wall-to-wall sheer curtains which she says are intended, when closed at night, to make the space feel like a hotel room from the movie Lost In Translation, 50 storeys high in a skyscraper.

She then added a sheepskin rug to the bench and minimal prints through textiles. Anthony says: ‘Sometimes when I’m just making a coffee with some music on, I reminisce and it’s a place for me to unwind, take a moment and enjoy life.’

With the garage to clear out and create another room, a floor-to-ceiling bedroom headboard to find or make, and the garden to be turned into more than just a ‘green square’, there are plenty of other DIY projects on the list. But for now the kitchen is done and it has left money to spend on the rest of the house.

‘Kitchens are so expensive, especially if you’re starting from scratch,’ says Faye. ‘Could you respray your current cupboards, update your worktops or change the handles up?

‘There are so many ways to make your kitchen look new, just with a few simple touches, without spending a fortune.’

Follow Faye on Instagram @fmh.ome

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