How We Made Our Own Kitchen Units for Under £600

Written by James

Our kitchen isn’t quite finished, as with a lot of the house (sorry Catrin!). But we are already very proud of it.

We wanted quite a specific look and decided it needed to be bespoke. That immediately created budget issues. So the fairly easy decision was taken to make our own.

If we had got our units made for us it would have come in at around £3k. But we managed to get them all made for just under £600 with only a basic amount of my carpentry skills needed. Not bad!

How did we do this? Well it starts with a choice of material. Catrin and I love the look of bare wood but were more keen on a block colour for the units. This led to a compromise of having the bare wood look on the insides. With this in mind I chose to go with birch plywood to make the unit carcasses and moisture resistant MDF for the doors, drawer fronts and side panels.

Birch Plywood Close Up
Birch Faced Plywood

Birch plywood is a beautiful material and we especially love the laminated (striped) edge profile. You can buy this from timber merchants for around £55 per sheet if you haggle the price down to trade prices. The moisture resistant (green) MDF is around £25 per sheet. For standard kitchen units 18mm thick sheets are best. I also used 4mm plywood for the backs of the units.

I’m not going to get into too much detail about dimensions. The great thing about making your own units is that you can make them any size you like! Just bear in mind the widths that worktops are sold in and any appliances you will want to integrate into the units. The standard worktop height is 920mm and kitchen unit legs are around 150mm high so work back from those dimensions.

We decided on four base units 800mm wide which would all contain three sets of drawers. The wall units are 500mm wide and on the island we had an 800mm wide belfast sink unit and two 600mm wide units either side.

I went with a simple box design for the units, as shown with the wall unit below. Once you have decided on dimensions you can either cut the pieces yourself, if you have the tools, or give the timber merchants a cutting list so that all the pieces come to you ready to assemble!

Birch Plywood Kitchen Cabinet
Simple Box Construction for Carcasses

Putting the units together (once the pieces have been cut) is pretty simple. You just screw the butt joints together, accompanied by gluing for extra strength. To do this you will need a drill, wood glue, all-in-one countersink and pilot bit, and MDF or chipboard screws with appropriate screw bit to screw them in. Use three screws on each joint. Once the box frame is made, make sure they are square and then nail the backs on to keep them square. To check if they are square, measure both diagonals and these should be equal.

If you are making drawers, like us, these are made in exactly the same way, you just need to ensure the width of the drawers is smaller than the internal width of the unit by the thickness of the drawer runners.

Birch Plywood Kitchen Cabinet Drawer with Dark Blue MDF Drawer Front
Birch Plywood Drawers with MDF fronts

The doors and drawer fronts are simply cut from the moisture resistant MDF to the outside dimensions of the units, minus 2mm on each edge.

All the surfaces and edges of units, drawers, doors, etc need a light sanding before finishing. For all the finishing I tend to use a mini roller with gloss (foam) head. For the birch plywood I used two coats of a polyurethane varnish to bring out the wood grain and protect from the usual kitchen messes.

For the MDF I used a wood and metal paint from B&Q that was colour matched to Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue. The tricky part of finishing MDF is to get smooth edges. What I find works well is to do three coats of paint, sanding back each time (once completely dry) with 120 grit sandpaper. After the final coat I then applied two coats of the polyurethane varnish.

Dark Blue MDF Kitchen Cabinet Door and Copper Handle
Finished MDF Door with Copper Handle

The doors were all hung on standard, soft close concealed hinges and the drawer fronts were simply screwed to the front of the drawer boxes from the inside. The drawers are then hung on ball bearing, soft close runners. We used a lovely, elegant copper handle.

The base units all need four (or six if they are big) legs screwed on the bottom. With these, just make sure the front legs are all the same distance back from the front edge as the plinths/kick boards with be attached to these. These can be bought for around £2 for four legs.

Kitchen Unit Legs
Kitchen Unit Legs

The last parts are the side panels and plinths, which need to be cut to size as required once the units are all fitted.

Dark Blue Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Fronts and Side Panel
Side Panel and Plinth at Bottom

We spent £405 on birch plywood, £75 on moisture resistant MDF and £95 on fixtures and fittings. A grand total of £575. To buy the equivalent of what we have off the shelf would be around £1,500, and as discussed earlier a bespoke kitchen like this would be more like £3,000 so I think we’ve done quite well on the budget!

I intend to go into more detail on some aspects, such as fitting drawers, later as I’m conscious I don’t want to create too lengthy a post.

We’ll be posting some pictures of the finished kitchen, with a few more details about other materials used, later, so watch out for them!

Feel free to ask some questions about making a kitchen and fitting it. I know I haven’t covered everything in here but I just wanted to show you it is possible to get a stylish looking kitchen for not too much money.


The start of something beautiful..

Written by James

Catrin and I have spent the last few months going through a rather large, exciting, stressful and inspiring renovation on our lovely 1930s semi. We’ve still got quite a way to go as we’re doing a lot of the work on weekends but the major work is done.

Having spent so long making decisions on how the house would look inside and out we thought it would be a great idea to use our experience (we’ve done it a few times before!) and passion to embark on a new sideline of home decor blogging.

This is our first ever blog and it’s just as daunting (if not more so) than our largest renovation project yet.

The aim of the blog is the draw attention to some of the best interior design products, ideas, styles and DIY projects around right now. We will also be posting highlights of our own renovation which, we hope, encompasses all of these aspects too!

We’re particularly keen on the DIY side of decor as there is a lot within our house that we could have just bought but decided to try our hand at making! Perhaps you can be the judge of their success!?

We really hope you enjoy what you find here and that there is some inspiration for your own projects.

8 Gorgeous & Affordable Table Lamps

Written by James

Since getting started on our major renovations we have been thinking about the furnishings non-stop and table lamps are no exception.

With our added aim of moving out of our current dreary careers and into something we can do at home together we’ve been especially keen on creating a fantastic home office.

Table lamps have been a sticking point between us and so we have trawled a great deal of the web looking for the ideal accessory for our desk space.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links

8 Gorgeous and Affordable Table Lamps

These 8 table lamps are a (curtailed) selection of those that made the shortlist.

Geometric Table Lamp from Lighting Direct

1. Geometric Table Lamp (£66)

A thoroughly modern, origami-esque table lamp that gives off more of an ambient light than something to work by. Nonetheless, this is a stylish piece which would work well with a minimalist, white scheme.

Diamond Wire Table Lamp

2. Diamond Wire Table Light (£79)

Incredibly elegant and definitely one of Catrin’s favourites. This is bang on trend with a combination of gold and marble.

Minimalist Edison Table Lamp

3. Minimalist Edison Table Lamp (£65)

Minimalist is the word with this industrial effect table lamp. I think it has a lot of character, almost a little lamp-friend on your desk!

Puerto Table Lamp

4. Puerto Table Lamp (£49.50)

Catrin loves pineapple decor at the moment. Well, who doesn’t! This table lamp is particularly striking in glass and gold though.

Devon Table Lamp

5. Devon Table Lamp (£65)

Going right back to a traditional look with this wooden table lamp. It’s very simple but very beautiful at the same time. This will obviously fit better with a more traditional desk set up.

Cactus Neon Light

6. Sunnylife Cactus Neon Light (£50)

I think neon is really cool at the moment and I’m trying to find a way to crowbar it into our decor at any opportunity. This little nod to sunnier (South American) climes is a real show-stopper!

Terrarium Table Lamp

7. Terrarium Table Lamp (£129)

Terrariums are really versatile and I think they’re great in lamp form! Combined with an filament bulb, as in the picture, it really looks stunning.

Gem Ball Table Lamp

8. Gem Ball Table Lamp (£89)

A bit more opulent than the others, but still a gorgeous option. This would give a lovely dappled light so perhaps not one for a desk, but great for a living room.

I think there is a really wide selection of styles in these 8 lamps, and all but one are under £100. Hopefully the list gives you some inspiration or perhaps even one of these is perfect for you!

If you’re wondering which one we chose, we’re still debating that (the home office is a long way down the list of priorities at the moment!). But we’ll obviously reveal pictures when it’s done!

This post contains affiliate links

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