Everything but the kitchen sink

6 days of hard toil on behalf of the Hemmant brigade, 4 trips to the tip, 1 enormous pile of open cardboard boxes, a similarly large mound of used tea bags, 2 chocolate cakes, 3 packets of biscuits, 1 pack of brownies, 6 cans of baked beans, 2 electrician visits and 1 plumber visit later and the Ikea kitchen is almost in situ.

The end result is looking lovely (I’ll upload some more pictures when I’m done with the grouting) but man it’s been hard work. The fun and games started when Ann and Les, Sam’s long suffering parents, arrived on Friday and we started ripping out the old kitchen. Refitting the kitchen had been something we’d been meaning to do since moving in 5 years ago, but had somehow failed to get round to it. However when the tiles started dropping off the wall in droves and the temperature gauge of our £50 2nd-hand oven parted company with the dial (reducing the oven settings to blacken, burn or nuke), the matter became more pressing. As such, destroying the old kitchen proved to be quite therapeutic – if only the same could be said of the rest of the job.

Our first stumbling block was the construction of an array of Ikea branded flat pack cabinets, christened with nice logical sounding names such as Faktum, Stat, Rationale, Perfekt. If only. The pictoral instruction booklets proved to be far from rational or indeed perfect. However, we learnt to our peril that he who fails to follow the Ikea instruction booklet to the letter and in precisely the stated order, comes thoroughly unstuck. Cue frenzied removal of misplaced twisty screws, jammed drawers and considerable swearing/ weeping with frustration. What we’d hoped to accomplish in one day spilled into three. Ann and I went to the village shop to stock up on sugar-coated goodies to fuel us through the next few days – we were going to need it!

On Sunday, Sam’s brother Tom, wife Lucy and nephew Finn entered the madhouse. Being chased by a 1 year old baby was the final straw for Bailey the cat – already traumatised by the transformation of his stomping ground into a maze of cardboard boxes, unfamiliar people and noxious pastes and putties. The cat spent the next 3 days watching balefully from under a bush in the garden. Meanwhile, Tom and Lucy were quick to earn their places alongside Ann and Les on the wall of kitchen fame.Tom took on the incredibly fiddly job of fashioning the worktops with Sam while Lucy accompanied me to the tip.

The next stumbling block emerged in the form of the kitchen sink. For some unknown reason, Ikea supply their sinks without housing for the tap which leaves you with the delightful task of either hoiking back to the store to purchase a £10 ‘tap puncher’ kit or drilling a hole in the damn thing yourself. To add insult to injury, we were unable to isolate the water supply for the kitchen sink specifically, which meant in order to disconnect the old sink we had to sacrifice the water supply to the whole house until we could get a plumber in to connect the whole lot back up. Cue a day and a half of drinking from 4 litre vats of bottled water, ‘flushing’ the toilet with jugs filled from the reservoir we’d collected in the bath, washing up at the village shop and no showers. This, coupled with our reliance on takeaway/ the microwave as a food preparation device…. and our transformation into ‘trailer trash’ was complete.

Sunday rolled into Monday into Tuesday and two new nemesis emerged – the laying of the floor and the extractor fan. Turned out it would have been much easier to lay the floor before the cabinets went down but having devoted the best part of 24 hours to building and bolting the bl**dy things together, there was no chance we were going to move them now. The so-called ‘extractor fan’ cabinet turned out to need extensive holes cut out of it to function as per its designed purpose and the wiring looked hideously complicated. We decided that, rather than waste a day faffing around with this evil bit of kit, it would be prudent to pack it back into its box and return it to Ikea. Then we ran out of tiles and possibly also the will to live.

But, against all the odds, 6 days on, the kitchen is almost complete and looking rather fine. Granted, we still have bits and bobs to take care of – attaching door knobs, grouting the newly laid tiles, straightening the doors up and so on, but we’re pretty much there. Huge thanks go out to Ann and Les who have slogged away at the beast for 6 solid days and also to Lucy and Tom for injecting fresh blood, skill and enthusiasm into the mix, and of course Sam. Who needs the transalps when you can create this level of epic challenge on your home turf eh?

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