The Free Kitchen: A Case Study

The idea of spending thousands of pounds on a new kitchen for someone else’s house seems mad but that’s what Terry and Christine Dixon* were on the verge of doing before luck dealt them a good hand.

“We moved into this house two-and-a-half years ago,” said Christine, “it’s a very old house, it had been rented to sharers for the last twenty years and it was just foul everywhere, especially the kitchen and the bathroom.”

“We were pretty lucky,” Terry added, “because the bathroom fell through the floor into the garage the week before we moved in. It sounds crazy, but if that hadn’t happened the landlords wouldn’t have replaced the bathroom and we’d have been stuck with that too!”

Landlords with an Open Mind!

The couple are renting the house privately from landlords who don’t consider minor defects, like cigarette burns in carpets, to be problems worth fixing. Because the kitchen was simply in very poor condition that wasn’t enough to accept that it should be renovated.

“The kitchen just made us sick really,” said Christine, “there was so much ground in dirt and discolouration, the cupboards and drawers were nailed together, the worktops were stained, cut and chipped. There were only two cupboards and one drawer unit so there just wasn’t enough space anyway, even if it hadn’t been so…. disgusting.”

Renting a Tip

“This is part of the problem with renting,” she continues, “but in the end we were so desperate that we decided to approach the landlords to say that we’d pay for a new kitchen if they agreed to compensate us if they asked us to leave.”

“Yeah,” Terry chimed in, “we thought if they asked us to leave after we’d been renting it for a year, they’d have to pay the lot, after two years, pay eighty per cent, that sort of thing. After all, we’d had to move six times because of landlords deciding to sell the houses we were renting so we thought that would happen here too. At least the rent is cheap because the house is such a mess.”

Freecycle Delivers the Goods

But then freecycle came to the rescue. People use the freecycle website to advertise things that aren’t really worth anything secondhand, but might still be useful too someone else. It keeps thing out of the landfill.

“These people in a village not far away advertised their kitchen,” said Terry, “” saying it might be good for a shed or garage. I got onto them and asked how bad it was, thinking I could use a few cupboards or drawer units to try and improve our kitchen. It turned out that it was only about eight years old and they were only replacing it because they were extending their house”

Playing with Cupboard and Drawer Units

“We took the lot!” said Christine. “It was a medium oak colour so we painted it all cream to lighten the room, then started playing around with the cupboards and drawer units to see how it would fit jigsaws with it. We even had enough left over to make an island with two cupboards, one drawer unit and a wine rack out of it all!”

“It was perfect,” said Terry “when we told the landlords what we were doing, do be fair they offered to replace the flooring, so it all came together nicely. It took three weekends to get it all in.”

Minimal Cash Layout

“We had to buy new worktops, of course, because it was a completely new layout. And the sink unit wouldn’t fit but we got another sink and drainer that dropped in to the new worktops. That was new, from freecycle too!”

“I don’t mind spending time on a house I’m renting but I do resent paying for stuff that will end up lining the landlords’ pockets when they sell,” Terry said, “but apart from hiring a van to collect it, the worktops and the paint, it was all free. The landlords are happy, we’re happy and the total cost was just over three hundred pounds.”

Sounds like a win-win solution for everyone concerned.

* names have been changed