Today I am going to tell you about my discovery of a brilliant site that allows you to buy and sell used kitchens which not only saves them from landfill but also means, if you are quick, that you can pick up designer kitchens – Plain English, Devol and, er mine (!) for a fraction of the original price. It’s called the Used Kitchen Exchange and it’s such a great idea that not only am I selling my old kitchen there but I wanted to tell you about it too.
When we moved into this house one of the first things we noticed was that it had a free-standing kitchen. Friends dropping round to inspect noted that it was a Habitat Olivia, which was first made in the 90s, and some spoke nostalgically of how they had either had one or wanted one but been unable to afford it. Paul Middlemiss, the founder of vintage seller Merchant & Found and an old friend of this blog, popped up in my messages to say that as a former buying director for Habitat, he had overseen the very first designs.
Made from solid beech with storage baskets and shelves it is well-crafted and, judging by searches on eBay, quite collectable as you can add pieces to it as you need as long as you are prepared to wait for them to come up for sale. There definitely wasn’t enough of it in this space and, as regular readers will know, we had about 30 boxes that we were unable to unpack – this is partly because we moved from a very large kitchen to a smaller one and there was 12 years accumulation of stuff. We weighed up the pros and cons and decided, since we were going to redo the whole room and change the layout, that we would prefer to install a new kitchen. This was also partly as we couldn’t be sure when new pieces would turn up and if they would be the pieces we needed. The decision was made to put Olivia in storage and move her to Italy when the time came.
And then the time came. And the house that we have found has a kitchen upstairs, which is made from brick uprights with open shelves and is rather charming and we don’t want to rip it out. And downstairs there is a big kitchen that does need replacing and once again we wouldn’t have enough pieces.
And so we come to the Used Kitchen Exchange. I contacted them and asked if they might be interested in selling mine. The procedure is fairly simple. They come and take pictures – mine were not the greatest as we were already in a dusty building site by the time we decided to sell – which is also about inspecting the condition of it as for the pretty shots. They put it on the site and when a firm offer is received they collect and deliver it to the new buyers. You can see it all here.
It’s such a simple idea and one that is sorely needed. When I replaced the worktop in the last house, the fitter told me that he had one client who replaced her marble worktops every 18 months. We all know about the waste of natural resources but the other tragedy is that had she known about UKE (let’s assume she didn’t) someone else could have re-used those worktops for a fraction of the price.
Like my other favourites, The Haines Collection, which collects left over fabrics (and now tiles) from design projects, the Used Kitchen Exchange, is providing a brilliant service that can save both money and waste. In addition to used kitchens, they also sell ex-display models which are pretty much as new. Some of them come with appliances as well.
Helen Lord, founder of UKE, told me of one customer who bought a large kitchen island from them: “She used the individual units to furnish her entire kitchen and had enough let over to make a vanity unit for her bathroom. Reconfiguring a pre-installed kitchen is like a grown up game of Tetris.”
The point to note is that once you take the worktop off you have a collection of cupboards that you can often use in any format you want. “We have two types of customer” says Helen. “Those who want a kitchen they can pluck out of the listing and have fitted in their home with little alteration, and those who almost treat the kitchens like a less expensive, and more sustainable way, to buy raw materials. We’ve seen some really dramatic transformations.”
If you are unsure how to make it work Helen suggests using graph paper and post-it notes. “Mark out your kitchen to scale on the graph paper and cut the post-its no the size of your cabinets. Label them according to purpose – storage, oven, dishwasher etc, and move them around until you have the right layout.”
Of course if you buy my old kitchen they are already in separate units so once you have plumbed in the sink you can move the others around on a daily basis should you wish. The room had a range cooker, which was not in a fit state to sell, but you could also get a builder to make you an oven housing if you can’t find an Olivia one in your searches.
For every kitchen sold, its subsequent re-use saves on average 5,000kgs of carbon which is, to put it in terms that we can understand, about one year of being carbon neutral for a family of four. To date UKE has saved 13,036,399kgs of carbon and nearly 6,000 trees.
And by the way, they do only get about one Devol a year so you might need to set up an alert for that one. But a quick peruse at the time of writing reveals a Humphrey Munson for £21K (instead of five times that amount) as well as a couple of others with Miele and Wolf appliances, a Roundhouse and a John Lewis of Hungerford to name but a few. They also sell ex bathroom display units and discontinued lines alongside appliances and even reconditioned Quooker taps – something I wish I’d realised before I bought a new one three months ago that has been sitting in a box waiting to be installed.
So if you are thinking of redoing your kitchen do check out Used Kitchen Exchange, you may be able to sell your old one and buy another all from the same place.
Things To Consider Before You Decide To Sell Your Kitchen from UKE
How long have you got before the kitchen needs to be removed– ideally you need at least 6 weeks to sell your kitchen.
The utilities, including gas and electricity will need to be capped off separately by qualified trades people before dismantling takes place.
Do you have a storage space for the old kitchen if it doesn’t sell before you need to install the new one?
If you are going to store in a garage or outbuilding the units will need to be kept off the ground on blocks of wood in a dry, protected environment.
Decide your sales price. If you are arranging the dismantle you can charge that bit more Remember your current kitchen is a financial liability. Rip and Skip charges tend to be around £500 for the average kitchen, so even if you don’t make thousands, you are still saving money.