A 1970s Kitchen Before And After

  • modern kitchen after renovation
  • an outdated kitchen just before a renovation

A couple of years after buying her two-bedroom apartment in Sydney’s east, Handyman stylist Gema Beneitez was ready to overhaul the 70s-style kitchen.
Gema installed cabinet carcasses with Nougat Truffle door panels and drawer faces in the Alpine profile, from Kaboodle. The cabinetry, plus cut and butt benchtops cost $5000, including fasteners and sealers.

Ripping out the old kitchen left bare masonry walls to work with and revealed original kauri boards that had been hiding under the cork floor.

Flatpack Kitchen FloorplanUpdate the surfaces

Gema liked the size of her eat-in kitchen and the basic floorplan, so only a few changes were needed to make the space more user-friendly.
Positioning the sink under the window with a dishwasher next to it created more functionality, but did require the services of a plumber.
Moving the oven to another wall also added to labour costs but created a better working triangle with more room for food preparation.
On the other side of the room, the cabinets surrounding the refrigerator were completely replaced, but the configuration remained the same.
The old tiled splashbacks were replaced with tiling on every wall in the kitchen, creating a unified look.
Grey paint was used on the top section of the walls, bringing the room into the 21st century.
To keep the room light and bright, Gema chose white appliances to complement the wall tiles and the slimline white cabinetry featuring push-to-open doors and drawers.
Kaboodle laminate benchtops in Flint Stone were cut to fit and joined to suit the kitchen layout.
TIP Overhead cabinets were limited to one area, so Gema could use the walls for feature lighting and accessories.

Cabinetry basics

Before you install cabinetry, locate all the utilities, then factor them into the new layout.
Have a licensed tradie make changes and take a photo of any newly installed pipes and cables before covering with wall lining.
Unpack and assemble one cabinet at a time to avoid mixing up the parts. Use the supplied screws and apply adhesive to the joints for extra strength, cleaning the excess with a damp cloth.

modern kitchen with grey wall and new rangehood

DIY rangehood cabinet

The simple rangehood cabinet that accompanies your DIY kitchen is made from 16mm thick high moisture resistant MDF, then painted to blend in with the new colour on the kitchen walls.
The extraction fan is hidden and the cabinet is mounted on split battens for easy installation and removal for cleaning.
Make four split battens by cutting 1200 x 115 x 19mm timber in half along the grain using a circular saw with the base plate tilted to 45° and a rip fence fitted.
The battens are cut to length to fit between the cabinet sides. Secure one batten 75mm from the base and the corresponding one flush with the top.
After installing the rangehood, make sure the kitchen has a high-tech smoke alarm, by mounting a modern slimline model on the wall or ceiling.
Cutting the panels
Use a circular saw and straightedge guide to cut the MDF to size. Mark the opening for the fan on the base panel as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Drill a 10mm starter hole in the waste section and cut it out with a jigsaw.
Building the box
Drill and countersink pilot holes in the front and side panels. Position the cutout panel on the inside of the cabinet front 75mm from the base and secure with construction adhesive and 30mm x 8g screws.
Hanging the cabinet
Use a masonry bit to drill holes for plastic wall plugs, then mount a split batten 750mm above the cooktop. Secure the corresponding batten to match the cabinet spacing, then hang the cabinet on the battens.

Installing the benchtop

Cut lengths of laminate benchtop to fit the layout, then butt join pieces for an L-shape design or long run of cabinetry, making sink and stove cutouts. See the steps below for details.

Step 1. Cut the laminate

Measure the benchtop and apply masking tape to the cut line, cutting it to size with a circular saw and straightedge guide. Cut the edging at the butt joint with a utility knife and remove it with a metal scraper, using a heat gun to soften the adhesive, then sand smooth.

Step 2. Join the benchtops

Set out connector bolts on the undersides in the centre and 100mm from each edge. Use a Forstner bit to bore a 35mm hole to 25mm deep 20mm from the edge. Cut 10mm wide channels, apply construction adhesive, align the joint and insert the connectors, tightening the bolts.

Step 3. Make the cutouts

Secure the benchtop from underneath through the back cabinet rails with angle brackets. Mark the sink and cooktop on tape to minimise chipping, using the manufacturer’s setout guidelines. Drill a 10mm starter hole in each corner, then cut out with a jigsaw and a sharp blade.

Step 4. Assemble cabinets

Secure the back to the base using the supplied screws and pre-drilled holes, ensuring the leg holes are on the outside. Add the sides, keeping the front edges flush, then attach the rails in between with two screws each end.

Step 5. Attach the legs

Position the leg base plates with the tapered edges on the sides and the front legs set back 60mm. Push in the legs, then use a combination square to set the height to 145mm to match the maximum height of the kickboard.

Step 6. Add the drawers

Attach the runners to the inside face of the cabinet sides and the guides to the drawer sides, aligning the guide marks. Insert the drawers. TIP Screw heads can impede runners if they are not driven accurately.

Step 7. Position the cabinets

Use a spirit level to mark a level line on the wall, 865mm up from the lowest point on the floor. Position the cabinets and adjust the legs so the tops meet the wall line, then check for level in both directions.

Step 8. Cut the pipe holes

Mark any pipe holes down from the level line and cut with a holesaw from the outside, finishing from the inside. Drill 5.5mm holes into the wall through every second cabinet, insert plastic plugs and secure with screws.

Step 9. Secure end panels

Clamp the end panels with the front edge overhanging the cabinets by 20mm, and plane to finish flush at the top. Secure through the inside of the cabinets with screws. Add heat deflectors for the oven cabinet.

Step 10. Hang the doors

Secure the plates to the cabinet sides and the hinges to the doors, then hang the doors with even gaps. The two plate screws adjust the height, while the centre screw on the hinge arm moves the door left or right.

Step 11. Add drawer faces

Drill clearance holes in the drawer front corners. Position the lowest face flush with the cabinet base with even gaps on the sides. Secure from inside with screws, using clamps and coins as spacers to attach the remaining faces.

Step 12. Install kickboards

Cut the kickboards to length and position hard against the legs. Mark 50mm back from the cabinet base front edge using a combination square and secure with screws. Seal around panels and kickboards with silicone.

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