How to refit a kitchen

Divide the room and conquer good design.

It’s easy to avoid those common kitchen renovation mistakes when you plan ahead. Take this stunning kitchen; It’s smack-bang in the middle of a room with doorways to two bedrooms and a bathroom opening directly onto one side. 

The lack of walls also limits the amount of kitchen storage, with no room for cabinets. So, what can be done? Simply build a wall to create a hallway for the bedrooms and bathroom, sectioning off that zone and adding structure to the kitchen. 

This divider also increases the options for kitchen storage, making your kitchen more functional and user-friendly.

Gather your supplies

  • Top and bottom plates, studs, noggings 70 x 45mm pine, as required
  • New wall sheeting 2200 x 1200 x 6mm fibre cement sheets, as required
  • Existing wall sheeting 10mm plasterboard, as required
  • Flat pack components
  • Selected tiles

You’ll also need

Hammer; bolster; power saw; nail gun and nails, to suit; chalk line; acrylic stud adhesive; fibre cement nails; construction adhesive; drill; 100mm batten screws; selfadhesive mesh jointing tape; base coat; plasterer’s hawk; 100 and 250mm broadknife; metal external angles; spirit level; top coat; trowel; sanding float; sandpaper; 65mm, 28mm and 40mm wood screws; clamps; long straightedge; notched trowel; tile adhesive; tile nibblers; angle grinder with diamond blade; grout sponge; grout; sponge

Here’s how 

Step 1

Get someone to help you demolish the existing kitchen. Carefully unscrew cabinets to avoid damaging the walls. Older homes may have asbestos sheet wall linings, which should be removed by a pro.

Step 2

Use hammer and bolster to remove old splashback tiles. Do this carefully, as any big holes or chunks out of the wall will need to be repaired.

Stud wall


Step 3

To build the stud wall to separate the bedrooms from the kitchen, first use power saw to cut a top and bottom plate to the same length as the proposed wall. Cut studs to fit between top and bottom plate. (Their length is the height of your wall less the combined thickness of top and bottom plate.) Position studs and plates on floor so studs sit between plates and fasten with nail gun. If fixing wall sheets vertically, as here, make sure studs are spaced so edge of sheet will sit on centre of a stud. Otherwise, space studs at 450mm centres.

Step 4

Working from bottom plate, measure 1200mm up the studs at each end of wall. Use chalk to mark a line across studs between these points.

Step 5

Cut noggings to fit between studs along the chalked line. Stagger noggings to either side of the line for ease of nailing. Prior to fixing final nogging, ensure length of wall along this line matches top and bottom plates. Adjust length of final nogging if required. Nail in place.

(Credit: Better Homes and Gardens)

Step 6

Place dabs of acrylic stud adhesive along studs so they will not coincide with fixings for the wall sheets. If putting sheets vertically, do not apply adhesive to the stud where the edge of the sheet rests.

Step 7

Cut wall sheet to length. Place on 1 end of frame so it meets 1 corner and the short edge is flush with bottom plate. Secure with fibre cement nails along bottom plate every 200mm. Align long edge of sheet with side of frame and nail. Continue nailing through top plate and intermediate studs to secure sheet. Repeat Steps 6 and 7 to attach following sheets to wall frame.

Step 8

Mark out position of wall on floor. Spread construction adhesive along floor where wall frame will sit. Lift wall into position so it meets line along floor. Pre-drill, then fix to floor using 100mm batten screws. Where the new wall butts into the existing wall, make plumb and screw through end stud into existing wall framing. 

Step 9

Have your electrician and plumber run services if position of appliances and sink is being changed. This may require further removal of existing wall linings. 

Step 10

To repair walls where the electrician and plumber have run their services, cut existing plasterboard on the centres of wall studs and remove. Cut new plasterboard sheet to fit in this hole. Apply stud adhesive to the studs, place cut sheet into position and nail in place. Attach fibre cement sheeting to back side of new wall.

Step 11

Press self-adhesive mesh jointing tape into recessed joins on new wall and across join where old and new linings meet. Mix up base coat and use plasterer’s hawk and 100mm broadknife to spread along joins. (It should be thick enough to just cover the tape.) Once set, apply a second, wider skim coat with 250mm broadknife, feathering edges to wall linings. Fill nail holes. In areas that will be covered by cabinets or will be tiled, this is sufficient to set join between sheets.

Step 12

Cut metal external angles to length and nail to upright corners of fibre cement, using spirit level to make plumb. Apply base coat to angles and feather edge to adjacent fibre cement sheets. Leave to set.

Step 13

Use trowel to apply top coat to all joins and corners that will be seen when kitchen is complete. Apply in successively wider layers, allowing to dry completely after each coat. To properly blend plasterboard patches, you may end up with top coat spreading 600mm over joins and 300mm from each side of corners.

Step 14

Use sanding float and sandpaper to sand joins until wall sheets feel like 1 piece. Check for smoothness by running your hands along the join, feeling for any ridges. Spot fill if necessary. Remove dust.

Base cabinets


Step 15

Assemble flat-pack cabinets following pack instructions. Keep parts not immediately required in a safe place. Fit base cabinet with adjustable feet and screw out until 145mm high.

Step 16

Install cabinets by starting with the corner pantry, if you have one. Assemble the cabinet near the kitchen to make installation easier. Attach end panels to sides of cabinet that will be visible in the finished kitchen.

Step 17

Make sure sides of pantry are plumb and that it is level. If required, pack between walls and any voids behind the pantry. Using 65mm wood screws, screw through back of pantry into wall studs, or use plugs for a masonry wall.

Step 18

Place the run of base cabinets next to the pantry. Adjust feet on cabinets to make them level with each other.

(Credit: Better Homes and Gardens)

Step 19

Clamp cabinets together so the front edges are flush. Using 28mm wood screws, pre-drill, countersink and screw cabinets together. To hide screws, position them behind the hinge blocks and screw from a drawer cabinet into adjacent cabinets. Cut holes for plumbing or electrical services in cabinets as you go.

Step 20

Complete a run of cabinets and use long straightedge to check that they are all level. Screw through backs of cabinets into wall studs.


Step 21

Place benchtops on cabinets. Use supplied templates for sink and cooktop to confirm their position, then cut holes in benchtop to support them. Cut to length, allowing for any overhang that may be required. Using 40mm wood screws, screw up through rail at front of cabinet and use small brackets at back to secure.

Step 22

To create the ‘waterfall’ effect at end of cabinets, make the benchtop overhang the end of the cabinets by the same amount as its thickness. Cut another length of benchtop to run from the underside of the benchtop down to the floor. Screw through the side of the end cabinet to secure the vertical piece.

Wall cabinets

Step 23

Starting from any tall cabinets, install the wall cabinets. Make the top of the first wall cabinet flush with the top of the tall cabinet. Screw through side of wall cabinet into tall cabinet. Continue fixing wall cabinets, screwing them to each other and to the wall.


Step 24

Using notched trowel, spread tile adhesive for splashback tiles.

Step 25

Leaving a small gap above the benchtop, start laying tiles. If using mosaic  tiles, as here, use grout sponge to gently press across the tiles so they are all aligned with each other. Cut tiles as required using tile nibblers or angle grinder with diamond blade. Leave to set, then grout, wiping regularly with damp sponge. Let dry, then polish tiles with a cloth.

Finishing touches

(Credit: Better Homes and Gardens)

Step 26

Position hardware for doors and drawers, then attach to cabinets. Use adjusting screws to align doors. Cut and scribe kickplates (if required) and use supplied brackets to click them to the legs.

Step 27

Call tradies back to install appliances and sink.

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