Kitchens on a budget: 21 ways to style and design your kitchen for less

Kitchens on a budget can still have impact and be a success. For a high-end looking and functional finish, our guide can help

modern open plan living space with gray sofa, white kitchen and large doors out to the garden
(Image credit: Norsu Interiors)

Designing kitchens on a budget does take some skill but it can be done, and it can be done well. After all, when it comes to planning a new kitchen, there is often a huge gulf between budget and expectation. You can start designing your dream kitchen with a limited budget in mind but then when you start adding on the price for labor, appliances such as the best dishwasher and best fridge freezer, worktops, tiles and other extras, costs can quickly escalate, and that original number you started with just seems impossible to stick to. 

Whether you are just changing a few items or redoing everything, it's really important ahead of starting, to know your budget and to have an idea of the end result would like. Here, we explain what you can expect to pay for various crucial elements of your kitchen, how to get the best quality for a good price, and why you aren't restricted to buying from budget kitchen brands when planning a stylish makeover...

We've included some our best budget kitchen essentials also, such as flooring cabinetry, ironmongery and more – at pocket-friendly prices. Whether you are overhauling your kitchen or not, keep scrolling for our 21 tips on how to put your favorite kitchen ideas into practice, without burning a hole in your pocket.

Know the cost of designing a stylish kitchen on a budget

Stylish blue kitchen with white Aga and white units bought on a budget

Find similar white units from Wickes (opens in new tab), white AGA (opens in new tab), for a similar blue paint try Annie Sloan Napoleonic Blue (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

As a very rough guide, when designing a kitchen on a budget, it is sensible to spend a maximum of five per cent of the overall value of your house on a new kitchen, to avoid losing money if you sell. 

At the lower end of the new kitchen cost scale, expect to pay upwards of £3,000 for good quality units for an average sized kitchen. On top of this, you'll need to add worktops, which cost upwards of £100, appliances and fitting, which can vary from a few hundred pounds to more than £2,000, depending on the kitchen's complexity.

When pricing up your furniture and worktops, be aware that estimates will vary quite widely depending on the quality and level of design you are after, but expect to pay from £17/m² for standard off-the-shelf units and work surface, and up to £144/m² for bespoke units and design service.

Kitchens on a budget can be DIY fitted

Sage green cabinets in a traditional Shaker style kitchen


(Image credit: Darren Chung)

You could also save over £1,000 by installing the kitchen yourself, but you will compromise the finish if your DIY skills are not up to scratch. 

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Real Homes Show | Find out more about the best ways to improve your home within your budget (opens in new tab)

If you are struggling with your space and wondering what kind of extension will work for you, or just what to do with your budget, check out the Real Homes Show. Every fortnight the Small Space Squad visit a homeowner trying to make their home work for them

Kitchens on a budget: 21 tips, looks and ideas

These budget kitchens we show you that you really don't need to spend a ton of money to get a stylish design – you just have to know a few handy tricks...

1. Buy flat-pack for a more affordable kitchen 

Blue U-shaped kitchen and island with white wall units, brass bar stools and white honeycomb splashback with black tiles forming the word 'eat'

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

If you have a total budget of between £5,000 to £10,000, you may be surprised at the quality of cabinets you can afford. The majority of kitchens within this price bracket will consist of flat-pack carcasses with doors mounted on to the front using hinges screwed into the chipboard. The units are generally all the same on the inside – although some are made sturdier than others with an 18mm frame – with the look dictated by the style and color of doors and decor panels.

2. Pick an Ikea kitchen and upgrade the doors 

open shelving in a small red kitchen with small dining table


(Image credit: Ikea)

The cheapest way of getting a kitchen with a solid wood finish is to buy affordable off-the-shelf carcasses, such as from Ikea, and then get a joiner to make solid wood door fronts. You can even order them online – try Superfront (opens in new tab), which makes doors, handles and legs for Ikea frames, or Shaker Doors Oxford (opens in new tab)

people standing and sitting in their modern wooden and white kitchen. Veerusha Diah and Yogesh Bhola's extended Woodford Green home is an uber-stylish space to hang out

(Image credit: James French)

If you're designing a kitchen on a budget but want to achieve the look and feel of bespoke units, companies like Plykea (opens in new tab) and Husk (opens in new tab) upscale Ikea Metod Kitchens (opens in new tab) with the help of bespoke and stylish plywood fronts and worktops. 

The beauty of this type of kitchen is that it can recreate the look of a more expensive in-frame design for less, which can then be dressed up with luxurious fixtures and finishes, such as a beautiful Belfast sink and bridge tap. Smart kitchen storage solutions, such as pull-out carousels, can also be installed into the units at a fairly low cost.

Or, if you've found a cabinet door finish you like from Ikea, swap out the handles for ones that are more interesting, such as antique shop finds. Use our kitchen cabinet design ideas for inspiration and advice.

It is possible to purchase a bespoke solid wood, traditionally jointed in-frame kitchen, where the doors sit within the frame, for about £5,000. Try Old Creamery Furniture (opens in new tab) and Pineland (opens in new tab), which offer painted, solid wood freestanding units at a very reasonable price. As there are no units to put together, this reduces the time and cost it takes to install.

Also look at British Standard (opens in new tab) by Plain English. Plain English sells bespoke kitchens with an average price of £50,000 to £60,000 but, through British Standard, offer a more affordable range of quality cabinets – from £5,000 for a complete set-up. These have solid wood doors and carcasses made from white melamine faced European birch ply, with beech shelf lippings and traditionally dovetailed drawers.

For more advice on how to design a free-standing kitchen check out our guide. 

3. Know where to find the best budget kitchens

Other than Ikea, check out more of our favourite brands, where you can find plenty of budget kitchens that are still incredible stylish...

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Shop affordable kitchen cabinetry from £457 at Wickes (opens in new tab)

Yep, you read that right, the Dakota (opens in new tab) ready to fix kitchen from Wickes starts from just £457. It's a simple design that means you can really tailor the look with your choice of worktops and handles.

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Shop affordable kitchen cabinetry from £1000 at B&Q (opens in new tab)

All of the fitted kitchens available at B&Q come in at a fairly reasonable price, considering the quality and finish. The Artemisia matt midnight blue classic shaker kitchen (opens in new tab) starts from just £1,348. Use the money you have saved to invest in a high-quality worktop, or splash out on eye-catching ironmongery. 

4. Look for budget kitchens that are ex-display 

Stone floor and wooden fixtures in simple, budget friendly, country style kitchen

Floors by Floors of Stone (opens in new tab), kitchen by DeVOL (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Floors of Stone)

An ex-display kitchen can be an absolute bargain – and in top notch condition. The used kitchens on sites like The Used Kitchen Company (opens in new tab)and The Kitchen Exchange (opens in new tab) are fully inspected to check that they are in great condition, so your second-hand kitchen won’t come with second-hand scratches, scuff marks or moisture rings.  

Plus, if you are buying an ex-display kitchen, it has essentially never been used. Everything is pretty much already assembled and ready to go with a recycled kitchen, so no time is spent matching fittings and fixtures. Providing you have the right measurements, your new kitchen can just slide into place; you could of course also hire a kitchen fitter just to make sure everything is exactly as you want it. 

5. Mix and match budget and expensive buys

Open plan space with a kitchen in a log cabin


(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

To get a look you love while sticking to your budget, mix and match expensive and more affordable materials. Save pricier buys for areas that are on display and make a feature of them. If you’ve got an island, you could choose a high quality and striking worktop for it and pick a less-expensive worktop for the other units.  

Combining a fitted or flatpack kitchen with more unusual freestanding pieces can avoid it looking mass-produced. A statement larder will give your kitchen a bespoke feel, without the price tag. You could even repurpose and paint furniture from another room for a characterful touch.

If you’ve found a tile you love but it will be too expensive to use for the whole kitchen, limit it to a high-profile area, like a splashback, and complement or contrast with a cheaper tile in the rest of the room.

Mix and match closed and open kitchen storage, too. Open shelving is often much less expensive and you can make a display of favourite ceramics, cook books or jars.

6. Replace kitchen worktops on a budget

large terrazzo tile backsplash in a stylish modern kitchen with wood cabinets Credit-Pluck

(Image credit: Pluck)

The best types of kitchen worktops can make or break the look of a budget kitchen.

When it comes to finishes, premium worktops will lift the look of the whole kitchen. Granite and quartz surfaces are a real investment, at several hundred pounds per 3m run, but durable composites, which replicate their intrinsic character and sparkle, are much more cost-effective.

Solid oak work surfaces can be ordered online for as little as £100 to £120 per 3m run; try Worktop Express (opens in new tab)

If opting for a high-quality laminate, choose a good depth with a squared edge, and overhang it slightly at the end of unit runs for an elegant finish.

If you're only replacing worktops but keeping the rest of the kitchen, you could try Granite Transformations (opens in new tab), a company that fits a new worktop over the top of the old ones.

Mix and match worktop materials, for example a granite island against timber topped units, for a bespoke finish. 

This also allows you to use a cheaper and more durable material where you do most of your work and prep, then inject a bit of luxury with a breakfast bar or plinth in something more high-end such as quartz.

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Shop solid wood, laminate and earthstone worktops from £42 at B&Q  (opens in new tab)

With a huge range of designs (including a very convincing oak effect), you will for sure find a budget-friendly laminate worktop to suit your kitchen. B&Q's solid wooden worktops come in beech, oak and walnut and start from just £94 for 3m.

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Shop laminate worktops from £65 at Wickes (opens in new tab)

For a really cost effective solution, choose from Wickes' range of laminate worktops – the Ebony granite gloss worktop is only £65 for 3m.

7. Choose a cheap but chic kitchen sink 

Pastel mint shaker kitchen with marble worktops from DeVOL

Classic English kitchen by DeVOL (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: deVOL)

The style of kitchen sink you choose will be dictated by how much space you have available, and what will work with the look of your kitchen. Most sinks are inset into a hole cut in the worktop, so they are easier to fit and tend to be cheaper. Sinks can also be under-mounted (fixed to the underside of the worktop) which creates a cleaner finish and works well if you choose to have draining channels cut into the adjoining work surface. When it comes to choosing a material, you main choices are stainless steel, stone/composite or ceramic:

  • Stainless steel is low-maintenance and tends to be the cheapest option – here's how to clean stainless steel.
  • Composite sinks can withstand high temperatures and come in a variety of finishes. They can be pricey, but are a good investment as they are hardwearing.
  • Ceramic sinks tend to come in styles most suited to period homes. However, they are prone to staining and chipping, but still a good choice if properly cared for.

For more tips on choosing a kitchen sink, check out our dedicated feature. 

8. Invest in the best flooring for a stylish kitchen on a budget

Ideally, you might pick out beautiful kitchen floor tiles, but if these are beyond your budget, it's really worth investigating the latest laminate flooring and vinyl flooring designs, as they tend to much cheaper.

Both can be created to mimic wood flooring or tiles convincingly, both are tough and suitable for kitchens, and both are budget-friendly. For more advice on what to opt for, use our guide to choosing kitchen flooring, or check out our guides by floor type and where to buy the best cheap kitchen flooring:

Laminate flooring from Carpetright in a light, white, budget kitchen with navy blue beams


(Image credit: Carpetright)
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Shop cheap kitchen floor tiles at Topps Tiles (opens in new tab)

Didn't think you had the budget for kitchen floor tiles? Just check out the huge range from Topps Tiles: their tiles start from just £9.99m². If you are after an on-trend patterned tile, you may be looking at paying a bit more, but their gorgeous Woodeves™ Grey Tile (opens in new tab) is very sophisticated looking and pretty budget friendly too.

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Shop cheap kitchen flooring at B&Q (opens in new tab)

Whatever kitchen flooring you are after, you will find it at a good price over at B&Q. If you are after some very convincing wooden effect vinyl we recommend the Bunburn Oak effect (opens in new tab) or if you want to go for floor tiles, they have plenty of cheaper options, too. 

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Shop cheap kitchen flooring at Walls and Floors (opens in new tab)

While specializing in tiles, Walls and Floors also have a range of vinyl flooring that looks like the real deal and costs as little at £24.95m².

9. Use tiles to add interest to budget kitchen

Farmhouse style kitchen with splashback tiled with pattern tiles by Original Style

Kitchen wall tiles from Original Style (opens in new tab), find a similar farmhouse-style dining set at The Cotswold Company (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Original Style)

Kitchen splashbacks needn't be expensive but, since they cover a large area of wall, will make a big impact. Beautiful tiles are an obvious way to lift the look of a budget kitchen – and needn't be expensive. Use hand-finished tiles sparingly to give an artisan look to the space. You can then use less-expensive tiles for greater expanses. Try mixing in plain tiles in two or three different tones, such as gray or sage with cream, for a characterful country look.

Stainless steel or glass splashbacks are easy to clean and add interest to a tiled wall. Kitchen suppliers have a number available, but consider looking online too. Some companies provide made-to-measure splashbacks at a fraction of the cost you would expect.

Use our guide to choose the best kitchen tiles for walls and floors. Check out these splashback ideas for more inspiration and remember you can always save money by tiling a splashback yourself – just check out our guide to find out how. 

colorful splashback in old home with low ceilings and a butler's sink


(Image credit: Perrin & Rowe)
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Shop cheap kitchen wall tiles at Walls and Floors (opens in new tab)

Walls and Floors have so many  gorgeous styles from simple metro tiles (in literally EVERY color and finish) to detailed patterned tiles, all for really reasonable prices. 

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Shop cheap kitchen wall tiles at Wickes (opens in new tab)

If you want to cover a large surface area, but don't want to blow your whole kitchen budget, you can pick up packs of 50 metro tiles (opens in new tab) for a little as £11.99. 

10. Fit affordable ironmongery in a budget kitchen

Grey Shaker-style kitchen with pendant lighting from Fritz Fryer


(Image credit: FritzFryer)

Do not neglect smaller details: ironmongery makes an enormous difference to the overall look and feel of a kitchen. Invest in characterful cup handles for drawers, and mix with elegant nickel knobs on doors. Alternatively, turned wood knobs are a more affordable option that look perfect in traditional Shaker kitchens.

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Shop affordable ironmongery at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Sure, it's not the first place you might think to look, but Amazon actually has loads of affordable kitchen door handles and knobs. Traditional style? Check out these cup handles (opens in new tab). They even sell those trendy leather handles.

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Shop ironmongery at Etsy (opens in new tab)

If you want to add a bit of personality to your kitchen with your ironmongery, Etsy is the place to look. We love these gold long handles (opens in new tab) – they are sure to give some high-end vibes to a budget kitchen. 

11. Pick out stylish, affordable kitchen storage options 

extended kitchen with bi-fold doors and a vintage kitchen island

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Kitchens on a budget needn't be boring! Nothing adds style to a kitchen quite like some open shelving and wow are they affordable! You could even DIY some yourself, which is great because it's cheaper and you can build them to perfectly fit your kitchen. You'll need to get your hands on some planed timber – B&Q (opens in new tab) and Wickes (opens in new tab) stock loads of different sizes and thicknesses. You can either leave them as they are, unfinished, or paint them with some wood stain (opens in new tab) and then saw them to the size you need. Then it's just a case of wall mounting them using some shelf brackets (opens in new tab) – we love these rustic ones from Amazon. 

12. Hang affordable but gorgeous window treatments

Window shutters at French doors in a kitchen with a stylish blue and wooden island, by Shutterly Fabulous


(Image credit: Shutterly Fabulous)

Kitchen window treatments needn't be costly to be good looking. Roller blinds are a cost-effective choice that allow you to add color, texture and pattern to your room and make lots of sense, particularly in a small kitchen, since they take up so little space. Window film is another affordable option that takes up no space while allowing light to flood in. 

Shutters needn't be out of your price range either – choose a DIY design and fit options that cost a fraction of those that a designer measures up for and an installer fits. 

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Shop affordable window treatments at Dunelm (opens in new tab)

Dunelm have a huge choice of kitchen blinds, their basic roller blinds (opens in new tab) start from just over a fiver or if you would have Venetian blinds (opens in new tab) in your kitchen, you can pick those up for just £8. 

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Shop affordable window treatments at John Lewis (opens in new tab)

Look out for the House by John Lewis range, they have loads of lovely but affordable designs, with blinds starting for just £12. They also stock an extendable shutter so you can get the look at a fraction of the cost of made to measure shutters. 

13. Shop cleverly for cheap but chic kitchen furniture

Old pine table in a rustic kitchen with blue painted cabinets


(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

Antique shops or even charity shops are a great place to find old Welsh dressers and other freestanding furniture. These can be refreshed with a lick of paint or varnish. Look out, too, for butcher's blocks (find out how to seal a butcher's block yourself here), which can make great freestanding islands.

If you are planning on upcycling your finds with paint, look in on our pick of the best furniture paints too. 

14. Consider a freestanding kitchen island

Kitchen with kitchen island

(Image credit: Amara)

A freestanding kitchen island is much more affordable than a built-in one and will be a massive bonus to both prepping and storing. Or, perhaps you're renting and frustrated by the lack of kitchen storage in the room? A freestanding kitchen island is something you can take with you when you move... or flog. Plus, it often comes packed with kitchen storage space, worktop space and room for kitchen island seating.

If you are keen on a kitchen island, we have loads of kitchen island ideas in our dedicated feature. 

15. Find affordable kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances might not be as exciting to choose as cabinetry or flooring, but they are an essential and will take up a fair bit of your budget, so it's important to shop smart. There are always deals going on when it comes to kitchen appliances, from the essentials like fridges to the more... luxurious items, such as blenders and the best coffee makers. Keep an eye out on our deals hub page for all the latest sales and offers or click to shop below at some of our favorite places to find cheap appliances...

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Shop affordable kitchen appliances at John Lewis (opens in new tab)

Thanks to their regular sales you will always find a good deal on kitchen appliances at John Lewis. We recommend whenever shopping online for cheaper kitchen appliances, to sort the price from low to high so the best prices and deals come up top. 

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Shop affordable kitchen appliances at AO.com (opens in new tab)

AO.com also have a price match promise, plus there is a whole deals section for you to shop.

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Shop affordable kitchen appliances at Argos (opens in new tab) 

Argos is a great place for cheap kitchen appliances, plus they always have some kind of sale event on so you can save even more money.

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Shop affordable kitchen appliances at Currys (opens in new tab)

Currys stock loads of high-quality brands at really reasonable prices. Plus they have an all year round deals and offers section on their website, so keep an eye on what's going on over there and you will bag a bargain. 

16. Paint your walls for a budget kitchen makeover 

Kitchen with white countertops and cupboards painted in Farrow and Ball Treron


(Image credit: Farrow and Ball)

Choosing the right paint color for a kitchen can instantly transform it – all for the price of a tin of paint, and it's an easy update to move on from when you want a brand new look (again). Be inspired by the best kitchen paint ideas to transform your space.

17. Or paint your kitchen tiles

pink metro tiles in kitchen with gas hob, and a window to the right

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

Painting over those eye-sore tiles rather than replacing or putting up with them is a much quicker (and cheaper) solution. So get out your paint brush and get those ugly tiles covered! It's actually a very easy DIY job if you know what you are doing, so go and have a read of our step-by-step guide to painting tiles to get started. 

18. Hang wallpaper in the kitchen

floral wallpaper in a country kitchen with a wooden dining table in front


(Image credit: John Lewis )

Wallpaper needn't be limited to a living space or bedroom. Putting a modern wallpaper in a kitchen – especially an open plan kitchen diner and living space or vintage-style kitchen – will add instant personality to a kitchen, and it's pretty affordable too if you do it yourself. Ensure it's wipeable, and protect any areas that might get repeatedly splashed with glass splashbacks. 

19. Introduce a dining area to a small kitchen

Small white kitchen with monochrome top cabinets and a window, and a white window floor


(Image credit: Ikea)

No matter that you have a small kitchen, there's often space for an inventively squeezed-in dining area. In the smallest of kitchens, a table that folds flat against the wall when not in use and chairs that similarly concertina and can hang on the wall. If you have a little more room, a breakfast bar with bar stools tucked neatly beneath will give you somewhere to perch while you eat; or, if there's room under a window, a small dining table (even a half-moon-shaped one) will do the trick.

20. Add personal touches

Garden Trading brompton kitchen range , with dark blue walls, marble counters and splashback, and baking accessories


(Image credit: Garden Trading)

You might not have the budget to pay for an interior designer, but adding interior design touches to a kitchen needn't cost a fortune if you know how. Plus, adding personality to a kitchen with anything from a few common house plants to a full on indoor garden, or by creating a cool gallery wall might be something you can do for free – after all, it's likely you already have everything you need hanging about at home. If all else fails, a few polished accessories in similar colorways can really tie everything together.

21. Replace your kitchen cabinet handles

White kitchen cupboards with blue walls and open shelving

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

If you have only recently painted or replaced your kitchen cabinets but want to refresh your space still, simply changing the handles can make the world of difference. We love these leather pull handles below and they are beyond easy to fit. You can find similar leather handles on Amazon (opens in new tab) and at John Lewis (opens in new tab)to help create a relaxed, Scandi and modern vibe in your kitchen that will not cost you the earth, or a lot of time either. 

Where to save and spend in a new kitchen

Spend:

The best taps 

In use every day, you want one which will not only look good, but will last. Consider size, shape and water pressure for a perfect fit. 

Fixings 

A quality fixing – we're talking door handles and knobs and hinges – will be long lasting and allow ease of use. Even if you choose inexpensive cabinets, good fixings can make a huge difference.

Worktops 

A natural focal point, they need to be hardwearing. Avoid cheap laminates as they can chip and damage easily. Invest in the best you can afford. Quality laminates can look convincingly like stone and composite. Timber is warm and stylish but requires maintenance. For a statement in an urban-style kitchen, consider stainless steel. Use our guide to kitchen worktop materials to choose the best for you.

Save: 

Appliances

If you’re changing your fridge-freezer, washing machine or cooker, take advantage of holiday sales and outlet stores for specific brands like Miele, Hotpoint or Whirlpool. It could be worth a trip to save £100s on your white goods, oven and hob. 

Kitchen sink

A stainless-steel sink is hard-wearing, easy to clean, resistant to high temperatures, and cost-effective. But be wary of choosing the cheapest steel option as this may scratch and dent easily.

Tiles

Your tiles won’t be exposed to as much wear and tear as your flooring or worktops, so a budget-friendly ceramic can be just as good as pricey porcelain or cement options. Experiment with unusual arrangements; try laying great-value metro tiles in a herringbone pattern and fill with an on-trend colored grout – simple but effective. Shop around for the best price.

More tips for creating the best kitchen:

Melanie Griffiths
Melanie Griffiths
Melanie has been working in homes magazines for almost 14 years and is currently Editor of Period Living magazine. She lives the brand's ethos of creating a forever home in an old house with new ideas as she slowly improves her own rural home. When she isn't at work, Mel enjoys cooking, caring for her garden and exploring the countryside.

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