I’ve been closed for a week or so to allow me to crack on with my kitchen decorating. Thank you for being patient with your order, I’m now open!
I wish I could say that I’ve finished, but I have definitely broken the back of it, and have smaller jobs that can be fitted around the shop, stockists, family, house etc.
I think it’s time for some photos, don’t you? I can’t do a ‘big reveal’ just yet, but that will come when it is all finished, there is plenty of progress to share in the meantime.
As I look back at my photos, I can take stock and realise just how much we have achieved. Always good for when you are stuck in the middle of something that seems neverending (maybe I am easily discouraged?!). I have to thank Gary for his amazing work on this kitchen, he has fitted it all himself, with no prior experience (except fitting our sliding wardrobes kit last year), and had to design solutions to many issues our house presented. If we had the kitchen fitted by Ikea, it would have more than doubled the cost, making it unaffordable for us.
So, let’s start at the beginning. My house a small 1930’s ‘quasi-semi’ (what a term, that is. It basically means ‘small terrace’), and the kitchen was originally a 1.5m x 3.5m room that had 3 doors in it. So there was no clear wall space, and no room for cat-swinging.
Along with the rest of the house, it had barely been touched for years, and had a sloping damp concrete floor, a sink and an old electric cooker, with no wall space and an adjoining back room next door. When we bought the house, the first thing we did was to remove the wall between the kitchen and that back room to make one big dining kitchen. We concentrated on a small run of units along the left hand wall, with a peninsula across near where the wall had been removed. We were a couple with no children, so no dishwasher or tumble dryer were required, this was plenty of room for us, and the larger part was just a dining room.
Fast forward 15 years, and 2 children came along, washable nappies came and went, kids craft stuff and homework arrived, along with a large dog, tumble dryer, dish washer, 2 stands of washing that seem to be out at all times and well, just a load of crap that you seem to accumulate (laptops, chargers, phones, a minimum of 7 different kinds of cereal seemingly required at all times) and our spacious kitchen diner was cramped, requiring at least 2 people to move to allow anyone to get up from round the table to do anything during mealtimes. The room really seemed rather small, and just didn’t work any more. Plus that nice shiny 15 year old kitchen that had never been quite finished (I got pregnant every time we started again, and required other rooms to be renovated more urgently) was now actually getting pretty ragged.
That ‘peninsula’ is just visible in the first picture, and in the last few years became the bane of my life, filling with crap EVERY TIME you turned around. You can see the kitchen looks rather *ahem* ‘busy’.
The white frame shape you can see is the remains of the old wall, and the large white ‘lump’ over the cupboards is in fact our stairs, going over the kitchen. You can clearly see our boiler out and proud, causing the last disruption to the kitchen when we had it moved from our bedroom last year. That was the final straw for me, it looked awful over on that side!
The picture on the bottom right, as taken after we removed the peninsular, and just laid it along the wall with the shelves. We had busted the floor to do this, but you can see already the space we gained by moving it is amazing. This was how we spent Christmas, there was no going back now!
The biggest transformation was going to be that wall with the floating shelves. I love the Ikea Bodbyn kitchen, in grey, it was what really inspired me to think we could get an amazing new kitchen that worked for us. I have been madly pinning kitchens where glass-fronted cupboards were stacked all the way to the ceiling for months – loads of storage, making room feel larger and eliminating that awful top-of-cupboard space which always gets grimy. Below you can see some of the transformation taking place in that area.
Gary’s under cupboard lighting is genius, using small trunking and a wiring pattern including concealed transformers hidden in the back of the cupboards out of view. A battery of power tools allowed him to do a brilliant job of cutting the worktops to size, with beautiful precision, and he assembled all the cupboards in that tiny table – no mean feat! Can I also point out that during this mayhem, our kitchen has remained pretty functional almost the whole time, due to Gary’s planning and foresight. Good job too, because we started in February.
We had the radiator moved to a position under the window (where it should have been in the first place. Why we didn’t put it there when we had the central heating fitted, I’ll never know. Hindsight is a beautiful thing), and had electric sockets fitted along that long wall. It immediately struck us just how long that wall actually was, 3m to be precise. Our previous use of space had been appalling, how had that part of the room seemed so cramped?
Next came the boiler wall. I was adamant that I wanted the boiler covered up, but also wanted the gorgeous full length cupboard configuration that Ikea do. We kicked this around for at least a couple of months before Christmas, and even after we started because our alcove there is only 1.6m, with walls that run in and out of square, leaving no room for the end finishing panels, and probably not room for a full row of cupboards to fit properly. Working out how to achieve something like what we wanted nearly finished us off (and was the cause of a few ‘heated debates’, let me tell you). However, clever Gary worked out something rather wonderful in the end, I think you will agree.
Ikea cabinets come in 20cm, 40cm, 60cm and 80cm widths, and no combination of these could guarantee that we could get all the cupboards, including a cupboard concealing that boiler into the space. Gary’s plan was to buy a 30cm cupboard from somewhere else and create a fake door, using a 60cm door with side panel that covered that whole area, allowing easy access for boiler servicing. I’m really happy with it.
Now we get to the business end. This run includes the cooker, the sink and the dishwasher which all needed to be moved, new wiring was required and a new panel had to be constructed down the wall (because this is handily where our water and electric run upstairs, oh, and our gas meter is in the under sink cupboard for good measure).
We definitely made things worse before they got better, in fact for about 3 weeks it looked nearly the same as when we bought the house! I was preparing food on top of our 45cm wide dishwasher because the work tops on the finished side hadn’t had their full danish oil quota.
Gary had to use an Ikea 80cm unit for the sink, but construct a way of using the stainless steel sit-on sink we had sourced. It also needed the have the opening for the 40cm door created from scratch and in part from Ikea end panelling material. The plumber had to work closely with Gary on the day the sink was replaced, cooker and dishwasher moved.
Since then there has been rewiring the ceiling light, and the wall spot light (still not completed) and then it was my turn to complete the wall painting. We chose Farrow & Ball modern emulsion in sumptuous green Arsenic, which I under-coated with a grey/stone colour. I created this myself from left over Fired Earth Skylon grey from our bedroom, plus all the green and yellow tester pots we had lying around. I’m all for recycling! The grey you can see in some shots on the walls is my ‘undercoat’ and it did a great job of evening out the white (the original 2 coats we applied before moving in, in 2000) and pale blue kitchen paint. Is it weird that I like it that my kitchen is painted in ‘arsenic’?!
I also had the small matter of ‘the lump’ as we call it. Remember the white lump where our stairs go over the kitchen? When the original fitter put our other kitchen in, he butchered a wooden curved detail in the wall to make the wall cupboards fit. The lump itself was in a terrible state of repair, all the plaster crumbling away from the dowling edges, and I did A LOT of work reconstructing this from coving repair filler when we moved in. Now I decided I wanted a crisp clean edged look, rather then curved, and I wanted that wooden feature restored. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
There appears to be a wall that it looks like we forgot, but this will be a whole wall of white metro tiles, with no cupboards. I think this will balance the green nicely, and we wanted the room to be free on that side as you walk in, to give a feeling of space.
Then there was the oak worktops – oh the wood, the wood! Boy is it a lot of work sanding and oiling 6-7 times with Danish oil when you are doing it in a kitchen you are also trying to use! It is worth it, though.
There is still so much to do:
The window frame is a wreck, the new laminate floor needs laying, new skirtings need to be painted and fitted, the kitchen door will be replaced, and the frame needs repainting. There is the tiling, and then fitting the shelves onto that wall, and wine rack above the fridge. I am really looking forward to the new table and chairs arriving, although table is yet to be decided on, but the chairs are ordered. I’m most upset about having to repaint the ceiling in the large room. I used B&Q cheap ‘paint anything’ white paint which despite my best efforts appears patchy and is a dirty bluey white. I repainted the lump ceiling with Farrow & Ball Wimborne White, and it looks SOOO much better. Of course everything will have to be sheeted to do that job now but I’ve learned my lesson there about trying to use cheap paint.
What have I learned from this experience so far? I’ve learned that we can tackle a pretty major and ongoing job, affecting the hub of the home and stay sane (ish). I’ve also learned that it has taken FAR longer than we anticipated, but so far I am really pleased with the results. Our whole house seems more spacious, and the new cupboards and drawers are amazing. We have space to store everything, and I am really looking forward to having the space to store more baking gear. I wonder if my cakes will get better …
I will keep you updated on the final progress, and will let you know more about the design and layout chose in another post. In the meantime, if you have tackled your kitchen recently, or are thinking of doing it soon, let me know your plans or how you got on with yours. Of course any tips from people who did their own kitchens are very welcome. I’d also like to know how you are organizing your drawers if you have an Ikea kitchen with the large 80cm wide pan drawers, please.