That kitchen of mine is finished, and we are really happy with it. So much has changed in terms of the way we can use the downstairs of our house, now that the kitchen works better and it really feels like we have made the rest of the house a lot bigger. Just shows what good use of space can do, and just how badly we were using our kitchen space before.
This is the view as you enter the kitchen from our hall. We previously had wall cabinets on the left, which really closed the space in. This time we have kept it clean, light and airy with a whole wall of metro tiles, with some thin stainless steel shelves to keep a sense of space.
I can’t tell you how long I have coveted metro tiles, probably since I was a teenager and first traveled on the London Underground. Yes, before they were ‘in’ again!
The part you are looking at is the entirety of the original kitchen, it was a tiny 3.4m x 1.5m room. Our first job when we first bought the house way back in 2000 was to take out that wall and open it up into a dining kitchen. The dividing wall used to start just to the right of the back door.
George the cat seems completely nonplussed by the changes, it would seem, but kindly obliged me with a pose as she modelled the cat flap.
‘The lump’ in the left-hand corner in the picture below is where the stairs pass over the kitchen, and is now fully restored. Gary told me not to get too obsessed with making the corners square and repairing the beautiful curve on the back wall, but I am really glad I did. It might just be my favourite part of the kitchen.
You can also see the slight raised column on the right, leading down the stainless steel sink top, it houses our electricity and water pipe work for the bathroom above (I am sure they wouldn’t allow you to do that in a modern house!), and we cunningly made it wider to the full depth of the sink, to cover the fact that the sink-top was about 10cm shy of the width we needed. I like to think that it just adds a bit of interest in that large tiled space.
We have managed to maximize our longest length of oak worktop, by keeping oils, large pans and utensils up away from the side, and dedicating the cooker and dishwasher area just for that purpose. Previously we also had our kettle, bread bin and toaster along that wall. It really was crowded, and a tiny pile of dishes made the side almost unusable. The best thing of all is that we have managed to create a nice space for our new coffee machine which we promised ourselves we would get when we had finished.
One of the reasons for the delay in posting the finished kitchen was that we were totally undecided about that left hand side of the cooker. I was adamant that I wanted the microwave to go on a shelf above the worktop, but Gary really wasn’t convinced. So, we have lived in limbo until a few weekends ago when it finally came to us – just put another small shelf up, clear the side and keep the microwave on the other wall (you’ll see that in a minute). It just shows that sometimes, not rushing to finish is a really good idea. Taking our time allowed us to think of a better plan.
As there are no wall cabinets, there is nowhere to put downlights, creating a possible lighting issue. We solved this in the end by getting some really minimal white lights; 3 spot for the ceiling and a little spot for the left of the cooker. I can’t tell you how many pins for retro lighting I save on Pinterest (a LOT) but in the end, it would have looked too overdone, and I like the way that they are understated, but lovely if you do notice them.
I love my (new) Newgate clock.
But I love my coffee machine more. I am still trying to get my flat whites perfect, it’s a work in progress!
It was definitely a great idea to use a stainless steel sink top. There was plenty of swearing as Gary ‘persuaded’ it sit nicely on top of our Ikea Bodbyn cupboard, however, if we had extended our oak worktop around behind the drainer into the far corner on an outside wall, we definitely would have had black mold problems in the future.
Posh kitchen show-and-tells don’t show you normal things like the family washing, but I am. We have literally no place in the house to dry our washing, and I have spent every day since the kids had their own bedroom with at least 1 wash stand in my kitchen, the bane of my life. Our nifty new (but old) Sheila/Lazy Susan/pulley or whatever you call it is a miracle!
Yes, I do still have washing in my kitchen, but it’s a working family kitchen and even with large towels drying (I maybe could have picked a day with slightly more pretty washing on there), it’s not in my way, on the floor. Positioned so that it can be lowered into the sun at the window, and over the radiator, it dries quickly whatever the weather.
The floor to ceiling look of the Bodbyn range (below) was exactly what sold this Ikea kitchen to me. We now have that lovely new length of worktop where the microwave, kettle, bread bin and all that stuff lives, this is a revelation to us! Previously we just had some shelves and one little wall cupboard before. Tucked behind the large black fridge freezer on the right as you walk into the room, just look at the amount of cupboards and drawers we have managed to use. Not only that, there is no top of cupboard spot to keep clean.
As we’ve gradually moved back into the kitchen, I’ve found that there were a lot of things that really should have lived in our kitchen, but had to live elsewhere in the house and I’ve lost count of the number of treasured things I have picked up and thought ‘hang on, this could go in the kitchen!’. Having everything reunited in one place is great, and I can finally have a martini.
Looking back towards the hall entrance to the kitchen, you can see the arch of the dividing wall we had removed years ago, and what a big space it gave us.
Gary is particularly pleased that the wine rack can come out of the understairs cupboard and be in a better place, and ‘Darth Vader Fridge’ as we call it, really doesn’t look as big and imposing now that it’s in its new home on the other side of the room away from the window.
We searched high and love for a lovely table that would be extendable (see that Pinterest board, again!), and try as I might I didn’t want to go to Ikea for that – again. But, there you have it, this is an Ikea table, and it is in fact the perfect table for us. It can extend from 1.55m to 2.15m.
We’ve been able to have more than 2 people comfortably round for dinner for the first time, ever! You can squash quite a lot of kids onto the bench seat, too. Another Ikea buy, it’s actually an outdoor bench, but we didn’t want anything too matching and are using it inside! Our white chairs are a design classic – stackable Tolix-style metal chairs which are also for inside/outside use.
I was nervous of getting such a light floor, what with having a large black dog, but it’s working out really well, actually. Yes, it does get hairy, but that’s because it needs hoovering which is the case whatever colour it is. The lightness of the chair/tables and floor are going to be a Godsend in about a month when we are plunged into our winter phase with no winter sunlight on our house until February. I made the most of the gorgeous sunlight the other day when I took these pictures.
The white lights in the original kitchen might be understated, but our table light is not! This is a gorgeous solid brass pendant light which I chose to set off our Farrow & Ball ‘arsenic green’ walls. My only regret is that we could have easily had a size bigger, but we weren’t sure when we ordered it. We created the ‘swag’ look by using a brass hook from Ebay and an extra length of the old-fashioned style electrical wire added by Gary. It’s rather trendy at the moment, but it’s actually great for us because the ceiling electrical point was nowhere near our table. I’m all for trendy when it suits me!
Nothing is perfect, and I am so pleased we have decluttered our kitchen sides by using drawers, however, ‘electrical corner’ is not a work of art. Whatever do people do with all this stuff to make it look nice? I have to face that there will be an area of the kitchen where laptops, phones, tablets etc are charged, kids homework gets left and pens have to live. I’d love to have your tips for how to make this area look better.
What do you do about this stuff?
Here are some of my treasured pottery items I have squirreled away over the years, looking at home on the windowsill, it’s great that they have the right place to live, at last.
I’m looking forward to Christmas entertaining, and a relaxed spring next year where I get back into the garden. Our poor garden has been so neglected this year, and we missed an entire growing season.
In case you didn’t catch my previous posts, I have blogged about our kitchen refurbishment on a few occasions this year, if you’d like to catch up:
http://blog.rachellucie.co.uk/2015/02/kitchen-mood-board.html ~ Gathering inspiration, always the most fun part, for me!
http://blog.rachellucie.co.uk/2015/03/russell-square-tube-station.html ~ That’s the colours I want!
http://blog.rachellucie.co.uk/2015/04/hands-up.html ~ Is there an end in sight?
http://blog.rachellucie.co.uk/2015/05/the-never-ending-kitchen-and-im-back-at-work-yay.html ~ Where I share just what some of the chaos actually looked like.
So, there you have it. C’est finis! I can’t say that doing a whole kitchen design and refit ourselves has always been an easy ride, and there were many months of disruption which impacted on my work, and the family to some extent, but I am really pleased with the finish we have achieved, and the total cost, which is a fraction of what we would have paid someone to do this for us. There’s that old-time vs money trade-off.
Have you done your own kitchen? How was it for you? I’d love to see the results, so feel free to add a link to your blog or photos in the comments. We can have a virtual cuppa – flat white?