My Kitchen ....... Here's how we did it!
One day in May 2013 I was sat in our newly renovated and extended home and thought... I think its time for another renovation..... Unbeknown to my unsuspecting husband and kids I started trawling Rightmove. My husband somehow agreed to put the house on the market, I'm still not quite sure how that happened, and we set about moving back to the village we had lived in before the current renovation. It was a bit of a performance to be honest, those days homes came on the market one day and were under offer the next, we sold our house three times in the proceeding fifteen months but each time we lost our buyer because there was either nothing on the market suitable or we were outbid on a property. Then one day instead of my 4 bed search on Rightmove I popped in 2 beds minimum, and up popped a character property in the village we wanted to be in with one big bedroom upstairs and two box rooms downstairs which the estate agent said were bedrooms (as agents do!) as well as a sitting room, small kitchen, part conservatory, additional storage room and downstairs bathroom. It had a big garden with Victorian outbuildings and had not been extended before so was ripe for renovation. Under duress I dragged Jim over to see it. He was not convinced as it meant our biggest extension/renovation project yet, and the house was so much smaller than the one we were leaving but when we both saw the house we absolutely loved the location in a courtyard setting only 5 minutes walk to the centre of the village, and even though the house itself was way too small for us and a bit dark and gloomy it had a lovely feel to it so I drew up plans that night of how we could turn it into a 5 bedroom family home and somehow he agreed!..... he was possibly two bottles of red down...... Asking price offer in the next morning and it was ours three months later.......
The property was built in 1912 and first converted into a home in the 1950’s. It was originally built as the garage for the manor house to house the owners rolls royces and the room upstairs was where the mechanic lived..... Even though it was a period property due to its humble beginnings it had no character so we were determined to give it some as well as extending at both ground and first floors and totally reconfiguring the layout. Luckily we could carry out the rear ground floor extension under permitted development rights, as they had been relaxed at that time we could build a 4.5m x 11m extension with no planning permission required. We moved in on 23rd July and began the build on 21st October with a very fussy project manager..... Me!
We didn't have the budget to rent so whilst the worst of the downstairs build was going on all five of us slept in the one room upstairs for 10 weeks. What can I say, my kids are amazing and used to the craziness of living through renovations..... Though of course there are a fair few stories to be told of those few months, not all good, but most quite funny as you can imagine!
Now, we all love to trawl through Pinterest and having saved just about every kitchen on there with some sort of exposed brick wall I knew it was what I would do here as we were building the kitchen from scratch...... Of course the builders and Jim thought I was a little mad when I produced the bricks I sourced from a local reclamation yard and told them they were for the internal wall. The only problem with this was how to fit the solid wood units I was looking at getting against an uneven brick wall, this was resolved by the builders building with breeze blocks up to unit height and then using the bricks, this meant when the breeze blocks were plastered the units would sit flush against the wall.
We wanted to have a vaulted ceiling, as the extension was single story, to add to the feeling of spaciousness. This was restricted due to building under permitted development but at 4m it was still giving us the height we wanted. The other main design feature for the kitchen were the large bifold doors out to the courtyard garden area, we had the doors made taller and wider than the standard sized ones as the ceiling was high and we wanted fewer frames along the width to give the best view out to the walled courtyard...... A shame that it then took two years to get that area not looking like an overgrown building site but in those heady days of vision it was all going to be finished in 6 months......
Another thing I wanted to add to the kitchen this time was a pantry, a built in larder with a bar and sink area housing the dishwasher around the corner. We knocked an entrance through to what was a storage room in the original house and had the pantry room on the kitchen side and the new boiler system was put behind a partition wall with access through what would be the utility room. Having had an open plan kitchen in our previous house I liked the idea of not having the dishwasher in the main kitchen area, meaning no noise and also the hundreds of glasses and plates my children amass during the day would be put around the corner out of site not dumped on the kitchen Island! Of course that doesn't always go to plan and its taken nearly 3 years of hard nagging to get that happening on a regular basis....... you can read more about my larder revamp HERE.....
As the extension progressed I felt that the wall opposite the kitchen needed a feature so our builder got the brickie back and he built a feature fireplace with some of the reclaimed bricks we had left over from the wall...... I'm so glad we did this at the time and that we were on site to make these kind of decisions whilst in the midst of the build as it's made a real difference to the feel of the room and saved more disruption later.....
We got some cheap carpet down the week before Christmas so we could use the room over the Christmas holidays and though we had a little dance to celebrate the downstairs extension build being finished, the kitchen extension would soon become the storage room for everything else whilst the rest of the downstairs had walls knocked down, put back up, the original kitchen ripped out, flooring taken up, central heating redone, wood burner fitted and a large skylight put in to what was to be the open plan seating area off the kitchen........ Little did I know that the two ring electric hob and microwave we had just started using due to the back of the kitchen wall being taken out where the oven had been, would continue to be our way of cooking for a further 8 months!
The limed oak engineered wood flooring went down in March 2015 and the kitchen units arrived later that month..... the upstairs build started a few weeks later and it was August before we started getting the kitchen fitted..... We had to keep the room as a storage room whilst upstairs was being extended from one bedroom to three and a bathroom...... Back we went to sharing a bedroom but luckily for my eldest she got her own bedroom downstairs and unlucky for us we had our youngest two in with us in our newly built downstairs bedroom for the next two months!
I wanted a solid wood kitchen to stand the test of time and having looked around, and the cost of most being beyond our budget, we decided to buy them from British Standard Cupboards a subsidiary of ‘Plain English’ who had been recommended to me by an architect friend. They sell a range of freestanding units and you have to design your own kitchen with the units they have available fitting them to your space. After ordering you then go and collect them from their workshop in Suffolk. They come ready primed for you to paint and you fit them yourself….. A lot of work, but the savings by doing all this meant we could have the fantastic quality within budget. Luckily they had units with deep pan drawers which was another ‘must have’ for me when designing the kitchen, having had them in our previous kitchen and loving the storage. So in August, with Jim on leave we finally set to it.
As I had designed the kitchen measuring the British Standard Cupboards units and using the architects plans before the extension was built, to make it work we actually took 10cm off the extension to make sure they all fitted perfectly with the addition of a wine cooler at the end of the unit run to make a perfect fit.
The fridge freezer was the issue in the kitchen as I didn't want it in the run of units and there wasn't space for it in the pantry room off the kitchen as I wanted an extra sink and the dishwasher there. This was resolved by knocking through into what was the original kitchen in the house, and was to become the study, and taking part of that room as an alcove in the kitchen to house the american fridge freezer......phew!
After fitting the run of units the next job was to prime and paint them, they needed sanding down and priming again as I was painting them all in Farrow & Ball Railings. Once they were primed with a dark primer and undercoat applied it was time for three coats of paint...... Not a job I’d be in a hurry to repeat to be honest, but we saved thousands doing it this way.
Painting the units
My top tips..... First give everything a good clean. Wash down thoroughly to remove all dirt and grease, making sure you get into all nooks and crannies – especially on panelling. Use a multi‑purpose liquid cleaner or sugar soap, which will get rid of grease and also helps prepare the surface. Allow to dry thoroughly. Rub down wooden and painted units with fine sandpaper and wipe them down with a slightly damp cloth to remove dust.
As I had wooden units I used a multi-purpose primer/undercoat. One coat may be enough but, if you are covering a dark colour two is best.
Next is the undercoat: one coat is usually enough but if it looks streaky apply two. Finally, add the top coats. Two coats is the norm but sometimes extra coats are necessary to get an even finish, especially with dark colours, I needed three coats for my units. I used a foam roller to apply the eggshell paint and a small brush for the fiddly corners. When applying the paint take your time and don't overload the brush, and use the paint sparingly – if you put it on too thickly it will form drips- not a good look!
We loved having a large kitchen Island in at our previous house, it's a great thing to have in a family kitchen. A ‘must have’ in the kitchen island was a ‘bar sink’ as well as a regular sink. I love the quirkiness of it and you don’t often see them in this country but we had stayed in a villa in America that had one and I loved it…. I had to order it from the USA as there were only a few companies in the UK stocking them at the time and the ones from America were much better value as they’re popular there. I put in a spray tap with a long hose so that it also reaches round to the bar sink. We also fitted a boiling water tap which is something I now can’t believe we didn’t add to our previous kitchen renovations, It’s great to have boiling water on demand especially with five tea drinkers in the house! The bar sink is usually filled with herbs but when we have friends over for dinner or at parties we fill it with ice and fizz- it’s a great talking point and everyone congregates around the Island- we’ve had 60 people in our kitchen for a party and this is exactly the sort of social space we love having!
This is a family kitchen, we have three children and it is often full of their friends too, so we wanted the kitchen to be a social space. I kept the cabinetry along the back wall and on the island opposite, including a combination of pan drawers and cupboards. I wanted the room to have an open ‘modern rustic’ feel and for the kitchen itself not to overwhelm the space and remain clutter free so we opted not to have wall units or units all the way along the back of the island so we could put stools there.
I wanted to try and use British companies wherever possible and the stainless steel pendant lights over the island are Titan pendants from Original BTC, I had bought these before I even decided on the kitchen units after seeing them in a magazine and falling in love with them
Once the kitchen was fitted it was time for the fun bit, decorating the room! But first I had to find the reclaimed wood I was after for the back of the island. It took me nearly a year of looking before I found this reclaimed oak in a local reclamation yard. The oak is actually part of old sea groynes from nearby Brighton beach. The texture on them made by years of having the sea crashing over them is just beautiful and I used them to add character at the top of the brick wall and fridge alcove too.
The walls were painted in Farrow and Ball 'Manor House Gray' and the window frame in 'Downpipe.'
The kitchen has changed a lot over the last year as we have added and changed things.
The shelves on the brick wall are a reclaimed piece of oak and a stainless steel shelf from Ikea..... I wanted them to be full of things I love and quirky pieces and plants rather than kitchen things like bowls and plates. They have changed a lot over the past year or so but will always have the H Jim bought me when I finished painting the units and the concrete 'LOVE' letters my lovely instagram friend @nickiekellydotcom gifted to me when I bought her artwork in the early days of us meeting on Instagram.....
What I love about this room is how it has evolved over the past 18 months or so. I have had to wait to get the money together to change the things that we had to use from our old house and didn't quite work in here and that has given me time to make sure what I do buy makes the room exactly how I want it to be...... within budget of course! We have changed the table, dining chairs, fridge, chandelier and bar stools and added more plants and art and accessories since this shot was taken a year ago.
There have been a lot of changes since we fitted our kitchen but the thing that remains is my love for the layout. The large island with bar stools at one side works so well, with the bar sink separating the working area of the Island with the social side. The dining table sits in the middle of the room and we always sit here as a family for dinner in the evening. The open plan area of seating just off the kitchen links to the rest of the house and has been totally changed recently with the addition of a velvet sofa and some beautiful wallpaper. Our Kitchen really is a social room and definitely the most used room in the house, we've thrown some great parties here and there are many more to come that's for sure!
So there we have it, I hope you've liked seeing how our kitchen started off and how it has evolved over the last couple of years...... I still have plans for this room, the grey walls are going to be replaced with white walls and the ceiling is going to be painted in 'Railings' the same colour as the units and fireplace wall. It's always changing but one thing I do know is I'll always love it!
Thanks as always for reading!