How to tackle a kitchen re-design (or any renovation)

I just want to say a huge thank you for all of your lovely comments and best wishes on Bea’s birth. It has been heartwarming to read them all from our new family bubble. We are still all doing well and enjoying time together but I have some prescheduled posts running for the next few weeks, so keep stopping by, (including some pregnancy/birth and beyond updates.) And of course I’ll be keeping an eye on things and commenting/replying here and on twitter or Facebook when I can. X

I got asked on twitter recently if I had any tips for a kitchen/living area re-design and realised there’s a whole post on that and it’s certainly longer than 140 characters. I’m by no means an expert and this was my first kitchen project so I’m sure any professional kitchen fitter would have better advice, but we have learnt a ton by planning it ourselves and I definitely have advice to pass on. I’ve interspersed this post with Instagram snaps of the progress of our kitchen work and a timeline is at the end.

Before you even start find out if you need planning permission and an architect or just drawings (your builder may do this, ours didn’t) and structural calculations. We started off with an architect who was slow, didn’t listen to us and basically just drew a set of plans that didn’t even have measurements on them and we were £1300 worse off for it. In retrospect we just needed structural calculations doing for the steel and builders drawings.


Our old kitchen layout

Consider what you use the space for (or want to use the space for if it’s not functioning as you would wish at present,) and what you can realistically do with it. We wanted a huge kitchen diner/living area. However we weren’t able to do that with the space available and the fact that we couldn’t extend. As we found this out at the purchase stage, we had to consider if the house was worth completing on, or were we going to have to try too hard to change it. No house is perfect but you also have to consider if what you are going to do to it is worth it in terms of increased value – will you out-spend what it can eventually be worth?


The old windows being taken out and made into new full length slim openings

Figure out your budget and marry that up with your expectations and what things really cost.
How much can you spend (or save) and how much do you want to spend? Some people couldn’t consider spending more than £10k on a kitchen, and others will do what it takes to get the kitchen of their dreams – this very much depends on personal income and the stage of homeownership you are at – there’s no point putting your dream kitchen in a 5 year house for example.
An example of what we wanted versus what we got would be our bifold windows – we originally planned to have floor to ceiling frameless glass including the corner of the kitchen, but for a variety of reasons, structural and cost related we ended up with window panels and bifolds. They cost about ⅓ of the first glass quote we had! I also thought as our kitchen wasn’t that big that we could look at more expensive brands and custom kitchens but quickly realised they are still VERY expensive and we compromised with the ex-display one we have now (which wasn’t much of a compromise but about a 50% saving.) Lastly, I wanted parquet look herringbone vinyl floor. Amtico do correctly sized tiles for that purpose, but were top of the range and priced to match. We compromised with a less expensive brand and range (Karndean) and had the planks cut in half – the result was a large scale herringbone but I love it and again it saved us about £1000.


The old chimney breast just before we knocked it out – sadly we had already planned the kitchen and couldn’t incorporate the old brickwork.

Work out your style and go for it. (Ie spend a lot of time on Pinterest!)
You can’t choose a kitchen without knowing what you want and it’s such a huge decision that I recommend doing this over a long period. I had this board on Pinterest for probably over a year before we even started looked or moved and I was able to look back over the evolution of the board and my tastes, and pick the consistencies out to help me see what I wanted and could live with longer term. Some of the things I liked (for example open shelving,) but wouldn’t be able to live with whereas others were key and consistent for me – I was desperate for marble despite the impracticalities. Also, use the Ikea website for kitchen design – there’s a great tool which can help you plan layouts as I found kitchen designers (at the lower end of the budget range) useless and lacking in imagination in this area.


Long window panels done (more were later put in where these two doors are) and the structural supports before the steel went in.

Work out the luxuries you want – You won’t be doing it again quickly so get it right
We wanted a hidden bin, to be able to hide small appliances and I wouldn’t compromise on a double sink, and 2 ovens. Our bin situation hasn’t fully been resolved and it is annoying not to have to that final detail nailed down.


Looking out of our new long windows from the building site!

To compromise or not to compromise?
Think about where you are willing to compromise. For me it was not on marble, but yes to the floor. Don’t compromise because you are tired or fed up of making decisions. Wait another day, or remind yourself it is worth getting right. It’s much better to delay work or finishing touches than regret things you’re stuck with later or rip them out in a few years for more money and hassle.


The bifold opening knocked through

Be prepared to make every single decision yourself.
I was totally overwhelmed at one point as our builder was amazingly hardworking and great but NOT a project manager and that basically fell to us. Trying to catch up and make daily decisions on top of a full time job was exhausting. Tiny thinks like the sockets and electric locations, plumbing, light fittings, types of socket cover, appliances, sink, worktops, wall colour, height and width of windows, door styles all impact on each other so need thinking through. Even our bifolds involved multiple minor decisions – the seal colour, frame colour, handle type, track colour, sills or no sills… and there is a lot of responsibility when measuring for things yourself, or for example making sure you order the bifolds at the right height so the frame was level with the floor that was being installed afterwards, and had to allow 11mm thickness to make it level inside and out.


The new windows finally in and the house sealed!

Make a time line of contractors and where they all interplay with each other.
You may not be able to do this until work has started and if you’re not bothered about rushing you may not need to, but (if you are lucky) in general no-one will come from when you ask them to for about 2 weeks which if you don’t plan ahead means multiple delays through the build/renovation process. On the other hand if you do it like we did, it means chasing everyone to finish daily so the next person can start when you asked them to.


Decorating – sealing the new plaster

Think about the outside – In our case this meant a deck or we would have stepped out from our beautiful new bifolds and kitchen to a 1m drop and a building site, so we moved straight from the kitchen work onto the outside. We also planned outside lighting when the electrics were replaced in the kitchen so it didn’t disturb the plaster and had the alarm company in throughout the build to remove and then later replace the sensors.


Admiring the new floor

Don’t forget to budget for furniture. Do you need a new kitchen table, or bar stools for the island, or a statement piece of lighting? You might well be prepared to live with old ones for a while but it’s worth thinking ahead on those things to get a really lovely finished result if you can afford it. (We still have our old bar stools!)


First breakfast in the new kitchen – still unfinished but usable!

Our building work started when we ripped out the old kitchen on April 21st and the kitchen, sink and cooker were plumbed in as the last things that made it useable (not complete) on June 20th. The outside was finished and our builder finally left on the 10th of July, although we did get some work done in one of the attic bedrooms in between that, that took about a week away from the kitchen/outdoors space. That’s pretty swift I reckon and only felt like it took so long because we were without the kitchen for all that time, whereas if you can have the kitchen taken out later for a like for like swap, it would be a lot quicker.

This is a timeline of the progress for us…

  • Start work 21st April – took old kitchen out.
  • 28th April Kitchen door to the house boarded up – only access was through the garden for the builders!
  • Windows were taken out and the holes elongated and partially bricked up to make the long openings.
  • Support structures were put in place, then the steel in for the bifolds.
  • Exterior walls were taken out so the bifold openings could be measured and ordered (10d turn around time)
  • Chimney breast taken out and steel inserted to support chimney breast above.
  • Steel boarded in with plasterboard and first fit electrics were done.
  • New door way to the hall was put in and the old tiled floor taken up.
  • Windows were fitted (24th May) but the wall had to be reinforced below the bifolds so they were delayed.
  • Replastering was done around the new windows.
  • Kitchen was fitted 29th May over 4 days and the bifolds done during that week sealing the exterior of the house. The fridge/freezer went in at this point.
  • More plastering was done to finish the last bit of windows and the hallway brick work around the door and where the old door was.
  • The second fit electrics came later (to actually put fronts on the wiring for sockets, plugs, fit under cabinet lighting and pendants.)
  • The floor had to go in after the cabinets as we weren’t flooring underneath them, but the Range had to go in after the floor as that is freestanding and needed to be floored underneath.
  • Appliances – the hob went in after the kitchen but before the oven. Dishwasher was plumbed in witht the sink which was done after the worktops went in.
  • We finally did the decorating ourselves
  • The marble was one of the last things to go in on June 18th as they had to take a template (one week before) once the kitchen was fitted and I then had to choose the slab which delayed us a little – more on that later.
  • Lastly the kitchen units were repainted (some were originally brown as part of the ex-display and we rejigged them as part of the new layout.) This was after the worktops in case there were any knocks or scratches during the other stages after fitting.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful or at least interesting. This was a huge learning curve for us and if it helps anyone else think think through problems before they happen it will be worthwhile. Obviously the kitchen is still not quite finished – we’re waiting for a few pictures and the central light fitting is missing some bulbs but as soon as it is I’ll take pics and show it off!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I haven’t named all suppliers but will do another post on the finished kitchen with all of them in there. In the mean time, here are a few of the key ones involved in this stage. They are all people I would personally recommend.

Previous Kitchen posts:

Nursery: And the Animals came in Two by Two…

The first nursery scheme I posted was a complete contrast to this one, Bright and Bold with neutral accents. Then I spotted and fell in love with this Animals wallpaper from Beware the Moon and had to use it as a base for a nursery mooodboard to see if I could live with the neutrals. I think with enough bright accents, I can make it work… it’s just about finding the right pieces.

I still plan to incorporate lots of brights as accents so the room doesn’t look stark, but the wallpaper was so beautiful I couldn’t let it go unused and I worried the Triangle print would be too busy and full on. This is a great way of adding pattern and texture, without making my eyes turn into triangles too!

We’re finishing the decorating this weekend so hopefully I’ll have something to show you very soon!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Triple temptation: Garden Furniture

As the completion of our kitchen comes to an end, the outside space is also getting underway. As our kitchen is above full height cellars, the ground floor level is about 1m above the garden. So we can step directly out instead of going up and down stairs, we are building a deck that the bifold doors open onto and I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that it is finished this week.


IKEA Harmano Garden suite, £179 // John Lewis Madrid outdoor furniture £1475 (for what is pictured) // Palermo right-hand corner sofa, Next £699

Having spent so much money on everything else, garden furniture just isn’t in the budget right now, but I’m loathe to have an empty deck, or be unable to enjoy the rest of the summer months (hello maternity leave!) after working so hard on this space. I had been browsing at outdoor seating options for this area but they are all so expensive – we are looking for a sofa style seating solution, as our main outdoor dining area is planned for further down the garden. I was on the point of saying blow it (with another maxed out credit card flashing before my eyes,) as I fell in love with the NEXT Palermo range, then Pete spotted this IKEA set when we were there buying a spare bed. We couldn’t believe the price and snapped it up – The cushions are a bit thin, but I’ll simply buy some different foam pads and perhaps recover them. For the price, we couldn’t say no and it doesn’t matter if it’s not a long term option.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Spotted: Alexander and Pearl Industrial Modern Chandeliers


LAB 7 industrial pendant // LAB 5 Industrial Brass pendant // Brainchild multi light chandelier

As things are coming together in the kitchen it actually feels a lot more stressful when I thought things would be settling down. We’re making just 2 or 3 decisions that really finish the room – the flooring and lighting, so the pressure is on to get them right after working so hard on the rest of the room.


Californian House Tour on A Cup of Jo

Lighting is an obsession of mine and I really wanted the right statement pieces to not over power the room but really finish it. We started looking for copper lights to bring warmth to the space, then found these with 20% off. Unfortunately they were only 80cm long and non-adjustable so they were far too high from our high ceiling and looked lost. Then miraculously I stumbled across Alexander and Pearl with their fab range of lighting (amongst other things) and these incredible chandeliers.



1 Dining room makeover by Emily Henderson // 2 – Bri Emery’s Dining room by Emily Henderson

I’ve always loved the kind of sculptural chandeliers you see on American blogs, usually vintage and never to be seen on this side of the Atlantic so I pounced on these without hesitation. Now we just have to see if it fits the space… watch this space as they say. If they don’t work in the kitchen they will definitely pop up elsewhere!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Master Bedroom : Version 1.0

I’ve realised that I’m very good at telling you all what I’m planning in the house but actually showing the finished article is happening a lot less. That is partly because nothing is yet ‘finished’ – or what I would call finished anyway, as I don’t feel done with a room (actually, am I ever done with a room?) until all the finishing touches are complete too. In the case of our grey bedroom, in some ways it is finished – the decorating is done, we’re back in there and it’s functioning, but in others it is very unfinished. We don’t have a door handle for example (just a small matter,) the walls are pretty bare, the bedding is less than perfect and the walk in wardrobe is still something of a dumping ground with a solitary rail, Billy book case and shoes all over the floor.

However, it’s going to be a bit of a wait before we get it exactly the way I want it and I’ve been asked before how I approach decorating a room so I hope this will give you some insight into my thought processes. Here’s the finished bedroom Version 1.0 :)

As you can see, we’re sticking with the white bedding, a perennial favourite of mine, but I’m still struggling with the perfect combination of cushions. I’m totally torn between the modern geometric look and the more subdued pink and grey. The problem is that the coral and mint tones in the geometric pattern are just not sitting quite right to my eye with the lilac and slate in the curtains or the perfect pale pink I found at H&M.

There’s also the matter of getting the right size/shape combination going. I can see there might be some re-hashing of the covers I have bought, particularly the cheapo H&M ones. At less than £10 each, I don’t mind taking some scissors to them. They are also on our old bed which we plan to replace, (this one will go in another bedroom elsewhere,) but again are just waiting for the cash to materialise!

This lamp is totally wrong… the base I could live with, but it’s one of a pair so they will probably be utilised elsewhere together. It’s the yellow shade that is throwing a lot of the room off I think, but I haven’t seen a suitable base or shade to replace this one. The plan for bedside lamps is to have wall lamps above the headboard and I’ve seen the ones I want, they’re just not in the budget right now. While we are on lighting, the capiz shade was an old bargain in BHS lighting dept from our old bedroom, but we have plans to replace this with something a bit more ‘design-y’, if that’s even a word.

One thing I am really pleased about is the art in here. I bought Pete the surfers print a couple of years back and went back for the print of Rincon Island off the coast of California just recently as the peachy pink tones were the kinds of accents I wanted to bring into the room. They both remind me of our travels on the West coast and a lovely afternoon we spent in Miami watching surfers on South Beach and I’m really happy with everything about them apart from the fact they are crooked after being put up approximately 2 minutes before I took this photo, by Pete mid-argument, as we were late leaving for something! ;)

I had also been lusting after a Lulie Wallace print but she only releases prints (instead of original artworks) a few times a year and none had come up int he right colour combinations until this spring when this grey pink and peach tones print called ‘Flowers for Hope’ popped up and I snapped it up.

The doors to the walk in wardrobe are bifold and so slide right back allowing plenty of space and I’m really happy we chose them. What’s behind them is not so pretty and whilst I could have tidied it to make it look presentable, I really didn’t have the time or energy so this is as much as you’re seeing!

The curtains were bought before we even moved out of the room. Because of the height of the ceilings and windows, we have to have custom curtains made, but thank goodness, I have been using a place in Southport for curtains for years. If you happen tot be local or around the area, it’s well worth a trip – the fabric is ridiculously cheap (and often John Lewis, Prestige or Sanderson,) and the making up is also cheap. To give you an idea, these were £300 for a 3m wide bay with over a 2m drop. The equivalent in JL, for something in their own range, mid price point fabric, would have cost at least double. They are black out lined which is essential and has been amazing as it’s an East facing room and very sunny in the mornings.

As you can see, we also have the stained glass back in now which was taken away when we replaced the windows and encapsulated or sandwiched into a triple glazed panel. Unfortunately the glazier who did the work was taken ill, hence the 6 month delay but they were worth waiting for.

The carpet is the same one we had in the lounge in the last house. We searched high and low for the right pale grey that didn’t look ‘silver’ and it wore really well in the last house too so we just ordered the same again. It also has a subtle fleck of naturals in it which hides a multitude of sins (mainly cat hair,) that a monotone carpet wouldn’t.

So, I think that’s it for now. I hope you like it or if not, at least found the process and sources useful – I have put a comprehensive list at the end of the post for you. I might do another one soon with some finishing ideas that we’re yet to purchase.

Happy Monday readers,

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Where did you get that?
Walls: Cornforth White, Farrow & Ball
Woodwork: Brilliant white (eggshell)
Glass Wardrobe door handles: John Lewis
Curtains: The Fabric Shop, Southport (open at weekends but the warehouse is only open Mon-Fri)
Reproduction Eames RAR rocking chair, Redbrick Mill
Geometric Cushions: Conran at M&S
Pink and Grey cushions: H&M Home
Velvet cushion: The White Company (old)
Bedding: Linea at HoF
Mirror: Next
Photographic prints: Ian Baguskas, at 20 x 200
Flower art: Lulie Wallace
Frames: Ikea Ribba (with custom mounts from a local art shop for £5.)

Triple temptation: Stand mixers


Kenwood Chef Titanium KMC010 // SMEG standmixer // Copper KitchenAid

Last week I received a press release on the new SMEG small appliances range. Launching later this year, for those of you lusting after your own SMEG fridge/freezer with it’s retro styling, it’s a slice of style at a much more affordable price point. And there are loads of lovely colours.

I thought I’d share my favourite stand mixers today and of course couldn’t resist sharing the gorgeous special edition copper KitchenAid (I have one in cream) available at Selfridges.

Have you got a stand mixer?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Spotted: Copper home accessories

I’ve been totally obsessed with copper as a home decor accent for some time now and I love it paired with cooler tones like greys and concrete so I can’t wait to incorporate some touches into our home and the new kitchen. I thought I’d do  little round up today of some of the loveliest things to bring a touch of warm copper into your home and stay on trend this season.

Have you tried any copper accents in your home yet?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Nursery: Bright and Bold

With my third trimester well underway, planning for the baby has started to creep to the forefront of my mind. With a lot of the house still in need of renovation, we’re lucky enough that the nursery is a true blank canvas and I’m also thanking my lucky stars that it’s in relatively good nick – it seems to have been skimmed recently, has new engineered oak flooring and as it’s at the back of the house, has a double glazed window already in situ. That means it’s largely a cosmetic job, which goes someway towards explaining my relaxed attitude to getting it done!

The truth of it however is that I’m not completely decided on the style I’m going for and it may well end up being a combination of the moodboards I’m going to share here in the coming weeks. All of them are unisex or ‘gender neutral’ and I have always planned a brightly coloured space so not knowing the sex of our baby hasn’t restricted me in any way.

Back when my old house was featured in Good Homes magazine I spotted the Sian Elin wallpaper that underpins this scheme in the same issue, and regardless of whether we go ahead and use it, the multicoloured bright sherbert shades have provided a palette for me to work with against a largely neutral backdrop.

This scheme relies on the statement wallpaper and white furniture for contrast with more muted accessories so as not to compete with the bold design, but I would only use it as a feature wall, perhaps along our chimney breast.

The room has enough space for a chair for feeding in and footstool, and I’m looking for a large rug to soften the floor space. The only down side to high ceilings and large windows is that ready made curtains are never long enough, so I’m on the look out for a neutral material to get full length curtains made in either a plain fabric or much smaller neutral print.

The Cot was a fab find from John Lewis as I was previously coveting the Ouef Sparrow cot, seen often in blogland and this is a good similar style at a much better price.

So what do you think readers? Watch this space for a more subtle neutral nursery design coming in the next week or two…

Love
Rebecca
xo

Sources:

Triple Temptation: Festoon lights


Seletti Bella Vista Outdoor light, £85 Heals // Auva string lights (50 lights) £29.98 B&Q // Pink festoon lights, £85 Out there interiors

Last year I wrote a post about festoon lighting and listed some sources available at the time. You can still read that post here and see for yourself if they are still available, but the trend is going nowhere and thankfully the strings of globe lights with a soft glow perfect for pretty outdoor illumination are getting more widely available. I’ve spotted 3 in the last couple of weeks and thought I’d share them in case anyone is still looking for them. Do let me know if you have spotted any too! (The B&Q set looks like great value.)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Light the Way…

Yesterday I spent the morning marking out the ‘first fit’ of our kitchen electrics with our builder and as part of that, although I hadn’t really decided what we wanted exactly, we had to mark out the lights for over our peninsula island. We went for 2 hanging pendants evenly spaced, which is about right for the size of the island and space, but now I need to decide what lights they will be.


Image via (BTC Stanley Copper pendant)

Lighting is kind of an obsession of mine (along with chairs,) and as a result I have a dedicated Pinterest board, which has expanded rapidly over the last couple if days. If you are interested have a look here.


Image via

I’m thinking of three key styles. Metallic (most likely copper,) to warm up the cold marble and cool tones kitchen units; Bare bulbs in vintage or decorative styles; Or Delicate glass shades.


Courtney Adamo’s kitchen

What do you think readers, I think I have decided but could be swayed…

Love,
Rebecca
xo