Big Kitchen // Little Kitchen

If you follow me on Instagram (you can here,) you might have seen my post this sunday sharing the Ikea Hack Pete did (I take no credit for the labour but it was totally *my* ahem, Pinterest’s) idea. ;) Now it gets more attention than the actual kitchen does when people come to the house.

I thought this kind of thing was pretty commonplace but guess thats what you get from being a Pinterest addict as many of you asked me to share it… so here’s what we did to make Bea’s mini-kitchen.

It was pretty straight forward. Our kitchen cupboards are painted and we had some of the paint left over so they got a coat of undercoat and then 2 coats of Farrow and Ball’s Dove Tale grey. You can buy the Ikea Duktig play kitchen for £45

We have marble worktops so I found a marble effect adhesive vinyl (basically sticky backed plastic) they we used to cover the worktop, folding it around the edges and cutting in to make it smooth round the corners and under the sink and hob.

We sprayed painted the handles and tap gold (Wilko’s is my favourite for the best gold tone.) I always wanted gold hardware in our kitchen but it didn’t quite happen so I thought why not for Bea?! We are thinking about sourcing some knobs to add to the front of the kitchen above the door with the window to make an ‘oven’ for her but I haven’t got around to it yet.

Of course you could do anything with your IKEA kitchen, and this doesn’t have the upper part that you buy separately – Bea is as yet not tall enough to reach it so we though we would save it for a future birthday ;) . I’ve seen these kitchens done in vintage style with pink cupboards and frilly gingham curtains, or putting a wood effect vinyl on (or real wood top) and adding some metro tiles to the backsplash would be awesome as a country style kitchen.

I hope it has inspired you – it was so quick and easy, and dare I say, although Bea probably doesn’t appreciate it yet, I love that it looks great in our kitchen!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! more inspiration here

June on Instagram…

June has absolutely flown by in the Norris household, probably because so many projects were completed or nearing completion and we started a couple of new ones too. Now that it’s almost June I’m pretty terrified to see my due date looming on the next months calendar and excited to meet baby Norris at the same time. An equally large amount of things need to happen before baby arrives for me to feel even remotely ready, so I hope time doesn’t fly quite as fast!

The kitchen has gone from almost finished to very almost finished and usable, which has felt fantastic and meant we moved from takeaways, to easy cook no-mess dinners like Pizza (and the re-initiation of Friday-night-is-pizza-night in the Norris house,) through to the Sunday-brunch-this-kitchen-was-made-for Pancakes. We also finally had the stained glass put back into our bedroom windows and I’m loving our new kitchen floor.

At the beginning of the month I spent a few days in Windermere for a work course and as usual, remembered that I should spend more time there as it’s so close.

In full on nesting mode we also started 2 more rooms in the house. As Francesca is still with us, we needed a nice room for mum to stay in when the baby comes, so we ploughed through one of the attic rooms, having it replastered, a new window fitted and new carpet, then decorated it all in 2 weeks. More on that soon.

Lastly, this weekend we started the nursery – It’s now ready to wallpaper, having took longer than we expected to paint and I have a much clearer picture of where we’re going decor wise. More on that to come soon too!

So what did you do this June? (I’m sure lots of you have had babies or are due next month like me?) Have you been decorating like us or being sensible and just enjoying the weather?!

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

Five on Friday…

This week the building work on our new kitchen has really got under way. The final pieces of steel are going in today to make way for the chimney breast to come out and the bifold opening to be knocked through. As each day goes on it brings with it a ton of questions we haven’t anticipated and essentially being project managers is stressful, frustrating and bewildering at times. Right now we are deciding on flooring (including my last minute doubts re Amtico/Karndean vinyl wood look flooring versus real wood,) exterior lighting, how and where to move some newly discovered pipes to, and of all things, window sills.

Here are some links to keep you going in the meantime!

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If you didn’t see yesterday, don’t forget to go and comment on yesterdays baby names post – I am loving reading your thoughts and suggestions! It’s so helpful. (We actually had our first productive conversation last night about names over dinner!) We’re off to Brimham rocks this weekend for some family birthday celebrations. I hope you have a great one readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I’d love to know if any of you have any experience of engineered wood in a kitchen versus vinyl floor tiles like Amtico or Karndean? Let me know! (We want a wood ‘look’ either way.)

Feeling Blue…

Despite the fact that our new kitchen is still several weeks off being usable, I have already found myself thinking about the finishing touches. Aside from the pretty things, on a more practical level I want to add to our current dinner service.

We currently have 2 sets of plates and bowls, our wedding set of Sophie Conran for Portmerion table and serve ware in a ten person setting, and a bog standard square white set for 4 that was from John Lewis. The idea is that we use the set of four day to day so the wedding set doesn’t get hammered, but so we don’t end up saving the Portmerion for absolute best if there are ever more than just the two of us, we get out the good stuff.

Restoration tableware, John Lewis // Indigo Dinner plate, M&S // Indigo serving bowl, M&S // Lascari Stoneware, Anthropologie //Coastal Tableware, John Lewis // 12 Piece lombard dining set, M&S // Denby Bloom Stoneware, Debenhams //Jardin des Plants dinnerware, Anthropologie

In reality, with Francesca being with us, we have used the Portmerion a lot more and it has made me realise that when we are a family of 3, with regular visitors, we are going to need more of the everyday stuff to avoid using the Sophie Conan every day. I prefer seeing my food against white plates, but because our island eating area will be white I like the idea of a bit of contrast. Given my current obsession with blue, I thought a slim blue rimmed set would be nice. There are so many blue and white sets around right now however that a pick and mix, mix and match would be easy to do if you were so inclined and very stylish.

So readers, what do you think? Are you fans of white plates or do you like a bit of contrast on your dinner table?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Kitchen Update…

If my house update posts have seemed a bit thin on the ground, that’s pretty much for two reasons. Firstly, the whole thing has been so exhausting and frustrating so far that I really haven’t had the mental energy to write about it here as well as collecting quotes and co-ordinating the work. And secondly, well, there hasn’t been that much ‘progress’.


Our Kitchen, on display in the showroom

Last time I talked about the kitchen I talked about choosing the actual units and style. Plus I have mentioned the issues that prevented us from extending. We initially got involved with an architect when we wanted to see if there was a way around the pipe and there was, but it was expensive. That and I don’t know how realistic his plans were. We have continued to work with the architect and that has been one of the massive delaying factors. The drawings took longer than they should have, trying to get quotes took longer and now we are chasing engineers calculations on modified drawings. Why the modification I hear you ask? Well, because the grand designs the architect drew up were completely unfeasible. I thought that architects not only planned creative solutions but that they worked within the limitations of the structural requirements. Clearly our experience hasn’t been great, but I don’t want to generalise and I’m sure there are lots of great architects out there, ours just hasn’t been. In fact, all we needed was a builder and it’s a shame we hadn’t met the builder who did the work on our bedroom by then, because he has taken on the kitchen job and been a lot more helpful. Hopefully we’re starting work in a week or two, so we can actually see things come together.


Although I’m talking about an ‘Island’ here, we are actually having a peninsula than comes from the exterior wall but you can walk around on three sides, separating the working side of the kitchen from the social side :) so it will look something like this… Image via.

In the meantime, the interior plans have been ticking along. When we found our kitchen it was on display in the shop and miraculously the layout could be slightly rejigged to fit our plans. We had to buy an additional couple of units to finish it off but it meant we could afford a kitchen that was otherwise way out of our budget. As the display was being removed we had the option to buy the worktops and sink too. The worktop is a veined black granite but very unusual, because it has a matt ‘honed’ finish, like the graining on a soft leather handbag. (I posted a picture on instagram showing the finish this morning.) I really deliberated about this decision. It was a good price, but I really wanted marble. Not just for the look but for the pale colour to bounce more light around.


How honed granite looks in situ via Pinterest

On our kitchen research trips I asked lots of people about marble as a work surface and was met with a variety of reactions, from derision to outright patronisation. I was told marble was for show kitchens in the kitchens of the rich, that it would stain and I would regret it. Of course I already knew that, having extensively researched the pro’s and con’s. For those of you who don’t know much about worktops, one of the pro’s for granite is that it’s tough. Marble on the other hand is soft and porous. It can scratch, dent, crack or ‘etch’, which is the correct term for the marks that are left on the surface from acidic foods coming into contact with it. Lemons and tomatoes all have this effect and anything dark can be absorbed leaving stains that can’t be wiped off or cleaned with usual cleaning products because they are sucked in to the stone itself. Pretty terrifying stuff, right? The problem was, I still couldn’t stop myself from wanting it, so I decided to do a little experiment.

The majority of the nay sayers amongst kitchen salespeople simply didn’t want to sell us the marble and be responsible for us then telling them it had marked or stained etc and demanding our money back. Tracy, our kitchen designer basically dared me to try some red wine on it. As much as I told her I would look after it she convinced me that after a party one night or when we had family visiting, someone wouldn’t take care of the marble like I did and it might get ruined. So I put red wine o the bottom of a glass, left it on a marble sample I had and promptly forgot about it until a couple of days later. It left a hideous stain which of course didn’t come out. After a bit of google research I read somewhere that in Latin countries where marble is used all the time for worktops they simply clean it with bleach. And what do you know, out it came. It removed balsamic vinegar too. The etching was still there from the vinegar but that is really only visible when the light shines across the marble and highlights the difference in texture between the polished finish and the matt etched areas. If you go for a ‘honed’ (matt) marble finish, this is less obvious again.


Images via Pinterest 1 // 2

So, decision time. Right now, (although I’m having a last minute wobble with the anticipation of a toddler throwing spaghetti bolognese all over it!) the plan is a compromise. We are going to reuse the granite from the display along the back wall’s run of units, either side of the cooker and in the cabinet where the coffee machine etc will go. This will be harder wearing and give a fuss free prep area. On the island, (where the sink will be) we’re going with honed marble for the look I love. Fingers crossed it works!


Hopefully this is pretty close to how our kitchen will look from one end, looking pack towards the house. Image via.

Because of our limited space there isn’t going to be the option for a dining table but the island will have bar stools for feeding kids (and adults!) at on a daily basis. The Back wall run of units will be drawers all the way along for a sleek look and the sink area you see above will be rejigged to make one side of the island with dishwasher etc. My only gripe now is that the handles that came with the kitchen are chrome finish and I really wanted brass, along with brass taps. Now I’ve just got to decided on tiles, flooring and lighting. It feels never ending but I can’t wait to get it all done and finished. Preferably before Baby arrives!

So that’s it for now readers, I hope I haven’t bored you but it has been a long process. And we haven’t even started yet. Tell me it will be ok?! (Or if I’m making a huge mistake with something!!!)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. If you happen to be interested in Marble, then here are some of the articles I researched from people actually living with Marble worktops:
Georgica Pond
For the love of a house
I also emailed Courtney Adamo for Advice who has this beautiful honed marble worktop.

#JanuaryJoy: Plan a room

Right now my life is consumed by decor plans but they are in the main completely abstract, because one room keeps getting in the way – the kitchen. After our extension issues (around the monster sewer pipe,) we have now decided to stick to the original foot print of the house and make the space from within, i.e. by removing the chimney breast and nib that sticks out from the small kitchen at the back in to the room. Although the living room and hall are driving me NUTS looking at them, we have to do this first and financially, it’s a huge drain on our expendable cash that keeps growing. We need to pay for the kitchen itself, the appliances, worktops, flooring, lighting and then the building work which involves installing a lot of glass, more £££. So the room I’ve been planning is, not surprisingly the kitchen.

We decided to skip to the fun bit and figure out the kitchen itself first. It might seem shortsighted, but that was the most important bit to me, and therefore we decided to let it influence the design. I was really unsure as to whether we would extend the kitchen as our architect put forward an idea to cantilever out over the sewer pipe, but clearly that wasn’t going to be cheap and I wanted to know if the right kitchen could make better use of the existing space.

I knew what I wanted, grey cupboards, light worktops (preferably marble) and an island unit. So off we went.


Image via

The first place we looked was Ikea. The new Lidingo grey kitchen is a dark grey traditional looking door style and most importantly we knew it would be Cheap with a capital C. I actually really like it and I know people with Ikea kitchens that look great, I was just worried about longevity and if the quality would hold out. We actually costed it up using the online planner and it came to less than £3000 for the cupboards, then we would have added in appliances, taps, sink, and the marble tops ontop of that.

Next we happened to see a grey kitchen in B&Q (Carisbrooke Taupe, part of their Cooke and Lewis range) that was an ‘in-frame’ kitchen – a style I had fallen in love with but you don’t see that often and tends to be more expensive than average. We thought we would book a design consultation and see what they could come up with and the cost (again excluding appliances etc) was about £5,500, although we were told at the time that the sale was coming and we would get 20% upwards off it then. We didn’t warm to the kitchen designer at all – he didn’t offer any design input other than asking us what we wanted, which is what we were there for, to see if he had any ideas about our awkward space.

Next on the list for investigation was a tip off from a reader when I wrote about kitchens, British Standard. An off shoot of Plain English Kitchens, which are handmade and retail at 45-50K, British Standard are supposed to offer handmade, British joinery for a budget price – you have to design it yourself and work out all your sizes etc and fit it, not to mention the small matter of picking it up and finishing it in whatever paint you want too. I love these, but it seemed like quite a daunting task and although they don’t come up anywhere near their sister company’s prices, they still are not cheap – the website states ‘£7000 for a modest sized kitchen including worktops’.

I should also give special mention to John Lewis who I am still completely disgusted with. They also do an in-frame, grey kitchen as part of their classic collection and each display has a kitchen design leaflet of what a small kitchen with the units corresponding to the drawing will cost. It wasn’t dissimilar to what we needed in terms of space and units so I asked the sales person to help us and was basically told that it would cost twice that, everybody gets carried away and completely patronised. I got the distinct impression that he felt we couldn’t afford it and he seemed to be doing his best to put us off. Needless to say, I left.

Lastly, Michelle convinced me to contact a colleague of hers at TruKitchen and get some serious design advice. I really hesitated because I didn’t think they would have what we wanted and if they did that it wouldn’t be at a price we could afford. But then I found out they do sell some in-frame handmade kitchens, and it turned out the designers advice was what made us realise we didn’t need to extend at all – completely invaluable. In a final twist of fate, Tracey thought that they might actually have something that would fit our space perfectly and that was already on display instore. One of their brands Hamilton Drake produces bespoke handmade kitchens and I fell in love.


Our kitchen, in the showroom at TruKitchen

So we decided to bite the bullet. It’s more than we planned to pay, but it will hopefully last and instead of that being daunting (I was always put off by people who said ‘this kitchen will last you 25 years’, because I thought, I might not like it in 25 years!) I know that I can have it repainted if I go off grey and that it is beautifully made.

Now we’re just narrowing down the appliances and we have decide on a range cooker as it fits the space better and I love the look of them. What I can’t decide on and need advice on is what kind of top to get- gas or induction? I was 100% for gas, for the function and aesthetic, but having cleaned my own gas top twice on New Years Day I had a sudden change of heart and thought life is too short, lets get induction. I’ve since seen a couple of induction tops that I like (this, this and this,) but I can’t decide if it will look right. I’ll talk more about the design of the kitchen itself next time, but one of the things that put me off was the contrast of the black induction top against the white marble, but we’re now having black granite along that back panel so it will blend in… So I need your advice readers, induction or gas?!

Have you got a room planned to tackle this year? Do tell! I’d love to hear about something other than my kitchen!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

A work in progress…

I feel like I have been a bit quiet lately although the blog is keeping ticking over, and I don’t have much to report on the fashion, home or life front because it feels like nothing is happening. In actual fact, loads is happening but in this house I was determined to make the right decisions, so I have really allowed myself the luxury of time to mull over them. As we are doing room by room I’m getting the chance to carefully consider each element, how they go together and be sure I’m happy so hopefully there will be no costly mistakes. Of course, if all this sounds very decadent, let’s keep it real, we’re also desperately scraping cash together month by month to do each step of the renovation, so money is a limiting factor too. Today I thought I’d share some ‘progress’ pictures with you all, so you might get some insight into how I decorate.

After this post about my living room ideas I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth is and decide if I can stomach this deep shade of blue on ALL the walls (I think Becca’s comment was spot on…) The Fabric here is Bluebellgray and the paint is Farrow and Ball Pitch Blue. I always try paint on lining paper so it’s not a nightmare to paint over patches of different shades and I always do one for each wall – everyone who has seen ours up have asked what the paints are, assuming it was more than one shade, illustrating how different they can look in different lights.

The bedroom is in a similar state although with more choice and after my fruitless search for a chalky pinky grey, we’re going back to actual grey in Cornforth White for in here. In the background you can see the large scale painterly floral fabric in grey with a touch of lilac that I’ve ordered the curtains in and the new windows are being fitted next week! Then come January, the wall you see here will be gone as it’s knocked through to the dressing room. I’m psyching myself up to move out into one of the chilly attic rooms!

Obviously, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and not having somewhere to eat in there was driving me mad. We ordered a table from made.com which we knew would be an interim measure as in the future we homed to have an island in the new kitchen. Eventually it dawned on me that the lead time on it was so long (It still wouldn’t have been delivered by now,) that we should just get something from Ikea. While we were on one of many trips there it dawn don me that we could buy a free standing island and kill two birds with one stone as we also answered the question bout how feasible it would be to squeeze an island into that space.

So for £200 we got a kitchen table and island in one and I am using it for storage too with my Sophie Conran Crockery displayed on it along with my excessive collection of cookery books stacked on the top shelf.

Of course we needed some seating but ikeas selection was pretty poor and I wouldn’t have minded spending money on ones we would keep but I doubted that I had a clear enough vision on the kitchen to do that. Vicky tipped me off about these Tolix look-alikes from Home Bargains for £19.99! Incredible!

Lastly, we still don’t have our main tree up, but we did put a fake one in the hall as it was just crying out for some Christmas spirit…

Now we’re starting to make small changes and the house is working for us, it’s feeling much more like ours :)

I hope you enjoyed seeing what’s going on readers, have a great weekend,

Love,
Rebecca
xo

New House Tour: Part 1

The truth is, I don’t know where to start with this post. There’s so much to show and so much to tell that it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve decided to divide the house into 2 halves and then I’m going to do a few room specific posts with mood boards and tell you about our plans. I can’t count the number of people who have said ‘You’ve got mood boards right?’ and in all honesty, I haven’t! Ok, I have vague overall ideas and themes in mind but the detail is only just becoming clearer in my mind. It’s amazing how living in a house changes your ideas and plans and in the mere week that we’ve been in so much has changed in my mind already.

*Please bear with the photo’s – I can’t find my camera cable yet and these were all taken on my iPhone the weekend we moved in.

So, lets get the basics out there. The house is old, a true Victorian house, built in 1898. Super old. And it’s big. Remember my dream house post a few weeks back? Well one of the things we wanted in the new house was space for people to stay – namely our families. Neither of our families are local and we’d like a chance at hosting Christmas without people driving one year, and the ability to have both sets of grandparents at once for example when we have a family. The new house has 3 floors, 4 if you count the cellars, and hence a few bedrooms. It has Pete’s stipulations of a drive and a garage (a monstrosity of a double one actually, soon to meet the sledge hammer.)

It doesn’t have everything though, and I’ll talk you through that as we go around, but we’re very happy already – it almost feels like we have always been here. We’re planning on being here for 10ish years – right now the only thing we can see making us move is schooling decisions, as the secondary schools locally are currently not great, but I’m not a fan of the idea of private schooling, so we’ll see.

Let’s start with the ground floor…

There’s a lovely wide hall and the original stained glass door, after the open porch. The hall is an L-shape, turning 90 degrees to the left when you walk further in. That left turn takes you up the stairs or alongside them towards the kitchen, but we’ll get there in a second.

At the front of the house, there are 2 equal sized rooms off the hall. We’ve chosen one as the living room, with a big bay window and what they call an ‘oriel window’ with more stained glass to the side. It looks pretty murky from outside, but inside it reveals it’s true colours, all sorts of gorgeous pastel shades. So pretty.


The other front room is going to be the dining room. The window is different here, with 2 large flat windows in a kind of slight rectangular bay. it juts out a bit but is flat with no side windows if that makes sense.

Sadly neither room has any original fireplaces, but the cornice, picture rails, skirtings and doors are all original, as is the stained glass. Both the rooms are fairly recently carpeted and neutrally decorated, so whilst the cream is driving me mad, it’s also a lot less offensive than it potentially could be. Over-all the house is all very well kept and we’re fortunate in that everything that has been done, has been done properly. As you can see we were also lucky in that the previous owners left the curtains and light fittings, so we’re not dealing with bare bulbs or scrambling for ‘in the mean time’ curtains.

Also off the hall is the downstairs toilet (I know, how exciting is that?) which is lovely. There’s room for coats (behind the door) in built-in frosted glass floor to ceiling cupboards, a new toilet and sink and the walls are half clad in tongue and groove wood, with cream damask wallpaper above. On a practical level, it’s great to have somewhere to hide away the cats litter tray too!

Lastly, we have the kitchen – source of much angst in the exchange process and hampered by our monster pipe. Because of the awkward layout, the previous owners described the tiny back room as the kitchen and it’s where the oven, hob, half size dishwasher and sink are all squeezed into.

The larger space is billed as ‘the breakfast room’ and has a run of units, some original built in cupboards and the fridge/freezer is concealed under the worktops here. All the appliances and the lack of cupboards makes for a serious lack of storage and we were quite lucky in the old house having a galley kitchen lined with cupboards both sides top and bottom. There’s also a lack of worktop space, or maybe we just have too many gadgets?

We bought a little dresser from the previous owners, (amongst other things) which we’re using for extra storage and I intend to paint and pretty up. The windows look out the the garden and there’s a back door (which is a stable door) and I actually quite love, plus it’s handy for keeping the cats in whilst getting some air in.

So that’s one quarter of the house, and another whole quarter is below ground in the cellars. I’ve never been a fan of cellars or coveted them, although a lot of people seem quite in love with the idea (men particularly.)

Ours match the entire footprint of the house so there are two empty chambers at the front, space where the hall would be, a workshop beneath the downstairs loo and another empty chamber under the kitchen. To the far rear in the area beneath our strange tiny kitchen, there’s plumbing for the washer (and a dryer which we don’t currently have,) as a pseudo utility room. And under the hall, shelving makes for an extension of the kitchen in a dry store come pantry area.

I don’t have any cellar pictures as yet. What I will say is that it’s fab to have space to store things that isn’t a dusty loft and there will be plenty of space to do diy projects in winter without messing up the house.

I’ll leave it there for now and come back next week with the first and second floors, it’s a warren up there! I hope you like it :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Kitchen Gadgets: The luxe edition

This morning, we’re welcoming Esme back, with part 2 of her must-have kitchen items round up, this time tackling the opposite end of the budget. I knew Esme had a perfect take on the subject matter when I saw her first suggestion below… ‘be still my beating heart!’ No pun intended ;)

In part 1 I introduced three non-expensive items from my kitchen. These next two are more ‘investment items’ that are, in my opinion, worth every penny.

Kichen Aid Artisan mixer. (£377-449)
I’m guessing that most people know someone who can go on and on about how much they love their stand mixer, be it a Kitchen Aid, Kenwood Chef or other. I am another one of those people. It is not a cheap piece of kit and, to be honest, it actually doesn’t do that much, but I wouldn’t give mine up for a lifetime’s supply of Ferrero Rocher. Picture this: it’s 8:30 pm and you suddenly realise that you’d promised to bring a cake into work for the charity bake sale, but Desperate Housewives is on in half an hour and you still haven’t paid the credit card bill or washed your sports bra for Zumba. Kitchen Aid to the rescue! Chuck the butter and sugar into the bowl and, whilst you find the card reader for the online banking and put your delicates in the kitchen sink to soak, it’s paler and fluffier than you would have been able to achieve after twenty arm-aching minutes. In go the eggs as you text your sister to remind her about your Dad’s birthday, flour and flavourings are added and slowly mixed in as you line the baking tray and take the ice-cream out of the freezer ready for scoffing in front of the TV. By the time the cake’s come out of the oven, the no-effort-from-you-lump-free icing will have been made and you’ve repainted your toenails.

It also makes pastry and dough without you even having to think about it – well, you have to put the ingredients in and switch it on, but that’s it. Plus, the colours it comes in are gorgeous and I promise you it will still be going strong, and be looking impressive on your counter top, in twenty years.

Le Creuset shallow casserole. (£145)
We actually have two Le Creuset casserole dishes – the absolutely frigging massive one for when we need to make soup for fifty (or bolognese for ten hungry boys) and this shallow one that I honestly use, on average, three times a week. I make everyday meals like risotto and pasta sauces in it on the hob and slightly more complex dinners such as chicken stew, using it to first brown the meat and then moving it straight into the oven. It’s more than big enough for four portions, keeps its heat really well and is nice enough to go on the table for serving. It’s my go-to pan for fry-ups and one-pot wonders, re-heating and anything that involves simmering to improve the flavour. And if I see you going near it with a metal spoon, you will not be getting seconds.

I first wanted one of these when I noticed that Nigella Lawson always seemed to be using hers in her cooking shows and now I know why. It’s only going to get better with age as it becomes more non-stick and loved and I bet I’m still using this same dish to serve up family favourites when my (not yet in existence) children come home to visit from university. Now that’s good value.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your suggestions in this category – do drop us both a comment and share your thoughts.

Love,
Rebecca
xo