My house: Kitchen reveal

This post has been a very long time coming… I think we were back in the kitchen and using it about a month before Bea was born in July last year, but its taken me a considerable amount of time to take decent photos in good light, then I was thwarted by a camera malfunction (which is why some of the photos show different items in them!) but it’s finally ready to share. (Want a recap on what we started out with? Theres a few more pictures in our new house tour.)

I’ve shared various planning posts about the kitchen before which I have linked at the end of the article. If you read any of these posts before, you might know that we bought an ex-display kitchen that was about to be dismantled from a shop that was being refitted. It was a massive saving and whilst it was still not a small amount, it saved us I reckon about 50% on similar inframe solid wood kitchens. I absolutely love the style and the quality is also amazing. The smaller drawers have wooden dividers and felt lining inside, everything is soft close and has a heavy feel of quality about it which I’m really happy with. The units were originally a mix of dark brown and this soft grey (Farrow and Ball’s Dove Tale) so the whole thing was repainted to match. The handles were part of the deal and I’m so glad I didn’t have to choose any myself as I think it might have sent me over the edge! We chose Great White (also F&B) for the walls as it has a hint of pink which I felt the room needed as it’s west and north facing so can appear cold. It goes beautifully with the kitchen units I’m pleased to say!

We chose all SMEG appliances, mainly after searching for a range style oven. There were two reasons we went for a range instead of sleek inbuilt overns… firstly the kitchen aesthetic suited a range and secondly, we actually couldn’t configure the layout to work with a wall mounted oven set up anyway. Once we found the right range (we wanted one with clean lines and so many are covered in twidly buttons or have vintage design details,) we then looked at the rest of the SMEG range and found them to be competitive with other brands of comparative quality so we bought a 60/40 fridge freezer and our dishwasher from SMEG too. So far, we’re very happy with all of the appliances, particularly the oven. :)

The sink (as un-sexy as it is to talk about) was a big deal for me. In the old kitchen there had been a single sink and I can’t tell you how much it irritated me that there was no second or half sink to empty things into for rinse into. I wanted a sleek modern square one and it took me ages to find one that was reasonably priced but I finally did in B&Q, from their Cooke and Lewis range. I know not everyone likes stainless steel but it worked with the stainless steel range and hood and I like the finish personally. For the taps I searched high and low, but we ended up reusing the tap from the old kitchen when I realised all the ones I liked were exactly the same!

The biggest thing for me was the work tops and we finally went with Carrara marble. I LOVED the look of marble but nobody has anything good to say about it in a kitchen. All the stories are true – marble chips, scratches, stuns and etches with abandon, leading to a ‘patina’ of wear which doesn’t bother me at all. The one thing I was terrified of was staining but I’ve found coffee, juice and fruit spots on the marble and all have simply wiped off (although it had been sealed prior to and after installation.) The marble was actually cheaper than any other stone work surface and I’m really glad we went for it still.

The floor was another huge decision – I wanted real wood and although again, people don’t recommend it, I didn’t see any reason why not to go for it – although a kitchen floor does get wet, you don’t leave it wet do you?! We ened up however going for Kardean and its another decision we are really happy with. It looks fab – I wanted a parquet herringbone effect but only the top of the range was available in parquet style tiles. I was very particular about the colour and finish of the wood effect which was only available in the (fortunately) cheapest range, so we chopped the tiles in half and ended up with this oversized herringbone effect. It actually works to make the space look bigger and I love it.

Lastly, the light was the result of a bit of trial and error. I originally wanted 2 pendants over the island and bought some copper fisherman style ones from M&S, but unfortunately they only reached 80cm long from the ceiling. As our house is old with over 3m high ceilings they kind of hung half mast and looked insignificant. The same night they we installed (and removed swiftly) I spotted this statement pendant and made a snap decision to buy it. The electricians weren’t very pleased with me but I’m happy with the touch of glamour it adds to the space.

The stools are the old ones we bought as a temporary measure for the island we used in the kitchen before it was re-done. I haven’t found the right thing to replace them and I actually quite like the pop of colour!

I’ll leave it there for now although I do have a couple of other posts to share on the kitchen including what we would do differently in retrospect and how the things we have chosen have worn, which might be useful for some of you planning future projects. In the mean time, I hope you like it! :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Suppliers/Sources:

Previous Kitchen posts:

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

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