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.
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!