Renovation Ruminations: The Kitchen

Hello readers! So today, I’m going to talk about the kitchen. My new kitchen 🙂

If that sounds smug, then read on. Our kitchen is a bit of a double edged sword for me. I can’t tell you how long I have wanted a kitchen of MY choosing. We lived in a flat first, then our last house, and in both the kitchens were standard ‘developer’ kitchens. B&Q, boring, cheap. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with B&Q and I am all about cheap right now, but there was just nothing interesting about them. Totally inoffensive but not for me. So one of the deal breakers on any house we bought was that I got to choose a new kitchen, regardless of how old the existing one was. In fact, the kitchen in the new house is 2 years old so I feel bad, but I’m going to be living with it for 10+ years, so I want what I want. All good so far, yes?

Well, no. Those of you who read the story of our exchange/completion process will know that we planned to extend the house across the back and make a huge dining kitchen area, for family life. You know that whole, cooking and eating and socialising thing that everybody covets. Then the monster pipe showed up and put paid to that idea. We decided the house had so many other good things about it we would go ahead and I have made my peace with the decision, but it was a big compromise. The existing space is not as big as I would wish for a kitchen at all and it is Awkward with a capital A, so it’s going to be a challenge. And before any of you offer suggestions to build over the pipe, honestly, we have looked into it every which way, it’s a total no go.

So, the room in it’s existing form has units all down one side of the kitchen (some in front of a chimney breast) and 2 smallish windows looking out to the back. It has several problems which we need to address:

  • It’s small, the shape is awkward and there is a real lack of storage. (It probably looks like there are more cupboards than there are as the fridge and freezer are both integrated into the main under worktop units and in the small ‘kitchen’ area all the base units are either oven, half dishwasher or under sink.)
  • The back of the house really doesn’t connect to the garden.
  • We need to somehow squeeze in an eating area for midweek meals and hopefully one day feeding the kids.
  • Also, the ground floor is a metre off the ground so we need to do something to bring the house and garden together a bit more.

It’s going to be a big job and there are going to be several more kitchen posts coming at you but to set the scene before I skip to the decor, this is what we’re going to do. To expand the existing space, the chimney breast is being taken out and the small wall that juts into the room is also being taken out. That will give us quite a bit more space to play with. The back door will be replaced with a window and the existing larger window and blank side wall will be replaced with glass. Big sliding doors, wrapping around the corner so we have a much better view into and of the garden. Then in the space where we would have extended, we’ll create some kind of tiered patio area to connect the house and garden seamlessly. As soon as we have our architects drawings I will show you what we’re planning. For now though, as I can’t control anything else, I’m focusing on the kitchen itself.

Fortunately here I know exactly what I want. My tastes have come full circle from all white kitchens I used to covet, to the grey I now want. Grey units, white marble worktops, and brass accents for warmth and a bit of glamour. I’m thinking about making a nod to the house’s history with period detailing, but also creating a contemporary space for socialising whilst still keeping it functional. I dream of having an island and it remains to be seen if we can fit one in manageably, more on that later.

Image via HonestlyWTF

The one variable is the tone of grey, I used to lean towards a really soft pale grey but now I’m liking the moodier vide of a darker shade, perhaps even going two tone with a darker island and paler main kitchen. Realistically, this is going to come down to where the kitchen comes from as we’re currently scoping out everywhere from IKEA to bespoke kitchen designers. More flexibility = more £££ and that will be a tough call. I don’t want to compromise on such an important room, but equally I hate the idea of paying a fortune for a kitchen ‘that will last you 25 years’ and being sick of it and stuck with it in 10 years time.

Image of Courtney Adamo‘s kitchen via Design Mom

We also need to decide what to do with the awkward (that’s the fifth time that word has cropped up, you get the picture…) small area at the back. Do we include it in the run of kitchen units along that wall thereby extending the storage and workspace? Or do we make a built in seating area for cosy breakfasts and midweek dinners? I would prefer that I think but I really don’t know if we can afford to do it, storage wise, although we are very lucky in that the cellar will afford us a pantry, second fridge freezer and all the utility area is down there too, so there’s no need to squeeze in a washing machine or dryer.

Image of Ali Cayne’s kitchen, via Domino

So there you have it readers. Some very abstract plans. Next time I’ll take you through the kitchen options and hopefully soon I’ll be able to show you some drawings of the planned building work.

I’d love to hear any thoughts or advice you have!


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21 thoughts on “Renovation Ruminations: The Kitchen

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one to be fussy about boring kitchen units! I really like the kitchen in our flat and when we were house hunting I actually dismissed one new build because they’d already put the kitchen in and it was horrible (BLACK units).

    In terms of your space and the storage issue – I really like the kitchen renovations they showed recently on A Beautiful Mess with a lot of open shelving, don’t know whether that would work for you?

    Also, please tell me you’re keeping the metro tiles. I love metro tiles!

  2. Love the second and third kitchen pictures best – so light and airy! The kitchen in our house was liveable when we moved in so we have stuck with it (and it will be the last room to be done or wont be done at all if we end up moving!) but these pictures makes me really want to do it!! The plans sound fab especially the terrace area onto the garden! Will be gorgeous xx

  3. I love the new kitchen images you’ve included here.

    We are having a new kitchen fitted in a month or so, dark grey units at the bottom and white at the top with a white ‘marble look’ top. Not a massive renovation as were pretty much sticking to the current layout and definitely doing it on budget as we plan to move in 2-3 years time or less. All the units were from Howdens on a trade a account and we’re having a local tradesman in to fit it.

    Hadn’t thought about adding some brass accents, so may pinch that idea from you 😉

    Have you tried plain English kitchens? They do a budget range of cabinets which are still excellent quality.

  4. Love this. I really like your glass wall idea. I love a bit of kitchen porn on a Wednesday morning.

    We have a nice kitchen, but far from dream kitchen. Its from Howdens, and perfectly pleasant. I’ve never wanted to spend the cash, as at some point we’ll be swapping homes with Andy’s parents. His parents have a mahoosive Victorian farmhouse, so I’m saving my cash for the farmhouse. The kitchen is not how I want it, but I’m planning to paint it, put a granite work top, new handles, and tiles, and maybe add a plate rack….. or something like that. My mother-in-law had her dream kitchen fitted over 20 years ago. It cost £10,000 at the times, and the units are oak. They are still in good condition and the quality is fabulous. I cannot bring myself to rip out, such a good quality kitchen, to replace with a cheaper built kitchen. I could only afford a Howdens kitchen, so would rather work with quality already in place. However if starting from scratch, I would change the room that is the kitchen, and have the dining room, as the kitchen. I could then fit in an island, and have a massive multi-purpose space. Gaah, I could never afford it though, so I’ll be sensible, and work with what I’ve got. First world problems.


  5. Like you Rebecca, I am in love with the bespoke in-frame look, but as we’re looking at our house as a potential 10 year house too, it’s totally not worth us looking at bespoke cabinet makers.

    I have done endless kitchen research and am now ready to hit the order button on an inframe kitchen from DIY Kitchens. I have been to their showroom, which was a 2.5 hour drive for me, but closer to you I suspect. They are really helpful and in my opinion the quality is much better than B&Q etc, but the real clincher for me was that they will paint the units any farrow and ball colour you like! You can order different colours for the islands etc. All for a really good price. We’re going for Cornforth White units with Silestone, Laguna marble effect counters.

    I am looking forward to getting my life back and stepping away from the imac as soon as this bad boy is ordered!

  6. Our current kitchen in very very tiny and I am used to bigger kitchens. I spend most of my time in the kitchen and washroom lol 😀 so I like my space. Definitely a spacious kitchen diner for me. I also love the kitchen glass doors that open up completely.

    I love the kitchen idea from Adamo’s kitchen. The layout and the space is perfect
    Naaj Ronas Lifestyle

  7. Hi – I can highly recommend a company called No 1 Kitchens in Rochdale, they will beat any like for like quote & have a staff of designers/planners & fitting staff who don’t charge the earth like B&Q & Howdens, etc, they’ve been in business 25 years. Take a look at their website, I’m sure they’d fix you up! (if you do give them a call, ask for Sian, he’s the owner & he does appointments too). Good Luck!

  8. I saw Courtney’s kitchen on Design Mom the other week, and immediately thought aha, Brooklyn kitchen! 🙂 It’s the right layout for yours too – I love a long run of units plus an island. And the glass corner is going to look spectacular.

    We’re currently figuring out our new kitchen layout, too – my advice would be to work out exactly what you need to store in what type of cupboards/drawers/shelves and where (ie proximity to dishwasher). If you can store a bunch of things (that might usually go in the kitchen) elsewhere – larger infrequently used appliances, oven dishes, vases etc in the cellar utility room, fancy glassware that goes straight to the table in the dining room – factor in the appliance space required, and then you’ll know 100% if you can make room for the banquette or island with stools, either of which would be great for feeding baby and toddler Findettes one day 🙂

    Btw you’ve probably seen that Ikea are bringing out a new kitchen range called Metod (to replace Faktum) which looks fab, and includes lovely grey units – hopefully it’ll be available in the UK soon. I love Ikea kitchens!

  9. I’ve been thinking about this one as well ever since I visited your lovely new pad. What strikes me most is how you still describe it as awkward and even though you’ve come to terms with it are you still going to feel like you are compromising unless you get the big kitchen space you want?. I’m the same it’s been my dream forever to design my own kitchen and always thought I’d go down the DIY route as the perception of bespoke kitchens are that they can be a FORTUNE!. And granted they can, but I’ve recently had the opportunity to see firsthand the difference between bespoke and DIY and I can tell you they are worth every penny if you want something that’s perfect for your space (partic if it’s an awkward one) and something that will stand the test of time both functionally as well as aesthetically. Lost count of the amount of stories I’ve heard now of people who have gone to the general high-street/DIY stores and a few years later their kitchens are warping/falling apart etc.

    There’s a few things I’ve learnt about layouts too which may help, for example in your Ikea mockup the island unit in reality wouldn’t work very well as you need some depth to sit behind the sink area (giving you usable breakfast bar space for sitting there too), plus the sink placement splits up the worksurface quite a bit, as does the hob and tall block of oven units to the back run. You want to aim for a block of tall units that will house your oven, fridge etc off to one end then a longer run of surface area that works for food prep, serving/dishing out, baking etc. The standard designs of base and wall units probably won;t give you the storage space you need here and this is where I think you’ll really get your money’s worth with a professional designer.

    Re how you work with the space now you know the restrictions on extending, I’ve been thinking that maybe there are some more creative solutions for you?! Given you’re going to be renovating and having building work done you may as well make sure it’s giving you plenty back for the investment, so have you thought about….

    Extending on an angle?….ie is that red line on your plan exactly where the pipe is? If so you could extend out slightly into the garden and have your glass wall on a slant following the line of the pipe, opening up the room and taking away the top of the L part that’s really narrow and unusable space.

    The other idea – and it’s quite a radical one is to think more open plan – can you open up the entire kitchen area to the rest of the house and have the kitchen space totally open plan? retaining your dining and living rooms as separate rooms but giving you a really wide and bright open plan space for a kitchen diner with open stairs, this would give you a huge amount of space to work with and that end L bit could be closed off as a separate utility room.

    See these for examples of open stairways within a kitchen….

  10. I’m no help with layout as we knocked through and still did a rubbish job of a practical layout with ours! Leave enough room to walk through carrying things is my top tip. But I love the pale grey in the second image. It’s beautiful.

  11. Hi,

    This is Ray from DIY Kitchens, I’m glad you liked the style the kitchen tool and I must apologies for the developer ‘s sense of humour by adding the squirrel:-) If you have any suggestions on how we can improve the tool to make it even more useful for people to visualise their kitchen then please let us know.

    If you want to see one of our kitchens being fitted, without having to travel to our showroom then tune into ITV1 tomorrow (14/11/13) at 2:00pm to see Peter Andre fit it with his team! I’ve seen the pictures already and the kitchen is well funky!

    Rebecca when you are ready to order your kitchen and you order it from us (DIY Kitchens) then email me, I’ll make sure you get a discount on your kitchen units, if we have no offer on the site at the time:-)

  12. Hi Rebecca I used to work for B&Q and every year they have a MASSIVE showrooms sale just after Christmas (sorry if I sound like I am stating the obvious) I would do all my research now and then once I knew what I wanted put my order through then as I am positive lots of other similar places operate in the same way xx

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