Kitchen Gadgets: The budget edition

Before we get started today, just another reminder for the Florence Finds Afternoon tea in London and Manchester – full details can be found here and I really need your invite requests and payments before the weekend so I can confirm numbers – there is still space so get in touch!

This morning we have a guest post from Esme (who recommended Mr Underhills House a while back) that grabbed my attention pretty quickly when I received it. My kitchen is bursting with kitchen paraphernalia, from an obscenely large collection of occasional dishes to coffee grinders and blenders. I’m always on the look out for something to make life easier but this post got me thinking, what would you recommend in your kitchen? Here are Esme’s top tips…

It’s fair to say that in my family, the kitchen is the most important room of the house. It’s where we spend most of our time, where our friends congregate, where problems are discussed and jokes shared over dinner, drinks, nibbles and tea and cake (not at the same time, you understand). It’s also where an embarrassingly large proportion of our money goes. You see, our kitchen cupboards are FULL of equipment, gadgets, serving bowls, things for measuring and stuff for cooking. When we were planning our wedding, we always knew that we would have an old-fashioned wedding list of things for our home (mainly the kitchen…) because that was what we wanted and we honestly do use it all, frequently (ok, my husband does have a drawer full of random cooking-related paraphernalia that he swears he cannot do without but I bet he has never used).

All of this, I think, makes me more than qualified to recommend just a few kitchen items that I think are incredibly useful, worth the cost and will look lovely in your kitchen.

Alessi Storage Jar (12.50)
You would think it would be easy enough to find a storage jar for coffee that will go in the fridge. Well let me tell you that it is actually not that easy, as I had been looking for one for years! It had to be big enough to store sufficient ground coffee – we buy Fair Trade beans and grind it ourselves every few weeks – have a good seal to keep it fresh, not contain any metal and look nice. The Alessi jar fulfils all of my criteria, as well as being able to go in the dishwasher, is not easily breakable as it’s acrylic rather than glass and comes in lots of different colours to match other items in your kitchen. I love it and don’t think I will ever find a better jar for the job.

Microplane Grater (£23)
When our old Ikea grater finally gave up the ghost (you know the one, with the plastic tub and the two different lids?) and wasn’t so much grating cheese as just denting it and we realised that our rusty metal stand-up grater wasn’t exactly hygienic, I finally gave in to my husband’s requests to buy a seemingly ridiculously expensive Microplane grater. ‘It will change our lives’, he declared as I baulked at the £23 price tag, in comparison to £1.50 for a replacement for our Ikea one. So whilst our new grater doesn’t pay the gas bill and hasn’t fixed the condensation problem with our bedroom window, I have to admit that it’s really, really good. It’s super sharp (and will remain so for many years) making grating cheese, zesting lemons and making chocolate sprinkles effortless. All it needs is a quick rinse after using (watch your fingers!) and it’s not at all bulky. Trust me, you won’t believe how good this is until you try it.

Microwaveable Rice Cooker (£8)
We’ve used one of these for years and won’t make rice using anything else. Why would you when it takes much less effort and time than making it in a saucepan and always gives perfect results? We are such fans of this steamer (you can also use it for vegetables and fish) that several of our friends have received them as house-warming presents. Don’t say we’re not thoughtful…

Now it’s your turn. I’m dying to hear what you can think of in your kitchen that is under £25 and you wouldn’t be without… I’m looking forward to picking up some more tips!


Real Rooms: A modern Edwardian kitchen

This morning, I hope you are all feeling suitably excited as I have got a real corker of a Real Room to share with you all. Anna sent in her beautiful Kitchen renovation to me before Christmas and I saved it up to inspire you all in January – I’m considering a kitchen re-do myself and Anna’s period meets modern style really works for me. I hope it inspires you all too and thank you Anna!

In a fit of desperation that we would indeed find the House of Our Dreams before Christmas 2010, I instructed Mr. R to make an offer on ‘the one with the sunken bath’.
It ticked all the boxes (mostly). Perfect location twixt high street (jammed full of kitsch boutiques, organic fooderies and gastropubs) and the park; west-facing (stamp-sized) garden; right price (give or take); nice front door (very important).
It needed a little work. But we were more than happy to take this on, quite excited in fact at a) having a project and b) getting to chose exactly what we wanted in the new kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms etc.

So, from February to July we planned, sketched, looked at magazines, measured, and argued about discussed how our house was going to look. With electric and damp issues to resolve and new floors throughout, no room was to be spared. Without a doubt, however, the biggest changes were going to be going on in the kitchen.

Previously this was a pokey little number that could only be accessed through a pretty pointless long corridor from the front door and equally useless dining area. We knew from the start that we wanted to knock through to make one great big kitchen/diner.

The false ceiling (which housed the bottom of the sunken bath) was the first casualty. Just removing this and restoring the ceiling to its original height instantly made the room feel much bigger. After hastily arranging a party wall agreement with our neighbours (by phone from Boston – note, don’t leave admin until the very last minute, it’s not ideal to be doing it on holiday) the builders knocked down the original archway and doorway et voilà, goodbye small Edwardian rooms, hello brand spanking new kitchen/diner.

White gloss units and black granite worktops give the room a contemporary feel alongside the period features. We developed a hankering for classic wood furniture in our previous house which we would have to make fit (in both literal and decorative senses). Installing a solid oak floor not only added a touch of timeless elegance but also pulled together the sleek modern kitchen area with the wooden dining furniture.

Then we added lights, and lots of them.

Of course, we put a great deal of thought into our juxtaposition of contemporary and classic furniture. But most of our decisions we based on choosing things we liked and putting them together, hoping they’d work. We think they do.

Please do drop a comment in the box below if you are planning a kitchen make-over or just love this one… 🙂


PS If you’d like to see more real rooms on Florence Finds, then please send yours in – you can find out more information on the Submissions page.

Florence’s Gift Guide #4

This morning for the fourth Florence’s Gift Guide, I’m tackling one of my favourite things to buy – kitchen goodies! Everyone knows someone who considers themselves a whizz in the kitchen and often, the kitchen is where people feel they can’t really splash out or spend money on frivolous finishing touches. I often see gorgeous items that I really want to buy for people so this was an easy one for me 🙂

  • I bought this for my sister last year and think it looks super smart on a kitchen worktop or table displaying your latest creations! Laura Ashley Cake stand with dome.
  • Do you know someone who collects Le Creuset but can’t afford to add to their collection? These are super cute and affordable at £20 – Le Creuset Preserve Jar – John Lewis
  • Perfect for a new couple or first married Christmas gift… White Heart serving bowl – The White Company
  • I love drinking bubbles and often take them to friends houses to celebrate little achievements or milestones, but not everyone has lovely champagne flutes. Marks and Spencers has several fabulous rages of glassware at the moment – well worth a look even for your own home! Champagne Flutes – M&S
  • For those who want to splash out there’s nothing better than the Candy Apple Red KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer – John Lewis
  • Warm somebody up with this tactile cable knit textured tea set – Cable Knit tea set – BHS
  • Because everyone needs one ad this is scandi-style at it best: Red Biscuit tin – M&S
  • Also available in white, I love the witty take on this ceramic Silver Milk Carton –

Have you found anything here to help with your Christmas get shopping? Or is there something I have missed? Come back at 11 for the next gift guide – for home lovers, or check out the past gift guides for men, Etsy Gifts, and the girls.


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