My Kitchen Renovation: from cold to cosy

My Kitchen Renovation: from cold to cosy

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have already seen my kitchen a lot (sorry!). This was the worst room in the house when we bought it. It was an L shaped dark and dingy space that you wanted to spend as little time as possible in and had nothing “hygge” about it. The tiles were old, dirty and cold, the cabinets were very dated, there was a small window so very little natural light and a tiny space used as a utility room. We lived in the house for three years before renovating because when we moved in we were due to get married so spent our entire savings on the wedding. We also went on to have a second baby before we did the work.

In 2015, we began our renovations. Luckily we didn’t have to get a home improvement loan as I had taken voluntary redundancy from my job and was able to use the money to cover the cost of renovations. I will talk about the process in another blog post which overall was a horrendous process with rubbish builders. For now, I want to focus on the kitchen. We knew we needed to open up the space as the area used as a utility room was wasted and by removing that it would allow us to put bi-fold doors in and let lots of light flood in. We have a South West facing garden so are lucky with the light afternoons. We also wanted the kitchen to serve as a dining room as prior to the renovation work, the old dining table was in the living area. If we had a bigger budget we would have built an extension to also include a snug area. But we will just have to save that for our forever house.

The Table

I wanted the kitchen to be the heart of the home just as I imagine most people want when they renovate and I knew it was the place we would spend the most amount of time in. I was already a serial Pinterest addict having had three years to plan the kitchen. I wanted the focus of the room to be on the dining table, even though it’s not a huge space, I wanted it to make an impact. I had ripped a picture out of a magazine a few years ago and kept it and it was of a similar table made of steel and oak. I was in love with the contrast of such a cold and industrial material with the softness of wood. I of course couldn’t at that time find anything on the high street and then got lucky as a friend was leaving his job to set up his own carpentry business so he took it on to build his first one! They named the table after my biggest little lady, it’s called the “Isla table” and they went on to build a very successful business: Vamp Industries

The units and storage 

Aside from the table, the next dream was to have custom-built wooden cabinets and a concrete worktop…this of course did not happen as it would have cost a fortune! Instead, we visited lots of high street kitchen retailers from Wren, B&Q, Magnet, Ikea and they were either not quite right or out of budget. Up until the week before we picked our kitchen it was going to be a white matte handless one but I had second thoughts. We went back to the drawing board and realised that buying our kitchen separately was going to be the most affordable way for us to do it and we decided on shaker style units from Howdens. They are the “Burford” units in stone which is a really pale grey. We have 6 cupboards, 2 of which house integrated washing machine and dishwasher, 1 small corner cupboard, another small cupboard (half of the size of a standard one), an under sink cupboard and another half size one. We really don’t have much storage at all. This is the one room that isn’t in need of a Marie Kondo style decluttering session! We only bought our units in Howdens and everything else we bought separately so worktops, sink, appliances, handles etc and saved ourselves money (I have listed the costs further down).

We bought the cooker hood from Ikea and we bought dark slate grey tiles for the splash back from Fired Earth, I want these laid chevron style but our cowboy builders said no.

We are limited on wall space in the kitchen as one wall has a large internal window which connects the living area to the kitchen. We think previous owners must have put this in to allow more light to pass through the downstairs of the house. Our house is a typical Victorian terrace in that it is long and narrow.  On the only wall we have free, the boiler covers one part of it which we have used a peg board to hide. We put up shelves to house the things we use day-to-day. We got our hands on old scaffold boards which we sanded back and bought cast iron brackets from eBay. We have very little kitchenalia because we just don’t have anywhere to put it so we just have what we need. Some people have commented about the dirt and dust but we don’t get any because we use the items every day so it doesn’t build up.

We also have along this wall a cupboard from Ikea which we use as a larder. This works really well as you don’t have to bend down all the time and everything is mainly at eye level. I up-cycled the cupboard by painting it using Annie Sloan chalk paint in graphite and dark wax and changed the handles. I painted it mint first and it was awful! I have no idea why I ever thought that was going to look good!

We then have another wall which is where the bi-fold doors are and then the last wall has a small space where we have put a butchers block, before the stairs begin. At some point the previous owners moved the stairs from the front of the house to the back, it works well for us because the living space is much bigger but then you do lose storage space in the kitchen.

I bought the butchers block from eBay which was another bargain. I wanted an old vintage butchers block but there were no bargains to be had as they are sought after pieces now. I stumbled across this one which is handmade but they have made the butchers block part hollow and that dramatically brings the price down. I paid just over £200 for this versus £400 plus on most of the ones I had seen.

Metallic additions

One of the other reasons for not buying the entire kitchen “off the shelf,” was because I didn’t want something that matched and I wanted a completely unique kitchen to us. I also love adding metallic to every room. I have heard in the Interiors world a rule about not mixing metallics but I really don’t care as I love them all so can’t just pick one! I bought rose gold handles from All handles and pulls which I also think was a unique choice for a kitchen and compliments the pale grey cupboards.

We also bought a copper tap. This was such a headache, you wouldn’t believe that as little as a few years ago, if you typed copper tap into google nothing would come up! I did ask a couple of trades people to make me one but they laughed it off! So this was a splurge and if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do it again even though I love it. It cost us £200! I think everyone makes mistakes when they’re renovating and for this room, the tap was ours!

Lighting

The light for this room was the first thing I chose. I am really passionate about lighting and think it brings a room together, I haven’t got it quite right throughout the house yet but this one I love. The copper and wood work really well together and I think it suits the rest of the space. I wanted it to hang low over the dining table to create a warmer atmosphere. We also put in spotlights at the husbands request which I am still not a fan of.

I also got some small industrial style cage lights that hang over our main worktops where we prep food from Enamel Shades. We didn’t want to spend more money on an electrician coming in and wiring in lights so we bought plug-in ones which works really well and saved us a lot of money.

The floor 

We originally had wooden floor laid in the kitchen, the same as what runs through the living area. I wanted the same floor throughout running vertically to make the space feel bigger and connected. However, we had cowboy builders and huge amount of dramas with it being laid three times! I will save the full story of the cowboy builders and stress of our renovation for another day! In the end we gave up and left it. Lots of people had warned us not to put oak floor in the kitchen because if it floods or gets water damage it would warp…we didn’t listen and then in 2017, the washing machine flooded and the wood floor that already looked awful looked even worse. However, we have a happy ending! The insurance company gave us enough money to rip up the floor and lay tiles. I had seen these tiles on Instagram but only in bathrooms…and I loved them, the pattern isn’t for everyone but I wanted to add some drama in the kitchen and I have a thing for anything monochrome. We had electric underfloor heating installed and these Devonstone tiles from British Ceramic Tile put down. I buy what I like even if I have seen it a hundred times online, it’s about affordability and what makes me smile and then making it your own even if everyone else has it.

How much we spent (these figures are approximate as I don’t remember the exact amount, I haven’t included everything so please do get in touch if you want to know anything else) 

Howden’s kitchen units – £900

Wooden worktops online – £300

Sink from B&Q – £150

Bi-fold doors just under £2000

Merle Copper Pendant – £100

Copper Tap – £200 (I know, I know, that is ridiculous!)

Cast iron brackets eBay – £80

Scaffold boards – £5 each

Larder cabinet from Ikea – £250

Although the kitchen work was completed in 2015, the new floor was not laid until last year (2017) and it is since then we have been adding the finishing touches. This is the most finished room in the house! I would love an old vintage armoire to replace my Ikea makeshift larder and we need new worktops due to the wood rotting around the sink. This is due to our cowboy builders installing it very badly and cutting the hole for the sink wonky! I would love new dining room chairs as although the Eames style chairs are popular, I personally don’t find them very comfortable especially when working at the dining table most evenings.

If you have got to the end, I want to say a massive thank you for reading my blog post, this took me hours to write and I hope I get quicker in time! Please leave a comment if you can as would love to chat.

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56 Comments

  1. Emma
    March 26, 2018 / 8:46 pm

    Im in love with this kitchen! What an incredible transformation! Look forward to seeing more posts about your home.

  2. Riley
    March 26, 2018 / 8:46 pm

    I’m a huge fan of your Instagram and this post sucked me right in HA! I love seeing transformations like this and the result is gorgeous. Congrats on your blog launch – you’ve got a lot of creativity to share with people, and I think it’s going to be a huge success! 💕

  3. Judy
    March 26, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    I love your kitchen and love seeing photos of your home on IG. Your countertops are gorgeous.

  4. Stories of Vintage
    March 26, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    Love the transformation of this kitchen! I follow you on Instagram, and I think it’s very inspiring, both the pictures and your stories!

    Keep up the good work! Good luck with your blog! 🍀

  5. Kelsey Weber
    March 26, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    Loved reading about your kitchen renovation, I really enjoy following your Instagram account. It was fun to see the before/during/after pictures, too!

  6. Kathleen Abrahamson
    March 26, 2018 / 9:26 pm

    Beautiful- fun to experience the kitchen in another “light” too! Congratulations on all of your hard work AND getting the Blog running 😍

  7. Nia Griffith
    March 26, 2018 / 9:27 pm

    Fab blog and I can’t wait to read more!! We’re in the process of buying our next house and have been thinking about parquet flooring in the kitchen (as it’s there anyway-we would just add to it!) but I didn’t think about the possible water damage!! I may have to re-think this!!!

  8. Laura
    March 26, 2018 / 9:31 pm

    So great to see what you did on such a small budget!! We have a small Victorian terrace and will need to work some magic on a budget to the kitchen!

  9. Katrina
    March 26, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    Congratulations on the blog- you must be thrilled to have it finally up!
    Your kitchen is so stunning- such an amazing transformation 🖤Katrina (@mycosyhabitat)

  10. Amy
    March 26, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    Your house pictures always look amazing, great to see & read about the full kitchen transformation!

  11. mariepalbom photography
    March 26, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    Great work Reena – love the ‘before’ photos! Congrats on getting the blog live 😘

  12. Chloe
    March 26, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Really enjoyed the read! Your style is 👌 cant wait to hear about the rest of the house!

  13. Sally
    March 26, 2018 / 9:55 pm

    Lovely to read your new blog.. we have reclaimed parquet in our kitchen and it works very well ( no washing machine in there though)
    Good luck with everything xx

  14. March 26, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    I really enjoyed reading the renovation process of your Instafamous kitchen. My favourite bit is the hidden boiler behind the pegboard, how clever! Now I’m intrigued about the cowboy builders (that’ll be a juicy post). But I’m so glad the story has such a happy ending.

  15. Jeni
    March 26, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    Loved reading your first post! Feel very inspired! Congrats on your blog launch, can’t wait to read more! Xx

  16. Lisa
    March 26, 2018 / 10:26 pm

    Love this post Reena! The transformation is amazing, thank you for sharing your renovation story xx

  17. Frau.haus
    March 26, 2018 / 10:27 pm

    Looking fabulous. Great blog Reena. Really loved seeing the before photos. Never realised it looked like that. Amazing makeover and really love the blog xx

  18. Theresa Gromski
    March 26, 2018 / 10:30 pm

    Loved reading all the details about you kitchen renovation! A great read Reena and well done on getting the blog up and running! 🙌🏻 Xx

  19. Sylvie
    March 27, 2018 / 1:31 am

    What a transformation – your kitchen is beautiful. You have a wonderful eye for detail and a brilliant way with a ‘pen’. I’m really looking forward to snatching moments with a mug in my hand and reading more in the future .. Great blog 😊👏🏻

  20. another.season
    March 27, 2018 / 4:20 am

    Love this so much and just the right timing. I’m currently without kitchen. Although we did bring in the vintage electric stove and stainless refrigerator I found for a bargain. I too plan on wood counter tops, even though everyone says they are so much work. I’m still kind of new to IG, glad I found you.
    Traci

    • Reena Simon
      March 27, 2018 / 12:53 pm

      Hi Traci, oh wow at the start of your kitchen renovation journey! Hope it goes well for you 🙂 the only reason our wood worktops haven’t worked is due to very poor installation of the sink which has caused it all to rot 🙁 but I know lots of people who have them on IG and they still look great! Good luck! x

  21. March 27, 2018 / 6:58 am

    Good on you for finally getting this blog up. I know how hard it is to actually go from thinking about it to doing it. Took me months and months.
    Totally envy you for this stunning kitchen. Love seeing it on instagram and now seeing all the little details (and the before images) makes me love it even more. Well done, keep going.

    • Reena Simon
      March 27, 2018 / 12:51 pm

      Thanks so much Sarah, really appreciate it. I have had the URL since October 2016 and a logo designed since last summer and only now have been able to get my head down and get it live. Thanks for the lovely comment too. x x

  22. Sam Anderton-Brown
    March 27, 2018 / 7:19 am

    Congratulations Reena great read xxx beautiful kitchen

    • Reena Simon
      March 27, 2018 / 12:50 pm

      Thanks so much Sam, so glad you came on over to have a look, it means a lot. x x

  23. Kate
    March 27, 2018 / 7:35 am

    Wow, I just cannot believe the transformation. I always love your honesty on instagram, thank you. Congratulations on your first blog, I wish you all the very best xx

    • Reena Simon
      March 27, 2018 / 12:49 pm

      Thank you so much Kate, it means the world that people are actually coming with me from Instagram over the blog where I have a lot more space to write and share things! Thank you, Reena x

  24. Ania
    March 27, 2018 / 9:26 am

    I love what you have done with your kitchen! It’s marvelous :))
    I would love to copy it to my apartment, but every place is different and my husband is “a może sernikowy lover” so we have everything in glossy white and concrete. We started to add some wood, but I dream to make it as cozy as yours is.
    Just love it!
    I snooped on one picture onto your terrace. I looks nice. Maybe you could write a post about it?
    I also appreciate that you write where have you bought your stuff and I hope you will continue to do so.
    Looking forward for your next posts!

    • Ania
      March 27, 2018 / 9:28 am

      Sorry, it should be that my husband is a “modern lover” person. Silly dictionary 😉

    • Reena Simon
      March 27, 2018 / 12:24 pm

      Thank you so much Ania! My dream would be to be able to find the time to write one blog post a week but will see what reality brings 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to read it and leave a reply! x

  25. Stacy
    March 27, 2018 / 11:18 am

    I’ve been following on Instagram for a while and really pleased you’ve set up your blog! Good luck and I’ll be back again soon Xx

    • Reena Simon
      March 27, 2018 / 12:22 pm

      Thanks so much Stacy, really pleased to hear such positive feedback. x x

  26. Louise
    March 27, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    Hi Reena, you have such a beautiful kitchen! We are about to do our kitchen so it’s so good to hear other people’s experiences. It’s hard to know where to start! I love how creative you have been with sourcing things from different places. So inspiring! Xx

  27. Liz
    March 27, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    Congratulations on your blog launch Reena! Your kitchen reno is fab, so unique and I love seeing it come up on my feed. I know you want to change your larder cupboard but it really ties in the black/dark accents in your kitchen – I’m always drawn to it in your pics as it looks so good! Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts!! X

  28. March 27, 2018 / 9:24 pm

    Dear Reena, you are an inspiration! We are in love with your work, the way you pull all the different textures and patterns together is just a pleasure for the eyes. Each time I see your kitchen I want the one like yours. Love the dining table and equally love how it came to be. Looking forward to reading more from your blog, I hope you’ll inspire me to start ours.

  29. Carolyn Gilby
    March 28, 2018 / 7:03 am

    Great blog Reena, reads very well and great use of the photos to illustrate your tale. Your finished kitchen is lovely and like every project there are things we change over time and some regrets however you have made such a dramatic change. I empathise with you regarding builders as we had a small extension done to give us a downstairs loo and the problems we had with our builders was awful. Feel that we ought to be able to use Instagram for positive recommendations re builders as this is the most crucial bit of any project.
    Sorry for rambling on but really enjoyed your blog and look forward to the next. Carolyn xx

  30. Tom
    March 28, 2018 / 3:56 pm

    Hi Reena, absolutely love it, did you build the cabinets yourselves or did the cowboys install? I’m trying to transform ours on a budget but installation costs scare me!

  31. SallyAdams
    March 28, 2018 / 5:35 pm

    Thanks R, I really enjoyed the honesty of your post. Often the instagram life looks so unattainable so it’s great that you kept it real xxx

  32. Miriah Kardelis
    March 29, 2018 / 5:07 am

    Hi Reena,
    Greetings from from a little cottage, on a little river in Montana! (USA)
    I fell head over heals in love with your IG account because of all the pictures of your beautiful kitchen!! I love your style and I find myself studying all the tiny details of your kitchen. Then, as I scrolled through the rest of the pictures of your IG, I fell in love with the rest of your house as well! Especially your bathroom! I love all the style, the innovation, and the creativity that you have created with the space. Such as inspiration!! Can’t wait to see more!

  33. Shivani (oriental_lilly)
    March 29, 2018 / 8:22 am

    I loved reading this Reena!! It’s the most photographed room in your house so I was keen to read the story of how it became! Absolutely divine! Well done and thanks for being so honest!!

    • Reena Simon
      April 6, 2018 / 8:03 am

      Thank you so much for the lovely words, really do appreciate you taking the time to come over and read it and it’s so lovely to finally have a space to share more. x

  34. Natalia
    March 29, 2018 / 9:17 am

    Fantabulous renovation Reena a great post! Well done! Natalia @marks_and_rowe_interiors

    • Reena Simon
      April 6, 2018 / 8:03 am

      Thanks so much Natalia, I really appreciate you reading it! x

  35. Catherine H
    March 29, 2018 / 9:19 am

    Loved reading this! beautiful renovation – cant wait to see more. Catherine x

    • Reena Simon
      April 6, 2018 / 8:02 am

      Thanks so much Catherine, really appreciate the feedback!x

  36. April 1, 2018 / 11:52 am

    Wow! I am obsessed with your cool, cozy style. Love your kitchen and think you nailed maximizing the usage of all of your space. Great tips too!

    • Reena Simon
      April 6, 2018 / 8:01 am

      Thanks so much Michelle! It was a really challenging space but we got there in the end! x

  37. April 6, 2018 / 4:39 pm

    Thanks for this informative & no-nonsense post! I have been considering wooden worktops even though everyone in my family tells me they won’t last and now I think I’m going to listen…What are you going to replace them with?

  38. Maz - The Wooden Hill
    April 6, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    This is one of my fave kitchens on instergram and one of the first accounts I ever followed! It’s so interesting to read the full back story. I love how you have mixed and matched to create a really expensive looking finish on a pretty small budget. Looking forward to reading more!!
    Maz

    • Maz - The Wooden Hill
      April 6, 2018 / 7:10 pm

      I also need to learn to spell Instagram clearly 😂. Auto correct fail 🙄🙈.

  39. Mary
    May 28, 2018 / 3:22 am

    I really enjoy your blog and Instagram posts. Wishing you lots of success and look forward to seeing more of your beautiful work!

  40. July 6, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    Great Blog man… Very beautiful.. Keep it up with new blog…

  41. September 27, 2018 / 10:38 am

    I could look at photos of your home all day, it really is just so beautiful and the transformation that you have done in your kitchen is amazing!

    • Reena Simon
      November 11, 2018 / 7:48 pm

      Thank you so much x

  42. Cindy
    November 5, 2018 / 6:54 am

    Love your kitchen!!! Stunning. Can I do how you finished your wooden worktop off? Did you coat it with oil/wax and did you use a natural finish? We have a similar worktop and I loved it until we had to oil it which protected it but made the finish less natural and slightly shiny. Would be interested to know what you’ve done!

    • Reena Simon
      November 11, 2018 / 7:47 pm

      We wanted to keep it really natural so just used Osmo Oil! x

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