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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.