OUR KITCHEN RENOVATION | BEFORE + AFTER
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The Kitchen Renovation Is Complete!
A bit like the hallway makeover, it feels like this reveal has been a long time in the pipeline. From an idea that began to simmer away last summer, it started with a week-long operation in September to move the old boiler out of the kitchen and install a new one into the upstairs airing cupboard. Somewhere in the middle, in amongst all the Holiday Season crazy, there was the issue (again) of finding someone reliable to design, supply and fit the kitchen. After a couple months of dilly-dallying about with one or two annoying mainstream suppliers, we finally got lucky with Weber Creative Interiors... or the Kitchen Ninjas as I christened them on Day One.
A kitchen renovation? That’s similar to childbirth isn’t it?
And then all of a sudden, there we were, mid-January, 7:30 a.m. on a dark, cold rainy morning and off and running with a project that lasted two weeks from start to finish. Two weeks of being confined to living in the living room in amongst the January blues, seasonal cough and cold germs and general winter apathy. But oh my, it was all worth it come the day we could move back in!
Someone I was chatting to on Instagram recently likened the kitchen renovation process to childbirth... and I totally get this analogy. At the point you're in the painful thick of it, you wonder why on earth you decided this was such a good idea. But the moment you have the finished product handed into your care, you instantly forget all the messy, painful details and fall head over heels in love.
Lets wind back to the old kitchen - this one was installed back in 2003 before we got married. At the time, we thought it was beyond perfection... and it was compared to the one that was there before that. Fast forward some fifteen years later and as well as things starting to fall apart and break, none of it was "us" anymore... and don't get me started on the lack of light, counter space, storage and Urgh, too much colour! The boiler cupboard behind the kitchen door with an ironing board that regularly fell over and clonked me on the head was probably the worst feature... and one that drew many an innovative curse word.
I can't begin to tell you how many things there are that we love about the kitchen now. It's almost three months ago that it was finished and I still can't stop smiling every time I walk in there! The light, airy feel is down to the choice of white gloss cabinets and metro tiles paired with oak work surfaces. At the very beginning of the design process we knew this was the way to go as it's essentially a pretty small space.
The Beauty Of Simplicity...
I think there was some kind of subconscious interiors equation thing going on. Two man-made finishes (gloss cabinets and white metro tiles) needed two natural ones (oak work surface and slate floor tiles) to balance them out. And therein lies the beauty of simplicity. Beyond that, once we'd secured Jon Weber and his team and ensured that we were making the most of the available storage space, we knew that the rest would fall into place.
Patrick’s request was that we replace all the appliances with the same Smeg brand * we'd had in the old kitchen and that had lasted for all time. And I was in total agreement. Being Italian, the aesthetics were spot on but we also find them to be extremely reliable too. Under-cupboard lighting helped to complete the brighter feel and so did the removal of the old kitchen door, just leaving an open entryway instead.
Then came the smaller finishing touches such as having the chalkboard on the blank wall and creating a small shelf from left-over work surface material. Jon instantly liked this idea when I suggested it and christened it my "marvellous shelf" which has stuck ever since. I fixated on the marvellous shelf and what I would put on it throughout our two weeks of living in the living room, tripping over boxes and eating beige food from the microwave!
As well as the metro tiles, the hose tap was another fixation of mine. Pan drawers and the pull-out LeMans inner cupboard shelving were design elements that we both agreed were essential to maximise on storage too.
There were a couple of things that we purchased before Christmas, way before work had even begun. The Simple Human portable dish drainer * is just pure genius and we found it by chance whilst wandering through John Lewis *. Don't want it there? Simply remove out of site! And seeing as our last Nespresso machine had lasted about eleven years and coffee is the heart and soul of the kitchen, we felt a new purchase of this model in chrome was entirely justifiable.
On completion of the kitchen, The White Company * kindly gifted us a few beautiful homeware pieces - this for me was the icing on the cake and felt way more exciting than Christmas! The stoneware vases and earthenware planter look completely at home against the tiles and on the windowsill and the Fresh Grapefruit candle * is the perfect, post-cooking candle to light for a fresh, invigorating scent.
They also sent us a set of Belgravia tumblers * and some of their beautiful Symons Bone China pieces *. We use all of it everyday - I've never been one to separate out stuff for best and stuff for everyday use. Get the good stuff out everyday and enjoy it is my mantra. To complete our storage needs, I also bought some of their jars in both glass and stoneware. These look great out on display alongside some past season White Company pieces such as the marble and wooden boards.
And... we made a video! The clip below features some before, during and after footage so you can see how it all progressed and get a look at a few of realities of living in amongst a kitchen refurb. Capturing the footage in amongst all the mess was actually quite helpful in keeping me focused on the end game.
My Kitchen Renovation Tips
If you're going for a slate floor, it's worth shelling out for an underfloor heating mat to go underneath to see you through the colder months. There's nothing like the feeling of stepping barefoot on to warm tiles in winter.
Be sure to leave enough time for packing up your old kitchen contents and use the opportunity to have a really good sort out. We gave a lot of stuff to the village charity shop and took the really old, unusable items to the local recycling centre.
Beg, borrow or steal a slow-cooker and camping stove if you can for when you have no oven and have some batch cooked meals ready in the freezer ready to eat. We had the camping stove but no slow cooker - what I wouldn’t have done for a hearty winter stew halfway through the proceedings!
Maximise corner cupboard space with some form of pull out storage - no more ferreting around in dark corners looking for things I didn't know I had. Also taking the cabinets to ceiling height gave us some extra shelf space too. A well known builders merchant who originally came to quote dismissed the idea of ceiling height cupboards out of hand but Jon was able to find a way to provide the extra height. Sometimes it pays not to take no for an answer when it comes to getting the design features that you really want.
Once you've got your main design nailed down, think about the smaller, more personalised features and chat them through with your designer/builder. I would have been gutted I’d the "marvellous shelf" too late and there was no left over oak work top to use for it.
Jon also suggested bringing the metro tiles across to the oven on the other side of the kitchen doorway and replacing the architrave around the doorframe with some new so that everything looked finished. A good builder/fitter will be willing to talk it all the way through to the finish with you... and from what I hear since speaking to others who've been through the process, they're pretty hard to find!
We opted for untreated oak work surfaces as opposed to the pre-treated variety, the reason being that most of the pre-treated versions we saw were too orange. But this means you have to be really careful not to leave standing water on them - especially around the sink area. Ours were sanded back and given four to five coats of a colourless, protective oil * and we'll have to do this at least twice a year ourselves to prevent permanent water damage. It was still a worthwhile option to obtain the finish we wanted.
If you're planning on a kitchen refurb, know that you're in for a messy, noisy few weeks but it is SO worth the upheaval, bad microwave meals and endless trips upstairs to wash your crockery in the bath!