A Place for Everything

Little did I realise when I last wrote that my kitchen would not actually be finished until Christmas – and it would be all my fault because I came down with the flu – TWICE! Yep, its been a strange winter. But I’m all better now and my kitchen is great. Oh and we got a puppy too – another reason I haven’t been sitting in front of the computer as regularly.

unpainted cabinetry

unpainted cabinetry

still missing the drawer frontals

still missing the drawer frontals

So much of this kitchen fitout has been done when I’ve been here as the second pair of hands – I even had a go at putting a couple of the units together – they’re still in one piece too! I didn’t even know how to use a drill before this project, so to say I’ve learnt some new skills doesn’t even come close to the reality. But what I would say if you are planning on doing the work yourself is do not let it overlap any other events like people coming to stay or major family milestones. It takes too much of your time and to turn your focus away from the project means things don’t happen the way you want them to – if you’re the project manager as well as the client as well as the builder’s labourer!

Because I do this all the time for clients, I totally thought I’d be on top of things and could schedule deliveries and painting of units to fit around other activities. But I hadn’t factored in what a short amount of time had been allowed for this job and when it’s your own home, it doesn’t work like that, you are the one that has to box everything up and then move the boxes every few days because the space is needed. You never escape from the work or the mess. I’d have Rich the builder arrive and give me instructions for how to tile/grout/fill and then I’d have a frantic few hours trying to do what he had asked at the same time as having to cook dinner for my family in a room that was only partly functional. It was beyond stressful and I think that’s why I ended up getting ill. I was living in a building site and working on it too. All these DIY programmes with members of the featured family getting ill or not speaking to each other, this is why. IT IS VERY TIRING because there’s no reprieve.

making good still to be done

making good still to be done

And let me just say I have had kitchens done before – but that was when my children were much younger and the kitchen came from a company that fitted the units as part of the price. It was a much bigger kitchen with a much bigger budget. This project has been an exercise in achieving the look I wanted without having the price tag beyond my pocket – and that meant some of the work would have to be done by me. I knew I would be painting and I really enjoyed learning to tile, it’s a very satisfying activity and the results are quickly revealed – you can see very early on how it will look when it’s complete. What I didn’t realise was that Rich would rip the kitchen out when I was on holiday and that only 4 weeks later my mum would arrive for an extended visit. My mum is very handy with a paintbrush, so she was put to work too – but that wasn’t what I wanted out of her visit and it was things like that that added to my stress.


So when you start looking at scheduling some refurbishments for yourself, be very strict. Do not take on anything else at the same time. Do not think it’ll be done so much more quickly because you’re on site and DO NOT ever think you’ll make the decisions as you go along. Make sure everything is ordered in advance and chase the orders. AND DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MIND.

smoke blue - not quite right

smoke blue – not quite right

final paint choice

My biggest issue of the whole project? The wretched paint colour for the wall units. Seriously. I’m usually pretty good with colour, so this was a shock and very, very frustrating – not being able to get it right. I wanted a grey blue – I thought, quite pale. BUT most blue greys are too blue, oh it was so boring getting my hopes up and then finding that the most recent sample was also wrong. So I went all around the houses and came back to my inspiration and settled for a dark grey blue. Actually, I don’t know why I didn’t do that in the beginning – I have an ink blue wall in my front room and this balances that really well, if you’re sitting at the dining table you can see both, don’t quite know why I didn’t realise sooner!

relaxed utility style

relaxed utility style


And the best bit? Pan drawers. Oh lovely pan drawers. I can put things away now and get at them easily – and there’s room for more in the drawers too. I had no space at all before and I got so bored with cleaning up because I couldn’t put things away. Now, I actually enjoy the washing up and get so much pleasure from having a clear work surface. What a saddo. But you know what? Without that feeling of satisfaction at the end of a project, there’s no point in doing it!


And Then I Saw This

And suddenly all my ideas for the kitchen took shape. I’d had a picture from Smallbones tucked into a file for about six months and had thought that that might be my jumping off point, but it was much grander than I knew I could achieve in my space – I didn’t want stone work surfaces to start with. What I liked about it was the contrast of the blue and grey, with the natural warmth of the wood introducing a more relaxed feel to an area that could otherwise feel quite cold and impersonal.

It was this contrast of colour and texture visible with the wood and the painted surfaces that I thought I could achieve. But although I’d found a tile and the paint colours, it just wasn’t quite coming together for me. So when I saw the jug at Designer’s Guild, I knew how I could make it work.

kitchen samples

It would be wooden work surfaces and they would be oiled – not varnished – to a colour that would age a bit like driftwood. The base units would be pale grey and the wall units would be blue. I’d create a shelf below the wall units and use a bracket to support the shelf so that the units would look longer and more like furniture. The handles and draw pulls would be black, the sink and taps would be brushed stainless steel as would the oven and hob. The light fitting would have multiple pendants – in different styles, some metal, some glass. The feel would be functional and arty, a bit like a studio space in essence.


I decided I’d also use french doors in the opening to separate the kitchen from the dining area. This may sound mad, but for those of you used to open plan living, you will know how noisy the space can get when you’re cooking or running the washing machine or dishwasher. If someone is also watching the telly, that too increases in volume and things can get tense – no one can hear themselves think! I’d seen a couple of kitchens that had glazed doors across the opening and it really fitted with what I wanted to do.

Homes and Gardens magazine August 2015

Homes and Gardens magazine August 2015

I’m not usually one for ‘copying’ ideas because I think it’s quite a lazy way of approaching design, but sometimes the ideas are so very similar to what you were considering that it can’t be avoided. The above kitchen is very different to mine – urban and streamlined, mine will be very utilitarian and play with styling based on the shaker heritage – the feel will be very different. My doors will be hinged into a frame with side lights, not pockets doors on runners as these are. And sometimes a picture helps the builders understand what you want much more easily than even doing a drawing of it!

So that was my side of the design work done, this is how the space is looking now.

tiling in the kitchen

Things are coming along…