A Kitchen Gallery

Because the kitchen posts have covered such a long period of time, I thought I’d put all the pictures together in one place, so that the process of before and after is easier to see.

1 august 2015

1 august 2015

2 august 2015

2 august 2015

3 september

3 september

2 sample board september

4 sample board september

5 september

5 september

6 september

6 september

7 september

7 september

8 september

8 september

10 october 2015

9 october 2015

10 october

10 october

11 december 2015

11 december 2015

12 december

12 december

13 december

13 december

14 december

14 december

15 the inspiration

15 the inspiration

Nothing is more inviting than tantalising smells coming from the kitchen. In the short time I’ve had this space I’ve cooked for Christmas dinner and various dinner parties, had a drinks party and a birthday costume bash. It’s not that I wouldn’t have done these things if I hadn’t done the work to the kitchen, its that the space now copes with what I want to do in it. It’s more pleasurable to have guests and to simply be in it. I’m enjoying the process of preparing food so much more.

And that is the single biggest reason for deciding to upgrade your kitchen – if you want to prepare food, the time you take over it and the quality of ingredients will also be of importance. If you’re looking forward to sharing a meal with other people, your approach to mealtimes becomes one of social enjoyment and less of a chore. When food plays such a big part in our lives, our attitude toward it is the difference between health and unbalance. Having a space that allows food preparation to be done easily enables us to see food for what it is – our source of energy, vital to our wellbeing.

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While the Designer’s Away…

The builders will play. My kitchen looked like this when I went on holiday last month…

queensville kitchen2

And when I came back, it looked like this…

RJF kitch refurb

RJF kitchen

And I could tell before I even got into the house, because the front garden was piled with rubble bags. Quite a surprise actually, because I thought the rear of the house was being painted.

So once my heart rate returned to normal, I got down to the business of planning my ‘new’ kitchen. I had done some plans, thinking that we’d get onto it shortly after my holiday, so it wasn’t a completely mad idea on their part and I’d even gone so far as to calculate what units were required. It’s fair to say a reasonable amount of work had been done. The big questions were things like tiles and the work surface. Generally tiles are the glue that pulls a kitchen or bathroom together. In this case because the floor in the old kitchen was tiled, I was faced with questions about what I would be able to achieve on a budget, working within the framework of what was already there. Was the original floor still underneath? Would it be in good enough condition to use – or would I have to replace it with a ply sub floor and re-tile?

tiles stripped back

And units that we had initially thought we’d re-use, now have to be replaced. Why? Because the plumbing in my kitchen is ‘creative’, the wiring is ‘creative’ and the gas connection is scary. We have to start again – the backs of the units have been cut about and that’ll be obvious after the wiring and plumbing is redone.

kitchen old door wall

So I’m still keen to see exactly what I can get on a budget. My brief – because I have to have a story, even for my own work – is to create a kitchen alcove that links visually to the dining room. The whole of my downstairs is now open plan except for the hall and stairs, so the different zones are all visible from where ever you stand in the room. In my own home I have a relaxed, eclectic style mixing french painted furniture with utility and mid century pieces, so there’s a mix of wood and painted furniture, (with a bit of glass and metal thrown in for good measure.) It’s this link I want to pull into the kitchen, so I’ll be looking to create that same relaxed, mismatched, utility feel. It’ll work with the age of the house and the overflowing garden I have outside the french doors.

The last kitchen I did for myself was the total opposite of this (though the size wasn’t far different.) It was very sleek and urban, high gloss units and a quartz work surface with a mid century feel, but that look just isn’t right for this house because it has more of a cottage feel to it, so I think a ‘country/workroom’ styling will suit it – be easy to live with. What I can’t do anything about is the size of the kitchen. I had looked to reverse the rooms out and put the kitchen where the dining room is, but the costs involved were more than I could cover at the moment. So I had to resign myself to moving on from the innovative option and to thinking creatively within a very restricted place. Hmmm.

floor plan Diane's kitchen

Working with a small space is challenging, but the mechanics of a kitchen create even more restrictions. In this room the plumbing needs to stay where it is because there is no room anywhere else to put the dishwasher or the washing machine – and on a budget moving the ‘services’ creates a lot of additional cost. Corners can’t be accessed, so space that can be used as storage, can’t be got to easily, there are lots of doors opening into the space, so the door swings have to be included in the tolerances, electrical supply is needed in every area and it all has to be well lit.

Because I do this all the time for clients, I know the drill. The space always dictates what can and can’t be used in a room and often I have to tell them that the wish list isn’t going to be possible. It is a disappointment, because I do like to be able to give people what they want – and it’s still a hard conversation to have with yourself. I’m as frustrated by this as any client – I still want it how I want it! So I’m going to have to think hard…

Kitchen Wizardry

We’re gearing up to start a kitchen refurbishment and that always means I’ve made a list and I’m checking it twice. Ok, it’s not as much fun as Christmas, but the checking of that list is vital to the ease of the project and when someone else is picking up the tab, I take it seriously.

installing base units

installing base units

On the checklist today, do all the units fit into the run? That sounds pretty obvious, I know, but recently the guys have been fitting a kitchen for a client who was adamant she didn’t need help because the supplier ‘had done all of that for her.’ She ended up with units missing – simply not ordered – and other units that were too big for the space. Who had actually checked this? This type of oversight causes delays that mean your workforce will be left with nothing to do. A workforce with time on their hands will leave site and go on to other jobs! If you’ve commissioned the kitchen yourself and there is no project manager on the job, you MUST make sure that someone (you) knows what is on the order and that the measurements are correct for your space. You will need to know this because the workforce will be asking you questions throughout the fit out and they will need answers.

Have you ordered a plinth? This is the strip of wood/kitchen unit that goes under the base of the units to cover the legs of the carcasses. If your kitchen is free standing, you won’t have a plinth. In that case, have you ordered decorative legs?

positioning end panels

positioning end panels

And what about end panels? If your kitchen has an exposed end – and doesn’t run from wall to wall – then you will have the end of the run showing. This will need covering with an end panel otherwise it will likely not be the same finish as your kitchen doors.

Have you ordered drawer frontals? The drawer units don’t include the panels that cover the mechanism. Check how many drawers there are in the unit and the sizes of their frontals. And do they have handles? Check the type of closure mechanism too.

Have you ordered a sink? And does it fit into the sink base unit?

kitchen elevation

kitchen elevation

Al these things need considering and if you can’t take that sort of time when you’re at work, employ a project manager. It isn’t an extravagance to know that you have someone on site regularly who has first hand knowledge of the order, who can chase suppliers and who will direct the workforce. A project manager will refer any pressing concerns to you but keep everything else on track without you having your boss breathing down your neck. This is not only about piece of mind if you haven’t done a kitchen refurbishment before, it’s about using someone who has the right skills for the job – who is used to working with building contractors and suppliers – and this means that errors are more likely to be caught before they become full blown disasters.

It’s only when you have this level of detail covered that you can start to think about gadgets, but firstly let me say that ‘American’ style fridge/freezers need water supply and modern regulations require good extraction/ventilation. The basic purchase price doesn’t include the costs you will incur from running pipework and electrics to accommodate the appliances themselves. These are not hidden costs, but the appliances will not work without additional preparation being done to make your space suitable for their installation. You will have to factor this into your budget.

choosing finishes

And when additional work is undertaken to accommodate appliances, there’s usually a bit of ‘making good’ (replastering etc to walls, relaying of tiles) to get the space back to a finish that is suitable for decoration. This too is not a hidden cost but you will have to allow for it in the budget.

Which brings me to lighting. It is almost impossible to work in a badly lit kitchen without injuring yourself, so consider very carefully where you will place your lighting. Under unit lighting works well when you want to reduce the shadows created by wall units, but these too will need to have electrical supply taken to them. Down lighters provide great overall lighting, but you need to remember that you will cast a shadow on the work surface when you stand directly under them. Consider therefore, installing a lighting circuit that is slightly shallower than the depth of the work surface. (If the work surface is 650mm deep, take your lighting wiring circuit 550mm from the wall.)

under unit lighting

under unit lighting

Layer your lighting and have different types of fittings in different areas, this will allow you to have a more flexible level of light – after all if you have a table in the kitchen area, you may want to dim the lighting to eat.

And a final word about the kitchen fitting process, most kitchen companies do not have plumbers and electricians as part of the installation team. This means that when your kitchen is fitted, none of the services will be connected. The kitchen will look beautiful, but you won’t have any gas, water or electrical supply! This is a hidden cost because most people assume that having a kitchen fitted means it is ready to use. Unless you use a team of general contractors – who can do all the work, from running pipes and wiring to plastering, tilling and decorating – you will need to find a firm that can connect up the services. You will also need to find someone to tile, lay flooring and decorate. These are all separate trades that the kitchen company generally will not provide – and which will cause you sleepless nights to schedule.

But don’t let that put you off. Getting your kitchen the way you want it, is absolutely worth the chaos – just like Christmas.