Before, During and After: A Beautiful New Kitchen

When we bought the house we knew that the kitchen was inadequate for our needs. It was tiny with virtually no worktop space, the cupboards were poorly placed and many of them opened the wrong way, making them difficult to use. The tiles on the walls were pale brown, with pictures on some of the tiles and the cupboard doors were dark brown wood. The lighting in the room was awful - the main ceiling light didn't work, so the previous owners had screwed a couple of table lamps to the walls and used them instead (yes, really!). So a beautiful new kitchen was on the shopping list.

An old kitchen with brown wood cupboard doors and beige and brown tiles all in a very small space.

 

Designing The Layout

Originally we had planned just to knock the wall down between the kitchen and dining room, to make a large open plan area, but a conversation with our architect changed everything. The old kitchen layout had a door from the hall into the room, a door from the kitchen into the dining room, and an archway into the utility area, where there was a door to a second dining room and a door out to the back porch - there were a lot of doors! We had already decided to block up the door going to the second dining room as it was going to become our TV room, then our architect suggested moving the current back door to the end of the utility room and blocking up the existing doorway, knocking down the wall into the dining room on the other side of the kitchen and adding an extension on to the back of the house. He drew up the plans for us and we put our planning application in. 

Hand drawn plans for the design and measurements of the orangery

 

The Orangery

We decided to have an orangery built on to the back of the house, as we felt this would allow us to have all of the space we needed and the roof lights would allow plenty of light in. Planning permission was granted fairly quickly and work soon got underway. The builders didn't take long to dig the foundations and start building the walls - it was exciting to come home from work each day and see the changes! By Christmas the orangery was built and watertight but the old back wall of the house was still in place.

The exterior view of the orangery with a bird table to the left and planks of wood to the right on the ground. 

 

Opening The Space Up

On January 3rd the builders returned from their Christmas break and within an hour they had removed all of the old kitchen units, the wall between the kitchen and dining room and were already knocking down the old back wall of the house! The kids found this all quite exciting and even had a go at knocking the wall down. Suddenly the space felt so huge, but it was still difficult to imagine it as our kitchen, dining and family area. 

Looking at the old back wall of the house from inside the orangery, part of the wall has been demolished, there is rubble on the floor and a bucket waiting to be filled

 

Mum, I Need To Show You Something...

Living in the house while the renovation was happening was ok for the most part, but there were a few times when I cried because it was cold and there was stuff everywhere. We had boxed the contents of the kitchen up and they filled the TV room completely, except for a little makeshift workspace we had made so we had somewhere to make lunches and a cup of tea etc. We were ok for meals and cleaning as the builders had left us the oven, with the hob resting on top of it and the sink, plus we had the microwave if we needed it. One evening in the middle of January, Abby was cooking dinner when I heard her call out "Mum I need to show you something". I went into the kitchen to find her holding the oven door in one hand and the rest of the oven where it should have been! It was one of those moments when the only thing to do was laugh at the absurdity of the situation. So from then until the end of the kitchen renovation we had to live on microwave meals, which sounded fine but the novelty quickly wore off.

Girl with face covered and oven door in her hand because it had fallen off

 

Choosing and Designing The Kitchen

There was only one thing that I wasn't prepared to compromise on with the new kitchen - it had to have an island. I know it sounds daft, but I have always wanted a kitchen with an island. Although the new kitchen space was going to be large, it was a bit tricky to work out how to fit in everything that we wanted and it took a few redesigns before I was totally happy with it. We had wanted a wine cooler but simply couldn't fit one into the design so that got the chop. We had also wanted a coffee machine, but when we looked into the cost and thought about how much we would actually use it we changed our minds. In the end we opted for two Neff Hide and Slide ovens, a Neff steam oven and a Neff microwave/combi oven. We also chose a Neff induction hob as we liked how safe it was for children (our children are older, but we have young nieces and nephews). The island housed the sink and a Neff dishwasher, but we decided to keep our old dishwasher too and we had that put into the utility room.

 

 

There Are So Many Kitchens To Choose From!

Oh my days, I never realised how many different types and style of kitchen there are! We knew that we didn't want a farmhouse kitchen as it simply didn't suit the style of the house and we felt that a Shaker style wasn't modern enough. In the end we chose a German Hacker Kitchen as we loved how clean and sleek it looked. We opted for handleless doors as we wanted to keep that sleek look throughout. We went for grey units and a smoked black backsplash to compliment the appliances. Because the island is so big we had to be careful with the type of worktop we chose, as it would be too heavy and would break, so we chose a grey quartz with sparkly bits in it. 

 

Flooring Options

Originally we had discussed putting a tiled floor in the kitchen, but over the winter months we decided that we wanted the whole ground floor to have hard flooring and we didn't want tiles in the lounge and TV room. The choice to put hard flooring everywhere downstairs was made one afternoon after walking Chester in a monsoon, we came in soaking wet and covered in mud and as much as we could control the kids not to walk everywhere with muddy feet, it wasn't so easy to control muddy paws! We really liked oak flooring but were advised against it as we were told that it wouldn't last with Chester's claws on it. We knew that we didn't want laminate flooring, so we did a bit more research and discovered engineered oak. This is natural oak that has been backed with a more resilient wood, meaning it will last a lot longer. Before the flooring could go down we had to level the old kitchen floor and the space where the wall used to be, to get an even surface from the kitchen into the orangery. To save money Mark and I did this ourselves. We packed the kids off to their Grandparents for the weekend and got to work. It was hours of hard labour, I emptied the bags of levelling mixture into a bucket and mixed it with water, then Mark poured it and levelled it. It took two days to do the whole room and it's one job I never want to have to do again!

An inside view of the orangery with the flooring being levelled. There is an area of wet flooring and a bucket of mixture waiting to be emptied.

 

Arrival Of The Kitchen 

The advantage of buying a Hacker kitchen is that everything arrives fully built - there's no flatpack at all, the disadvantage is that it takes up lots of room when it's not in it's correct spot! There were so many boxes that the orangery was full, the dining area had no room to move at all. It was exciting to see it all and I couldn't wait for the kitchen to be fitted. 

Boxes containing the new kitchen piled up with a view of the garden in the background.

 

Fitting and Finishing The Kitchen

We hired our own kitchen fitter and it took him two days to fit the entire room. Once everything was in place we had to wait a week for the worktop company to come out and map the worktops and island. We didn't have sinks at this point as the sinks couldn't be fitted until the worktops were in, so we were having to do the washing up in the bath! A week later the quartz arrived but it didn't go in without a hiccup or two. The guys fitting the worktop managed to seal the electrics for the hob under the wrong unit, which meant the electrician had to cut away part of the inside of one of the drawers to be able to access it. You can't see where this was done and nobody would know, but it was still frustrating and meant we had to go another 3 days without the hob until the electrician could get back to fix the problem. The other issue was that they managed to scrape one of the newly plastered and painted walls, but thankfully it was easily fixed. With the worktops in place the glass company were able to come in a few days later and map the glass and then after another week's wait, the glass arrived and was fitted. Finally the kitchen was done!

The kitchen with a bunch of flowers on the island. 
Kitchen worktop with Neff Induction Hob and pink toaster next to a knife block

 

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