I think this might just be my favourite before and after yet…
With the kitchen diner nearly finished we could start to think about those final touches – I love this part, when you get to add personality to a room and it really starts to come to life.
The back of the house faces south. With four windows and bi-folding doors we are lucky that the kitchen diner has lots of natural light. Over the kitchen area we have spot lights, which we can dim to create a cosy atmosphere, or turn right up when we need to see what we are doing.
Over the dining area we have a single pendant. If left to me, I probably would have stuck to something fairly safe, but David was determined to have something really special – a statement piece. For months, long before the kitchen was finished, David researched different options. In the end he narrowed it down to two choices and when we went to see them in the flesh, we fell in love with this one.
In one of my first posts about the kitchen diner I said that we really wanted vibrant artwork to add a pop of colour. We have been very lucky to have been given just that!
David’s uncle, an art enthusiast, no longer had the space to house this particularly large oil painting. Growing up David had always admired it and so it was very kindly gifted to us. We absolutely love it and it is a real talking point.
By not having top cupboards and installing open shelving, we not only saved money but created a great space to display a few of our favourite things and add some character to the kitchen.
We wanted something quite rustic and chunky, so went to our local timber merchant and picked out some beautiful untreated American oak.
Our final task was to install skirting board. In all the other rooms we had used pine skirting, but this time decided to try pre-primed MDF.
To start with we were a little reserved about using it, felt like we were cheating somehow, but it was so much easier to use. No filling, no knot treatment, no sanding and once painted it looks really good. I am not sure that we will be using pine ever again!
The most exciting thing was unpacking everything into the new kitchen. Many of our kitchen items including lots of our wedding gifts, had been stored in the loft since we moved in, so it was great to get everything down and put away into their new home.
The final, final touch was to move the dining table into place. The dining table was one of the first big items David and I bought together as a couple, many moons ago. When we first bought it, housenumber59 was not even on our radar, but it fits perfectly and I love that after years of lugging it around rented properties it finally has a permanent home.
I really wanted marble worktops, but having heard horror stories about stains, scratches and water marks, we soon realised that it was not going to be the worktop for us.
Alicia from Woods of London recommended that we look at Quartz worktops, a composite of quartz and resin that is non-porous and 100 times harder than marble.
After some intensive research we went with a company called Set in Stone, who had been recommended as the best of the best, and it turns out they really are. James and his team were polite, professional, perfectionists – all the ‘p’s you could ask for!
I love it when you meet people who are so good at what they do, work hard, take such care and provide great customer service all at the same time.
And the worktop itself, is stunning. We are thrilled!
The kitchen was really starting to take shape now, but we still had a long list of finishing touches…
Although Woods of London thought David was probably more than capable of fitting the kitchen himself, we decided to use their fitter to ensure we get that professional finish (and to save David the stress). We were warned that their fitter is a ‘bit of a character’ and that he was. You definitely knew when he arrived in the morning, if you know what I mean.
The first day was probably the most exciting. All the units got taken out of their boxes and put into place. So the shape of the kitchen came together really quickly. Over the next few days it was just a case of fixing everything down, putting on end panels, filling gaps and touching up paint.
It was when everything was finished, the cooker in place and we were just waiting for the worktops to be fitted, that we realised a fundamental problem.
The draw on the peninsula could not open as the oven was blocking it, and if the oven was pushed back to allow the draw to open, the cooker doors could not open.
Mistakes happen, we are only human and in this kind of situation it is not the mistake that matters but rather how it is dealt with.
Paul from Woods of London dealt with it very well. He came over first thing the following day to assess the situation and work out what needed changing. He liaised with the fitter and asked him back the next day to re-gig the units. He also spoke with the worktop company to explain what had happened, as the worktops had already been cut at this point and new templates needed to be made.
It could have been a disaster, but it was not. It could have been really stressful, but… well it was quite stressful!
But with everything now sorted, with draws that open and a cooker that works, we could finally get the worktop fitted.
I cannot put into words how excited we were the night before the kitchen was delivered. We cleared everything out of the kitchen diner ready for its arrival, we were warned that the units come in huge cardboard boxes and to make sure we had enough space.
That morning we were so twitchy, every time we heard a noise one of us would rush to the window. Luckily we did not have to wait long.
The kitchen fitter was not due to start for another two days, but we could not resist the temptation to open a few boxes and get a sneak peak at our new kitchen!
It was decision time.
Designing a kitchen from scratch requires making a lot of decisions. Cupboards, worktops, handles, sinks, taps, tiles, appliances, colours, finishes, quality, quantity, budget – the list is endless. We find the best way to make lots of decisions is to make informed decisions. Cue months of research online and driving lengths of the UK to see products in the flesh.
We looked at quite a few kitchens, all in different price brackets, but once we saw Neptune Kitchens it was very hard to consider anything else.
We visited two Neptune retailers. The first – Kitstone, a chain of shops owned by Neptune. The second – Woods of London, an independent shop that stocks Neptune. Kitstone were good and had an extensive range on display, but David and I always get drawn to independent shops.
So far Paul and Alicia, the husband and wife team behind Woods of London, have been great. They know their product inside out and have that perfect balance of offering great advice, and recognising when you have your heart set on something.
Alicia who does all the designing has been super patient with us whilst we have been back and forth on dozens of design changes and has been very honest about what is worth and not worth spending money on within the Neptune range.
After months of fine-tuning the design and saving our pennies, we have finally put in our order!
We have gone for the Suffolk range, painted in Dove Grey with a mixture of chrome button knobs and cup handles.
We decided to get rid of all the top cupboards from our original design. Partly to keep costs down, but also to help the kitchen to feel more open and spacious. We plan to have open selves on one wall to display a few nice pieces and cook books.
I really had my heart set on marble, but having heard mix reviews about how practical marble is in a kitchen, we decided not to risk it. Our kitchen is not going to be a ‘show’ kitchen – it is going to be well used and I would hate to be fretting about spoiling such an expensive item. There is nothing worse than having to chase after guests with coasters in fear of ring marks!
After a lot of research and some wise words from Alicia, we went for Quartz. Slightly more expensive than marble, but this stuff is bullet proof (well not quite bullet proof, but you get my point). We went for the closest match to marble we could find, Compac Carrara.
Whilst we patiently waited the six weeks for our kitchen to be delivered, we turned out attention to appliances. We have chosen an integrated fridge-freezer, dishwasher and washing machine – so I cannot get too excited about those. But the cooker we could get excited about. We have left a whopping 110cm gap for the cooker. She is going to be big so she has to be beautiful.
We were torn between the Rangemaster Elise 110 and the Falcon 1092 Duluxe. We really struggled to find anywhere in London that had either oven in store so we could view them in the flesh. Luckily Gardiner Haskins in Bristol, my home city, came up trumps and had them both in store so we could compare them side by side.
In the end we went for the Rangemaster Elise, but preferred the Falcon super flat extractor hood and came to the conclusion that it did not matter if the brands did not match.
We ordered all the appliances from a local independent shop and actually managed to get a better price than if we have ordered from AO.com. It just goes to show it is worth shopping around and do not assume that buying online will always be cheapest.
Now all we have to do is wait for it all to be delivered!
In the space of a couple of weeks, the kitchen diner has gone from a dusty building sight to a decorated room.
We decided to paint the walls and ceiling before we installed the kitchen. I am not sure if this is the best way round to do it, but we figured if worse comes to worse we can always touch up (repaint) the walls after the kitchen is fitted.
We wanted a light, neutral colour and definitely no yellow. 10 tester pots later we went for ‘Star Crossed’, a Dulux trade paint. For the ceiling and cornice we went for classic Brilliant White. I must say I love Dulux paint, it goes on so well and gives a really good finish.
Like always when I paint a room, it takes me a while to decide if I like the colour or not. ‘Star Crossed’ is soft grey, in certain lights it has a very slight hint of mauve which I was not sure about at first, but once the wooden floor was installed it all seemed to work together quite nicely.
I had a clear picture in mind of the type of floor I would like for the kitchen diner and luckily, like most things, David was on the same page. We wanted a natural looking oak floor that has wide boards and long lengths. I was adamant that the boards should not be shiny, turns out the look I was after was an ‘oiled’ rather than ‘lacquered’ oak.
We went for an engineered oak, rather than solid wood. As we have a concrete floor, rather than a suspended floor, engineered oak is much better suited and less likely to warp. But we did go for the thickest engineered board we could afford to help give that solid, warm feeling.
We looked at so many places to buy the floor from, but in the end we went to a local, independent store. We probably could have got it cheaper online but we liked the fact that we knew exactly what we were buying and felt that supporting our local trades was important.
David pondered whether to install the floor himself. It is not that difficult, just like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but the temptation to get a professional in was too great. It was not that expensive, although after paying the builders I think our definition of expensive has been somewhat warped, the guy did a great job and only took him two days.
We are thrilled that it is all starting to come together. The only thing left to do now is choose and fit the kitchen!