So, our now large kitchen diner started life as a separate kitchen and dining room with a cloakroom plonked in the middle of it, random hey? I’m not great at remembering to do before pictures but if you imagine our now kitchen island as a room with walls and a toilet in it that should give you an idea. Basically, a large space broken up into so many rooms it made It feel small dark and very unpractical to live in with four children and a dog. Thankfully both myself and Josh are quite good at seeing potential when we look around houses, so this didn’t put us off one bit.
Luckily because of the position of the kitchen units we were able to take down the two walls between the cloakroom and the kitchen, and the cloakroom and the dining room without losing any workable kitchen space, as grim as it was we weren’t ready to go without a kitchen just yet as the new one wasn’t even ordered. Top tip if you’re planning a kitchen renovation do it in BBQ season.
We wanted to get the space opened, so we could see what we were working with before we started planning and ordering. Taking down the two walls meant installing an RSJ luckily for us my dad is a builder and was able to check it all out and advise us on what structural support was needed. If you’ve followed me for a while you will know this is our second renovation project and although Josh is an Electrician by trade, he has picked up a lot of skills over the years meaning a lot of the work can be done ourselves saving us a lot of money. We didn’t just take down walls either we also put a new one up, where the oven was in the original kitchen. There was a nook of space which we decided was perfect to create the new downstairs shower room off the hallway, hopefully my pictures explain what we did a bit more clearly as describing it is tricky.
Moving from a cottage to a much newer house was a big change for us, what we’ve lost in character we’ve gained in space and although at first, I was unsure on a more contemporary style I’ve really loved doing something different and I might even go as far as to say I’m a convert and now prefer a more modern home. A few years back I really didn’t like the idea at all, I found all these shiny handless kitchens characterless and a little clinical but what I’ve learnt is modern doesn’t have to be complete minimalistic you can bring character in so many other ways. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest researching and what I found was half of my feed was sleek Scandinavian, generally white kitchens and the other half were industrial with lots of brick, concrete and dark colours. For weeks I was torn as to which way to go until I realised there are no rules and I could in fact take a little bit of what I liked from both styles.
I knew early on that I wanted a handless kitchen and a concrete floor that almost just blended with the units, I basically liked the idea of a kitchen that’s there but not there does that even make sense? After a little bit of research and lots of helpful polls from you guys on Insta I soon realised that a concrete floor was going to be A- problematic and B- expensive so I set about finding tiles as like concrete as I could - Topps Tiles came up trumps with the Regal Grey Matt floor tiles, they also come in smaller sizes but I wanted them as big as possible, we went for gun metal grey grout also from Topps Tiles which is basically the same colour as the tiles.
Again, after some helpful messages from you guys I came to hear of DIY Kitchens which I’d never heard of before. They are an online based kitchen shop whose prices did seem a little too good to be true! We ordered some door samples to check colours and quality and we were so pleased with what we saw that we decided this is where we would be ordering from. As there aren’t stores ordering samples is necessary to check out what your buying. We chose the Luca matt doors and finally after several samples decided on the Dove Grey and then Carbon for the island, they do a colour matching service where you can have any Farrow and Ball colour this does make it quite a lot more expensive though, so we chose from stock colours to stay within our budget.
I say budget, I know some people sit with spreadsheets and work out costings' for these things Josh and I aren’t like that perhaps we should be? We just get rough figures in our heads of what we’re happy to spend and go from there. Not having a huge amount to spend can also be about compromise I knew if we forked out on bespoke colours it would then mean we couldn’t afford the worktops I wanted, and in hindsight the colours we have are barely different to the colours we would have chosen from the Farrow and Ball range.
Being an online store there is no design service, luckily for me both my dad and Josh are quite handy with a tape measure and if you order a door sample you’ll be sent a design pack with it which was really helpful. We spent around a week in total of our evenings measuring then remeasuring and basically playing around with it until we were happy. As grim as the kitchen was when we moved in I did learn something from it and that was that I really liked cooking at eye level, so we have two single ovens side by side which I love. I thought about those microwave oven things, but they are seriously pricey, and I never use my microwave, so it seemed pointless. I bought my appliances online from ao.com which was handy as they deliver the next day, so I just ordered them to come the day we wanted them installed.
The two ovens are Stoves and I love them, I just popped my budget into the filter and then read all the reviews of what came up and went on how pretty they were obviously or how neat and sleek they were to fit the look I was going for. They have no knobs or buttons just a digital display, so I was a little worried they would be tricky to use but I’ve found them super straightforward. The only other appliances we needed were an integrated dishwasher and a hob (which is also Stoves I like things to match) the grotty kitchen already had a low level built in fridge which was quite new so we made use of that, we have our Smeg fridge freezer from the old house which seems to have a slight frost issue but I still love it and it adds a bit of that industrial look I love. I never quite found the Smeg enough on the storage front, so we have the low-level built-in fridge in the island and we just use that one for wine, I mean drinks all drinks.
Once the kitchen arrived my clever clogs husband managed to fit it himself the carcasses come ready built which is handy although there was still a lot of aligning and levelling to be done. I’m not a huge fan of eye level cupboards I much prefer an open shelf to keep things light and airy obviously with that you do lose a lot of storage which is why we went for a super-sized island which I love, it is three cupboards wide each side and two deep, it sits all four children on stools comfortably, in fact they rarely sit at the table and it seems to have become my office in the day. It really is the hub of the kitchen. One side both the drinks fridge and a pull-out bin is housed which is a game changer by the way, if your kitchen shopping a pull-out bin is a must, plus one cupboard in between them. the other side (where the stools are) are three storage cupboards where all things I rarely use live like that smoothie maker.
Next up were the worktops again sticking to my neat and sleek look I wanted white stone which was as matt as possible no sparkles please. Luckily for us one of Josh’s friend had recently set up a business fitting stone worktop called London Stone so what we thought we wouldn’t be able to afford we could thanks to mates’ rates. The guys were so helpful and professional and even helped me sort out the sink. I wanted an integrated sink specifically in white but not ceramic and I found one from a company called Franke and the tap is from Bristan.
I guess if we’d stopped there that’s where you’d find those modern kitchens I’m not keen on, a little generic with no features. So, at this point I have my blank canvas ready to add some interest, the dark island started me off wanting to bring some darker tones through, we had decided to leave the RSJ exposed rather than boxing it in which we have painted in Farrow and Ball Down Pipe metal paint. We also painted all the woodwork in Down Pipe and the back wall at the dining room end, these ideas are all coming from my industrial side of the Pinterest board. Possibly my favourite part of the kitchen must be the feature tiles on the walls these are from Tiles Direct and I just bloody love them we went for the matt finish in white and gun metal grout to really make the pattern pop.
Finishing touches- I guess what I’ve been trying to say in this whole post is, it’s not always the kitchen itself but those little bits and pieces you dress it with that really make it or break it I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this kitchen and by no means did it cost a fortune. It suits the house and our lives perfectly its modern and sleek but not so minimal its boring. We’ve taken a generic modern kitchen and given it a bit of wow factor with the things we’ve added like the wall tiles and the painted wood work and RSJ. What’s also fab about this is if we’re still here in years to come and fancy a change we could so easily switch it up by simply changing the tiles etc.
Right I’ll stop waffling on and get on with what you really want to know, below is a list of all products and where they are from if I missed anything off you really want to know please feel free to drop me an email.
Kitchen - DIY Kitchens
Work Tops - LDN Stone
Ovens & Hob - ao.com
Tap - Bristan
Sink - Franke
Floor Tiles - Topps Tiles
Wall Tiles - Topps Tiles
Lights - Industville
Chairs - Homebase
Paint - Farrow & Ball
Radiator - Soak.com
Lamp - Ikea
Toddler Chairs - Ikea
Prints - Desenio
Stools - Mine have been discontinued but I've found these from B&Q which are similar and a lot cheaper - B&Q
Table - I can't really help with as I brought it in Swoon Editions sale and then wasn't happy with it so changed the legs which I brought on Amazon - Swoon Editions
Shelves - I brought the shelves and brackets separately in Ikea