For the last 8 months we have been planning a new kitchen and honestly for my friends and family it has been relief as it has taken a huge focus on our life for the last number of months and now it’s complete. YAY! I’m so delighted, we had our ups and downs with this development and for new home owners this had probably been the most difficult job we have taken on so far. 2 months ago if you asked if I would do it again I would have said no, now I would happily do it all over again now that it’s finished and of course now I know what I know.
Firstly I’ll take you back to show you what our old kitchen was like when we first moved it. I called it 50 shades of green. It’s ironic that this year Pantone said greenery was their colour of the year, I couldn’t agree less. After living with our previous kitchen the colour green has absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. The green kitchen cabinet was a different green from the tiles and they were a different green on the walls, it really frustrated me.
I decided that we needed to change it but we would have to save, other rooms got the priority and we began researching how we would go about getting a new kitchen and thankfully I had friends and family who were able to advise the person to do it and all it entailed.
It all started by reading a few country living magazines and pinning like crazy. I had the luxury of seeing my aunts and friends kitchens so I had a good idea of exactly what I wanted.
Not only was the aesthetics of the kitchen important but it also had to be practical. Despite the fact I rarely, and I mean rarely, cook we had to take into account that it had to be a better solution to what we had. Initially we had an L shaped kitchen but we needed to use the space we had better and also more storage, would be ideal. We designed a U shaped kitchen for more countertop space and more cupboard storage. One of my biggest pet peeves with the old kitchen was that there was so much sitting around on the work surface so it always looked messy, extra storage would definitely help with that. Plus the colour, oh the colour, was my greatest hatred. Changing your kitchen on a budget, sounds easy right, not so much, I think this has taught us both so much.
With completely changing our kitchen shape that involve a lot more preparation before the cabinets could even start to be made. We had to lift the whole floor, change our radiator and more some electrical sockets and add in the function for the lighting as well as remove all the tiles and completely plaster all the walls. We had a electrical but our regular plumber was off working in England so we needed to find a new one…here begins the problems.
You will be let down a lot!
Getting a plumber seems like such a simple task but trust me it wasn’t. We asked countless plumbers to come to our house and very few actually showed and when they did we had one guy who was so inexperienced we couldn’t have hired him another who couldn’t do the job for a long time and another who was so expensive we thought he was trying to price us out and chance his arm. Quotes in, now lets get the job done…not so much, we were told on so many different occasions that they would be there some not showing up at all and others messaging to say they had to complete another job. When I spoke with one of my lovely clients whose family owns a construction business she gave me this advice, make it worth their while. These construction companies are the bread and butter for the contractors we relied so heavily on so we would always be the second preference. Perseverance is key in this game.
Your timeline is not realistic.
With let downs and changes along the way it can be an ongoing battle for quiet a while. Be patient. We thought this would be complete within 4 months but in reality it took twice that time, maybe more. Really sometimes I just wanted to give up, I’m very impatient, firstly I wanted it done before we celebrated our first year in the house (November) then I wanted it done before Christmas then I gave up setting a date for it. We had arranged and rearranged work men to come and complete jobs before a final measure of the cabinets could be done.
You can change your mind, it isn’t too late.
When we first began all the final decisions hadn’t been made but we did had a good idea of exactly what we were going for. I had a style in mind so we had to make all the major decisions but there were details I was not sure of. Maybe because our final design wasn’t drawn on piece of paper, there were no auto cad drawings and colour schemes, everything was kept in a folder, clippings, quotes and design ideas, nothing formal. We didn’t decide on the final colours, door design and the tiles until about 2 weeks before. Picking the colour for the kitchen was one which I thought about a lot and the Farrow & Ball How to Decorate book became my bible. I remember the days of just picked a colour I liked but this book explains exactly what colours suit which light and gives groups of colours that work together. In the end we choose to paint out bottom cabinets purbeck stone, top cabinets are wevet and the walls are painted blackened, all of which are easy neutrals. We had wooden boards painted and checked the colours at different times of the day to see how the light in the kitchen affected them. With a north face kitchen we needed a light kitchen as the sunlight doesn’t come streaming directly through the windows at any part of the day. This of course paired with a light grey marble worktop make it light and bright no matter what time of the day it is thus making it appear bigger that what it actually is.
You will spend more than you originally budgeted.
It didn’t take long for us to do the sums and soon realised exactly what we wanted would be way more than what we had budgeted for. We were sourcing everything ourselves rather than one contractor who does everything so its easy to get carried away. We added more cabinets, made them ceiling height and changed from a wooden worktop to a granite one, definitely an increase in budget. At the start we thought we would just make the kitchen look better, it’s not our forever home so really we didn’t need an expensive kitchen. The difficulty with this ethos is that once you go in to look the most expensive thing always looks the best. Chris got used to my eye wondering to the most expensive thing without even knowing it, he seems to think I have some sort of gift (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think it’s a gift but that’s what I like to call it!). Some things we did have to compromise on. Our washing machine and dishwasher are not integrated because we would have had to buy a small version for it to be integrated in and they were much more expensive that what we originally paid for our new dishwasher and washing machine. Really we couldn’t justify spending the same amount of money again although when we spoke to our kitchen maker he said it was something we could do later if we wanted so maybe we will get that done.
Let the dust settle.
It takes time but after each task let the dust settle and see what’s next. If your organising yourself its so important to keep in contact with everyone to let them know your timelines, we didn’t do this very well and I think that is why it took so much longer. Our kitchen maker came to our house to give us an idea of what we could do with the space, once we had a better idea we had some work to do. Firstly we had to get an electrician to move a light switch and out heating switch to make way for the new radiator. Then a plumber to get a new vertical radiator and move the heating pipes then of course another visit to actually fit the radiator. Then the electrician had to come back and wire the lights for under the cabinet cupboards. Then all of the disgusting green tiles had to be removed then we needed a plasterer to plaster the entire walls. Chris painted the entire kitchen and then we were ready for install. Getting the kitchen installed seemed like the end but it wasn’t, we could just see the light at the end of the tunnel. It then took a few days for the granite to arrive (once the kitchen is fitted they then take final measurements for install) and the electrician fitted the under cabinet lights and plumber had to return to fit tapes and plumb the sink…thankfully this all happened in the same week so our house was a complete mess. Dad then came a few days later and laid the floor. In all honesty we won’t keep this floor as now it is laid it is one of the most difficult floors to keep clean, not just because of our four legged friend but in general, one rainy day (and we have lots of these in NI!) and the floor is a mess. We are in talks (with each other of course) about getting a new floor in our living room and hallway so we may just change the kitchen floor when we do that. Even with it finished there are still things that need to be done, we need to change the microwave to a much smaller one that can fit behind the cupboard door which we had to remove to get the old microwave in. Its a work in progress and even when it’s ‘done’, its not really done!
It will all be worth it in the end (this is the only thing that will get you through)!
The result, a kitchen not only that is aesthetically pleasing but also one I actually want to send time in. I’ve now found myself watching Mary Berry and writing down the recipe and planning it for dinner or dessert. I really have found a space which I enjoy spending time in. I even enjoy doing the dishes in out Belfast sink and I never thought I would say that, although I’m sure that novelty will wear off. Although this isn’t our forever home (we will still be here in a few years time) I think its a neutral kitchen which anyone can move into and enjoy. With real wood we have the ability to change the colour as we like, although the mention of this may send Chris over the edge if I suggest another project for him to complete. We have much more space now as well as much more light in our kitchen which makes it look it look so much bigger than what it was before. We built cupboards up to the ceiling and this has really increased the amount of space we have, although it most certainly isn’t for those everyday essentials, I can barely reach. More space has lead to a less clutter worktop which was exactly what I wanted, I’m absolutely delighted with it.
Lashings of Love,