Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Kitchen Overhaul Part 2

First things first, inspiration. As you've probably gleaned already, everything done in this house has been done on a budget. Our pot of savings was well and truly drained on our build with all the work required. Replacing and renovating the windows was our biggest expense, costing more than installing and running gas over 3 floors of our property. In a word- ouch.

So, ever the enthusiast I got into gear trying to source an affordable and stylish kitchen. Having never bought a kitchen before, I think we underestimated the costs involved. Given that our kitchen is medium sized, not small but not huge by any stretch, I figured we should be able to find good mid-range units for a sensible price.  It is fair to say that after a weekend perusing all of what Glasgow has to offer, my enthusiasm was waning. The particular turning point was B&Q quoting us £9K for units alone, without any of the 'extras' such as sinks, worktops etc. Now, I realise that kitchens aren't a cheap purchase but my inner diva blanched at the thought of spending well in excess of £10K on a B&Q off the shelf kitchen. 'Hell no', it cried!

(Disclaimer: I do think off the shelf kitchens such as IKEA are a great option in the right property but due to our traditional approach towards the renovation, it didn't seem the right fit for us, particularly as the cost wasn't technically 'budget')

True to form I turned to eBay looking for ex display units or quality used kitchens. I also checked out who also had some great offerings. You can get some truly unbelievable deals on kitchens from manufacturers such as Mark Wilkinson, Chalon etc. Amazing really. Both options, I would wholeheartedly recommend if your space is fairly standard. For example, had we required an 'L' or 'U' shaped kitchen to cover two or three walls, I'm confident we could have scored a good deal online. However, this house is sent to try our patience and with a gap for the back door and shallow wall recess to contend with, I quickly accepted that we'd have to pursue a more 'made of measure' rather than 'one size fits all' option in order to get a kitchen which looked coherent and was also a practical use of the space.

I decided to to focus on what kind of kitchen I'd want were money no object. Enter the 'dream kitchen' inspiration board!

This dream offering from is from Martin Moore & Co. I absolutely love his traditional English designs- simple, elegant yet oozing class.

Next up Neptune kitchens. Neptune are actually surprisingly affordable and their products are of very good quality and look really high end.  This manufacturer was tantalisingly within reach but for the number of units I needed the classic 'Chichester' range was still a bit pricey overall.

Finally, this kitchen by Tom Howley. If I could have a 'dream' kitchen, this would definitely be a contender. The look overall is just amazing- well finished, luxurious and contemporary but not over the top. I feel a swoon coming on just looking at it.

So what does one do when on a budget and lusting after top of the range kitchens? Copy them of course! I decided to send these images along with a rough plan of our kitchen to a kitchen joinery firm who make handmade kitchens. There's a lot of choice in this particular area but I noticed one firm offering ex display kitchens at a very keen price and after shopping around for quotes, decided we needed a 'handmade' rather than 'bespoke' job- this distinction seeming slight but actually setting respective price points apart by many thousands of pounds!

I collated all my favourite ideas from inspirational kitchens I'd seen, right down to the paint colour. The units arrived pre-built and painted with hinges of my choosing but no hardware, worktops etc. Here are some woefully poor images of the result once installed and the room decorated.

You can see that my choices thus far were more than slightly inspired by the kitchens above! I decided a larder unit with fielded panelling would make a grand statement but could also usefully conceal the washing machine and boiler in addition providing useful storage. The units were painted Farrow & Ball's French Gray. You can't see them clearly here but I splashed out on polished nickel cup handles which have concealed fixings (so no screw holes visible). They are great quality and I think make the units look higher end- well worth the splurge. Another trick I employed to get the bespoke look on a budget is double height cornicing on the cabinetry so the profile is quite bold as you can see.

The Falcon cooker seems to be popular amongst the high end kitchen manufacturers and I was lucky enough to find this one locally on Gumtree for a few hundred pounds. It has brass detailing which Steve was unsure about. Originally I'd intended to gave polished brass handles on the cabinets which is becoming more fashionable with companies such as Plain English using brass detailing but eventually I decided polished nickel was the way forward. However, I stand by my brass adorned Falcon (which Steve now concedes looks awesome). It totally works in the space and the brass makes it less generic- plus it is a fabulous appliance!

Finally, after much agonising, we plumped for ceramic tiles for the flooring, though they are pretty dusty in the photos above! This was a tricky one as I'm not generally a huge fan of ceramic tiles, preferring natural stone where possible. As budget was a major factor, our choices were limited but it was be tern the ceramic tiles and some textured travertine very similar to the tiles shown in the Martin Moore and Tom Howley kitchen photos above. I really like this look and wanted to replicate it but when push came to shove something stopped me from running with this look. I think my reservations were two fold- firstly that the flat is a top floor Victorian conversion. I tend to feel that these Fired Earth type stone tiles look best in a kitchen leading out to the garden, in a grand house with large kitchen and a slight country feel. Secondly, as we'd knocked through to the Studio, the tiles need to work with the contemporary space and wooden flooring in that room- pitted travertine, however beautiful, just didn't seem like the right fit. However I'm thrilled that we went for the ceramic in the end . They have a crisp clean look and green tones that blend perfectly with the tones in the kitchen.

So what next? A worktop of course! And that is a saga/blog post all of its own. Stay tuned....

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