My blog has moved and changed name to DESIGN SODA, I’d love it if you followed along with my new content there.
When we moved into this flat last year we knew that the kitchen would be one of the priority spaces for redecoration. There is something a bit depressing about cooking and trying to impersonate a domestic goddess with artex ceilings, yellow walls and orange & red tiles! And there is almost nothing I dislike more in the home than something false pretending to be something else, melamine cupboards and mdf worktops are essentially the trompe l’oeil of the kitchen world and our kitchen sang its impersonation boldly! However, the word kitchen is, like the word wedding, a touchstone for throwing money down a wishing well. Looking at the cost of a completely new kitchen is dream shattering, everything is amazingly expensive when the word kitchen is attached. In lieu of many thousands of pounds we have spent the last six months slowly transforming the space into something that we could be happy with for under a grand.
One of the main obstacles in our kitchen had been lack of light due the small window part obscured by a giant but essential boiler cupboard, therefore our starting point had to be lighting. Despite factory task lighting being used in every restaurant and trendy bar re-fit to the extent that it is quite the high-street bombardment I just adore bashed up old enamel lights. One of my favourite uses of this lighting was from a designers home whose name I can’t recall who’s kitchen was featured in a Farrow & Ball coffee table book loaned from the library. I looked at modern inexpensive repro’s but found them disappointing. My brief was to find a grey shade with more than one part to its hanging with a story behind it for under £150. Unlike the kitchen pictured, our kitchen is not big enough to comfortably hold a cluster (thank goodness because they are so expensive) so after 6 months of hunting I finally secured one (above) just before Christmas which had come from a GWR station waiting room and untold joys bought for under £100. Given our lighting challenge, one central light just wasn’t going to cut it, but I found these (below) on Rockett St George for £59 each and bought them with some birthday money. We were super lucky that my fabulous friend Har’s father-in-law fitted both sets of lights and re-wired our railway one with a striped cord flex for an absolutely amazing rate.
Once the lights were in we could look at the space and start to envisage what it would look like minus the artex and all the earthy toned distractions! In our previous flat we had a vintage kitchen with blue walls accented by some fabulous Alice in Wonderland tiles bought from Florian Tiles. But having moved back to London I wanted something more urban, rustic but not chintzy. I am the most un-modern of girls so sleek glossy high tech kitchens are not for me (or my price band). We decided on white and stone as a colour palette and we kept returning again and again to the much in vogue metro tiles. I hate rooms that are staged and conscious of themselves, and this is a massive pitfall of browsing too many design magazines, as I do. When decorating a room everyone wants the result to reflect both their needs and an expression of what interests them, but how to do this without looking like your home is a finely curated museum piece can be a fine line to balance if you spend as much time looking at interiors as I do.
Having chosen some super cheap miniature metro tiles in Whitechapel from Walls & Floors, so often paired with industrial task lighting, I decided to put down all interiors magazines and just let our kitchen naturally and gradually fall into place. The next thing we sourced was this dresser to house some of my vintage china for £40 on ebay which with a lick of Farrow & Ball Cornforth eggshell paint came up like this:
Then we turned our focus to the units which were those terribly popular beech veneer ones. It would have cost well over £1,000 to replace them even during sale period so I had a look around online for tips and found advice that when painting melamine cupboards it’s recommended that you use a floor paint to maintain a hard-wearing surface in an area of heavy use. We used Farrow & Ball’s Pointing as it wasn’t their whitest shade but also didn’t have much yellow to it and we were really pleased with the result.
Our biggest outlay was on the worktop, it was the one thing I just couldn’t compromise on. We really wanted a white work surface, granite quotes gave me a heart attack, equally Carron and acrylic, so after much deliberation and disappointment at the falseness of cheap white options we went for oak worktops. We had an IKEA oak worktop in our previous flat but unfortunately theirs just weren’t deep enough to fit our units so I had a look around online and can wholeheartedly recommend Kitchen Surplus whose worktops were both cheaper and thicker than any other similar ones I found. Our biggest nightmare was our sink which had to be one particular model that fitted our units, it took 12 weeks of setbacks before it finally arrived complete with phallo-centric extendable tap that was my husbands hearts desire and bunny dish-rack that was mine:
I have a bit of a mania for collecting things (anyone who has visited our flat can no doubt attest to this) and kitchenalia has become one of my current favourites. These are some of my favourite bits of kitchenalia in our home. From the Liberty print canisters bought with wedding tokens from fabulous friends, to the ceramic tealight holders cast from vintage copper jelly moulds, to the Porte Savon lemon soap used throughout France in public buildings and cafes, all of the items I have amassed have a meaning or connection for me:
Finally, if we manage to save a bit of money and stop looking at holiday dreams, we both have our hearts desire set on a new floor to complete the kitchen, if it happens we will get this slate grey vinyl option from The Colour Flooring Company.