A kitchen on a small budget of £1000

You know when you want to recreate this…

The Arts and Crafts Kitchen by deVOL.

…but you start out with this…

Not very realistic but you’ve got to try, right? Even if you only have about £1000 to spend. Don’t laugh!

So, let me fill you in on what we planned to do with the kitchen as I haven’t spoken about it much, mainly because it was always going to be an after thought as our budget was never going to stretch to a new kitchen and we were well prepared to have a makeshift kitchen until we could afford to extend into the garden and do it properly. Our only stipulation was that the wall between the kitchen and the reception rooms had to go from the start (it wasn’t a supporting wall so needed no steel)! There was no way I could look after Mimi being stuck in a tiny kitchen and not being able to see what was happening next door and it would make cooking dinner in the evenings a one person affair, which I’m not in favour of. Also, and very importantly, I just knew that the dining room would never be used if it were not connected to the kitchen.

This is what we were left with when the wall came down…

The space on the left was the original kitchen and once the wall came down (where the bare brick begins) we were left with a lovely open space.

We were still willing at this stage to keep the original cabinets and appliances from the left hand side of the kitchen but everything had to be taken out to fit new plumbing from the bathroom upstairs and so we were left with this…

At this point our builder recommended that we buy some new cabinets as the old ones were on their last legs and we needed a new worktop anyway as originally there was a fridge freezer on the far left of the kitchen and we needed to get rid of that to create more cupboard space below and worktop space above. We agreed that we could afford the bare minimum of cabinets and so our builder measured it all up for us and ordered exactly what we needed from Howdens, which is trade only.He also came up with the great idea of an island that would come out from the wall to house an under counter fridge and freezer and create some actual worktop space. None of this is ideal as there is so little cupboard space and I would never choose an undercounter fridge but I’m absolutely delighted at the idea of an open plan kitchen so I’m not complaining one bit.

To save money Jules is fitting the new cabinets and here are some update pics he has sent me over the last couple of days…

We are keeping the existing oven and hood and leaving those where they were originally positioned to avoid the cost of moving them. We’ve bought three cabinets with shaker door fronts from Howdens to fit on either side of the oven and the new worktop was gifted to us by Mano Mano. It is not what I would choose for my ‘forever kitchen’ as it is laminate but it’s a great solution if you are on a tight budget as it costs just £90 for a 3m worktop and if you have to opt for laminate a white one is the very best option, in my opinion. I’m pleasantly surprised at just how good it looks.

Jules managed to fit this side of the kitchen over the weekend (he’s cutting the hole for the sink, which will go on the right hand side, today). The door fronts we chose are Shaker style (also from Howdens) and I have bought very, very cheap handles from here that cost about 70p each. We ordered the unfinished door fronts that need painting and we’ve decided to go for Railings by Farrow & Ball as I hope that will make it feel a bit more interesting.

Jules started painting the cupboard doors this morning.

On the walls we will have open shelves on the left hand side of the cooker hood and I want to source an antique pine cupboard on the right hand side to tie in with the floor and make the space feel a bit more eclectic than your bog standard fitted kitchen (plus provide much needed storage!!).

Jules has done a great job fitting this side of the kitchen over the weekend and has started on the island (that you can see laid out on the floor) that will house an undercounter fridge, freezer and integrated bin.

This was the last shot Jules sent me this afternoon (and I hope it will be finished by the time he comes home this evening!). The wooden worktop is birch from Ikea that cost only £100 and he still needs to cut it to length in this pic below…

All in all we have spent £890 on the cabinets and door fronts from Howdens (which is trade only so you have to have your builder order them for you), £100 on the wooden worktop from Ikea, £93 on a new sink from B&Q and £67 on the paint for the cupboard doors from Farrow&Ball (the white laminate worktop was gifted to us by Mano Mano and costs £90). We still have to decide on tiles as well as spending l bit on MDF and brackets to make open shelves and I hope to find a cheap antique wall cupboard but all in all I think we’ve done pretty well to spend so little. I look forward to showing you when it is all finished!

Katy x

The end of our renovation project (almost) and a DIY fail

An almost finished blank canvas

Hello and sorry for the radio silence! We’ve been very busy feeling tired (ha!), running around after a toddler and trying to wrap up the end of our renovation project. Our contractor has been brilliant and basically finished ahead of schedule after eight weeks – unheard of, no? – and then it was Jules’s turn to take over and finish sanding the floorboards that he began some weeks ago. This has dragged on for far longer than anticipated firstly because he only has the weekends (the house is an hour from where we are staying so the evenings after work aren’t really an option) and secondly because I didn’t like the finish and made him re-do it – twice (and still wasn’t happy!). Last week to get things moving and save Jules’s knees we made the decision to pass the last sand and oiling over to our builders. The sanding has now been done, we are having the house cleaned from top to bottom on Wednesday and then the floor will be oiled, the (small) kitchen will be fitted and we have booked to move our furniture in on September 8th – yay! Once we are in there will still be LOADS of small things to do inside like tiling the fireplaces, putting shelves into cupboards, mending the original fire hearths, hanging lights etc but I like the idea of it being an ongoing project and living there for a while to get a feel for what we need and what will work best.

Anyhoo, back to the problems with the floorboards. Basically, I love the colour of the original boards in their raw state but well aware that they will get darker and more orange once they are oiled so I wanted to try out a white stain to try and neutralise the orange. Jules first of all tried out a cheap method our builder suggested, which involved using a mix of white spirit and white emulsion paint. This worked well but looked too much like a white wash, which isn’t what I wanted. Therefore, Jules sanded that off and tried the white stain Osmo oil. We did a sample and the white was barely noticeable so went ahead and used it on a whole room and I hated it! I think the colour of our boards make the white stain look purple almost! It had to go and this was the point at which Jules asked the builders to take over the sanding – ha!! We have now settled on Osmo Raw oil, which is supposed to make the wood look like its raw state and reduce the ‘wet look’ of oil. I’m keeping everything crossed that I like it!

The disastrous results of the white Osmo oil that I hated. This has all been re-sanded and awaiting Osmo Raw oil instead.

A success that I have had in the meantime is choosing a colour for the bathroom, which is now finished. In my last post I had asked for ideas as I was at a loss and although in my mind I was convinced I wanted a dark colour I actually came to the decision to go with a really calm neutral on the woodwork that would give just enough contrast with the white walls and soften the stark white sanitary ware. Here is a peek…it is Ammonite by Farrow & Ball.

A peek of the finished bathroom (before the sink was installed and there will be a mirror below the wall light).

The next couple of weeks are going to be VERY busy with cleaners, the floor being oiled, Jules fitting the kitchen, big new furniture being delivered and then moving in the weekend after next! Wish us luck!

Katy x

Designing a very small bathroom

The bathroom in our new house was divided into a separate loo and bathroom when we bought it and not only was it old and very dirty but the two separate rooms were so incredibly cramped and just didn’t work on a practical level.

Therefore, the main aim for our new bathroom was to make the space work with the added challenge of moving the boiler and the washing machine up there (I decided to sacrifice the space for these things in the bathroom rather than in the living area) – in a very small room this really was going to be difficult. You can see more about the finishes I have chosen for the room in this post but here I want to focus on the design of the room itself.

We took a long time over the design process and lucky for us that Jules’s mum was an interior designer who specialised in kitchens and bathrooms at one point so we called on her expertise to help us figure out how to make such a small room do everything we wanted it to do. Once Penny had worked her magic and drawn up her ideas on paper we used Fusion 360 to help us visualise the design. This was the final design we decided on…

The position of the two windows on the outer wall dictated the position of the bath, which will have a shower over it (a bath for Mimi and Otto was pretty important to us), as you don’t really want a shower coming down on a wall with windows. However, we also needed to fit the boiler and washing machine in on the left hand wall so we decided on a short 140cm bath with the shower on a stud wall that backs onto a cupboard to house the boiler and washing machine.

The position of the bath meant we could place the loo and basin on the outer wall under the windows. However, I wasn’t very keen on this option as it meant there would be no proper space for a mirror above the basin and it would have to be pretty small to fit in the space. Therefore, we decided to place the loo and basin on the right hand wall. As this is not an external wall we would need to build out a ledge that would conceal the plumbing and provide the added bonus of a shelf.

You can see how the design is now coming together as the bathroom was installed last week and we are so pleased with how it’s coming along. It feels very workable, not too cramped, everything fits well and no awkward squeezing round sinks or the like.

You can see the bathroom from the doorway here. The ledge that we designed is clad in tongue and groove and hides the plumbing for the basin and loo perfectly.

The small 140cm bath fits well and doesn’t look too small and weird as I had feared. You can just about see the cupboard behind the bath that houses the boiler and washing machine. I’m really pleased with the placement of the heated towel rail that was very kindly gifted to us from PlumbNation as this is the perfect place to hang a towel to warm before grabbing it when you leave the shower/bath. Also, just a small thing but why does everyone put the shower control buttons under the shower head so your arm gets wet when you turn it on? We have put them at the end of the bath so that this is not an issue.

Here you can see the wall that has been created for the shower plumbing to make it possible to fit the cupboard. Great idea, Penny!

The next step is to lay the underfloor heating that we were gifted from PlumbNation. It comes with its own wall mounted thermostat that you can programme to come on in the morning before everyone wakes up so it’s nice and toasty first thing in the morning.

I can’t wait to show you more once the tiles are laid and it is painted. However, I still haven’t decided what colour to paint the tongue and groove ledge, cupboard door and bath panel. What do you think?? I’d like it to tone in with the Inchyra Blue and Light Blue that I’ve used throughout the house – I have a very dark blue in mind but can not for the life of me decide. Help!

Katy x

Weeks five and six: Our house renovation

We have just started week seven of the renovation and so I need to update you on week five and six. Week five was crazy! Jules was at the house all week sanding the floors so he could send me update pics every day and with every photo things changed so much and so quickly! The radiators went in, the lights went in and on, the picture rail, coving and dado rail went up, the doors came back from being dipped and were fitted and the whole house was painted. I mean, that’s a lot in one week, right?

If you compare the photos of the house now to my last update you can see just how different it looks…

Painting is almost done and I’m thrilled with the colours. The hallway is painted in Inchyra Blue and the woodwork throughout the downstairs is Light Blue, both by Farrow & Ball.

The downstairs walls have all been painted white and this has made the space feel so much bigger.

The radiators are in and I’m so pleased we went with column radiators. This vertical one is by Myson from PlumbNation and fits really well in the space next to the French doors. The natural wall space for a radiator vanishes when you knock down so many walls so this is a good solution and it’s so slimline I barely notice it. I have bought wall lights for the alcoves that just need to be fitted.

The picture rail, coving and dado rail all went up during week five and they have made such a difference to the feel of the space. The original 30s fire surround that I bought is fitted now and has been painted by mistake- I had said I wanted it white. What do you think? Keep it this colour or go back to white?? We will tile it on the exposed plaster and the hearth.

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Adding character back to a period home

I’ve been getting lots of questions from you lovely lot about what style I am going for in the new house – not so much with the furniture and styling but more to do with the fabric of the house. The short answer is that I am trying to reinstall as many of the period features as possible and replace what we ripped out in the renovation process. I want the house to have a period feel and look whilst being totally modernised.

Therefore, these are the things that we are doing to add some period character back to the house:

1. Re-installing picture rail, dado rail and coving

Jules and I had a bit of a heated debate about whether or not it was worth the cost to reinstall the picture rails, dado rail and coving. I was adamant that it had to happen as these details are so important to bringing a period feel back to the house and without them you end up with a blank white box, which is basically a new build.

2. Sanding and finishing original floorboards

We have been very lucky that the floorboards in the house are in good condition, especially as we have run out of money for carpet upstairs, which is what I had originally planned. Jules has sanded down the boards and we will finish them once all of the building work is complete before we move in. Our contractor, James, suggested using a mixture of white paint and white spirit as a stain to tone down the orange in the wood and then to oil over the top of that for a matt effect. We will try that as it is cheaper than alternatives and resort to Osmo oil (quite pricey) if not happy with the effect of the paint stain.

The boards in their original state.

After sanding – a little too orange for us as they will be much darker than this once they are oiled. Therefore, we need a white stain to neutralise the orange tone.

2. Period style radiators

One of the things I was very insistent on was that we needed to spend the extra to install column radiators, which feel a lot more in keeping with a period home. Downstairs we were faced with the issue of losing wall space for radiators once they were knocked down so we went for a vertical column radiator that was very kindly gifted to us by PlumbNation and is made by Myson. It fits in very neatly next to the French doors as it is surprisingly slim (something Jules was worried about as he though this style radiator would take up too much space) and isn’t a complete eyesore as some radiators can be. We bought the same style radiators for the rest of the house and it really does make a real difference.

3. Doors

Luckily all the original doors in the house were in tact and we had the added bonus of finding another one in the loft. We had them dipped and they look so lovely now! Getting original internal doors back in place is worth the extra effort even if you need to source them on eBay or the like.

4. Emphasising woodwork

The banisters in this house are one of the things that I love most and along with all the other woodwork including the skirting, architraves, dado rail we have painted it in a colour in order to highlight these period features. I love this before and after shot…

6. Fireplaces

I always find that a fireplace adds instant character and charm to a room as well as giving it a focal point and structure. We have put some little fireplaces back into the two main bedrooms as well as a 1930s fire surround in the living room. As well as this we will try to fix the original hearth tiles upstairs and unfortunately the tiles downstairs are beyond repair so we will source some replacements.

7. Replace front door (I WISH!)

Very sadly I have had to concede to replacing the UPVC front door with a reclaimed original 30s door. We just don’t have the budget at the moment and other things have taken priority. However, changing the door would completely transform the hallway so if you have the option, do it!

8. Hardware

The small details that you add at the end of a renovation project make a massive difference and door handles, for example, are one way of adding lots of period charm. I have had such a hard time finding door handles that I like that are within my minimal budget as most are at least £50 for each door. However, I came across these ebonised beehive handles that were only £17 for each door so even though they are not quite of this period the colour works well.

Is there anything that you have done to add period charm back to an old house? I’d love to know about your project or see pics – so many of you have shared pics of your 30s houses with me and it has been so fun seeing the similarities. Do get in touch!

Katy x