People say the kitchen is the biggest renovation project of the home. And hence the most taxing. But i must confess that i have found our kitchen re-fit to be a thoroughly enjoyable 4-week experience. Our joiner, who did a very impressive job of putting up with all my pedantic requests, has officially signed off today. And so i bring you the two part story of how we did it.
Here was our starting point. Something reminiscent of an intergalactic space station. Blue walls, silver cabinets (a total of 2), garage shelves, grey linoleum. Need i say more. So we got to work dreaming and designing our ideal cookery nook after a few weeks of moving in, having tried but failed to make friends with the existing Nasa creation. Our budget wasn’t huge, so a complete rearrangement of the layout wasn’t really an option. Thus we worked with the existing structure, without having to move pipes or boilers, and focused on adding careful detail and functionality to suit our tastes.
Strangely enough, choosing the style was the easiest bit. I was hoping to create a country kitchen, so shaker-style cabinets, solid oak worktops, wooden floor, ceramic sink were all obvious choices. Our local swedish flat-pack store did all the above at considerably less cost than its competitors. And although there wasn’t much in the way of help with the design, we got a lot of ideas from their showroom, as well as my indulgent stack of Country Living magazines. Working out the layout was much more tricky, but Malkie got to grips with the measuring tape and formulated all our options. That engineering degree came in handy after all. Soon we were cabinet experts and taking about 92s like they were old friends. (Extra-tall height option, for the uninitiated).
The grapevine had reliably informed us that it was advisable to avoid certain Ikea things, in particular anything with moving parts eg internal carousels. And the taps, which leak. And the appliances. We had our hearts set on a larder cupboard, and an eye-level double oven. But then we remembered that our mothers had told us you can’t have everything, so we settled for the basics but made sure we carefully planned a range of storage solutions to accomodate my vast collection of superfluous vintage kitchenalia.
The kitchen shape, being classically edinburgh-ian, wasn’t square, in fact not even close to square. So this flummoxed us for a while, especially as i relentlessly tried to integrate all sorts of odd-ball fixtures collected over the years, eg a wonky plate rack, and add in lots of shelves everywhere to display all my ‘trumphry’, as my granny would say. At least this was a step down from my original vision, which was to fit a basic, possibly free-standing kitchen, and add in welsh dressers and the like around it in a haphazard and completely impractical fashion. But then I realised that would have zero re-sale value, and so i compromised by throwing in plenty of hand-made bits for good measure to compliment the standard cabinetry on offer in the aforementioned local swedish flat-pack store.
However, our troubles with our parallelogram kitchen was nothing compared to the consternation and sheer puzzlement we were met with when arriving at Ikea with…..wait for it…..drawings!! I mean, drawings!! Ikea rely on some sort of unworkable on-line kitchen planner, into which you input your cabinets by the proverbial drag-and-drop. Fine for the kitchens that are geometrically inclined, but not ours. We were then officially excluded from the office while Brian (I still remember you dear Brian) attempted to input our carefully worked drawings into the computer by his own sheer guesswork and interpretive surmise. After a series of begrudging adjustments to our order, delivered with a healthy disdain, we walked away with our £2500 worth of merchandise.
On December 4th we moved out and the joiner moved in. The Hewitts and the Heenans put us up/put up with us for 2 weeks whilst the bulk of the re-fit was undertaken. After several drafts, i came up with these rather pleasing yet sadly pedantic drawings.
So here we are mid-way. How i rejoiced to see that old kitchen sitting disconsolately in the rain outside our flat. However I hope it will be happy doing its duty in its new home in the shed at Blackridge.
We moved back in just before departing for Christmas in The Province, leaving the painters to apply my risque ‘brushed clay’ paint choice and classic subway tiles with grey grout. Its all the rage, if you’re on Pinterest. Or even if you’re not.
Part 2: the finished result, en route to you shortly….. (when i have edited the photos to make them look 10 times better than the originals. Have you ever noticed that’s what all these fancy ‘before-and-after’ websites do?)