Once upon a time there was a keen cook who had a rubbish kitchen, in fact the mice had more fun in it than she did.
Then came along two wise building wizards and their apprentices and this happened.
Kitchen from Howden’s
Floor and wall tiles from Topp’s Tiles
Beech (as in actual beech) worktops
Paint is colour matched to a famous considerably more expensive brand
Our old kitchen defeated us pretty much from the moment we moved in 8 years ago, we’d moved in fairly confident, we’d successfully refurbished our previous flat doing most of the work ourselves and thought we could do the same, hmmmm. I’ll tell you this, next time I’m house hunting (oh who am I kidding, it’ll be yet another flat), I’m going to be paying far more attention to whether there is actual plaster on the walls and that the windows don’t crumble if you breathe on them and less attention on whether the flat is ‘pretty’. Add to that some prehistoric wiring and a raised patio whose flaws had been cunningly hidden by an excess of plant pots when we viewed and we were screwed.
Over the years we’ve -
- installed very expensive sound proofing thanks to some awful neighbours when we first moved in
- new boiler, when our old one flooded (completely ruining a large proportion of my cookery books)
- new windows and back door
But the kitchen, bathroom, antique wiring and nightmare patio still needed doing. Cue us moving out and the builders moving in.
Big changes in the kitchen included:
- taking out the units on one side and replacing with a narrow breakfast bar, significantly increasing the width of the aisle, allowing more than one person in the kitchen at the time!
- ripping out the wood panelled ceiling
- replacing badly layed lino with tiles, we’ve already broken one of the ‘shatter proof’ glasses I bought for the new kitchen, but it feels so much nicer to walk on and is a lot easier to keep clean (although note: in the top new kitchen photo there’s some dust on the floor, Mr. Lacer has put in a CO2 alarm and the floor needs a mop to get rid of the last of the dust)
- plastering (you would not believe how having an incompletely plastered kitchen for 8 years can make you into a really big fan of plaster)
- new circuits
- higher wall units
- new reinforced floor (our washing machine was in danger of falling through apparently)
The massive, massive difference has been the breakfast bar, it’s turned the kitchen from a room where you’d do what you got to do and then run as fast as you could out of there, into a room we actually use and in such a small flat, gaining a room to use is making a very big difference. Me and the kids eat breakfast in there (me standing up) and I’ll often eat lunch in there to during the school day and the kids have there tea there most the time. I’ve even bought my laptop in there and worked sometimes. And of course replacing the units with a narrower breakfast bar means that people can move round each other in the kitchen much more easily. Unfortunately there’s no way to reduce the depth of my fridge freezer, so there’s still a bit of a bottle neck but I actually like the fridge freezer being there, sitting at the breakfast bar, next to the fridge, back to the food cupboard behind me, makes getting lunch easier! It also means that the fridge blocks the sight of the door, making it one of the few spots in our tiny flat where (and it’s only an illusion really) it feels like there’s some seclusion, as the rest of the flat is centred around a small hallway (you can see it in the first new kitchen photo), so it means where ever else you are in the flat, unless you go and physically shut a door (which is difficult in some rooms), you can see / hear what’s going on elsewhere. Oh and being able to prepare a meal for the kids and being able to put it all on the table without having to ferry it into the other room is wonderful, although I have since discovered that Boy Lacer doesn’t like his cheerios soggy!
Although we’ve lost some storage in the kitchen, we haven’t really, the wall units are taller and we couldn’t use some of our old cupboards because mice kept getting in. Our old food cupboards got too cluttered as you could never really see what was in them and after replacing some wall units with shelves in the kitchen of our first flat, I’ve been desperate to do the same in this flat since we’ve moved in. The shelves hold basics such as flour, sugar and rice, plus the bulkier drink multipacks which always used to sit on the floor or counter before, there’s also some of my larger ceramic dishes, my stock pot (which doesn’t fit in my saucepan drawer), my stacked mixing bowls, cereal and some frequent use cook books (when the builders were working out where to put the shelves the unit of measurement was honestly the height and width of a cereal packet). One of the cupboards on the opposite wall holds some other food but really, I don’t want to get such a large volume of food in the kitchen again, just enough for the week and some staples that you always need, we had too much before.
The higher shelves contain stuff that isn’t used as frequently, I am very aware that some of the stuff on those shelves could very well not be used at all in the two years we’re going to stay here, so I’m going to keep an eye on what I’m using and if there’s stuff that’s not getting used, it’s got to go, as I’ve managed to get all my stuff in the cupboards and on the shelves (except my wok and large roasting tin, which sit on the fridge, they don’t fit in anything! I could live without the wok but not the roasting tin, although I suppose there’s always disposable ones …..) but there’s no spare capacity, nothing new can come in, which is at least good for my wallet! I’ve told Mr. Lacer that I’m going to have to stop buying mugs, I have a soft spot for mugs from Clas Ohlson and Cath Kidston, but as he says, there’s the hard tile floor, buying replacement mugs is going to be inevitable.