Kitchen Makeover Reveal

August 30, 2019

Post Contains Gifted Items.
I know, I know, there isn’t a blog post for nearly a month and then suddenly over 2,500 words show up all at once! Thanks summer holidays! But, seriously, today is a big one because it’s our kitchen makeover reveal. This one took a lot of planning, and a good amount of blood sweat and tears (we won’t mention under-ordering tiles, or mis-measuring a couple of drawer fronts now), onwards to the reveal!
I am so excited about this one, mainly as I have really disliked our kitchen forever. In a bit of a princess way, I would hear people say how livable it was, sometimes even nice, but I wasn’t convinced. I have wanted to do this kitchen makeover for the whole four years we’ve lived here. Kitchens can be a slightly intimidating brief, a bit like weddings, when you put the word kitchen next to something the ££ signs multiply exponentially. I guess you hope to only do a wedding once, and kitchens should last a long time (though in honesty longevity is my approach with all rooms), but I still balk a little when I hear that the average cost of a new kitchen in the UK costs between £10-12K. That’s a heck of a lot of dough!  No way would we ever have that budget without a remortgage, and with No Deal Brexit looking a real possibility (is it just me that’s starting to get the night terrors about it?) it’s not a gamble I’m willing to take.
To be upfront about costs at the start, I spent somewhere in the region of £1.5K on product, a similar amount on labour, and was very kindly gifted product of around £3K. So the total cost of the makeover would be £4.5K, excluding labour, vastly under the average by nearly half but a lot of thought went into what could be re-used and what needed to be scraped. When you are on a relative shoestring every single part needs to be well thought through and justified – pressure!
When planning our refurb I spent a long time debating what actually worked in here, what I didn’t mind keeping, how I could build a scheme which would make the most of the old whilst highlighting the new. Top of my agenda was to increase storage at one end of the kitchen whilst removing some at the other to open up the space a little. Our kitchen is not a gally kitchen but it’s also not terribly wide, I wanted to remove the upper cabinets as you enter the room as they always felt a little dominating. But we still need some storage here, from reading about people’s pros and cons with freestanding shelves in the kitchen I read many times that the trick to shelves that didn’t need endless dusting was to put the items you most use upon them and then a couple of little pieces that are occasional and decorative to give the area some interest. I would love to tell you that I put these shelves up myself but my next door neighbour is a very clever carpenter so I thought it would be silly not to utilise his skills and risk botching it myself.
The Terrazzo
Underneath these shelves is my piece de resistance. Every time I have looked at kitchen design over the years one thing has been firmly on my wish list – Terrazzo. My husband and I first came across this material on an episode of Grand Designs in an old cinema back in 2013. We both loved it. As it started to become more fashionable, and therefore accessible, it was something Dan and I came back to again and again. I have quite a few samples of terrazzo in the house (which I often use as coasters) and when we started looking at colour schemes there was one sample that stood out. The terrazzo tile no.502 From the Marble 5 range made by Mosaic Factory was my absolute favourite. Having bought from this company when they were known as Mosaic Del Sur for our bathroom tiles, I knew I could trust the quality of these Spanish made tiles. We were incredibly lucky to have these large tiles, which measure 30×30 gifted to us, but I can wholeheartedly tell you that I would absolutely happily pay for them. They are the absolute show stopper for me and the thing that most makes my heart sing when I enter the space.
The Colour
Terrazzo decided upon, I looked into colours and how to make the kitchen blend. I wanted a grey tone which I could wash across the whole space (walls, ceiling, window frames, larder and door), but one which didn’t dominate, something to make the space feel less stark but also one that wouldn’t make it feel dingy. I searched for quite some time trying to find my perfect grey when it occurred to me that we already had the perfect grey in our bedroom! The perfectly pastel like Ammonite from Farrow and Ball has been one of my favourite colours in the house, so after a quick refresh in the bedroom (I don’t believe in using the same colour twice!), we were ready to paint the kitchen. I approached Farrow and Ball who very kindly provided their eco friendly water based paints in a variety of finishes. I have painted all walls (and ceiling) with my favourite Estate Emulsion finish, using the wipeable more hard wearing Modern Emulsion on the chimney breast (where the cooking happens) and Estate eggshell on all woodwork. I couldn’t be happier with this shade, it looks a little whiter in these pictures than to the naked eye, but if you look toward the door in the hallway for the downstairs loo in some of the shots I think you can perceive the difference.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest cost saver in our kitchen was the decision to keep both the existing floor and worktops which are made of natural materials. They are both a little tired but with years left in them and they are also both black. I had long hated the white cupboards and drawers in between, chiefly for their plastic-y faux wood grain (which meant I could never paint them) but also for their colour. They made the space feel really inconsistent, it seemed obvious to me that in a relatively small kitchen that if you go for a black floor and black granite on the worktops your units should also be dark to help them recede from the eyeline and blend in effortlessly down to the floor.
New Door and Drawer Fronts
I knew that I wasn’t going to replace carcasses as that seemed pretty wasteful when I was happy with the layout we had and aware that there are a few firms on the market that offer really stunning fronts I started to do my research. If you have an Ikea kitchen (we didn’t) then there are many options, less so with unit fronts that are made bespoke, but we went for a design from Norfolk based company Naked Doors who had impressed us most from the start with a great price point that didn’t compromise on style.
We chose the Ladbroke doors with groove and drawer fronts, end panels and plinths in the colour Oyster Catcher with Oak handle backings. We received a generous discount on the purchase of these, but discount aside I am so impressed with the bang you get for your buck with these. They have totally transformed the space, they are very stylish, they make a play of the Scandinavian design instinct of the space and I really love the handles. Handles are a real expense in the kitchen if you want to use something stylish. When we first moved I found some handles I loved to replace our plastic ones for £25 each, but quickly worked out this would come to over £500 for our space. When we were on holiday recently the kitchen had similar doors from another company but without the oak backing, it was really annoying opening them as the hand quarreled with the infinite space of the hole on opening. There is none of this frustration with these doors, in fact I think the handles feel really ergonomic and I love touching the natural material of the oak behind.
The Marble Tiles
In the chimney breast we had inherited some very peculiar multicoloured glass tiles which I had painted several times in varying shades. With the first few colours they had looked like mini metro tiles, but the more changes I made, the more the area started to look more like paint build up than tiles! I choose a marble herringbone design for this area which I found cheapest in Scandinavia. The reason I went for these was that I wanted something which would feel a little special but which would still allow the terrazzo to sing as a centrepiece not argued with.
Looking up, I made some impactful changes with the lighting. Some time ago we added three black task lights to the chimney breast and I loved the different and directed light these task lamps provided. After listening to the podcast The Great Indoors where Kate Watson Smyth was talking about how loathsome the traditional grid system of spotlights was in kitchens, how randomly placed they can feel, it got me thinking. I had already replaced one spotlight with a pendant at the end of the kitchen but actually what I really wanted was some lighting to add focus along the very boring sink side of the kitchen, and also something which would provide more diffused lighting. I opted for three very simple lamp holders, two in fluted Cappuccino coloured porcelain from Lyngby and a third for the middle in black, the heavy metal pendant from Buster & Punch which I won in a competition some years back.
The Lighting
Choosing the right lamps with minimalist pendants is really important. I have opted for  opalescent bulbs in an oval shape which were kindly gifted by Tala, a brand who have been on my radar since I visited their studio back in the winter. These bulbs are more expensive than the average bulb but not only do they comprise a central feature and add a beautiful decorative element to this side of the kitchen, they are also well made bulbs with eco credentials that are built to last over a decade. I absolutely love them.
I think the lighting details are so important in here, they have really transformed the space, and this applies to the electrical hardware too. I bought black and white light switches and plug sockets from the Dowsing & Reynolds range, and they really do complete the look, such a small detail but with such impact, it’s really worth looking into your options here as they create a lot more ambiance than you may at first think.
The Tap
In the area above, other than cabinet fronts very little has changed. With one very stylish exception! We were very lucky to be gifted a very swanky tap from American company Kohler. The Purist tap in matt black is a very ergonomic and beautiful piece of design. It replaces a very cheap black tap that I bought a few years back but which had tarnished really badly. I love the feel of this tap, and know that is built to last.
The Home Corner(!)
Behind the kitchen units on right side is one of two areas we have always referred to as our dead space, the cat’s litter box is hidden here, and we used to have a table next to it, which yes you guessed it, no one ever wanted to use to eat at as it was next to the litter tray! Instead I have brought a vintage Errol armchair down from upstairs and added some prints that are tonally in keeping with the walls. What started with an abstract Swedish print from Wall of Art, that I had wanted for ages, expanded to include a framed tote bag with a Henry Moore illustration bought from an exhibition at the Wallace Collection, and a rehousing of my beloved cow parsley print from Brighton based graphic designer One Must Dash. I love how cosy this spot makes the kitchen feel, and also that it allows someone to sit comfortably at a distance from the litter tray to chat to me whilst I cook.
Pantry Cupboards
And finally we get to my pantry cupboards of dreams just opposite! I can evangelise about the storage this has given me for hours. No really! This was probably the worst thought out part of our original kitchen. There was a cupboard which housed the boiler, room for a fridge and bin outside, and a small cupboard above the fridge which neither went all the way up to the ceiling or all the way back to the wall. This area drove me nuts, it always looked ugly and provided hardly any usable storage. I asked my carpenter neighbour to build us a frame to house both the boiler, fridge and bin with shelves built wherever possible and MDF doors to flank the whole of the usable space. As you can see he did an incredible job, we have SO MUCH more storage now, I don’t have to look at ugly appliances or bins, and with a bit of the Farrow & Ball Ammonite paint the cupboards have blended seamlessly in with the wall. When you plan a big change you can never be sure of the exact result, and I was a little worried that I may be building a monolith, but in fact I think this is a lovely feature, Scandinavian in feel, of the new kitchen.
So that’s it, other than a new hand towel from H&M or a cheap blind there, that’s my budget kitchen refresh in full. I hope you will agree that we made the most of what the kitchen already had whilst helping it to become it’s better self. I’m so pleased with it, it feels really different, and most crucially it now feels like a space that belongs to us, one which blends naturally amongst the rest of our home. I’m going to have to find my long buried domestic goddess now to justify extra time in the space! Scroll down for full list of items used and also to see the space we inherited!
Items Used in Makeover:
Ladbroke kitchen door and drawer fronts, plinths and end panels from Naked Doors* Marble 5 Terrazzo Tiles from Mosaic Factory*
Purist Tap from Kohler*
Porcelain light pendants from Lyngby.
Black pendant from Buster & Punch.
Opalescent oval lightbulbs from Tala*
Black & White electrical switches from Dowsing & Reynolds.
Ammonite paint shade from Farrow & Ball*
Marble Herringbone tiles from E-Mosaic.
Black task lights from…
Cow parsley print from One Must Dash*
Intrusion from Wall of Art, Sweden.
Henry Moore Tote bag (framed) from The Wallace Collection.
Birch coat hanger pegs from H&M.
Ercol Easy Chair, past vintage purchase
Black Task Lights from Beautiful Halo.
* denotes items that have been either gifted or discounted.
The kitchen we Inherited:
The make-do stage two years ago:
Kitchen Farrow ball slipper satin, vintage Scandinavian rustic budget kitchen refresh, artisan design and styling, eucalyptus (1)
The Kitchen now:




3 thoughts on “Kitchen Makeover Reveal

  1. Melanie

    This is so gorgeous. I love the before, middle and after pics so you an see the stages it goes through. All the little details aswell make it amazing. Love the naked doors cabinet fronts getting rid of protruding handles x


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