You will know by now if you follow me on Instagram that the big kitchen project is well underway, even though I am way behind in blogging about it. It turns out that major building work, accompanied by finishing things up pre-maternity leave, a holiday, and general tiredness from pregnancy don’t leave a lot of spare time for blogging!
I hinted at my plans for transforming our kitchen in my New Year’s goals, but at the time I couldn’t reveal why we wanted to do this project so soon without having actually finished off everything upstairs (like the office and bathroom) because I hadn’t yet announced my pregnancy. Basically, when you’re dealing with hundreds of years old black lime mortar, the dust is so filthy and toxic we decided that any removal of walls or demolition had to be done pre-baby, as I could not imagine ever doing it with small children in the house, so it was now or never! And having lived through the dust phase (well, it’s still going really, will be for weeks), I am so glad we made that decision.
A Look At Our Old Kitchen
I didn’t say much though about why I so badly wanted a new kitchen. I am still not sure that my long-suffering husband understands why I was so insistent but hopefully this post will explain it a bit. Here are some photos of the old kitchen.
Not actually too bad, right? Beautiful solid wood cabinets, a nice big range, some open shelves for storage. However, it’s pretty tiny. Very hard to fit two people cooking together. Absolutely no room for a high-chair so I could supervise a baby whilst cooking, never mind possibly two some day in the future! And worst of all is the placement of the fridge – in the only spot it would fit, obscuring the only (tiny) window in the room, wedged between the door to the cellar and the washing machine. Meaning neither is easy to get to – in fact, trying to use the washing machine is a nightmare, I can’t fit a laundry basket between it and the fridge, so I have to do a lot of unnecessary bending and turning when loading and unloading. Not to mention that the tumble dryer is in the downstairs loo on the other side of the house so quite a trek (also in a room awkward to get into). And now I am sporting quite a huge baby bump, I can’t actually get to the washing machine or in to the cellar at all anymore! The floor was also a bit of a nightmare – old quarry tiles covered with stick-on faux tiles, covered with lino, a lot o layers all of which are refusing to budge without hours of hard work. There is also a serious lack of cupboard and storage space (two of those lower cabinets are taken up with a broken fridge and small freezer which we don’t really need), and considering I love to cook and have a lot of pans, gadgets, cookbooks and ingredients, this was becoming more and more frustrating. So, all in all, it isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it annoys me daily, and given the lengths we are going to to make the rest of the house beautiful, it seemed crazy not to fix the room I probably use the most. And it would make entertaining sooo much easier, which I love to do and haven’t really been able to.
The Master Plan For the New Kitchen
So my crazy plan began to form. On the other side of the house (in the other cottage (our house is two cottages which were knocked into one very badly in the 1950’s)) is a large (by the standards of our house) dining room, which we hardly used for dining (because it was nowhere near the kitchen, and also because it has been a storage space for building materials, bathroom suites, and my home office for the past year). I had visions of turning it into a kitchen diner by creating an extension of the current kitchen straight across the back of the house, replacing an old lean-to on that side with a new extension, which would also gain extra space from the tiny, pointless little courtyard between there and the old kitchen. It’s quite hard to imagine, so here is the existing layout of the ground floor from the property particulars (with the dining and sitting rooms the wrong way round…the room with the huge inglenook fireplace has to be the sitting room!), and then a very crude diagram of my plans for the new layout:
As you can see, the plan is fairly ambitious, removing the old second staircase which comes up under the bathroom floor, moving the front door and adding a new porch, as well as the new extension across the back of the house. We can keep the storage and utilities in the old kitchen, and move the cooker, sink and fridge to the new extension, add a large kitchen island separating the dining area from the cooking area, and we would have a lovely big family kitchen which would work for us, and crucially, be a great selling point eventually, as it is hard to sell a nice family home with a teeny kitchen. We would also install a new downstairs loo in the end of the old kitchen, because a second loo is a definite plus in a family house, especially when the other is in the bathroom.
I wanted the extension built by the time the baby arrives (early July), so just after Christmas we began consulting builders and getting quotes for what we thought would be quite a simple job. It turns out these things never quite go to plan of course, especially when you’re dealing with a very old property. Update coming soon on what happened with Plan A, Plan B, and our progress on Plan C (I think- who knows if we are onto D by then!).