New Kitchen

It has been a long process (especially given that someone else did a lot of the work) but the kitchen is almost finished, hurrah!

I thought I would share some photos, some of the things we’ve learned along the way and some of our favourite bits.

Design

When we started designing the kitchen, we hadn’t yet knocked out the old bathroom, but knew we were planning to, which made it hard to picture how the space would look. We had to work around the existing utility room and structural beam in the centre of the room, so it made sense to use the long wall that would be created across the back of the room and wrap around what would have been the old bathroom, with a breakfast bar to incorporate the upright beam. The kitchen sink is now where you can see the old toilet in the photo below.

We had a Wickes kitchen planner come round who was really helpful and guided us towards what would work in the space, with the key features we knew we wanted – a range cooker, integrated appliances and belfast sink.

Units and Worktops

When we ordered the kitchen we also decided to go with a Wickes fitter, who was mostly pretty good – especially at the worktops, which are beautifully scribed. Wickes’ customer service has been pretty awful though (especially after our sink was out of stock and they supposedly smashed the replacement when loading it and couldn’t source another) and I think it would put me off going there again.

The units are Tiverton Slate, which we initially thought might make our already dark kitchen even darker, but they have a bit of a sheen to them and coupled with the white metro tiles, the light bounces around enough.

Appliances

If we’d had more time at the point of ordering, I might have gone for some of the appliances Wickes offered, as these had 15% off and I think at the time I assumed they’d still be pricier than those available online. As it turned out, all of the big retailers (Wickes, Currys, AO.com etc) seem to be much of a muchness in price and I ended up buying almost everything at AO.com using Quidco cashback and voucher codes to save a little. I also bought an ex-display fridge freezer in the John Lewis Home Outlet in Swindon, saving over £300 on a unit that was still taped closed. I’d definitely recommend browsing here before you buy elsewhere. The stock turns pretty regularly and there’s a huge selection of appliances, as well as sofas, tables etc.

My favourite appliance is the range cooker. It’s a Rangemaster Excel 110 with an induction hob, which I ummed and ahhed about for an absolute age before just taking the plunge and I’m so glad I did.

Taps and Handles

We wanted black taps and door handles to match the black fittings we have elsewhere in the house (doorknobs, sash window catches etc), but these were surprisingly hard to find. I had a bit of a dilemma on the handles and the ones we’ve gone for (again from Howdens) are a tad chunkier than I’d have liked, but everything else seemed too delicate for my clumsiness! The taps are from Screwfix.

Table and Chairs

The table needed to be a really specific size as the pre-determined gap between the upright beam and the wall is fairly narrow. After much scouring we eventually tracked down the perfect table in a local antiques emporium (this one, if you’re local) and probably paid a bit too much for it because it was exactly the size we needed (and fitted widthways in the car with 1cm to spare). It needed some TLC and we’ve now sanded the top and painted the legs (in a Valspar paint matched to the units).

We’ve kept our Ercol-lookalike chairs that we originally bought for the flat and are in the process of re-spraying the two that were red a more vibrant yellow. The yellow isn’t quite right at the moment – not mustard enough – so we will topcoat again when we find a better spray paint – any recommendations?

Lights

As I mentioned, the kitchen is pretty dark, but we’ve gone from 2 ceilings to 27 lights including pendants, spotlights and under-counter lights, which seems to have fixed the problem!

The pendant is from Ian Snow, purchased at Domestic Science, which you must visit (preferably with plenty of time to spare as everything is beautiful) and the light above the table we constructed using bits from Creative Cables in grey and mustard to match. The spotlights and undercounted lights are just the standard Wickes ones.

Accessories

We picked mustard as our accent colour (hopping on that grey and yellow bandwagon!) and I picked up some bargain Le Creuset bits from Home Sense to finish it off. We’re just working on finding some mustard spray paint, as the yellow of the chairs is a bit bright.

Overall, we’re pretty pleased with how it turned out, hope you like it!

2017

I always think 1st January is a funny day. It’s a day to look backwards and forwards, so I’ll start by checking back on my 2016 goals:

1. Use it or lose it – this went pretty well, I embraced Oxfam’s Tag Your Bag and regularly cleared out, maintaining a strict ‘one in, one out’ policy on clothes and new kitchenware, which has kept the chaos at bay

2. Cosy up – progress has been made with all new radiators (as just about seen here), but this is a work in progress as we’re currently awaiting Listed Building Consent to replace the front door with a massive draughty gap underneath and some secondary glazing

3. Get outside more – the allotment has definitely given us a reason to be outdoors more (sadly not yet documented on the blog), but I ended up in the gym and not exercising outdoors, so one to work on in 2017. I’m hoping that the purchase of some new reflective gear in the Nike sale will help 🙂

4. Save up for a new kitchen – this didn’t go so well as we got distracted by all sorts of other projects in the house. 2017 will be the year of the kitchen and we’ve already booked an appointment for next weekend with a kitchen planner

5. Learn to say ‘no’ – this one is harder to judge, but I definitely think I made progress with more to be done

I will carry these goals into 2017 and add on a couple more for good measure:

6. Be gentle. With myself especially, as I’m too quick to blame or put myself down, but also with N as sometimes I let my competitive, ambitious, impatient self get the better of me

7. Take more photos of progress on the house. It’s easy to forget how far we have come

8. Try to be more green in any way, big or small, that I can

2016 was a funny old year and one I think I’m ready to move on from. So here’s to 2017, may it be a happy and healthy one for you and your loved ones!

Table Centre Piece – Advent 17/24

Day 17/24 – table centre piece

Table centrepiece

Tomorrow we have family coming over for an early Christmas. Rather than spend lots of money on fancy decorations for the Christmas table, I’m trying to work with what I have to hand. Other options include foraged foliage, candles on cake stands and dried citrus fruit.

Centre piece

This Sanctuary gift set box seemed like a good starting point, combined with pillar candles (the best value I’ve seen is at Home Bargains where they’re £2.99 for 3) and the cinnamon sticks I bundled up for the tree.

Vase of baubles

We’re also working the baubles in a vase look for the excess baubles that our tree couldn’t accommodate as a ‘no extra cost’ festive decoration.

Christmas Gift – Advent 16/24

Day 16/24 – Wooden Spoons

Beatles spoons

Wooden Beatles spoons… possibly the best Christmas present I have ever given!

Wooden spoons from Wilko are 30p each, plus a bit of colouring in commitment and you have a home-made gift guaranteed to amuse! Wrap individually and give one to each member of the family until they have a full set.

Other wooden spoon ideas: festive, The Gruffalo, superhero and patterned.

Hand Stamped Gift Wrap – Advent 10/24

Day 10/24 – Hand-stamped wrapping paper

Presents under the tree

I love a Christmas stamp, especially when it’s used to jazz up wrapping paper (oh and even more when purchased in the summer sale). Kraft paper can be purchased in bulk online, but it’s important to ensure it’s not the thick packaging kind, or your tape won’t stick when wrapping up! Add some ink (my favourite is Versafine) and you’re good to go with ‘making’ your own festive wrapping paper.

Tree stamp gift wrap

Happy festive stamping!

 

Fabric Scraps Christmas Tree Card – Advent 8/24

Day 8/24 – Fabric Scraps Christmas Tree Card

Fabric Scraps Card

This scraps card might be a little messy for some, but I’m embracing its imperfection, plus it’s a great way to use fabric scraps and those odd buttons up. My fabric scraps were already stitched together as they were leftover from a quilt. I glued them on using fabric glue (spread very thinly, it never seems to wrinkle cardboard in the same way that PVA does) and then went over the top with my sewing machine on a zigzag stitch. I then hand-sewed the button atop the tree.

All in all, it took less than 5 minutes, but looks like a lot of effort went in!

Save 25% on Christmas Drinks – Advent 2/24

Day 2/24 – Save 25% on Christmas drinks at Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury's wine offer

If you’re hosting this Christmas, stock up now on your festive drinks to save 25%. There are plenty of discounts to be had in addition to this, for example, we bought this Prosecco, which was reduced from £9 to £7 on the ticket. If you bought 6 bottles of this, you’d save the £12 already discounted, plus an extra £10.50 because of the 25% offer, so that would be 6 bottles for £31.50, instead of £54.

Prosecco 25% off

Or you can decorate with a pretty label and give as a festive gift. Hint: a pretty label shows more effort and costs less than a wine bag!

Prosecco save 25%

Hurry – the 25% saving is only available until 4th December.

Last Week (ever!) of Clubcard Boost

So this week is the final week of Clubcard Boost. There’s lot to choose from to spend your Clubcard points on, so be sure to make the most of it.

The Clubcard website tells us that changes are being made to get ‘more value out of Clubcard all year round’ and there’s still plenty of choice to spend with a Boost Partner (which often equates to better value) so there’s no need to panic just yet 😉

I’m braving Kayla Itsine’s BBG programme to get into shape, so I’ve used Clubcard Boost to buy a few bits of equipment I’m going to need – this step (not pictured), a kettle bell and a pretty new water bottle.

Clubcard Double

Clubcard Boost is a great way to treat yourself without spending any real money. You can browse all of the items included in the promotion here.

Using Up Sample Products

This month I’m having a bit of a de-cluttering spree, particularly in the bathroom as we make plans to install a new bathroom later on this year.

Sample products

It’s been quite refreshing having a different scent each day and has saved us money on toiletries this month, so it’s a win-win.

Toiletry samples

The plan is to read Marie Kondo’s book to inspire a full-scale declutter this summer… watch this space!