Designing Your Dream Kitchen

When we got the keys to our dated 1930s home, the kitchen was built for one person only – the housewife! Now, it’s 2020 and in our household, Nick does most of our cooking. Personally, I like to sit, drink wine and keep him company! Therefore, we really needed a much more spacious kitchen. Somewhere where we could entertain guests but also have space for food prep. I can’t say I’d ever really looked at kitchens in much detail before we bought our home. We rented so many different places that we just accepted whatever kitchen the properties came with. The original kitchen in our house actually had some of the original 1930s units – Yes, it was that old! The rest was from the 1960s and we even had polystyrene tiles on the ceiling just to finish it off! 

Before we had even got the keys, we actually began planning our kitchen. I know what you’re thinking – that’s a bit presumptuous or, you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself there guys! But, we had to have a full rewire completed in our home and we wanted to get the electrician in as soon as we got the keys. If you recall from our previous blogs, we only had 6 weeks before we were moving into our first proper home. Therefore, we needed to know where all of the electrics would go in our new kitchen so the rewire could get started ASAP. At the same time as the full rewire, we also had a builder in to remove the wall between the original kitchen and the old dining room. Now, I have to say, I’m not a fan of a dining room. I’ve always believed the kitchen is the heart of the home and I loved the idea of having one space to incorporate a kitchen dining area. By removing the wall, this space was now roughly 3.7m x 6m. We always planned a future extension for this space too coming off the back wall, therefore, this forward thinking was included in our kitchen planning. 

The Floor Plan and Changes

Now, one thing we’re asked often is, was it easy to move the waste pipe and water pipes to move the kitchen. The answer is yes. The plumber was in anyway replacing all the old pipe to lovely new copper ones and fitting in additional radiators (several rooms didn’t have any) so it wasn’t too hard to re-route a few water pipes too. We had a back boiler in the dining room, in the chimney. We planned to open the chimney up to accommodate the cooker and obviously there was already a gas supply there so it was a simple decision really! Having the new waste pipe in was a bit trickier as we have concrete floors where the original kitchen was. From what I heard, cutting through the concrete wasn’t a fun job! However, it was all done within a day so it wasn’t overly pricey. Because the waste pipe had quite a long run, the building inspector suggested have a 50mm diameter pipe (it’s usually 40mm). This means that it’s less likely to become blocked, which is reassuring. 

Unfortunately, because we wanted to plan our kitchen before having the keys, we were turned away by quite a few kitchen design companies. The reasons for this were that they wanted to come in and measure the kitchen themselves (but we had no key) or that they didn’t want to plan a kitchen in case the sale fell through. Thankfully, B&Q were fine with this and so was Ikea. We went to B&Q initially for the first design. However, we wanted to make several optional layouts so we could see what worked best for us. Constantly having to go back and book appointments didn’t feel like a viable option. Because Ikea has a kitchen planner that you can use from the comfort of your own home, it was a no brainer! We decided to pop into Ikea first to see what they had, and surprisingly, we found everything we wanted in Ikea. There were a few things I knew were ‘must haves’ in our kitchen. Firstly, an island. I wanted this space for entertaining but also, somewhere where we could enjoy a snack/drink in a more casual way. Also, we 100% need a dishwasher as we both work full time and I don’t want to spend my evenings washing dishes. Plus, it was forward thinking for if we ever decide to extend our family. I wanted a built in microwave as I think they’re so ugly and take up so much room otherwise. Finally, I was adamant that I wanted a double Belfast sink because I liked the idea of having the second sink to hide the dishes drying. We couldn’t believe our luck when we realised that Ikea had all of these aspects. 

We probably planned about 5 different kitchens before settling on the one that worked best. As I mentioned before, we planned out kitchen with an extension in mind. Therefore, we kept the back wall free of all units as we will be removing some of this wall in the future. When we had our final kitchen plans, we actually measured the units on the wall and we used masking tape to tape the outline on the floor. This was an excellent way to visualise the space and I thoroughly recommend doing it if you’re in that position. By doing this, we actually realised that the island was too close to the wall units and we actually wouldn’t be able to open the dishwasher and the drawers at the same time. It’s stuff like that that you may not think about! Once we did all of this, we went back into Ikea, and we booked an appointment with a kitchen planner. They had a look over our plans and made a few final changes. Overall, it was a really easy process. 

We didn’t want too many upper units in our kitchen as we wanted to create a spacious feel. Once we had the tall unit for the built in fridge, we decided that we wanted to balance this by having tall units on the other side also. We are often asked the dimensions of our island. It’s approximately 105cm x 130cm. To save money, we also decided to fit the kitchen ourselves (I’ll write another blog on this). This was quite a gamble as we had no experience in anything like this but we took our time and made sure everything was level. In the end, it took us around two weeks to complete. We did get someone in to do the worktops though as we didn’t have the tools on that and well, we’re brave, but not that brave!

We came across some plain wooden creates in Ikea and we decided to paint them and make them into shelves (it’s all about saving money where you can). Another temporary measure we did was we used vinyl for the splash back behind the cooker. It’s definitely a cheap, temporary way to get things looking good. If you’re like us, and on a real budget, it’s definitely worth thinking outside the box on certain things!

5 Top Tips by a kitchen Designer

I got in touch with the lovely Jacqui over at the Instagram handle @homeandginteriors who has designed kitchens for a variety of kitchen companies. They ranged from modern German manufactured kitchens to high end luxury British hand painted kitchens. Here are her top 5 tips:

  1. Balance the kitchen to the room. Draw out your room to scale (use a pencil!) with 600mm lines (worktop depth) right round every wall then if you have space for an island, mark one metre from all your 600mm lines and join the up to create you island space. This is your optimum space for cabinets! I’ve drawn a little sketch if it sounds confusing (you’ll find it underneath the tips). You can then reduce areas if you want to add an island or make one bigger.
  2. If you are changing an existing kitchen, whatever you do, don’t think about or copy it’s current layout. It’s probably the reason why your changing your kitchen in the first place, make it work for you! Do you cook lots? What kind of cooking do you do? Do you need social space? Try and line things up with elements of the room, look above you at beams or windows.
  3. After sketching the room, think appliances first. What do you need, want or would use the most?? A range cooker or eye level oven? Micro combination ovens are an absolute godsend! Hot water taps and extractor hobs are the best thing since sliced bread but remember they do take up space in the cupboard below so make sure you take that into account. You tend to stand cooking at a hob so if you can, put the hob in a place where you can face the social area to chat or have a nice garden outlook. If you have an island and have to choose what to put on it, I’d definitely recommend having a hob! Most people have dishwashers so the chances of you standing at a sink are slim.
  4. Cost! If you are on a budget but still want the luxuries then you can! Find cabinets that suit from a cheaper supplier or source them through a tradesman. Get lots of quotes for everything! Cabinets, worktops and appliances, I saved £2,000 on my appliances by shopping around. Luxury gadgets really make a kitchen and if you decided to sell, mentioning them in a listing helps make an impact.
  5. Lighting is everything! You can have an amazing kitchen design but if the lights aren’t right then you will be utterly disappointed, day and night! I don’t just mean electrics, I mean natural light too! Warm white LED lights work extremely well to create the perfect ambiance and LED’s also provide the luxurious consistent flow of soft lighting that will last, save energy and replacement bulb costs. For natural light, try introducing roof lights or boat windows into the room, nothing beats a beautiful blue sky or starry night.