Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Before & After : Kitchen

This is the second installment of our London renovation (to see the bathroom Before & After click here), and I am happy to be showing you the transformation of our kitchen. We really thought through the details and materials of the space as well as the layout of the cabinetry so as to maximise the space in the kitchen but not lose out on storage.  When we were done we couldn't believe the way the space worked and looked, and feel that it came out even better than we were expecting - I hope you all enjoy!

It was clear to us when we walked in, and as you can see from the image below, the kitchen was in desperate need of a make-over.  We knew that there was nothing that we wanted to keep and so quickly tore everything out. The previous owner had tried to fit as many standard cabinets in as they could wich gave the room a very fragmented feeling, and with all the appliances exposed it was all very messy.  The flooring was a wood printed vinyl and had this weird squishy feeling to it when you walked (ugh) so that had to go. Things like the lighting under the cabinets was a great idea, just badly executed, same with the pendant, and so we felt that we could keep these, but just work them into the new layout in a better way.  

Our whole renovation was on a budget and so we tried to work out where we wanted to spend and where we thought we could save.  We knew that we were going to install hardwood flooring throughout the majority of the apartment so a large part of our budget was going to be put into that.  As the overall layout of appliances and services wasn't bad we decided to keep the sink, oven and cooktop where they originally were so we didn't have to move plumbing and gas supplies. This also allowed us to install the dishwasher beside the sink and use the plumbing from there.  

There is a large window in the room and so it gets a lot of natural light. This helped us feel like we could install dark grey lacquer cabinetry as not only is it reflective, but since the room is so tall, and the window brings in light, we didn't worry about it feeling dark.  The cabinetry is IKEA Abstrakt Grey and the counters are IKEA Numerar oak, both were very cost effective and gave us the look we were going for. Since the ceilings in the house are so high this also allowed us to install the extra tall upper cabinets giving us that little bit more storage space.  

The rest of the fittings and accessories were determined by the link we were creating between the existing architecture and new kitchen. We used a very simple slim matt white subway tile for the backsplash and it had a little bit of a beveled edge, playing homage to the age of the house.  When it came to painting the room, we painted 3 of the the walls a very light grey, and the wall oposite the cabinets (the long one leading down the hall) we painted in Bone China Blue from  the Little Green Paint Company just to give a pop of colour.  Because of the chimney flue that sticks into the space we didn't have a whole lot of counter and for food prep this is key.  Since we removed the table in the room we wanted to bring in something that not only we could sit at but could act as a worktop when needed.  We discovered a great workshop called Gathering Moss, who work in recycled wood/ We commissioned them to make us a moving storage island out of old barn wood, and since we had a piece of countertop left over, had the top made from the same oak as the rest.  After using the kitchen this quickly became one of my favorite pieces.  On the whole we wanted to kitchen to feel clean and simple and with all the appliances tucked away (the on-demand water heater is in a cabinet above the sink) we really feel like we achieved more than we thought we could.

The room also had a door into it from the hallway, making it feel like an enclosed space smaller than it actually was.  My husband had the great idea to remove the door, and surrounding wall, and create a seamless passage from the corridor into the kitchen (see below right image).  This was probably one of the largest transformations of the space as it brought the kitchen into the rest of the apartment and with the opening being full-height really made the space feel larger and taller.  It also gave us a great large  'canvas' for the blue paint I so wanted to use!

We wanted to keep the fittings and accessories in the kitchen simple, modern but as with the rest of the  kitchen, we wanted them to work with the architecture of the rest of the space.  Below are a few of the accessories and fittings that we purchased for the kitchen, and really helped to make it the space that we love and spent a lot of time in.

1. We are a huge fan of large industrial pendants.  As the kitchen was modern, but in a traditional architectural space, we wanted something that would work with both. For me this meant not getting something too 'factoryesque', but rather a pendant with clean lines and a colour/tone to work with the scheme of the room.  We settled on the Titan 3 from Original BTC and were so happy with the decision (actually installed a second one in another room, so stay tuned to see where...).   

2. With the kitchen being IKEA, one of the best tips I can give is that if you change something, like the hardware, it helps to give the cabinetry a more custom look. Immediately it doesn't look like a standard kitchen, and it is a very inexpensive way to give the cabinetry a little lift.  We used simple brushed chrome cube knobs on the doors and levers on the drawers and appliances (dishwasher, fridge and freezer) that we bought at a architectural hardware store called Franchi.  

3. I think that the kitchen tap is so important both in terms of aesthetics but also functionality.  For me, I have always wanted a pull out nozzle and so this was my chance.  I had installed Franke taps on projects before and always loved their clean and simple design and felt that the Fuji tap was for us - monoblock, single lever with a pull-out nozzle. Perfect! 

4. As mentioned above, we had a little mobile storage island made and we very much enjoyed sitting at for breakfast or just a little cheese board on the weekend and bought some red Tolix stools. They were comfortable to sit on and when we weren't using them, they didn't take up too much space.  They also served double-duty as I am not very tall and sometimes needed help reaching items high up in the cupboards!  


  1. oh wow - what a huge difference! It looks unbelievable!

  2. What a transformation! I really appreciate hearing your thoughts and clues into your decision-making process throughout the renovation. It makes the sometimes-daunting task of renovation quite accessible and also shows how your trained eye and experience comes into play. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  3. This is a stunning makeover! I just bought some Tolix chairs but now you're making me think about getting stools as well

  4. Awesome design..! What a transformation..! Like the color scheme.

  5. Lovely transformation - it shows that you don't need to move the electrical and plumbing to have a huge impact. I love how the cabinets reflect the outdoors.

    And I agree with you - taps are EVERYTHING. We splurged on ours as well - it's something that you use every day, all day so if it doesn't feel/work right, it will drive you crazy.

    Question - where did you put the washer? I know that my London friends have the washer in their kitchen as well.

    1. Thanks so much!
      It is customary in the UK and a lot of European countries to have your washing machine in the kitchen. As we were limited on space, and weren't keen on the idea, we had the washer moved to a cupboard we made in the entrance (I will post on this a little later) as there was a water supply there. This freed up the space in the kitchen where the washer had been for our dishwasher and allowed us to have everything behind a door which was key.

  6. Great before and after! What good work you've done, it looks amazing :) Love the tap, the stools, the lamp, the grey, the floors ... well everything, I guess, lol. It's so fun to get an insight like this, thank you :)


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