Tiling a hallway

As I said last week we have made the decision to tile our hallway and install underfloor heating. It is a big expense but worth it for the warmth it will bring to such a cold space. Covering up the extremely battered and dirty floorboards in the hallway will also transform the space from an aesthetic point of view. However, the challenge of choosing the right tiles is not one I relish, if I am completely honest. I’d happily choose a kitchen or bathroom tile any day of the week but hallways are very different. I’d always go for a traditional Victorian mosaic floor in that period of property because that is what would have been there originally. A 1930s house is a different story as the hallway wasn’t originally tiled and it is a much more modest space with no intricate period features or high ceilings. If I had the budget I would lay a new wood floor from the hallway right through the living space downstairs but as it stands that won’t be possible until we extend the back of the house in maybe five years time. Therefore, I want a new floor in the hallway that we won’t have to touch when it comes to extending and tiles is the obvious choice.

I need the tiles to be Porcelain, easy to lay (so not mosaics) to keep costs down, suitable with underfloor heating, a traditional feel to them as modern isn’t really my thing, patterned to disguise some of the mud/dirt that gets traipsed into our house every day, light in colour as there is so little natural light in the hallway and fairly neutral colours that will suit a change of paint colour in the future. I can’t say I have found a huge number of options that I love that fit all of these criteria!

Let me just show you a few tiled hallways that I love:

A 1930s house designed by Doris Lee who added these Bert & May tiles to a very similar hallway to ours (although this is a lot wider!) I love how much light and brightness they bring to the space as well as a lovely dose of pattern.

Again, only in my hallway dreams does this image appear! Photograph by Paul Massey for Living Etc.

So, I only have a few tiles in the running at the moment for my hallway. Firstly black and white chequer, a very classic choice that Jules is in favour of:

We have ruled out a large (20cm) black and white chequer tile (as can be seen in the image above on the right) as our hallway is too small and I worry it looks too utility room/kitchen if you know what I mean. Also, it is very difficult to find an off white tile and I definitely definitely don’t want brilliant white.

However, we do both really like Topps Tiles Victorian Mosaic black and white chequer tile, which is much smaller and the white tile is off white (much more like the image above on the left). The issue is that they are a lot more expensive to buy and lay. Also, I would really want them to be laid diagonally and that will be a nightmare to do, especially with a border. I worry they are quite cold looking too and I would really like the hallway to feel more cosy and welcoming. Hmmm…

The second choice is something I’m quite keen on but Jules not so much. It has a bit of colour in it so they look warmer but still quite muted and it would be very easy to lay. My only issue is that it kind of matches our house too much! I would like something with a touch more contrast.

Richmond Manor tile from Your Tiles

A couple of other options that I am considering are these porcelain black and white Casino Baccarat tiles from Fired Earth:

Image via Colour Interiors.

And I also love the drama and simplicity of these Trellis Fired Earth tiles (currently not available):

I love this design by the wonderful Laura Lakin Design.

I have to say if I could consider encaustic tiles the choice would be a lot easier as I feel a lot of the designs are more suited to hallways but they are just too high maintenance for our family. I would love to have either of these Fired Earth tiles but sadly our budget and general levels of muckiness just won’t allow it. Also, they are quite colour specific so it would be harder to change the colour of the hallway in the future:

Terrazzo Mitri tiles from Fired Earth and Madeira tile above right.

Here are some tile companies to try if you are on a search too:

Your Tiles – really good for a huge range of relatively affordable porcelain tiles with encaustic tile style designs.

Fired Earth – I love pretty much all of their tiles but definitely on the pricey side.

Maitland and Poate – amazing selection of antique tiles (would love this one for the hallway)

Otto Tiles – some lovely unique encaustic designs.

Bert & May – great selection of bold encaustic tiles.

Ca’Pietra – good large black and white chequer option.

Claybrook Studio – beautiful designs in lovely soft colours.

Mandarin Stone – I love their terrazzo tiles.

Anyhoo, I will keep you updated on the search!

Katy x

1930s hallway decor – our plans to finish the hallway

I was super excited about our hallway when we were doing the first round of renovations to the house as I had such a clear image in my mind of what I wanted it to look like. As it turned out we didn’t have enough money finish the hallway so it was left plastered and painted but not a lot else. On the surface it looks good but actually the unfinished stairs, the old floorboards and the brilliant white walls make it a pretty miserable space.

If you are interested in the doors you can read this post about restoring 1930s doors. You can also read more about painting a uPVC front door and I have to say the painted front door has done AMAZINGLY well – not a single scratch. I still hate it but slowly, slowly!

And here is a reminder of what the hallway looked like when we first viewed the house…

So what do we need to change? I still absolutely love the Inchyra Blue woodwork, the beautiful Skinflint globe light and the stripped doors so that is all definitely staying. The biggest issue we need to deal with is the floor. The hallway is incredibly cold because of the external wall (we are semi detached). The floor makes it even colder because there is no insulation beneath the floorboards. Therefore, we are getting quotes to install underfloor heating and getting it tiled. Porcelain tiles will work well for us because Otto brings in so much dirt – I would never consider porous tiles (encaustic cement tiles, for example) as it would be a nightmare maintaining them and they would constantly look dirty. Tiles also a good way to lighten the space and throw a bit of light around as the grubby floorboards that were never oiled are so drab and just absorb all of the light. Primarily, however, the priority is to stop cold coming in through the floor and add an extra dose of heat to this space.

The stairs is a whole other issue and expense so we’re going to see how we go on that front. We had a moment of madness recently and started the paint peeling process on the stairs with Peelaway but we quickly abandoned that as it was the least fun DIY process I have ever experienced! Yes, a lot of the paint came away but our skirting paintwork took a real hit so it all looks even worse now. It’s still very much in debate as to the way forward. If we decide to spend the money and get carpet I have chosen a few options from Unnatural Flooring – it looks exactly like sisal but it is 100% manmade which means it is stain resistant, washable, bleach-able and a lot softer to the touch. It also won’t be attacked by moths (anyone else obsessed with keeping moths at bay?!). My favourite option is the New England Newport carpet (close up on the right):

The other big issue for me is how cold the brilliant white is on the walls. Using brilliant white does not make a dark space brighter and lighter; it actually makes it feel cold and dingy. Therefore, I would love to paint it Shadow White but I would have to do that myself so…

Anyhoo, the floor is the first big step and big expense and I’ll show you more about the tiles that I am thinking about soon.

Katy x

IKEA PAX wardrobe hack

Hello! I’ve been away from the blog for the whole of lockdown 3.0 and I’ve really missed it. I also have a whole lockdown’s worth of comments/questions to catch up on; I’m so sorry if you have left me a comment and I haven’t responded yet, I will try to catch up as quickly as possible but there are a lot so you’ll have to bear with me. Please do remember to use my search tool as lots of the questions asked are answered elsewhere on the blog i.e. paint colours. Also, pop over to my Instagram as there are lots of story highlights and info over there too.

During the lockdown I’ve had Mimi at home full time so work has taken a back seat (very, very lucky for us that I’m able to be flexible in terms of how much work I take on). During lots and lots of afternoons at home I have managed to squeeze in a fair bit of DIY and painting around the house so I have lots to share with you over the next few weeks but first and foremost as promised about six months ago I want to share our IKEA PAX wardrobe hack!

The hack took a solid three weekends, and painting took another full weekend, but we are so thrilled with the results and we have saved around £2000 doing it ourselves (we had a couple of quotes for bespoke wardrobes with internal drawers/shelves/hanging space and they were all around £3000). Would we do it again? Yes. Was it hard work? Yes. Did we learn a lot along the way that would make next time easier? For sure. In fact, one of the hardest things about the project was not really knowing what we were doing as it is pretty difficult to find instructions online so I hope this blog post helps those of you who want to take on the hack.

The right alcove has a 35cm deep PAX frame.

Firstly, let me tell you what items we bought from IKEA. For the right alcove of the bedroom we chose a 100cm width – 236cm height – 35cm depth wardrobe frame. The alcove is roughly 105cm wide but the walls aren’t straight so in some places it is 103cm and in others it is 106cm. In our bedroom the 35cm depth frame was the only option as there is relatively little space between the wardrobe and the end of the bed so the 58cm deep frame would have been far too close to the bed. We also had to make the decision to place the frame off centre in the alcove as we wanted hinged doors (not sliding doors, which is the other option) and if the frame was centred the right hand door would not have opened properly against the radiator under the window and curtain pole – consider what your doors will open out onto very carefully as they must be able to open out completely, especially if you are fitting drawers inside the cupboard.

For the left alcove, which is also roughly 105cm, we decided to extend the wardrobe around the corner and along the left hand side wall of the bedroom. With this type of configuration it is not possible with the PAX system to use a 100cm wide frame to go into the alcove, it has to be a 75cm frame as this can be connected to the corner attachment and enables a 50cm door to be fitted. The cupboards that run along the left hand side wall have to be 35cm deep to fit with this configuration and that suited us perfectly as if they had been deeper they would have eaten into the small amount of floorspace we have far too much and again opening the doors would have been a struggle. However, we were able to have a 58cm deep frame in the alcove as there is enough space on this side of the room for the doors to open without clashing with the bed.

The corner unit is configured like this – the frame on the right side is 75cm wide and 58cm deep and the one on the left is 50cm wide and 35cm deep:

The corner attachment frame is 35cm deep and will only connect to a 75cm wide frame.

The knock on effect for us of having this corner unit was that the wardrobe frame was only 75cm wide, the frame had to sit 13cm away from the left hand wall and that left a 15cm gap on the right hand side of the alcove. This was the big compromise for us and would make boxing in essential.

As you may be able to tell by now there was nothing symmetrical about the two sets of wardrobes – one was off centre, the other deeper and with a big gap – therefore boxing in would really help to make the cupboards look more cohesive.

What we bought:

Right hand wardrobe

100x35x236cm frame £60

x2 Forsand white stained oak doors £60

Left hand wardrobe

75x58x236cm frame £60

53x35x236cm add-on corner frame with 4 shelves £135

50x35x236cm frames x2 £80

x4 Forsand white stained oak doors £120

(I will tell you more about the interior of the wardrobes and the overall cost in my next post)

Materials we bought

Timber for base

x2 sheets of 18mm MDF for boxing in

x1 sheet of 6mm MDF to customise the door fronts

Tools needed

Track saw

Drill driver and impact driver

Laser level

Multi tool

Nail gun


  1. Remove skirting board with a multi tool and construct a base for each set of wardrobes the same depth as your wardrobe frame (so the door will overhang the base). Ensure it is level using wood offcuts to adjust the level if needs be.

2. Construct the wardrobe frames using the IKEA instructions and place them on top of the base and anchor them to the walls.

Customising door fronts

Ideally we wouldn’t have customised the door fronts but we were only able to get hold of Forsand doors, which are flat fronted and not the finish we wanted. Therefore, our only option was to customise the fronts, which added a lot of work to the process. Without messing with the doors the whole hack project would have been sooooo much simpler. We decided to add strips of MDF to create the look of panels and we got 6mm MDF strips cut to 55mm by B&Q.

3. We used masking tape to decide the width of our MDF strips to be cut by B&Q. Sorry about this photo – it was the only one I took! We ended up deciding on 55mm strips after taking into account the effect of shadows of the strips making them look slightly wider.

4. We used glue and nails to attach the vertical strips to the doors first. We cut them to length using a mitre saw and made sure any rough edges were sanded.

5. We used a laser level to place the horizontal strips and we decided on placing them one third of the way up the wardrobe.

6. We added handles but because the MDF strips added 6mm of depth to the doors the bolts for the handles were too short. Therefore, we had to counter sink them from the back of the door.

N.B. Once the strips were attached we realised that the doors that would open against the end panels and against each other needed to be chamfered otherwise they rubbed. They also needed open hinges.

Boxing in the wardrobe frames

6. Use a track saw to cut the end and bottom panels that will clad the wardrobes. Ensure they will sit flush with the doors. Remove any picture rail or coving necessary with a multi-tool and glue and screw the end panels directly onto the surface of the wardrobe. Glue and screw the bottom panels onto the base that the wardrobes sit on.

7. To cover the large gap on the right hand side of the left wardrobe we decided to use some timber that we already had. We drilled through the inside of the wardrobe to attach four wood blocks. We then drilled a length of timber into the base and through the ceiling from the loft, attaching it to the four wood blocks using glue and more screws.

8. We clad the frame with two MDF panels, one on the side, one on the front.

9. We used the same technique for the right hand panel on the right wardrobe. We drilled through the holes in the wardrobe to attach four wood blocks. We were then able to attach a panel to cover the gap.

10. The last panels to attach are the top panels as the measurements for these will depend on the side panels. We drilled through the inside of the top of the wardrobe to attach a block of wood onto the top of the wardrobe that runs flush with the frame. We could then drill a panel onto that to cover the gap between the top of the wardrobe and the ceiling.

11. We reattached the skirting to the bottom panel of the wardrobes to create the feeling of the wardrobes being built in to the fabric of the room. We had to cut the boards at an angle or scribe them to fit together.

12. We then filled in all holes and gaps with wood filler and sanded.

This is how they looked before being painted…

I realise that my written explanations here may be unclear to some so please do ask me questions in the comment section below and I will try and get back to you asap. Just so you know, the cupboard doors and boxing are now painted including the inside of the doors but not the interior of the cupboards (a question I have already been asked a couple of times). We did this quite some time ago now so small details have slipped my mind so please feel free to ask very specific questions.

If we were to do it again we would have waited until panelled doors were in stock as personalising the plain door fronts really was a faff and they would open more easily now if they didn’t have the MDF strips on. However, I am really, really please with how they look so I definitely don’t regret it.

I will take some photos of how the wardrobes look all painted up to show you next. Believe it or not I still haven’t sorted all of the inside for the cupboards (I blame lockdown!) so that may need to wait for a little while.

Katy x

Lessons I learnt from our house renovation to take on to a new project

Welcome to a new project! It’s a real beauty as you can see…

This is a house very close to mine that my sister has recently bought and I am going to be helping her to decorate it. She is working with the same contractor we used J A Whitney Building Contractors who, when I first started writing this post a month ago (full time childcare is not allowing me much time at the moment!), had just started stripping out the house and they’ve been as quick and focused as ever because now a month on they’ve re-wired, re-plumbed, knocked through downstairs and in the bathroom, plastered and even had a mist coat on upstairs when I went to see at the weekend. It was such a joy working with James and his team on our house and they made the experience so smooth and stress free so I’m really pleased that my sister is able to work with them too (they already renovated a flat she sold before buying this place).

The first thing my sister asked me at the beginning of the project was what were the best things we did in our house and what were the things we got wrong or wish we had done. So I thought it would make quite an interesting blog post to document those things especially for those of you who are mid-renovation or thinking about starting one soon. It’s taken quite a while to make a list as it’s so easy to forget these things once you’re in the house. I found it especially hard because we were living with family during the renovation so Mimi slept in our room, which unfortunately led to a baby that didn’t sleep. I also couldn’t go on site much so I just wasn’t as hands on as I would have liked to have been. Anyhoo, after discussing with Jules we came up with our list that we have been able to pass on to my sister and I hope it may help some of you.

Have a look at the house first as it looked a month ago and my list is at the bottom of the post…

The sitting room with walls and ceiling stained with nicotine! The house is Edwardian so really nice square proportions and high ceilings.
The layout of the house is exactly the same as mine but the house is a little wider and deeper with higher ceilings. I have advised my sister to knock through downstairs and then because her stairs are further forward than mine she has some extra space for a utility or storage area.
The front bedroom.
The third bedroom.

Things we learnt from our own renovation (in no particular order):

1. Spend as much time and attention as possible planning electrics and lighting.

I remember so clearly having to do the electrics and lighting plan because it felt like the worst chore ever. My advice is do not do it in the evening, do not do it when you’re exhausted, do not do it sitting in front of the TV, do not do it mid-heatwave with a baby that is awake all night and do not do it after a big row with your partner because you don’t want to do it – ha! Carve out a moment of time when you can be fully focused and go through it meticulously as it will have such a huge effect on the overall look and feel of your home. Lastly, do not forget a blooming plug socket in your hallway so you can’t have a lovely lamp on the hallway table (I’m still deeply regretful of that). Also, think about the type of lighting you have – I’ll have to do a separate post on this as it is a huge topic – but we knew we would have quite a few lamps so we made sure we could turn them on and off at the wall with the other lights. Little things like that make a big difference day to day.

2. Consider cost of exterior

We very much glossed over this. We knew the inside of the house was right for us and we knew that we had enough budget to get it to a certain point that we would be really happy with. However, we wrote off the outside as something that was easily fixable and could be done later on. We didn’t consider how much that was going to cost us or what the extent of the work would look like. I think this is important because you don’t want to be in a position with an unusable garden for example because you will never have the budget to get it cleared or landscaped.

3. Knock through

Obviously this will be different for everybody but for us it has been the best decision as I don’t think we would have enjoyed living here if we had left the downstairs as three very small rooms. My sister’s new house is the same layout and even though the rooms are bigger I have still advised her to knock through as it will suit her so much better with a baby to be able to see her at all times and it makes entertaining so much easier too.

4. When you knock down walls properly consider the space that will be created

It is quite easy to fall into the trap of not considering the new wall space that is created once old walls are knocked down. Think about how those new walls will be used, plan electric sockets and radiators to go on them.

5. Add enough radiators and sockets

Too many sockets is never enough sockets! Get USB ones too.

6. Budget for built in storage

I wish we had done this. I hated having nowhere to put anything when we first moved in and I still have nowhere to put my clothes.

7. Have washing machine upstairs

This has worked out really well for us. All laundry stays upstairs (except in summer when it is hung on the line) and all linens can be stored above the washing machine in purpose built cupboard. Most importantly it freed up space in our teeny tiny kitchen space.

8. Don’t take on DIY jobs unless you are sure you can achieve them

It is very tempting to look at a builder’s quote and try to take on jobs yourself to cut costs. Be very, very careful about it. Most likely you will end up with a badly executed job and will have spent as much more more than it would have cost your builder to have done it. We made this mistake with sanding the floors in our house – BIG MISTAKE!

9. Don’t fill your loft with crap!

Just don’t.

10. Don’t put spotlights everywhere

A big waste of money for us was installing spotlights in the hallway, on the landing and in the dining room – we never, ever use them.

11. Think about your hallway as an extra room

When planning electrics and radiators and lighting don’t forget to give the hallway as much thought as the rest of the house.

12. Reclaim fireplaces

I’m so happy we did this and added fireplaces in the bedrooms and reclaimed one for the living room. yes we would have had more wall space without them but the house would have lacked so much character.

13. Reclaim and rehang doors

Sadly in my sister’s house none of the original doors remain so I have advised her to reclaim some because they make such a difference to the overall feel of the house. Also, make sure to rehang your doors so that they open onto the wall of each room rather than opening into the room.

14. Electrics and lighting outside

Get an electric point and wiring for outside lights even if you don’t have the budget for the lighting itself yet.

15. Try to plan furniture

So difficult but as much as possible try to plan where your furniture will go in each room as this will dictate changes that will need to be made. For example, I advised my sister to get the door in her living room moved as it was exactly where she would naturally place a sofa.

16. Invest in nice radiators

It makes such a difference.

17. Underfloor heating

The best thing ever if you can do it.

18. Use a dark colour below dado rail in hallway – it will save you a life of scuffed white walls.

A small thing but it really does make a difference especially living with a muddy dog who likes a good shake in the hallway.

19. Plan, plan, plan.

It’s very easy to be caught out and to have to suddenly make important decisions on the spot for tiles or flooring or skirting board profiles or wall colours. Try as much as possible to have it all planned and ordered and decided so that you don’t have to rush decisions or make the wrong decisions because you don’t have time to research properly.

20. Budget to get the place cleaned before you move in.

If you can get the place professionally cleaned because it will make a massive difference. Moving is so full on and there is no spare time to do anything so even if you tell yourselves you’ll do it you probably won’t and you’ll be wading through building dust forever.

21. Be flexible.

It’s fine to have a design in mind for your home or the decor but when it becomes clear that it’s not going to work, it’s not the best option or it’s going to be too expensive be willing to change your mind. Don’t dig your heels in just because you had your heart set on something.

I’m sure there are loads of other things that I can add to the list as they come to me. As I said a while ago I want to share more about the ins and outs of working with a contractor and I’ve already started that post and I will definitely follow up with more about planning lighting as it is a minefield!

I hope this is useful and I will be sure you keep you up to date with how the team get along and some of the finished rooms soon! If you have done a renovation and want to add to my list leave a comment below.

Katy x

Building a DIY kitchen on a £1000 budget

I’ve been promising to write this post since the day we moved in to our house, nearly two years now, so to make up for the wait I’m going to make this long and detailed! Are you ready?

As many of you will know our contractor renovated the vast majority of our house, which included: taking the entire house back to brick, re-wiring, re-plumbing, knocking down two walls to combine the kitchen, dining and living space into one open plan room, knocking the separate loo and bathroom into one room and installing a brand new bathroom, sanding and oiling the floorboards, re-plastering and painting the whole house, as well as adding new skirting, architraves and picture rails throughout. However, the kitchen was the one area that we had to make big compromises on for two main reasons: 1) We didn’t have the budget for a new kitchen 2) We had half an eye on the fact that we would like to extend the back of the house in the future so we didn’t want to spend a lot on what could effectively be a temporary kitchen.

Therefore, we made the decision not only to fit the kitchen ourselves but also salvage as much of the existing kitchen as possible. We set ourselves a rough budget of £1000 and as soon as the builders had left we gave ourselves a week to get it done as we were DESPERATE to move in by that point (we stayed with my sister during the renovation, which was a total of five months as we had to wait for two months for our builders to become available and the renovation itself took three months).

First and foremost, this is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house…

The house was never going to work for us if we kept the 2m wide kitchen as it was. Mimi was just starting to walk and was in to EVERYTHING and I had to have eyes on her 24/7 so being locked away in a tiny kitchen would have been a logistical nightmare. It also wouldn’t have worked well when we have friends over. It was cramped, claustrophobic, dark and I hated everything about it! The right hand side of the kitchen units and worktop were half the standard depth as there was so little width to the room. One of the worst things about the room was that the door opened outwards into the hallway and when that door was open it completely blocked the door to the dining room (see the floor plan). It was a case of constantly banging doors. Therefore, the decision to knock down the walls downstairs was an instant one for me and a total deal breaker – it had to happen for us to consider buying the house. A quick check on Rightmove showed me that many of the houses on our road (it’s a super long road so there really are a lot of examples to look at) had already done what we wanted to do so we were happy to make an offer. As soon as the right hand side of the kitchen was ripped out I could already see the potential and light flowing into the space and that was all I really wanted.

So much of the light was being blocked by the right hand side of the kitchen (and the awful black shiny floor tiles!) and as soon as the units were gone I could begin to see what the space would look like once that wall came down.
I was SO happy to see and feel the space when the wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed.

The actual design for the kitchen was dictated by budget. In lots of the other houses on our streets that have been renovated and made open plan, the kitchen has been made into a horseshoe shape by blocking up the doorway from the hallway and the garden door. We had a couple of problems with that. Firstly, we just simply didn’t want to/couldn’t spend the amount it would cost for that amount of fitted kitchen. Secondly, I’m not mad keen on this design as I feel like I would have my back to the dining/living space a lot of the time and it feels closed in. Thirdly, we really wanted to keep two points of access to the kitchen/living space as sometimes we don’t want Otto coming through the sitting room when he’s really muddy etc. The added benefit of keeping the kitchen door was that we could have really easy access to the larder cupboard under the stairs so we could spend even less on the kitchen in terms of cupboard space. Finally, I just LOVE the original glazed kitchen door and I couldn’t bear getting rid of it!

Having a very small budget actually makes designing a kitchen pretty simple as options are so restricted and our builder James from J A Whitney Building Contractors helped us with the layout and measurements. We decided that we could salvage the existing hob, tap, hood and oven as well as the unit that holds the oven with a drawer below.

We decided to salvage the oven and the unit it sits in, hob, hood and tap from the old kitchen.

We decided against having the fridge freezer on the left hand side and instead planned to fit two under counter kitchen cupboards there instead. That would enable us to have a worktop that spanned the back wall so we could have space for a coffee machine and toaster on the left of the oven. As we were keeping the garden door and not replacing it with a window our only real option was to have another worktop running parallel with the back wall. We would essentially recreate the original galley kitchen but in an open plan space. This is what we had to work with when the builders left and we had one week until move in day!

Now let me show you the image that inspired the ‘look’ I wanted for the kitchen…

deVOL kitchen (not keen on the lights, FYI)

I was led to this deVOL kitchen as I had decided on a dark blue kitchen because I wanted to tie in with the dark blue in the living room rug (remember, it is an open plan room so I had to consider the whole space quite carefully when designing the kitchen), as well as providing some contrast with all the white in the room. The dark blue also helps define the kitchen space from the dining and living spaces. I had bought Railings paint for the front door and stairs (I still haven’t painted them!) and so I tested that and it worked perfectly with the Light Blue in the rest of the room as well as the Inchyra Blue in the hallway. I was really keen to create a sense of continuity in this house as it’s so small and that helps to make it feel bigger so I’m pleased that the kitchen ties in with colours in the hallway. We painted very large pieces of cardboard boxes with Railings Modern Eggshell and stuck them to the kitchen units to help us visualise what the kitchen would look like.

I was very keen to keep a period feel in the house so it was easy for me to decide on a shaker style kitchen and James suggested buying a Howdens kitchen as he works with them on a regular basis. I chose the Burford paintable units (I’ve had a look online and I’m not sure if they are available anymore but there are lots of similar styles) that we could paint ourselves. This brought cost down and enabled us to have exactly the colour we wanted. Ordinarily it would be A LOT of extra work to paint a kitchen but because we only bought four cupboards – two on the left of the oven with a drawer, one under the sink and one under the ‘island’ for the bin – it wasn’t too hectic! Also, because the house was completely empty there was enough room to lay everything out and it was late summer so everything dried nice and quickly too. The cost of the carcasses, four door fronts, one drawer, end and dividing panels and kick boards was £816. Therefore, we needed to find door handles, worktops and a sink for as little as possible.

deVol shaker kitchen

I really liked the idea of mixing the worktop finishes like the deVOL kitchen as I definitely wanted a wooden worktop for the island but I didn’t want too much wood because we were going to have floorboards and a wooden dining table and big wooden wall cabinet. I knew I could get away with a cheap white laminate worktop quite easily on the back wall as so much of it would be covered by the sink and oven. I’m not very keen on laminate worktops but I can honestly say the white one I chose from Worktop Express for £80 is really great and very easy to keep clean.

Jules started the fitting process whilst I was at home with a sick baby and so I got these photo updates every now and again!
The 3 metre white laminate worktop needed to be cut to fit the space.
The birch worktop was 186cm and so that also needed to be cut so that it would be easy to walk around it into the open plan space.

The wooden worktop for the island is birch from IKEA and cost £100, which took us up to our budget of £1000. We were left with a black sink from the existing kitchen and that was a big no from me so we stretched the budget to buy a new white resin sink from B&Q for £94. This is by no means my ideal sink but for the price and the ease of fitting it works well as well as looking ok.

The cheap white resin sink works really well as it matches the work top so it’s quite inconspicuous.
The island houses an under counter fridge, freezer and one slim cupboard with a bin that’s so handy. This picture was taken before the worktop was trimmed.
We were able to paint the oven unit and handle to match the rest of the kitchen so that you can’t tell that it was part of the old kitchen.

At this point we moved into the house and it was pretty tricky as we still didn’t have any storage. We actually went away with family for a week to Rye almost as soon as we moved in and whilst we were there I found a £5 shelf in an antiques shop and I won an eBay bid on a wall cabinet for £40 so when we got home they immediately got put up.

With no storage other than two cupboards and one drawer it was quite tricky when we first moved in (also note the hole in the wall, the fact we hadn’t added the back to the island unit or the kick board under the oven).
The £5 shelf unit I found in an antiques shop.
The antique wall cabinet was an eBay find and houses all of our glasses and excess crockery that we don’t use on a daily basis.

The shelf in the kitchen quickly became a priority as we had no where for crockery and we recycled old lengths of MDF and brackets from shelves in our flat so they cost us nothing.

We didn’t tile the splash back for ages but we now have left over white metro tiles from when we tiled our kitchen in our old flat. We also had leftover grout and adhesive from the bathroom, so again that cost us nothing.

Very quickly I could tell that the kitchen was going to work really, really well and as soon as we fitted shelves into the larder, which is under the stairs, everything had a home. The larder is accessed through the kitchen door and actually it’s one of the best things about the kitchen. It makes storing food so easy as I can see everything and nothing gets lost at the back of a cupboard.

This is how the kitchen looks today…

The larder is just through this door.
AO sent me a black dishwasher as a PR product, which works so much better than the white one we brought from our flat. Otherwise I would have painted the white one as it really did stick out like a sore thumb.
The wooden worktop island is the perfect work space as I can look out into the living space and Mimi loves standing on a stool to take part.

Things I would change…

  1. I would have removed the cooker hood altogether as it no longer works (we salvaged it from the old kitchen) and we so rarely fry food so we really don’t need one.
  2. I wish we had lowered the shelf and added another on top of it to give us more storage space.
  3. We still haven’t oiled the floorboards after it was sanded just in the kitchen section. As a result they are now filthy and I’m furious about it every single day(!)
  4. I wish we hadn’t bothered with spotlights in the kitchen as I never ever put them on and have instead added a clip on lamp to the shelf and have a big standard lamp next to the island. I would have preferred wall lights above the shelves and a pendant or two above the island.

I told you it was going to be a long post! Well done if you managed to get to the end but if there are still any questions I haven’t answered please do leave a comment or send me an email katy@

Katy x