Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The End of the Road

I'm not quite sure what's at the end of the road... the building works, me even, or maybe, yes indeed, my kitchen.  Do you remember what our kitchen looks like?  It's not a room I've probably shown that often and I suppose that's because I don't really like it.  Oh the room is rather nice with its good Victorian proportions, high ceiling and French windows but the fittings, oh deary me.

Here's how it was looking when it was photographed for Ideal Home a few years back.  When we moved into the house some seven years ago now, we inherited kitchen cupboards that were only a few years old but not really our cup of tea.  We couldn't justify getting rid of them so we invested in new appliances and some jolly tea towels, of course.  Hmm, that's a little weakness of mine.

On the back of the six months of building work we've had to have done, we decided finally to treat ourselves to a new kitchen.  So this week, the kitchen started off looking more like this...

Over the last few months, I've really tried to get ahead and sort through the kitchen cupboards;  getting rid of utensils and gadgets I haven't used in years, throwing away packets of lasagne sheets circa 2009, you know how it is. (Please say you know how it is.)

As we started to chip away the old, the previous blue tiles and yellow walls started to reveal themselves.  Delightful, very Van Gogh's Sunflowers?

Oh it's not a pretty sight.  

Nobody warned me it was going to get worse before it got better.  Silly me.

Yes, that's my parents there.  Be careful if you ever get invited to stay with us.  A week ripping out the old kitchen is our idea of a holiday.

But gradually, as the plaster dust settled, we could finally pick up paintbrushes and start to get things on track.

We gave my Dad a reprieve and let him fiddle with our old record player.  Generous, eh?

Meanwhile, the old units were taking on an unusual form down at the bottom of the garden.

I'm not the only one with a den, it seems.

In the background, I have been very lucky to decamp to the utility room along with the microwave, to reheat meals I made and froze a few weeks back.  Here, I am surrounded by my motley collection of flower jugs and the vintage curtains make me happy enough. I try to forget the rest.

Today, I treated myself to a £2 bunch of dahlias and used my charity shop mug for the first time. 

But back to the kitchen.  By the end of Sunday, we'd pretty much done what we could.  With the main re-plastering, decorating, and electrics done, we can hand over to Steve our trusty handyman for the next stage.  It still looks pretty dire, I know!

The other end of the room which is our family sitting room is not faring much better. Its contents, the main furniture and so on, are luckily still in storage after the main building works which took place. But finally, a big van pulled up and the new delivery came on Monday, so now it's down to installation.  Deep breath.

Let's get on to the fun bit.  Planning the new dream kitchen!  I cannot deny that when Sophie Dahl's telly programme came on, the thing I was most in love with was the kitchen.  Oh goodness me, the colours, the vintage touches, the flowers.  Maybe not wildly practical but oh so lovely and inspiring.  The Guardian newspaper described it as "preposterously perfect".

If you do a quick search, you can find all manner of articles devoted to this kitchen.  Well, who knew?  The kitchen is not Sophie's at all but was rented out as a location (it has been used in Cath Kidston shoots, too) and at the time, the house in which it is located was for sale for £1.45 million.  Golly.

I recorded the entire Sophie series and while away the odd hour here and there with a bit of enchanted viewing.  You can still see clips here.

Mostly, I am hankering after an old English pantry meets Shaker look.  If I were a millionaire, I'd have headed straight for the design studios of Plain English whose kitchens are pretty much restrained perfection in my eyes and look as though they have been stylishly in place for years.

 (Photograph: Plain English)


(Photograph: Plain English)

There's definitely a spot of larder love going on...

 (Photograph: Simply English)

Belfast sink?  Stone worktops?  

(Photograph: Plain English)

Paint colours, handles, knobs, textiles, hobs, tiles, the list goes on. My "kitchen inspiration" Pinterest board floweth over with so much divine loveliness, it's obscene. 

So many decisions, each one a pleasure to lie awake mulling over.


  1. Oh yes.......with you on that one! Except in my case herbs and spices, because I refuse to buy nice expensive jars to keep them in I just buy the refill packets, so they get pushed to the back of the cupboard and get lost, so I go and buy more!!

    When I had my new kitchen a few years ago nothing and I mean nothing was allowed in unless I was going to use it gadget wise, and all utensils and china that could go went through the dishwasher so everything went away clean. I also took it into my head to wash and iron tea towels and vintage tablecloths too!

    Looking forward to seeing your lovely kitchen

    Love the den at the bottom of the garden! And, that is what Alex would do if he was given an old record player or radio - Take-a-Break!!
    Julie xxxxxxxxxxx

  2. I would love,love LOVE a close up of the windows? doors? in the kitchen -- the small red pane of glass in the corners is such a gorgeous detail.

  3. Oh Hen, it's current state doesn't look dire to me at all, just full of potential. It looks like a fantastic room and those doors and shutters (?) are stunning.
    I can't wait to see what you plumped for.
    we're currently making do with a 20year old kitchen and like you I've spent hours dreaming and browsing... one day!

  4. Looking forward to seeing the final 'ta-dah'. M x

  5. Am having serious kitchen envy! Mine is the size of a matchbox but what a fab size yours is! I can't wait to see the transformation. I watch the Sophie Dahl series all the time ... nothing better on a cold winter's afternoon, with a hot chocolate and slice of cake. In my old house when we had our kitchen extended, the builders left and we were left with a cold empty unplastered shell, no central heating, just a microwave in the living room ... and it was 2 days before Christmas!

    Have a lovely week

    Claire xx

  6. Oooh how exciting!! We did re-did our kitchen a couple of years ago and I still love it.........and my husband has come to love it...I think! lol! As its very blue and pink with a touch of red!! But it is one of the few rooms (along with my bathroom and bedroom) that I have not felt the need to keep changing!! Unlike my living room!
    Can't wait to see more piccies.

  7. I have to agree I don't think it looks dire at all. I think it looks terribly exciting, a complete blank canvas to create your dream (within budget) kitchen. I am actually quite jealous as I live in a rented house and there are couple of things in our kitchen that would just need changing to make it much easier.

    Keep the image of the finished room in your head and I love the updates xx

  8. Your french windows are beautiful and you have shutters too! I like Plain English kitchens myself, but you are right about the price. Ideally I'd like to have completely flat door so there aren't any nooks and crannies for dirt to hide. No matter how many times you clean it still gets and stays there.
    I'm looking forward to seeing your new kitchen.

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  10. Decisions,decisiions..Our new kitchen is being started in two weeks time and I think we have taken all the major decisions.I just hope it all goes well together.Mind you ours is a quarter the size of yours.I'm so jealous!

  11. We are having our kitchen done in two weeks time.So many decisions to make.Havn't started clearing out the cupboards but I am sure there will be lots of shock out of date things in there!Just wish i had a kitchen of your size.I am really envious.

  12. I hope you get your heart's desire. I do recall the horror when our kitchen cupboard units were pulled out ...the walls behind were so disgusting. It's surprising what a clean and repaint can do. I knew the walls were going to get covered up with new units and appliances but I just couldn't leave them looking that bad!
    Enjoy the process if you can.

  13. I think this is going to be good! Enjoy all the planning and shopping.
    Carol xx

  14. Hen, I loved seeing the photos of your family pitching in with the kitchen changes.

    You've got a great eye and wonder sense of style, so I know that the Kitchen Final Photo will be quite wonderful.

    Isn't it odd to try to combine all the practical requirements and the aesthetic wishes, keeping an eye on the budget, and still getting through the camping out, while indoors stage?

    Of course, I have no real experience of any of this, and admit that this post has yet again made me so grateful for my tiny, tiny...not quite large enough to be a closet, NYC kitchen. It still seems to be able to follow my lead to create daily meals.

    And yet, I do dream...


  15. Love your inspirational photos! If we ever get the opportunity, that's the style I'd like. I call it vintage country. ;-)

  16. How I love getting a new kitchen, and I so love the road you're heading on design wise. Am so looking forward to seeing it completed!

  17. I loved planning my kitchen... good luck! :) x
    PS my cupboards have out of date food too!!

  18. We had a great renewal of our home 2 years ago and the mess and the dust were devastating!!!! But now we're happy for the result. I do like most of the picture of inspiration you've shown, but my favorite is the blue kitchen!
    Take care and enjoy your busy days! Clara.

  19. I do hope you are going to freecycle, sell or pass that lovely kitchen onto someone less fortunate. I know many people who'd really love it!!

    nevertheless the new ideas are stunning, no 50's influence though??

  20. It is being reused. It's not lovely close up...

  21. How lovely Henhouse!
    Your Original Kitchen could go a long way to making someones dream come true!
    Hope it all goes to plan and you enjoy your new kitchen. X

  22. hello Hen, I have that last photo as my kitchen inspiration too! I love the little turning cupboard handles (we've also used them on some vintage-style built in wardrobes upstairs) I just think that look will never date (unlike your old wood one with black worktops that seems to be the standard new kitchen fit-out these days!)..eek I hope I dont get slammed for that last comment!
    Another favourite painted kitchen of mine was Julia's who had the vintage Heaven blog.

  23. I am redoing all four of our bedrooms right now plus what we call a bonus room in the USA. I have been in my element and so happy with all the planning and doing. Your kitchen has great bones as we call it over here and I am sure it will be fabulous when it is finished! Our next project will be our kitchen but only new counter tops and appliances are needed there but it will still be so much fun to just choose those!

  24. It looks likethat summer invites to change things around us..... Because I smile when I read all your post..... I' m close to change at kitchen ......I ' d wish I could have a big kitchen like yours..... But not , mine is smaller and no patio close to it. But finally we have finished, new handmade wooden cupboards' doors, new ceeiling, new modern light an now doing the cleaning and yes , my pinterest is fuul too with nice , warm and white kitchens, lol. Good luck girl , the important is the first step and you and family do it !!

  25. Having your kitchen redone is a huge upheaval, but so worth it in the end...I will look forward to seeing your new one!

  26. I too fell in love with Sophie Dahl's kitchen. Can't wait to see what you decide!

  27. Yes, ancient items lurking in larder is a very familiar scenario.My daughter delights -and I mean DELIGHTS- in digging them out, reading out the use-by dates and comparing and contrasting to the current 'oldest item I have found in the larder'. Plain English kitchen? Yes please. In the meantime, my kitchen was inspired ( I kid you not) by Dot Cotton's and I love it very much.

  28. Can't wait to see the finished result - I hate having the builders in, so I hope they leave you in peace soon!

    Pomona x

  29. Hen.. I just loved this post. You have such a fun sense of humor! What lovely parents you have to help out like that! I can't wait to see what your kitchen turns out like, but I am assured that with your wonderful vintage sense of style that it will be a better fit for your Victorian home. I just posted a lot of photos from our lake camping trip - please do pop over for a visit. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  30. I had to laugh at your comment about the out of date items lurking in the larder. Yes indeed, I understand. I have found some positively prehistoric items in mine. In fact, some things I have eventually thrown out could have been classed as vintage. I am very excited to see the final result. What a lovely space you have! XXX

  31. How is your kitchen coming along Hen? I would love to do something with my small kitchen but that's the downside of renting! Altho that does mean I haven't the expense involved in doing my kitchen!

    Hope you have fun weekend plans.

    Victoria x


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