kitchen planning & the c word

Now this is what I had been waiting for! In my opinion planning your ideal kitchen is an exciting time, even if like me, you find it really hard to visualise the end result. Some people are great at that but I’m still working on it.

If you have read previous posts you will know the nightmare that was the extension build, but the thing that was keeping me sane was spending hours scrolling Instagram, perusing magazines and visiting numerous kitchen stores for inspiration. Unfortunately, as with everything, we had a budget to work to which unfortunately knocked kitchen makers like Tom Howley, Blakes and Poggenpohl out of the frame. It didn’t stop me looking though!

Having moved from a house with a much smaller kitchen there were a few must-have’s that were on my wishlist. We also had to consider the practicality of having 3 children and that the space was ultimately to become a kitchen/diner.

Just to note, our old dining room at the front of the house was turning into a playroom for our little cherubs to probably trash as soon as I lovingly create a space for them and their beloved toys! However, it meant that would would ultimately have a grown up lounge for Mike and I with all their crap kept safely behind closed (albeit glazed) doors, or so we thought. That will be in a later post!

Back to the kitchen and the Wishlist. I’m not a greedy person but I wanted to milk this for what I could – 2 ovens I hear you say? Yes please! Would I use them both? Probably not! But this shows how madness can take over when you get to create from a blank canvas. I quickly turned into a fiendish impulsive demon but was rather quickly bought down to earth with a thump with probing questions such as ‘Do you really need that?’ and ‘How come after all this time together you now need a warming draw?

Regardless, I drew up a list of wants which most of which we ended up with:

The Wishlist

  • A fabulous oak double door pantry cupboard! … See, here I go with my £million perfect kitchen ideas! It’s probably obvious that we compromised on this one and chose a pull out larder instead – which is rather brilliant as a storage solution!
  • Kitchen Island
  • 2 ovens
  • Drawers instead of cupboards
  • Hidden bins
  • Hidden cutlery and utensil trays
  • Hot water tap
  • American style fridge with water and ice dispenser
  • Wine cooler
  • Warming drawer
  • Siemens appliances

The Space

I probably should have talked about this earlier rather than starting with what I wanted to fill the space with, but here is the architect drawing of the ground floor showing what we had to work with. We were adding 3 metres onto the original kitchen which was a really good amount of space. The solid rectangle in the middle was to the be kitchen island and the dining table was to be placed to the right of that infont of the picture window at the end and next to the bi-folds.

Floor Plan

Design & Compromise

Argh!!!! The C word!!! Now I’ve mentioned in previous posts and I want to say again, that I love my husband very much. He is my absolute rock, however we have very different taste when it comes to interiors which doesn’t usually bode well when you have a 6 bedroom house to totally update, renovate and redecorate! I am very much a country cottage kind of girl with exposed wood and brick and soft neutrals or pastels, while Mike prefers a modern look, sleek lines and pops of bold colour. We’re pretty much polar bloody opposites! The main argument Mike gave was that we live in a modern house and a traditional kitchen wouldn’t look or feel right. The house was built in 2000 with a mock Tudor front so I wasn’t convinced by that. Mike also made the point that a handleless sleek kitchen is easier to keep clean rather than a shaker style. (I agreed with him on that point and it should be known I am not a particularly accomplished domestic goddess, yet).

To try and meet in the middle we visited a number of mid-range kitchen showrooms and settled on Benchmarx. They had a very good range and we were also lucky to be partnered up with a fantastic kitchen designer, Lucy, who really listened to what we needed from a hard working family kitchen. Having looked around and talking it all through we ended up with a matt handleless kitchen (named the True Handleless collection) with a mix of dove grey upper units and carbon matt lower and island units. I took a little convincing but we were had also agreed on an exposed brick wall, wood floor and I knew I would add touches like fresh herbs and flowers, wood chopping boards artwork to soften the room up.

One thing we were sure we wanted at the start of the process was to make the ‘back’ area that was next to the utility into some kind of snug area with a TV on the wall and possibly a small 2 seater sofa. However, having looked closely at the space available to us we decided that was not the best use. Unfortunately we had a supporting brick pillar that had to remain, which is now housed in a cupboard where we would ideally have put our pull out larder. Because of that we decided to use that back wall for the larder, cupboards and a wine cooler which is a much better use.

I was a little more indecisive when it came to the kitchen island. I knew the sink would be away from the island and under the window but I had originally wanted the hob to be on the island. I romantic ideas of the children sat at the island doing some colouring or having friends at the dining table and me cooking while I was facing them and chatting away. The thing that convinced me not to have it on the island was something I read highlighting the kids could get splashed with hot oil or water and guests would have me in full view if an exotic and complex recipe was going wrong and I was slowly losing the plot. In fact that would be a recommendation from me, to keep the island clear if possible. It is a great space to have available either for people to eat at or lay food out when you have parties, or just to have the space when your dishing up the Sunday roast or Christmas dinner. You do have to watch out that is doesn’t become a dumping ground for mail, magazines or any other bits and bobs that don’t have a home!

I was exited to see the design images to bring it to life which I’ll share in a moment, but just a reminder of what we were upgrading from:

Here are the renders:

I got pretty much everything from the wishlist (although to be fair it was our wishlist) apart from the hot water tap. These were a lot more expensive than we realised, however I can absolutely see how useful they would be, especially with the amount of tea we get through in this house!


The next big decision to be made was the flooring. I was absolutely sure I wanted the same light oak flooring we had laid in our previous house throughout the ground floor, although through my travels around Pinterest and Instagram I was starting to lean towards a darker oak. Again, we went to a few flooring shops and collected a couple of samples. How the lighter oak sample below was not what we had previously and would have taken a lighter sample but none were available, but it gives an idea:

To put you all out of your misery we opted for the dark oak. It was a bold choice for us but as it was to run from the front door through the hall, into the playroom and the kitchen we thought it looked like a grown up and stylish option. And it does. We’re very happy with it but I do want to add a word of caution – I, probably naively, had no idea how much every speck and crumb would show up! With 3 children and a regular visiting dog I have often caught myself thinking we should have gone for the light oak. Of course it takes no time to nip around with the Dyson, bet even so, it really does show everything.

The last 2 elements to decide on were the exposed brick wall and the splash back behind the hob. One was easy, the other was not!

Mike was all in on the exposed brick wall and after obtaining samples from Brick Slips UK decided on the Olde Bayswater style and we couldn’t be happier. They are real bricks, 20mm thick and need to be secured on the wall with adhesive and grouted with a proper sand and cement grout with a caulking gun, all of which is supplied by Brick Slips.

Brick Slip wall

The splash back was a more contentious issue in that I was thinking along the lines of subtle but stylish tiles and Mike was after a vibrant coloured glass splash back! This was the decision that took the longest for us to decide on. As usual Mike was prepared to fight his corner with the argument that the grout will be a nightmare to keep clean. Again, I wasn’t convinced by that but I just couldn’t find any tiles that drew me to them for such a long expanse of wall, and as Mike was really against the tile option we started to look at colour options available. Little did we know that a 5 minute drive away was a fantastic local company that had a huge range – which didn’t help me as someone who is extremely indecisive!!

I mean! Seriously? These guys are amazing and they can pretty much do anything you want from plain colours, tile effect to full on designs. However that didn’t really help me. What I do know is that I like green, generally a gentle sage shade is what I’m drawn to. I knew I didn’t want certain colours like more grey, blues, reds, pinks or yellows so that narrow it down somewhat. The issue was what shade to go for! I was leaning towards the middle 3 in the photo above while Mike was instantly drawn to the one on the far right – Luscious Lime – which in a previous live would have been my worst nightmare! My concern was that instead of giving a pop of much needed colour to the space, it would instead date it and pull it back to the 90’s. I don’t know why I though that but it was how my mind was working. I had at one point considered a mirrored splash back but we needed a large space covered and the thought of having to keep it clean and smear free every day filled me with dread! Again, after a lot of uming and ahing we did in fact for for the brighter colour of Mike’s choice. It actually links really nicely to the garden and isn’t a loud and vivid as I was expecting.

I realise it sounds like I relented on quite a few of the decision points but I am very happy with the kitchen and it is a joy to cook and socialise in!

I’m conscious this has been a long blog so thanks for sticking with it! I’ll do a separate post shortly for the install done by the very talented husband and the finished room and accessories.

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Hi, I’m Gemma. I'm a wife, mum of 3 (a brilliant boy and bonkers boy/girl twins) working full time, a home owner and soon to be an amateur renovator! Feel free to follow my diary to see how it goes.

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