‘The galley kitchen in the house that my partner Paul had taken me to view was a far cry from the big open-plan space I had always dreamed of,’ says Elaine, recalling the first time she saw their home.
‘It was quite unattractive, to be honest. The room felt dark as it had only two small windows and a mustard and brown colour scheme, with a serving hatch to the adjacent dining room. The melamine units were falling apart, and looked as if they hadn’t been changed since the 1970s, and there was no gas – just electricity. We didn’t dare turn on any appliances, though!’
With some gentle persuasion from Paul, however, she started to visualise how the house could be. It was on a lovely street and had a generously sized plot, so they knew that they could completely alter the layout and build a large extension.
- The owners: Elaine Avery, a full-time mum, and her partner Paul Reid, a sales director of an insulation company, live here with their daughter Olivia, five, and Elaine’s son, Alexander, 17
- The property: A five-bedroom, detached house built in the 1960s
- The location: Whitley Bay, North Tyneside
- What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £58,000
Reworking the layout
Although the kitchen was small, it had potential, as it was sandwiched between the dining room that overlooked the garden, and the living room to the front of the house. ‘We were able to create a large open-plan space by knocking down the walls between the kitchen, dining room and hallway,’ says Elaine. ‘This was possible as the front living room was being extended to the side and the hallway repositioned further to the front of the house between the living room and the garage. We also squared off the L-shaped rear reception room by extending into the garden.’
As the couple planned to extend upwards to add two bedrooms and a home office, it made sense to move out during the five-month project. ‘Around 70 per cent of the house had to be knocked down, so after selling our previous home, we rented a house nearby,’ says Elaine.
‘Although we removed lots of walls, we wanted to keep the chimney breast in the middle of the space, in order to have a wood burner,’ she adds, ‘and the room was designed around that. We had seen some lovely slate walls in hotels we’d stayed at and wanted a similar look, so we chose a small-scale design to add texture.’
Choosing kitchen units
Taking her inspiration from interiors magazines, the internet and several kitchen showrooms, Elaine started to assemble a mood board to make her vision clearer. ‘As we weren’t living there, it helped to put everything I envisioned down on paper,’ she explains.
‘With so much grey from the slate wall, I knew we needed light-coloured units,’ she continues. ‘Initially, I considered using white ones along the walls, together with a grey island, but then I visited BB Trade Kitchens’ showroom and saw a gorgeous display with curved units. When we bought the house, the living room had a curved wall, so that had been in my head from day one. I also loved the zebrano doors as they were so different – quite funky, without being “in your face”. In the end, we chose them for the island.’
As the units went so well with the quartz worktop that Elaine had already selected, she made up her mind very quickly. ‘The white gloss doors cost less, which meant I could splash out on the zebrano island,’ Elaine says. ‘It’s easy to get carried away, but costs can go sky-high, so you have to compromise.’
To achieve a streamlined look, Elaine and Paul opted for easy-to-clean glass splashbacks rather than tiles, and recessed plinths to hide the unit legs. When it came to the appliances, a large, American-style fridge-freezer was a must. ‘With pull-out larders on either side, most of the food is in the same area,’ says Elaine.
The rest of the appliances were trickier to choose. ‘I liked the idea of a range cooker, but changed my mind when I saw the eye-level ovens in the showroom,’ explains Elaine. ‘They looked more contemporary and I realised they would be more practical, as I wouldn’t always have to bend down to reach them. We also added a warming tray – mostly to fill space. I don’t use it often, but it’s handy to put hot starters on when people come round for dinner.’
It made sense to place the gas hob on the island, opposite the oven and behind the central pillar, to allow for a splashback. ‘Paul found the curved cooker hood and I was so pleased with it because it’s a bit different,’ says Elaine. ‘It has a built-in splashback and ties in with the units.’
Finally, hints of blue and yellow were added in accessories and soft furnishings. ‘Photographs I’d taken at the coast were my starting point,’ says Elaine. ‘I loved the blues in them and considered a blue sofa, but I’m glad we chose the yellow. It goes well with my glassware and cushions.’
Although the couple went over budget on the units and worktop, they saved money elsewhere. ‘I was tempted to buy a wine cooler, steam oven and instant hot water tap, but managed to rein myself in, as we didn’t really need them,’ says Elaine.
By taking time to adapt their design and find inspiration, Elaine and Paul have created exactly what they were looking for. ‘It’s the heart of our home,’ says Elaine, smiling. ‘We spend so much more time together in here as a family now.’
Follow Elaine Avery’s advice for a successful kitchen renovation
What I’ve learnt
‘Always make a mood board and take samples to showrooms. For three months I had a piece of quartz worktop and a kitchen door in my car, so I could pull them out and see how they looked next to different flooring.’
My top tips
‘Shop around; don’t buy everything from one place. For a two-tone kitchen like the one I chose, you could mix cabinets from two different companies. Accessories make all the difference to the look of the kitchen. Crockery from Next Home, and yellow mugs and tea towels from House of Fraser, were my star buys.’
My best purchase
‘I’ve always wanted a big American-style fridge so I love that, although with this Daewoo model, the freezer is on the small side and I still need a chest freezer in the utility room.’
My favourite spot
‘For years I wanted a kitchen with an island but never thought I’d get it. Now I spend most of my time there, whether cooking or on my laptop with a coffee. The fire nearby gives out a lot of heat, so it’s lovely in winter, and the curved corner units provide great extra storage.’
I couldn’t live without…
‘…my two sinks: one by the window for rinsing plates to go in the dishwasher and another prep sink on the island. I didn’t want an island full of dirty dishes, so having the sink in the corner is a good solution.’
If I did it all again…
‘…I’d install a wine cooler into the island instead of the two wine racks. And, although I love the style of the bar stools, I’d choose a different material, such as metal for the top, as the plastic has scratched off where it touches the worktop.’
|Kitchen units and sinks||£14,935|