As I said in Creating a Kitchen Diner – Part 1, this part of the house was our largest renovation project and I am glad it’s a long weekend because some extra time might be needed to get through this lengthy post. To start off, we had another one of those reinforced concrete fire surround and hearths to remove. This was the worst of them all – it was full of soot to the top of the surround and beyond. To avoid covering the whole house in soot, as I removed the surround I scooped it out one plastic container at a time!
The wallpaper was stripped off the walls, as were the skirting boards. I used a heat gun and removed all the lead based paint from the doors we were keeping.
After the wall came down between the kitchen and the dining room, we had our trusty carpenter come in to work on a floor for us. All of the supporting pillars under the floor had deteriorated resulting in a dramatically sloping floor. Also the floor in the kitchen was concrete and was lower than the dining room floor. Originally the dining room would have been the kitchen – the fire opening is much higher in this room as it would have had a stove in place. The kitchen would have been a scullery.
So our carpenter built new brick supports, laid a frame and put down some tongue and groove flooring for us. We now have a lovely even floor, with no great gaping gaps. He also installed a second hand fire surround bought from Ebay. The window was removed and the aperture was widened to fit the doors out to the garden.
The existing chimney opening was slightly smaller than the fire surround, so we had an extra piece of timber added to ensure the surround covered the fire place walls. A simple bevelled edge was copied from the existing surround to make sure new tied in with the old. The fire surround was then painted to hide the difference between the original hard wood surround and the piece of wood that had been added. After painting, I got busy tiling. I put a patterned tile on the floor and a bevelled edge subway tile on the wall. The wall tile is a gorgeous dark peacock blue!
Saying I had problems decorating this area of the house is a huge understatement. I had this idea in my mind that the walls needed to stay white because the ceilings were lower in this part of the house and I wanted the room to feel spacious. This part of the kitchen diner measures approximately 3.5m x 3m and within this space there was a fireplace, a thoroughfare to the kitchen and a thoroughfare to the garden. It also needed to fit a family size dining table. I tried many ideas but none of them gave me that ‘job done’ feeling because the room continued to feel cold and the furniture made moving through awkward.
One wall at the end of the dining table was the reason this room changed so often…I saw it as the great towering wall of white! I tried a slim line mid century modern sideboard, but this made the space even tighter than it already was.
Then I tried a large canvas on the wall but the canvas seemed out of place without a piece of furniture underneath to anchor it so I left the space blank. The great towering wall of white continued to loom in my mind and then three of our old arts and craft dining chairs broke. The room seemed to be deteriorating so I took some radical steps – radical for me, that is! Having always disliked yellow, I replaced our wooden dining chairs with yellow leather chairs and then I continued by painting the room two toned. I have seen two toned rooms look great but this isn’t one of those cases – it looked completely wrong!
Exasperated by how the room was losing its sense of cohesion and complementary style, I decided to focus on the problems I could see with the room and work on fixing those…
Problem 1 – The dining table. There was not enough space to tuck all the chairs under the table. The chairs were either encroaching on the thoroughfare into the kitchen or the thoroughfare to the garden or we had the table pushed towards the wall so one side couldn’t be used. So last year for my birthday and Christmas present, I asked for a new dining table. I looked everywhere for a table the right size and style and couldn’t find any so I called in our carpenter again and had him build a frame for the base of the table. Then I had a piece of quartz cut and edged for the top. I just love it!
A great thing about a quartz top is that you don’t need to use protective mats, aside from when you are wanting to put oven hot dishes on them. Hot mugs, spilt drinks, plates of messy food – they can all go straight on. It is liberating not to have coasters and table mats to constantly wipe and straighten.
While our carpenter was here, I got him to build this wall shelf for me. I had seen a similar shelf online, which was being sold in the US but couldn’t be shipped to the UK. It’s perfect for this little space above the radiator. I constantly change what I put on it so it suits the mood, season or colour schemes.
Problem 2 – The great towering wall of white. I added big mirrors to this wall and now the garden is reflected in them. I had a lot of trouble sourcing a mirror big enough, without an ornate edge. In the end, I went for two Ikea Hovet mirrors that butt up to one another. These mirrors add another dimension of space and light!
Problem 3 – The ‘cold’ look of the room. As I said earlier, I felt the walls needed to be white but the paint/room always looked an icy cold. I finally did away with this notion and painted the walls the same colour as the tall kitchen units, which is Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray No.242.
Focusing on fixing the problems has given me the ‘job done’ feel for this room. Overcoming the problems has led me to embrace colours and patterns like I have never done in the past. Despite the size of the room and all the thoroughfares, this room feels spacious and functions extremely well on a day to day basis. Also, whenever needed, it can be dressed and decorated nicely for evening entertainment and special occasions.
This room has the second freebie cupboard I first mentioned in Money Saving Tips for Creating Beautiful Rooms on a Budget. These cupboards came from a school I was working at and I saved them from the skip. It is solid hard wood and still has the maker’s plate! The shelves inside this cupboard were badly stained with ink from years of use as a stationery cupboard. I did have the shelves painted in an off white but despite using stain block, the ink was still seeping through so I painted them dark so the ink stains aren’t noticeable.
Initially in this room there was a lot of wood so I painted the exterior of the cupboard in Farrow & Ball Calke Green No. 34 but now that all the other wood has disappeared I am toying with the idea of stripping it back to the wood.
If you haven’t already done so, check out Part 1 of Creating a Kitchen Diner.
So there you have it – our little space for happy cooking and happy eating and time spent together doing these things makes us feel that…
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