We were burgled when we lived in our apartment and unfortunately lost most of our photos. I have had to be inventive to find photos to go with this post, and the clarity has suffered in some. Sorry!
Before I go any further with details about the renovation of our London terrace house, I feel the need to go back a little in time and pay homage to my very first experience of renovation. We bought a two bedroom apartment in the lovely spa town of Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The apartment was in a three storey Victorian terrace house. It had ‘good bones’ due to a great layout and aside from a slightly narrow kitchen, well proportioned rooms for an apartment in our price bracket.
The kitchen had to be done immediately because the oven was so filthy I didn’t want to cook in it. It proved itself to be uncleanable! The grease and grime from the oven seemed to have permeated the kitchen units as well. Aside from the plumbing, gas, electrics and plastering we did everything else ourselves. I don’t know why I felt any sort of confidence to do what we did, because aside from painting a cupboard I hadn’t ever done anything like that before. But I went blindly ahead with confidence, a bucket load of determination and a grand vision.
We started pulling everything out. This part was quick and satisfying! The services were all put in place and then the room was plastered. We prepared the floor for tiles and I spent forever and a day making sure that the tiles would run parallel to the kitchen units. We weren’t having kick boards in the kitchen so the tiles had to go all the way under the cupboards. I would NEVER do this again!!! Not only did it add a huge amount of money to the cost of tiles but in a narrow galley kitchen like this, cleaning underneath the cupboards was a logistical nightmare.
I had a dining table made out of Tasmanian Oregon timber, which I had brought over from Australia. When we moved into the apartment, the removalists couldn’t get the table along the long narrow hallway which led to the living room so they put it in the only room they could fit it in – our bedroom. We ummed and ahed over what to do with this table until I came up with the money saving idea of cutting it up for the worktops either side of the cooker. On the other side of the kitchen we used a black honed granite. In the end I thought it looked better than it would have if we had put in matching worktops.
When we bought the flat there was a door to the sitting room and another one into the kitchen. We had to go through the first, and close it, to be able to go through the next. We removed both these doors and once I got the official ‘ok’ I made both these openings larger. For the opening into the kitchen, I took down part of the stud work and then framed it back out adding a little fretwork detail. Shortly after we did the kitchen, we discovered our very trusty carpenter and I would have gladly given this job to him.
I would like to reiterate, I change things all the time. Little issues fester in my mind, until I have time to change them. They NEVER ever go away! Originally I liked the idea of having the wall alongside the cooker free of wall units, so I just put up a couple of pictures.
That looked fine for a while until I thought it looked unfinished…so I then went for some shelving, using the off cuts from the dining table.
That looked fine for a while too, until I thought we could do with a little more storage…so then I had our very trusty carpenter add some wall units and trim around the top. And, it was so delightful to hand this job over to someone else. He did an amazing job – perfect precision on all those mitred corners.
So this is how we left our kitchen – having learnt a lot. Just look at how those tiles run parallel to the cupboards! The trickiest part was dealing with the quirks of a space within an old property. I am pretty sure this will be the one and only kitchen we will ever install…especially in an old house with wonky walls. Having said this, I am really proud of our achievements in this room and I really feel Aristotle’s words, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of all parts’ really applies to this small galley kitchen.