Before & After: Our Kitchen
For me, a kitchen really is the hub of the house. It's where I head to first thing in the morning and usually last thing at night, it's where my friends and family always seem to gather and it's the place I partake in one of my favourite hobbies; cooking. I know this is the case for a lot of other people too and I guess that's why people spend so much money on getting their dream kitchen as it's a room that's used a lot and a room we all want to feel happy in.
The Kitchen in our London flat
Before moving to Manchester, we lived in our first home which was a flat in London's Forest Hill and do you know what sold it to us? The kitchen. It was the best room in the flat and was bright and airy, spacious and modern and featured a large kitchen island in the middle - the perfect accessory for hosting dinner parties so you can cook at ease whilst you talk (and drink wine). It also had enough room for our retro boat bar so was a winner all round! Everyone always commented on what a great kitchen it was and it also lead straight into our decked garden which was perfect for BBQ parties and trips back and to to the fridge for prosecco top-ups on sunny days.
When we decided to move to Manchester, we knew the kitchen was an important space for us and our new house had to have a great kitchen. Because we were upgrading to a bigger property (it's incredible what we bought in Manchester for the price of our London flat!), we wanted to find a house with a nice dining room and also for the kitchen to have some space for a breakfast bar, kitchen island or second dining table.
We actually only viewed one house in Manchester as it ticked all of our boxes in that it was spacious, filled with gorgeous period features and other than some cosmetic changes, there wasn't much else to do to it.
Our Kitchen when we moved into our house
One of the first things we changed when we got the keys last May was the kitchen. The space was perfect with the separate eating area we'd wanted, it featured period stained glass doors and windows, it was bright with a sky light roof and double doors leading out into the garden and we liked the grey flooring. The only thing we weren't fans of was the kitchen cupboards but it was something we knew we could easily change for not too much money.
The units are a shaker style and we liked them but hated the colour of the wood which was a dark browny-red maple. The wood colour just made the whole kitchen seem dated and we knew it would literally take a change of colour to modernise the space. The worktop is corian and a cream colour flecked with grey and the handles, splash back, sink and oven are all steel. The obvious choice for me as soon as I saw the house was to change the kitchen unit colour to grey and I knew that a dark grey such as Farrow & Ball Down Pipe would look perfect and work well with the flooring, steel fittings and worktop. After a bit of convincing, Steve agreed it would work too (yep, still got it...!).
In changing the colour, one option would have been to paint the units ourselves but with a lot of other painting to do in every room of the house, it seemed like an extra task we just didn't need. After a bit of asking around locally, we found a local spray painter who regularly updates kitchens and furniture and his past work was of a great standard so we went ahead and booked him.
I'd informed him I wanted to use Farrow & Ball Down Pipe but he always colour matches his kitchens when customers want to go for a F&B colour using Valspar paint as he feels it gives a really durable finish in a hard wearing area. The colour match is 98% and we went for a matte finish to get as close as possible to the chalky F&B look. Each unit was sanded, primed, sprayed and then sealed before they were delivered back to us ready to re-hang each door and drawer!
The finished effect was better than we could have imagined and our kitchen literally does look like a brand new kitchen! It would have cost us thousands to replace the entire units but by simply having them spray-painted, it cost us just under £850. And the colour is near enough the same as Down Pipe - we have painted our windows, doors and skirting in F&B Down Pipe and the Valspar colour is very slightly different but probably only noticeable to us!
Other than changing the kitchen unit colour and painting the walls in a light grey in Dulux's Polished Pebble, the other change we wanted to make in the kitchen was to make the dining space feel like more of a part of the actual kitchen as when we first viewed the house, we felt like it was almost like another room and we wanted some continuity between the two kitchen spaces.
To achieve this, we added some open shelving and bought two Ikea shelves and an Ikea book shelf and painted the brackets in Down Pipe to tie into the kitchen unit colour. It was a simple job but one that is really effective and it really does add pops of our main kitchen colour throughout the space. We've also done the same thing with a couple of small Ikea picture ledges on one of the kitchen walls and made them into spice racks.
We filled the two open shelves with varying size kilner jars labelled with a Dymo label maker to give a retro effect alongside some other tins and jars and on the book shelf, we added our most used cookbooks alongside some retro bottles to add some more character.
Our dining table is an original retro G Plan table which I won on Ebay for £60 and we've used light and dark grey Eames repro chairs to echo the wall colour and the kitchen unit colour. We have also added in a retro trolley which we've used as a bar cart for guests fancying an after dinner tipple!
Since the kitchen is quite grey, we've added a bit of colour through the use of Orla Kiely storage jars, plant pots and artwork such as our Stone Roses Lemon print and Wrap Magazine kitchen inspired greetings cards which I framed in cheap Ikea frames.
For now the kitchen is pretty much finished although I'd like to add some more artwork underneath the open plan shelves, put up a wire notice board somewhere and I keep wanting to use magnetic blackboard paint in one area to add a bit more personality. However, we're really pleased with what we've achieved in pretty much creating a brand new kitchen for less than £1000!