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Monday, 24 February 2014

An alternative to Marble 'Bianco Carrara'...

With my 'Dream Kitchen' in mind (below), I set out to research kitchen worktops.

I love this white worktop with the grain/vein effect. 

We knew we wanted something like this in some kind of stone whether it be granite or quartz or possibly corian.

After viewing lots of samples & visiting several showrooms, we decided that we weren't that keen on the look of corian as it was just solid colours & could also be damaged easily by heat (although easily repairable) therefore we focused on granite & quartz.

We were advised that quartz & granite were both very durable.

The advantage with Quartz being that it is non porous, upon looking at many samples the quartz was more appealing to us as the granite was very heavy looking.

Looking through my 'KITCHEN IDEAS' board on Pinterest it seemed that every photo had a Marble 'Bianco Carrara' worktop (example below).

I love the unique look of Bianco Carrara with the strong grey vein running though the white marble, so striking, yet so classic.

The only problem is that marble is very porous, suitable for bathrooms but not so ideal in the kitchen.

Therefore I had to find a quartz alternative that had the same look (easier said than done).

The options I looked at were mainly from brands that UK stone suppliers stocked being 'Silestone',  Ceasarstone, Okite - here are some of those examples:

Silestone - Bianco Rivers

Silestone - Helix

Both above options  were nice alternatives but quite subtle and very uniformed in their design. I was looking for something with more impact (considering the price we are going to have to pay, I want WOW)..

Okite - Bianco Carrara

The name says it all, they've really tried to recreate the effect of Marble Bianco Carrara.
This is a great alternative but I found this design to be too random, very condensed in some areas and quite sparse in others.
The colouring of the vein for me was also too purple rather than grey so didn't work with our colour scheme.

The quartz we ended up choosing is Silestone 'Lyra', it was the one I loved the most (also the most expensive out of all these options).

I felt 'Lyra' had more character than the other alternatives above.
There was a lot more depth to this design, the other designs were quite flat. 
Being man made it is never going to have the randomness of a marble Bianco Carrara, but for me this was a perfect alternative.

Can't wait to see the end result.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Kitchen Demolition - Day 1

The first part of the kitchen our builder started on is the removal of the wall between the hallway & kitchen (highlighted below) & the chimney breast over the cooker.

See images below....



As you can see the wall has now been completely removed.

It has made such a difference, it's now very open, there's a lot more light & its created a direct link to the rest of the house, making it easier to be more social when you have guests over.

The Chimney breast over the cooker & pantry has also been removed.

When designing our kitchen so many of the designers mentioned that customers pay to have a chimney breast like this built in.

The chimney would have been great if we wanted a country look but we've chosen a modern, sleek, handle-less kitchen so the chimney has to go!!





My husband saw this as a perfect opportunity to put his dart board up without having any worry's about damaging surrounding walls (although to be fair he's a pretty good shot anyway)..


The pantry has been removed & the small window has been bricked up.


The next step is to remove the ceiling, flooring & cupboards... tbc

My Dream Kitchen

Planning your own kitchen is very daunting, the pressure is on to make sure it is perfect in every way - looks, functionality and has all the mod cons you require or can afford (as well as come in on budget)..

I had no idea where to start so I went to my 'go to' design source - Pinterest.

After pinning loads of kitchen images (when I say loads, I mean thousands), it was clear that I was obsessed with modern, sleek, white handless kitchens with possibly some grey mixed in and of course an element of glitz (chandelier perhaps?)

This is where my initial inspiration began...

The above are some of the first images I saved, I loved the white high gloss units mixed with all of these accessories, the glitzy silver tiles, the 'Hicks' pendants, marble worktops & bright artwork... perfect!!

But then I saw this and loved the minimalist look of all white (my husband thought it looked like a dentist surgery, too clinical)

I also loved white kitchens with an injection of grey, whether it was a grey contrasting island or grey splash back or flooring.

After all the pinning the one thing I was certain of at least, was that it had to be white high gloss units, the rest I would work out later.

At least one decision had been made!

It wasn't until I stumbled across this photo below, that I knew this was exactly what I wanted, my 'DREAM KITCHEN'

I contacted the company who made this but with a price tag of £70,000, I knew I would have to try my best to get the look for less (a hell of a lot less)..

So this is my final inspiration image and this is what we set out to achieve (wish me luck)

 You can see my Pinterest - Kitchen Inspiration here:

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Planning the kitchen renovation...

The first room in our house that needs major attention is the kitchen.

It looks ok in the estate agent's photo (above) but they somehow manage to make the worst rooms look respectable with their wide angle photos.

The kitchen is much darker in reality.

The main issue is (besides it being quite old & dated) is the lack of cupboard space.

The brown cupboards you see in the below photo are taken up with appliances - dishwasher & washing machine.

The white pantry next to the hob (below photo) has shelves that are about to come away from the wall, it's not sturdy enough to utilise. 

All other free standing units you can see in the photos belong to the previous owner, which have now been removed.

Resulting in no cupboards!!

The kitchen is 5m x 3.3m, excellent size, we have a great space to work with.

We plan to totally renovate and put in a new kitchen.

The ideas we have so far are:

  • remove the brick chimney
  • the current back door to be bricked up & replaced with a new UPVC window
  • replace the bay window with a new UPVC bay window with central double doors leading onto the garden
  • Remove the wall between the hallway & kitchen 
  • New flooring
  • Underfloor heating
  • New L shape kitchen with central island
In the below image you can see the current back door.
We intend to move this so we can have an 'L' shape kitchen to utilise the space better.

We will still keep a window here above the worktop (as we need as much light in the kitchen as we can get).

Our builders will brick up the bottom half of the door area and a new UPVC double glazed window will be fitted.

The new window will have a slight change to the size, it will be brought in approx 400mm from the end wall, this will enable us to put kitchen wall units on the end wall.

The new back door will be at the far end of the kitchen where there is currently a bay window.

This is the bay window that will be changed into double doors & 2 side windows.

We will keep the shape of the bay window but replace it with a UPVC double glazed floor to ceiling bay with 2 narrow centre doors opening outward to the garden (similar to below photos)

Idea for new Bay Window / Door

The bricks that will be removed from below the current bay window will be re-used to brick up the bottom half of the existing back door.
Therefore the exterior of the house will remain the same colour.

The wall between the hallway & the kitchen will be removed (highlighted in red below)

The reason for removing this wall is because as you can see from the below floor plan, the current entrance (being the RED LINE) requires you walk around tight corners to enter.

If we remove this wall we will have direct access into the kitchen from the hallway (see GREEN LINE as proposed new entrance). 

We will then extend the 'under stairs cupboard space' right up to the kitchen.
The space will then be used for a washing machine & dyer stacked on top.
I will be able to access these appliances directly from the kitchen.
A new door will be made to hide these appliances.

To gain access to the rest of the space under the stairs, doors will be cut out & open directly from the hallway.

This is the plan, lets see how it goes!!...