The New Kitchen

a view of the new sink

Do you remember this post?

It’s been a few months since we finished the kitchen refit and I thought you might like to see some photos.

Let us compare and contrast the sink, old with new.

closeup of our ancient, limescale-encrusted kitchen tap, with draining board to one side and grotty tiles behind

new KNITSONIK sink with white craquelure tiles, fairy liquid, container with spongers and two bottles of smol clearning fluid

I am really happy with the transformation of this area! We have refreshed the dingy brie-yellow of the walls with a lovely soft chalky paint from my all-time favourite house paint company: Earthborn Paints. These paints are amazing – they offer an ultra matt surface that has a magical relationship with light and are breathable in ways that suit an old brick house like the one in which we live. To go with this magical pinky white paint, Mark tiled the area above all the worktops with some soft pinky white craquelure metro tiles. I love them so, and especially in the morning when the light comes in and makes everything glow.

the light coming in through the window and touching the tiles, the wall, the hanging kitchen utensils

The aims with this kitchen overhaul were to keep the things that worked well and to change things that didn’t. We’ve had the same kitchen since the early 00s when Mark moved into this house. We have cooked hundreds of meals in it, so have lots of experiences to draw on in terms of “this works” “this doesn’t work”. One thing we unanimously love is having pans and utensils hanging above the sink, ready to go when inspiration or hunger strike! The previous shelf under which we hung up our colander, pots and so on was a bit oppressive, so we opted to lose that shelf in the refit and use a rail with hooks instead. Everything remains accessible and handy, but there isn’t a massive shelf infringing on the small bit of headspace above the sink.

rail upon which all our everyday kitchen utensils hang - from left to right there are colander, plastic sieve, metal sieve, ladle, fish slice and slotted spoon

That shelf and its beloved collection of cookery books now live in the old brick fireplace.

view of the fireplace, mantle and wall, framed by the worktops that run down either side of the room

our new kitchen fireplace - note the rainbow of cookery books, the smaller bins now tucked into the recess, and the stripped-back bricks

The fireplace was previously painted the aforementioned turgid brie-yellow colour and a fridge lived in the recess, sticking out into the room. I confess there is not a day when I am not delighted by the decision to REVEAL THE BRICKS.

beautiful old red brick fireplace housing bins and books in its defunct recess

The books are so much more accessible in this spot and keeping them here is much better than their previous storage in haphazard piles above head-height. I think we are getting more use out of them as they are so much easier to reach; pulling one out definitely involves less swearing and knocking stuff on the floor.

a better light photo of the cooking books all lined up at hand-height

Thinking about access we also decided to take all the spices out of the cupboard and give them their own special, shallow shelves. I much prefer this as I can now find everything without rooting around. Also, no more finding four pots of fennel seeds at the back of the cupboard because we bought more when we couldn’t find the ones we already had hiding at the back.

spice rack with all the spices organised according to colour from red through yellow and orange (from right to left) on top, and then green through brown and black on the bottom

For this spice rack we simply bought two very picture frame shelves from IKEA and worked out where to put them to give clearance to my taller jars on both levels. As the shelves are so shallow, it’s impossible to hoard too many spices and herbs behind each other, even with my best hoarding and jam-jar-collecting efforts.

I love the shelf of books and the spice/herb shelves as everyday opportunities to play with colour and they really warm the whole room up so that even though we went with white units, white paint and white tiles, it is a warm and welcoming space and not a clinical one.

Stripping back the bricks reminded me of the KNITSONIK screenprints I made back in 2014, which tell – in graphic format – the process of starting with an inspiring thing, developing a chart, then producing hand-knitted fabric. The examples of this process immortalised in screenprint format include the knitting I did inspired by my EDIROL R09 digital sound recorder, and the knitting I did inspired by the bricks of Reading. These two prints now sit proud and framed above the fireplace and, on the mantelpiece, is a very special brick made for me by my friend Lorna from special Sussex clay that she dug up herself (it’s little and front and centre of the second picture down).

KNITSONIK prints on the wall above the fireplace

from left to right, a pestle and mortar made from Yew wood, Lorna's little brick, a card with a cauldron on it and the words A GIANT VAT OF HEALING SOUP in rainbow colours; a tiny little polka dot vessel containing a tiny polka dot spoon

The mantelpiece has always been a wondrous shrine to everyday life featuring bin bags for the compost bin, the compost caddy, the main bin; a place to put batteries for recycling; kitchen roll; and lovely gifts and special things from friends. Lorna’s magical brick; a polka dot vessel with a polka dot spoon that was a Birthday present from my friend Debbie; and a card from Caro depicting A GIANT VAT OF HEALING SOUP which is, in the end, the key theme for the kitchen on all levels.

One thing that has stayed from olden kitchen times is that friends are represented everywhere in the new kitchen, in keeping with my long-held feeling that the kitchen is the heart of the house and where the best times are had. In tea-towels collected into the tea-towel drawer; in glasses and mugs that have been gifts over the years; in the beloved and long-serving SHEEP CAROUSEL tea cosy given me by Kate I think maybe a decade ago? Friends are present everywhere. Ten years on, that cosy is still keeping tea wonderfully cosy in warm and resilient Shetland Supreme wool.

Little made things from left to right; my basket made from garden fibres; the felted nest where I keep eggs; a dipped white glaze terracotta compost caddy; my teapot with its lovely cosy... in the foreground, my phone and KNITSONIK Bullet Journal

There was some talk about whether or not to box in the pipework under the gas boiler but we decided against it in the end because 1. we would lose some precious workspace and 2. because Bobby (shout out Yellow Gas Services) did such a gorgeous, careful job of welding all the new pipework that I didn’t want to hide it away. I love the carefully crafted pipes beside the ceramic caddy where we put compost, the felted nest and the basket I made from nettles and ivy from our garden in which we keep the chickens’ egss, the woolly bits I use to protect the worktop when lunking heavy pots around, the tea cosy.

egg basket and woolly pot holders underneath egg basket

Time for another before and after?

hated grey gas cooker above which greasy space, a white area protected for many years by an extractor fan unit, and the sawn off edge of a cupboard door cut short to meet new building regs

amazing new gas hob, carefully built into the worktop, with under-cupboard lighting and big collection of wooden SPOONS to its right

Lots of the improvements to the kitchen have made it easier for me to use with my dodgy, arthritic wrists. But the under-cupboard lighting has been amazing for my mental health. I AM OBSESSED WITH THE LED LIGHTS; there is not a dingy grey day or mood than can’t be brightened by putting them on. There is a slightly unexpected side-effect of all root-veg kept under the lights sprouting – a situation that can be exploited for germinating seedlings – but YE GODS I LOVE THE LIGHTS!!! I also love cooking things on the gas hob and there not being an upsetting chasm of grease and fluff and cat hair and unreachable dirt either side, as was the situation when we had a freestanding cooker.

ALL HAIL THE NEW HOB AND THE UNDER-CUPBOARD LIGHTING!

There are also lights in the drawers, which are an infinitely better place than cupboards for storing heavy stuff. This is the most practical change we have made in terms of accommodating dodgy wrists: no longer are glass bowls and dishes stacked high up in cupboards – now they are in smooth rolling drawers where I can easily get them with no rage!

a lovely shallow drawer of glass cookware

stacks of plates - the top one of which says THIS PLATE SUPERCHARGES YOUR TOAST WITH JOY + GLEE + MAKES YOUR DAY EXTRA SPECIALLY MAR-VELLOUS it features illustrations of toast with marmalade on one slice and marmite on the other

All these wonderful changes and design decisions mean I have more spoons with which to enjoy cooking – both metaphorical, because I am not fighting against design that does not accommodate my body and its needs – and actual, because what is finer than a good collection of spoons? That’s right, nothing.

SPOONS! A big collection of wooden spoons in a ceramic terracotta white glaze-dipped utensil caddy

I love the new kitchen so much. Do not ask me about the rest of the house and especially not my workspace, crafting areas or floordrobe…

BUT THE KITCHEN? Re: The Kitchen, I will take the win.
Thank you for joining me on this tour,

YOURS IN A GIANT VAT OF HEALING SOUP AND OVERFLOWING SPOON COLLECTIONS –

Fx

10 thoughts on “The New Kitchen

    1. Thanks Barb, it was really nice to collaborate on the details and to solve things together – but it definitely takes time to give attention to all those little things – I like your quote very much and must remember to put it in my Bullet Journal as it’s a very kind and useful reminder that doing things properly takes time. Thank You!

  1. Congratulations on your lovely new kitchen! We re-did our kitchen sometime in the early 90s and I still love it. There are just a couple of things things I want to do but haven’t had the skills or money to hire someone to do it. It just feels so good to have everything where you need it to be and the great colors and arrangements must fill you with happiness! Yay you!

    1. Hurrah for your 90s kitchen joy, still going strong! And I’m so happy that you still love it. It is a big job (and expense, and time) and I’m incredibly grateful we’ve been able to do it. The colours and how everything is arranged really make me happy – it’s amazing how much energy that gives to me, now just the living room and dining room to sort in the same way!!! 🙂

  2. Oh how fabulous! It’s wonderful to see the joy that your beautiful new kitchen is bringing to you! I love the fireplace bricks! They light up the whole room, as a hearth truly should. The kitchen is such an important space and I love the care and thoughtfulness that has gone into renewing yours. We too have been working on ours, caused by a chain reaction of minor disasters, which started when I prodded a bit of flaking paint only to have the plaster fall off that wall and which ended in plumbing. But, like you, I feel joyful about it now that we’ve done some repairs and made it all better. Hurrah for happy kitchens! xxx

    1. Aw thanks Cecilia, I love how you’ve put that, about the bricks – yes they do light it up!!!I’m sorry to hear about the escalating chain of events from mild prodding to fallen plaster wall and then plumbing but glad if in some way this has created opportunities for kitchen refreshment and repair! I think our friend Tom said something that really resonated with me one time about how repairing our clothes reinforces our relationship with them – I reckon it’s just as true with houses. I’m ashamed to say I was a bit doubtful about Mark taking on the tiling (bad Felix) but watching him do each step, and then joining in several times to help with sealing them, really made me happy because we were touching and fixing the living walls of our home together. The biggest takeaway for me with this whole thing has been realising how many little things previously got me down, incrementally, and how the opposite effect is true when there are lots of little details that bring joy. Wrestling to get big glass bowls out of cupboards with hurty hands; glumly contemplating the impossible-to-clean chasm between the cooker and the units on either side of it… these tiny things would just chew at the edges of my consciousness and create bad feelings about our house. With so many little things fixed, the opposite effect is now happening! The joy of getting the bowls out of the easy drawer, how simple it is to keep the hob clean, noticing the lovely things on the mantelpiece… each one adds a little nugget of happy. I’m so glad it sounds like the same is true for you in your kitchen after making repairs – hurrah indeed for happy kitchens!!!

    1. Aw, thanks Carole! It makes a world of difference to have a nice space in which to work, and I’m enjoying how many wool things are useful and look good in this kitchen!

  3. Wow, what a transformation! It looks great. It inspires me to plan a freshen-up of our kitchen which we haven’t done in 20 years.

    1. Aw I’m glad you found it inspiring! Thank you for your kind words, I feel so grateful to have been able to do this.

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