The thought behind this post was to look over the year of test driving a new kitchen and to pick out positives and negatives which may help anyone looking at planning a new kitchen.
Over all we are happy with the end result from both a functional and 'look' point of view. Whilst I played it a little safe and decided against a funky, modern, shiny minimalist design (units), the wooden painted kitchen works for us. I'm not sure how long a sleek, shiny kitchen would have stayed sleek and shiny with 5 year old boy scooting up and down and an 11 year old girl on roller skates whizzing up and down! In our heads we are (sometimes) precious, minimalist, young singletons. In reality, we are a hectic household with muddy boots, clumsy children, pets and everything else 'normal'. The ability to be able to get the paint pot out and touch up knocks is reassuring...even if we rarely do it.
The choice of paint colour was good. The choice of paint manufacturer...not so good, for the kitchen units at least. We used Little Greene and our painter found them difficult to apply evenly and although egg shell, I have found them slightly difficult to keep mark-free. Our previous units were painted in a Dulux paint and I found the finish a far better one.
Tip 1. Consider the practicalities....
The floor choice was a good one. We had endless debate over what to put down, with half of those in on the debate favouring tiled floor and half wood.
Naturally, the debate centred around practicality above look, with those favouring tiles questioning the durability of wood in the kitchen end....water spills, fat spitting, under floor heating effectiveness and general wear and tear. I googled endless sites looking at the pros and cons of both and in the end found no consensus of opinion! Not very helpful. For all of the cons there were pros for both.
We went with oiled engineered oak and so far it has worked a treat. We didn't go for under floor heating and we haven't needed it. The wood feels warm under foot, even in the winter and because our kitchen benefits from being triple aspect, in the summer it is warm anyway. I love the feel of bare feet on wood as well and as I often poddle around with no shoes on this is a bonus.
Yes. The floor has scratched in places but it is fairly light oak and marks and scuffs barely show. Yes. It is advisable to wipe up spills straight away....but wouldn't most people do that anyway?
I've had tiled kitchen floors previously and there is no doubt that they win hands down on durability......but don't discount wood as an option in the kitchen...despite what you may be told. It's warm, looks great and is comfortable.
An oversight on my behalf (I left the workers alone one day....) has been that the carpenter permanently attached the kick boards under the units. Mistake number one. I would not recommend this. I would always go with the clip on variety. I recently had a disaster with my blender and some watercress soup and the inability to remove the kick boards as the soup made for the very slight gaps between kick board and floor means that god only knows what's going on under the units! A case of what goes on under the units stays under the units!
With the general kitchen design, everything seems to be working well. We applied the usual design principle of the kitchen triangle....fridge, stove, sink...but also took some time working out where to have drawers and where to have cupboards. Worth taking that extra bit of time to think about what you need to grab and when when you're in the kitchen!
On a practical level, having a bin drawer is a bonus. I'm not a fan of pedal bins of any shape or size. They are never big enough and you always have to find a place for them which invariably means in front of something if they are to be near to where you're working. Having a drawer dedicated to hiding a bin is great. It's positioned right in the centre of the functioning end of the kitchen, by the hob and chopping bit of the kitchen. We just had a frame built in the draw that was big enough to house a large, plain, lidless bin. Definitely worth considering if you can sacrifice storage space.
The larder cupboard is also a bonus from a practical point of view. Being able to pull out drawers means you can see and get to stuff at the back without fighting your way through the rest.
I appreciate that some of these suggestions rely upon having the necessary space, but even smaller versions of these ideas would work and these are not expensive extras.
Pan drawers are also incredibly practical and perfect housed under the hob.
A couple of additions have been plain and simple roller blinds at four windows in very dark charcoal. These we ordered from www.blinds-2go.co.uk We've ordered a number of blinds from this website. They are inexpensive, made to measure....no frills....speedy delivery and perfectly acceptable for what we required.
White work surfaces are great. The downside is that they show up dust and marks unlike our previous wood surfaces. In general, period kitchens are far easier to keep clean....or should I say, require less pampering than modern kitchens. Clean lines means more cleaning. Definitely a downside!
On to the next project. Moving the entrance hall and staircase from the 60's in to the present little by little. Tune in over the next month to see how that one goes!