Kitchen Renovation x Three

When my husband John bought our home seven years ago, two years before meeting me, he chose it thinking he would do a bit of renovation and sell it as he had all the houses before. He enjoys remodeling homes and selling them on and has done quite a few since he finished working in television about fifteen years ago.

Built in 1997, it had spent its whole life as a rental before he saw its potential and made the local owner/builder/landlord an offer they both found acceptable. When you live in a house built by someone who still lives in the village who you see in the pub, you may find you are also surrounded by others who had a hand in the building process or who lived in the house before you. I won’t go into it now, but we’ve heard some interesting stories that could fill more than a few pages.

I’ve seen a lot of John’s before and after shots of his renovation work in earlier properties and I appreciate how he is able to see possibilities where someone else might walk away. The first three photographs will give you an idea of what the kitchen looked like when he first bought it. There was a great deal of reddish dark wood throughout the house like you see in the window of the first photo giving it a completely different look than it has now.  (All of the early photographs were taken by John)

I don’t know if this is the original kitchen from 1997, but having always been a rental before John bought it, I can’t imagine anyone investing money to leave behind. I know it’s done all the time in New York city apartments and I’ve known people who have spent $30,000 on a kitchen renovation in a place they did not actually own, but they’d lived in for twenty years or more.

While I never had to live with the linoleum tile pattern on the floor, until recently the brass switch plates that came with the house were still on the walls. I’m glad John agreed that it was time for them to go. The new lighter ones blend so much better and are easier to clean.

You can see the beginnings of the first of three big kitchen changes dating from when he bought it in 2005. Thank goodness he added more ceiling lights too. I can’t imagine working with only one or two lights in the kitchen as this one had.

Here you see the cabinets going in. John bought the cabinet doors from Ikea and built the rest of it from big sheets of furniture board because it was as he said, “less expensive than ready-made and more flexible.”  The countertops are the old ones from 1997 just before John tiled them black like you see in the photo below. He believes in reusing materials when possible.

The second kitchen redo was much smaller, taking place in 2009 when my things arrived from the US. John added more glass fronted cabinets for my china and other glassware along with another solid cabinet on the left side of the window over the sink.

The other side of the room where the table sits is shown during the first renovation in the third photo above. As you can see by the funny bit of wall sticking out in that picture and the one below it, our table placement choices were severely limited and it never felt as if the space was large enough to move comfortable in especially when family and friends joined us.

Here’s a last look before the wall came down. After John built the extension so I might have a room of my own to write, the configuration of the house changed making it unnecessary for the entry door you can see in the photo below. Before building what he jokingly refers to as the East Wing, that door opened into the master bedroom. After the addition of a hallway, my studio space, and two bathrooms, it became possible to take down the corner wall and open up the room a bit more.

The out-dated Artex ceiling went too, along with the door leading from the main hall into the East Wing hallway. Then he pulled up the small bit of dark wood that had been part of the hallway floor and took out the door you see on the right. He fixed the wall afterwards and then put a new door and partial wall in where the hallway begins. The ceiling is dark in this shot because the plaster was still drying.

Here’s how it looked yesterday when I tried to catch a bit of light on a rainy day. I could have used my blogging friend Kerstin’s property photography skills as my pictures don’t do as good a job of giving you an accurate feel for the space. Notice we still have the leather chairs along with four more in the attic. John is okay with them, but I have a different vision in mind and I’ll update you later when we make a change. That lamp in the corner needs a bit of work or replacing. John enjoys a softer evening light so we’re likely to keep something there.

This cool piece is one of two that came out of an old smithy that was attached to another much older home that John owned years before meeting me. Both were stored in the garage and I’d imagined them inside the house from the first time I saw them. Renovating the kitchen created a place for this larger one and the smaller one found a home in the living room.

The little potty was one I used as a child on overnight visits with my great-grandparents who did not have indoor plumbing. I can see a few cobwebs in the slot where it’s sitting. (Note to self: dust more!) This piece was missing a drawer and I put the potty there as a funny reminder of a time when grand houses would have a screen off to the side during dinner parties so guests might relieve themselves without straying far from the table. Given that we are fortunate to have three bathrooms, this will never be necessary if you come for dinner.

John suggested this one might look better painted the color green you see in the kitchen, but that’s not happening! I love the primitive look of it and like seeing the dings and peeling paint from its use in blacksmith’s work space.

John built the new cabinets in the photo above using old materials to create units that were more shallow than the ones there before. He replaced the laminate floors with hardwood and I found a smaller entry rug for the door in the things I brought over in 2009. We think it’s a good match. Everything had a fresh coat of paint and the cooker hood or range hood as I’d call it is one that John found online. It works so much better than the old one making me especially happy when John cooks fish.

You may notice that we have not settled on a decision for the backsplash. John likes it as it is, but we tend to be messy and I think we’ll need at least a sheet of glass or acrylic to cover the green part up to the molding he installed. He also turned an unused space into a cookie sheet storage area by hinging the small wooden strip below the oven and adding a pull.

The lights in these cabinets are actually pale blue, but they’ve turned deep purple in this photo. You can see the new countertops John installed. He did a lot of work on them to help make them less prone to staining.

See the two raised boards he made from leftover counter-top wood … this works well to keep wet products off the wood so it doesn’t stain. You must be more careful with these, but I love the look of them and have not had to work that hard to get used to working with dry ingredients in one part and wet in another.

I moved some of the art that I brought from the US. These pieces had been in other parts of the house and added one (on the left) that I bought during a trip we made to Wales. I think it all came together fairly well.

You may have noticed that the art work on the sides of the window near the sink is in the spot where cabinets used to be. We had considered open shelving there for dishes and stuff, but I’m glad we found another way. I prefer the art and like how the space feels bigger and less cluttered.

John is already on to his next project, working on plans to change to the interior stairs and the entrance to the house. He never stops.

My friend Jean commented the other day on how lucky I was after seeing pictures of some of the renovations we’ve been making and “by we, I mean John.” That little saying about what we are doing has become a bit of humorous phrasing for me, but one meant to playfully acknowledge all the effort he puts into making our home so comfortable and appealing. He does such a nice job and I do feel lucky, but it’s his gentle spirit and kind heart rather than his construction skills that make me feel fortunate to share a life and space with him.

How about you … any projects on your list this summer? Share a link if you have one or leave me a link to your favorite home remodeling blog. I’m more than a little addicted to bloggers who are known for their DIY skills.

20 thoughts on “Kitchen Renovation x Three

  1. It’s looking great! It must be such a relief to have a kitchen to cook in where plaster won’t fall in your food, ha ha 🙂
    I’m currently redecorating and reorganising my bedroom. We started by cutting out the built-in desk that’s been next to useless since I moved into the room (it’s too high to use for writing, and is more of a dressing table, which I’ll never use. I have another desk that I write at). Next we’re going to re-paper that bit of wall, as there’s a hole in the paper there. Then we’re going to paint the whole room. It’s pale green at the moment, but I want something brighter, so it’ll be a nice fresh yellow if I get my way! (There are also built in cupboards, which are white.) Then we’re fitting bookshelves (carefully measured to fit the heights of my books) into the gap where the desk used to be, and getting rid of as many of the free-standing bookshelves in my room as possible to give me more space.
    I’m also going to have a little reading / vlogging space in the gap. It won’t be big – two feet wide, which is just enough to sit cross-legged – but it’ll be a space I’ve never had.

      • Possibly. I was actually planning to vlog the process, but unfortunately my camera has died and I can’t afford to replace it right now, so I’m stuck without one. I’ve borrowed one to take pictures – it’s just not great on video. So it looks like I will be going back to the old-school blogging! 😉

  2. What a great remodel! I love the pictures by the sink and the glass cabinet doors. You’re lucky to have someone who is so handy and innovative. At my house I’m the “handy-wife”, and anything that needs assembling and fixing falls to me. I was planning on re-doing the office this summer, but time is short.

    • I know just what you mean, Amy. I’ve been my own handy-woman for years and it’s such a relief that John does all the stuff I used to have to do on my own and more. If you decide to remodel your office, I hope you’ll share photos. I love before and after DIY blog posts.

  3. How wonderful. Thanks for taking us on tour, and yes, you’re so lucky to have a partner who is so gifted in the renovation arts, but I love what you say about his gentle spirit and kind heart. They are a blessing indeed.

      • and he does!! (as do you). Lovely lovely space. I looooove the countertops and his repurposing materials — he does it so beautifully! You’re a great design team. Congrats on your new space.

      • ooooh wordpress makes me so mad! I wrote a comment, then it made me log in and of course erased the comment. anyway . . . I was going to say that you’re right that John hangs the moon — and you do too!

        so happy for your new space, looooove the countertops, and love how John repurposes materials in such a beautiful way. You two make a great design team! Congratulations on a beautiful space that you’ll enjoy so much.

    • You’ve seen it in person, Donna in the before state. I’m glad you like the changes. The biggest thing for a money guru like you is it’s all paid for with no debt to cause regret.

  4. WOW! John does spectacular work. And I totally agree with 37 paddington…you are a lucky woman…a husband who does professional quality remodeling AND has a gentle spirit and kind heart. It is so nice to hear a woman say (and feel) such wonderful things about her guy. I am my husband’s biggest fan too.

  5. oh i LOVE your floor – is it English oak – that looks like my very fave wood. Such a beautiful and restful place. Go for that glass or acrylic splash back, your paint job will love you for it.

    • Mariellen, I miss hearing from you! I have to check with John in the morning about the floor. It is oak, but I’m not sure if it’s English oak. As for the splash back, I think we’re moving in that direction.

  6. That looks lovely. I love all the wood and how well he repurposes things. Nicely done.

    I’m a little jealous as I’m the ‘handyman’ in our marriage. It always feels like magic when house projects get done by someone else. My skills extend to painting and minor carpentry. For good or for bad, this house needs little of those so our projects have been big not small. I’ve been getting bids on tearing off our rickety back porch and putting on a deck with a roof structure (here in Texas, shade and a ceiling fan are worth their weight in gold if we want to entertain outside). I’ll blog about it when we get there.

  7. Oh I just love everything about your renovations – well done! The colors, materials and polish of it all is terrific and it’s so naturally coordinated. I’m head over heels with your flooring too 🙂 Good job guys!

  8. I love what you (John!) have done with this kitchen. You really can see its transformation over the years. I hope you really enjoy using it. What a clever idea for the cookie trays too!

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