Well, it’s been a year since we started our kitchen renovation project and I can finally say one year on, its nearly finished! When we came for the house viewing we always knew this house had lots of potential and right from the very beginning we visualised knocking both the kitchen and separate dining room into one large room so we could finally have the family space we craved. We often entertained and have family and friends over for lunch, dinner and even breakfast so we always knew we wanted to create a space whereby we could have everyone could come over to us for food and drinks and have a calming, beautiful space to entertain in and I feel we’ve done just that and more….!

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It’s been a long road though and it hasn’t all been enjoyable, whilst the renovation project was taking place we had no kitchen or dining room for over 3 months and we had to cook food using our camping stove and microwave and after a while you run out of ideas of food to cook. The best days were when friends and family would invite us over to theirs and they’d cook for us, at the time we were so grateful for this and we felt so civilised all eating around a table together, sitting on chairs – it was a novelty at that time.  Night after night we spent our meal times sat on the floor or on the sofa eating food and many a time we all took turns eating our meals at the blue plastic children’s table in the lounge.  It’s funny looking back really but, even at the time it didn’t bother us one iota because we always knew it would be worth it in the end but, my goodness we weren’t prepared for the dust that not only covered the kitchen but, the whole house too and that was a little frustrating at times.

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The boys would have their school uniforms on and lean on a wall or sit on a stair when they were getting ready to head out the door and they’d be covered in dust but, now we’re past all that so I don’t mind as much, that is until we start the bathroom in 2017!

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My brother in law (Martyn) was the Project Manager and he carried out all the work on this, he liaised with Courts and he managed the other tradesmen that came during the project and this worked well for us as we were already busy with work and family life so this took away the burden of this. Martyn had to work out how we were going to hide pipework as the sink was on the island, in the middle of the kitchen so the pipework had to go under the floor and then had to be concreted in so that was a job that needed planning well. He then identified that there were certain parts of the room that were going to be uneven in ceiling heights and at first I wasn’t keen on this but, now I love the unevenness and I quite like that the ceiling is a little higgle-dee-piggle-dee, all of this adds character to the kitchen.

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There was electrical work that was needed to be carried out and there was a lot of plumbing work, plastering and new doors to be fitted too, both internal and external but, it all went smoothly even though it took a little longer than expected. When it came to choosing the island chairs I looked all over but, ended up getting these two chairs in IKEA of all places and then I decorated the sides with jars and candle holders from IKEA too and I love plants so I bought a nice one from there too to brighten up the corner. But, one of my best buys were the radiators, we got these from a little shop on the internet who specialised in them and now they’re in I’m so pleased we invested a little more in the grey cast iron radiators as all our guests comment on how lovely they are and how they really off the kitchen well. So much so, I’m even thinking of getting them upstairs too in some of the rooms.

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The kitchen project took a while to design and plan and at first I was unsure what the layout would be so when friends came round for coffee I’d pick their brains and I’d ask them what they’d do with the layout we had. It was two friends, Helen and Mel that finally came up with the solution we chose and their solution was to flip the kitchen around and have the dining room in the kitchen part and vice versa and it worked.  I was then able to have the island I’d dreamed of and have a wall full of units and the stove in the middle with the island just in front of it, I could always picture it and I knew what it’d look like but, Richard struggled with this a little so had to rely on my imagination.  So I was the one who ended up being in Courts for hours on end choosing doors, styles and measuring their kitchens in comparison with ours to see how it would all fit and look.

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I visited so many kitchen outfits including; Magnet, B&Q, Helmanis and Howell but, in the end the one that was the most competitively priced with outstanding customer service was Courts Kitchen in Stockton on Tees. They had the best show rooms too and they made great cups of tea each time we visited and they even gave their customers a bottle of champagne when their kitchen had been completed. It wasn’t this that sold me on their product though it was the quality of the doors and the range and different styles they had available. They spent hours drawing up computerised plans and really gave me the time I needed to try different designs and I did this until I found the perfect layout, they were very patient with me. But, it’s such a big project and I wanted my forever kitchen to be forever so I needed to take my time on getting the design of it right.

It did take a while to choose the design of the cupboards but, we settled on the Carisbrooke and we chose a two tone effect; cream and grey for the doors. Grey on the bottom and cream on the top but, even then when we chose the cream I couldn’t believe how many variations there was of cream – there was porcelain white, alabaster, china white and a whole range of others – it was so confusing but, we got there in the end.  On the day it got delivered I panicked and thought, ‘What if I don’t like the colours and the two tone effect when it arrives?’  Richard’s reply was, ‘Well, it’ll be too late by then so we’ll have to learn to live with it!’  That’s a typical man’s answers isn’t it! Luckily, I was thrilled with our choice and the way it looked and the island worktop and work benches looked really nice.

Now we have a space that’s ‘fit for purpose’ and one we love, where we can entertain and because we love it so much we end up spending most of our days in there!