When we moved into our dream home 2.5 years ago we knew that the renovation journey we were about to embark on was huge! We knew that every single room hadn’t been decorated or touched for over 15 years and as it was an old house we knew we’d have our work cut out.

These are some photos from when we moved in of what the kitchen diner used to look like.

When we moved from our previous home we kept some of our savings back to help us on our way with our renovation projects but, we needed to decide which of the 8 rooms we wanted to tackle first.  Richard and I agreed that the kitchen / diner had to be the first one to tackle as this is where we would spend the majority of our time together as a family.  We’ve always dreamed of having an open plan kitchen / diner with an island so that the boys could sit and eat their snacks or draw whilst I cook tea.  Once we agreed that this was the first project we’d approach we started the research and planning process.

Planning a big project can seem overwhelming and you’re right to feel like this because my experience of overhauling and renovating kitchens is that it is a huge undertaking {this is the third one I’ve done}.  But, life can be made so much easier with a little careful planning and scheduling at the beginning.

Before I set out on any renovation project I make sure I set aside enough time to carry out a lot of research and I have my go-to places to carry out this research.  I use Pinterest, Instagram and Google images to find inspiration and to get ideas for the type of look I’d like to achieve.  Then I go to some of my favourite websites too to get ideas and inspiration, these include; The White Company, Cox & Cox, John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Next and home magazines {my favourites are Country Homes & Interiors, Ideal Homes and Country Living}.  They all provide me with inspiration and insights into how to get the perfect room for any project I’m working on.

These are the steps I followed when planning the kitchen of my dreams;


  1. Make a wish list

This is something I’ll include in all my interior/home blogs as I think it’s such an important aspect of the planning process.  I think it’s important when renovating any room to write a ‘Wish List’ of your every want and need so that you when you plan the layout and design of the room you can build all of this into the planning.  I always do this and for the kitchen, my wish list was the following;

  • Open plan kitchen / diner ~ to create the perfect space for us as a family and to also entertain friends and family during our gatherings.
  • Centre island ~ so the boys can sit there and chat to me whilst I make tea or so I can sit there drinking wine and chatting to Richard whilst he cooks {which is probably more likely out of the two}.
  • Enough space for a table and chairs too
  • And, a comfy armchair


2. Plan the layout

Once you have your ‘Wish List’ you can start planning for the kitchen of your dreams.  It provides a great starting point for you to work with and in the final planning stage of your kitchen you may decide that some of the things in your ‘Wish List’ may be unachievable due to space, cost, time or money.  However, at that stage you can make an informed decision about what it is / isn’t your prepared to negotiate on.

In order to achieve all of the above I knew we needed to combine the existing dining room and kitchen and that we’d need to change the layout of the room.  This took careful consideration and many hours researching and looking for new ideas.  However, the design came from a conversation with a friend who suggested I flipped the design of the kitchen and had the kitchen area where the dining room area once was and vice versa and bring it into one space.  I hadn’t even contemplated it but, once it was suggested I knew that was exactly what I wanted.

I had the vision of a ‘cooker wall’ that’s what I call it when you have your cooker and cupboards all on one wall and that’s the design we went for.  However, in our initial design and layout it didn’t lend itself to this so we need to explored other options and I took my friend’s advice and flipped the design and it works really well.

I then measured {roughly} the size of the new kitchen and visited as many showrooms as I could to get a feel for the products and looks that were out there.  This is easier to do when you already have the space/room there however, it’s much harder to measure accurately when you need to start taking down walls so I worked on a rough measurement guide initially whilst visiting show rooms.


Visiting showrooms

By visiting different showrooms you get an idea for the type of kitchens and products that are out there and it provides you with a good idea of the cost.  I visited over 10 showrooms in our local area and collected numerous brochures and this all provided me with insights to the types of kitchens that were available.  I then stumbled across Court Homemakers and they had a range of beautiful kitchens on display and after much deliberation and many visits I chose the kitchen of my dreams.  The kitchen was designed and made by a manufacturer, Second Nature and their brochures displayed a range of beautiful, well-made kitchens.

I arranged for Court Homemakers to come to our home and measure up and they took into consideration the width of the joining wall from kitchen to diner and drew plans which showed what the room would look like with the wall down.  I was pleasantly surprised on how big the space would be so I knew we’d made the right decision and the customer service they offered was exceptional.


  1. Choosing your kitchen supplier, kitchen & fittings

I visited so many different showrooms in the beginning and some were extremely helpful whilst others didn’t even get off their seat to help me when choosing my kitchen.  It was those showrooms I walked straight out of, as I’m very passionate about companies providing exceptional customer service especially when you’re spending this amount of money so if they can’t be bothered to help me I’m not interested (it’s the principle of it, I think!}.

This isn’t the kind of investment you make every day and so I needed someone who would take their time with me explaining the products and the benefits and drawbacks of each one.  However, I also wanted value for money and through their price match they provided all of this and so much more!

I took the Second Nature collection brochure home again and fine-tuned my order and started choosing the type of kitchen I’d like but, I underestimated how many decisions there were in choosing a kitchen, it was even more choices than I had to make with the bathroom we chose.


Considerations to bear in mind when choosing your kitchen

There are so many decisions you’ve got to make when choosing a kitchen and I had hugely underestimated this.  Here are some of the key decisions I made about how kitchen and here are some hints & tips to bear in mind when making your own decisions;


  • Choosing the style of kitchen ~ I wanted a kitchen that was elegant, beautiful yet, classic {but, not dated}. This was a huge investment for us so we wanted to choose wisely and that’s why I did my research.  I’ve always loved shaker style kitchens and the overall décor of the house is based on country décor so it needed to blend in with this so when I looked for our kitchen I considered all of this.I wanted beveled cupboards, draws and units and I was considering two toned but, when we chose our kitchen 2 years ago this was only just starting to appear in magazines / internet sites so it was risky! But, we took the risk and chose Partridge Grey and Ivory for the cupboards and now it’s installed I can see it works well together.  We did contemplate white instead of ivory but, it looked a little harsh.  I was over the moon with the kitchen we chose and I still am two years later, I wouldn’t change a thing apart from I wish I was a little braver with the two tone colours and went a little darker on the bottom units.  But, I’m still in LOVE with it!
  • Choosing the right cooker ~ When we initially started looking at cookers we were immediately drawn to the agars as they were so beautiful. However, the cost of them was phenomenal and I hadn’t realised how expensive they were, so our search resumed for something that resembled this type of look.  In the Court Homemakers showroom I found a Rangemaster that I hadn’t noticed before and when we started researching them I found that actually this was more practical for us as a family.  We made the decision to purchase a Rangemaster and it’s the best decision we made as it has two ovens which is handy when cooking Sunday lunch or Christmas dinner and we have 5 hobs and a grill. It’s perfect and it’s such good quality too and easy to clean, that’s an added bonus.

  • Choosing the right appliances ~ As I wanted all of the appliances hidden, Court Homemakers helped to conceal them and chose cupboards that would do just that. We chose a BOSCH fridge and freezer, a Zanussi washing machine and a Hotpoint dishwasher as they were all reputable manufacturers and we’ve had these appliances before and they’ve always been great!
  • Choosing the right worktop ~ We had no idea which worktop to choose for the centre island but, I knew I wanted something hard wearing and classic. So we went for marble, the funny thing about it was that when it got delivered it took 7 men to lift it into the kitchen and position it on the island as it was soooo heavy!
  • Choosing the right tap ~ In planning this kitchen I always wanted a boiling hot tap so we could have instant hot water so when we planned it we knew we needed to incorporate this into our budget. It’s a little more expensive than a normal tap but, we opted for a Grohe tap and absolutely love it.  It’s handy when entertaining as you don’t have to keep filling the kettle up ~ it’s just instantly ready! The quality of the tap is great too and comes with a built in filter and boiler, discretely hidden under the sink.


  • Choosing the right radiators ~ As this was a classic, shaker style / country inspired kitchen I wanted the fixtures, fittings and radiators to be in keeping too with this space so we chose everything carefully. We always had cost in mind so we didn’t always go for the most expensive things, but, sadly I do have expensive taste {don’t we all} so sometimes the more expensive fixture / fitting was chosen and sometimes it wasn’t. For the radiators we pushed the boat out and bought two cast iron, traditional radiators and I love them, they really do finish the room off well. We purchased them from Ribble Radiators and there customer service was again, excellent.
  • Fixtures and fittings ~ The fixtures and fittings were quite complicated as it was in relation to all the plumbing and how to get rid of waste and excess water, so I took their advice on this. Courts went through everything with me step by step and they explained the uses of all of the fixtures and fittings and chose the ones they thought would be best fit with my choice of kitchen. I also spent a lot of time choosing the handles on the cabinets and cupboards doors as I wanted them to be ‘just right’, and I went for brushed nickel in the end which I’m sure you’ll agree really finish the doors off well.

  1. Choosing the flooring

 It took me some time to decide on what it was we wanted on the floor and for weeks I toyed between floor tiles and wooden flooring and in the end wooden flooring won.  Purely because we weren’t getting under floor heating I knew it would be cold in winter without it if we chose tiles so I opted for wooden flooring and I love it!  It works well with a family too and in time, if we need to get it sanded and treated again we can do that, which is an added bonus!

I’m always thinking of the longevity of things, they’ve got to last as I don’t want to keep replacing expensive things in the house as there’s so many other rooms that need tackling!


  1. Choosing the paint

Now that everything else has been chosen I was able to start thinking about the décor {this is the good bit!} so I visited our local paint supplier and chose a Farrow & Ball Elephant’s Breath colour for the walls.  I thought it would work well with the kitchen I’d chosen and it brings out the Partridge Grey colour in the kitchen.


6.  Additional tips

Renovating a kitchen is such an exciting project to start, I loved choosing everything for our kitchen but, the whole project from start to finish took over two months.


7.  Research

I spent hours researching on the internet, Instagram and Pinterest, and visited so many showrooms to get an idea of cost and range of kitchens so don’t underestimate this part.  I probably spent up to 8 weeks doing this before I rushed into anything and this gave me a good indication of how much I’d need to start my kitchen renovation project. The work itself took just over 2 months so we had to make do with a microwave and camping stove during that time but, it was manageable and completely worth the dust and mess!


Tradesperson research

Once you’ve chosen your dream kitchen and worked out the cost of it all you need to find someone ‘good’ and an expert in their field who can fit the kitchen for you.  I am very lucky because my brother in law fit our kitchen, that’s what he does for a living, that and many other things, he’s very skilled and a perfectionist which is what I love most about him.  He doesn’t take short cuts and will always do the right thing!


He did a sterling job for us and even though it was billable, we did get family rates which is always a bonus.  The kitchen looks amazing and I now have the kitchen of my dreams!


8.    Plan your budget

 We’ve done a few major projects over the years and my experience of renovating old houses is that the cost always seems to go up once work begins.  Old houses have a habit of hiding additional work behind walls and in cupboards, you name it, everywhere! So when you budget always make some reserves for additional work that may need to be carried out.

Kitchens are expensive and if you want quality goods then you’ll have to pay for them.  Over the years I’ve learnt this the hard way as in the past I’ve chosen products that ‘look nice’ but, in time the quality of the product really shows as the taps start becoming tarnished which isn’t great or cupboard door hinges become wobbly.  Nowadays, I’d rather spend a little more on quality goods because when you do it the other way round its false economy.


Final round up!

Choosing your dream kitchen is something I think everyone should have the opportunity to plan and do at least once in your lifetime.  We spend such a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s important to create a relaxing and calm environment for you to relax in at the end of a busy day.  I absolutely loved planning our dream kitchen and you can see from the before and after photos that it’s much improved now our project has finished.

I’m really hoping some of the tips and insights I’ve shared with you help you to create your dream kitchen too!


Good luck,

Kelly x