Contribution by Kimberly Duran from swoonworthy.co.uk | March 2015
Kimberly Duran is a DIY-obsessed American ex-pat who chronicles her decorating journey on her blog.
When we first moved into our Edwardian semi just outside of Manchester in July 2010, the kitchen was what you'd call ‘functional’. Like the rest of the house, everything was tired and needed a refresh but once we’d slapped on a coat of paint, we decided it was good enough to live with for a little while.
Within months, however, the kitchen started to bother us: Why was the ceiling so low in comparison to the soaring ceilings in the rest of the house? Glaring recessed spotlights encroached on your head like you were under interrogation; the laminate floor was ripped; the gas cooker wouldn't always ignite and as there was no extractor fan kitchen smells would linger. There was only one single upper cabinet and we were running out of storage space. My partner, Wayne, and I agreed that our next DIY project would have to be the kitchen.
Not long after this decision, one of the glaring recessed lights blew. Getting up on a small footstool to replace the bulb, we discovered another ceiling inside the recess where the fitting was. There was at least another foot of space and this false ceiling was hiding it! The following weekend, Wayne pulled the entire false ceiling down. So began the DIY of our kitchen.
We decided to go the DIY route because it's obviously cheaper than hiring the professionals. We had bought the house knowing we wanted to put our stamp on it and were prepared for the work ahead. Wayne is handy and I had always been keen on interior design and so we figured with my vision and his ability, we could do this work ourselves. We checked our savings, outlined a budget and then researched various DIY stores and online resources to see where we might find the best prices.
Thankfully, we were happy with the placement of the units so we didn’t need to rework the layout and simply bought new appliances to replace the old ones. Wayne plastered the now-higher ceiling and we hung three pendant lights along the centre of the room in our galley-style kitchen. No more glaring spotlights and a much higher ceiling meant a previously blank wall could be filled with stylish shelving.
White metro tiles and dark grey grouting to the underside of the cabinets and shelving gave the whole kitchen a lift and the previous cheap birch cabinet doors were painted white with brass handles. We also installed an extractor fan.
The most challenging part was laying natural slate flooring with underfloor heating. This was a necessity as there was no radiator in the room - but it was worth the effort as stepping onto warm tiles is a joy when the temperature dips!
We now have a kitchen that we’re proud of - it's even featured in a magazine and an interior design book. The work came in under budget but best of all, we have the satisfaction of knowing it’s our own creation!