As you know from Part 1, we’d been procrastinating on our build for some time, but January 2015 was the time we decided enough was enough on our lean-to of a kitchen, cold enough to freeze your toes in the winter months, or hot enough to cook your eggs in the Summer.
We were let down (again) on a few quotes, so we headed back to our architect who had recommended a local firm he had used on many extensions of a similar design. We arranged a meeting, and maybe it was the fact he turned up at all, sort of on time, or maybe it was the fact he was a Dad of two kids, same age as ours so we spent a bit of time running over the highs and lows of life with children. He seemed to understand our worries on proceeding with the build with the little ones around, and me at home, and assured us we could minimize any disruption by creating a mini-kitchen as a temporary stop gap whilst the build commenced. Hearts over heads, we pretty much signed up on the spot. Well, requested a contract by the week ending, and secured a start date of mid-April.
I resisted the urge to dessimate the existing kitchen and dining room contents until after our daughters birthday in March, as I still wasn’t 100% convinced this was going to happen. But, mid March the start date was on track so I set about ebaying, charity shopping, long term storaging, and dumoing a heap of stuff we had collected over the years. I was adamant to keep the living room and girls rooms clear for their own sanity (and mine) so most of the boxes ended up in the dining room and our bedroom. We relocated all the toys into the dining room so the girls could still have an area to play, and the little kitchen table so I could still wean baby G away from the carpet and soft furnishings of our lounge.
The kitchen design was heavily underway with Howdens joinery. We did shop around but felt the savings of getting a similar kitchen from B&Q for example were outweighed by the expertise, attention to detail and long term service offered by Howdens.
We knew we wanted a cream and wood combination, and debated for a long time over high gloss modern or country cottage style. In the end, an image in the Howdens catalogue captured my imagination (and heart) and we went for cream high gloss units, curved edges, and oak tops. Oak laminate that is – we are not great at home maintenance and with 2 kids, what I read about solid oak scared me off!
The design of the room itself went back and forth until we were 100% happy. Initially we planned to use half of the kitchen space as a family area, for toys and a sofa, segregated from the kitchen space by a breakfast bar. When the design came through, the kitchen half seemed really compacted by the division of the space, so much so we had to cut out a lot of our must have items (dishwasher?!). After much discussion, we reverted to using the entire perimeter of the area as Kitchen, installing an island for seating and extra work space, and using the new accessible dining room as the family area. After all, the kids won’t be little forever?
Another feature we debated over was the fridge freezer. Our original Kitchen had an integrated unit fridge freezer which opened against a wall – drove me crazy as you could never access the drawers properly, and it was tiny. Being a once in a lifetime build, I had my heart set on a American style, with built in ice & water dispenser. Howdens did their best to convince us to go for their integrated American style, without any dispensing system, but we stuck to our guns, and got them to leave us a gap which we would fill courtesy of Tesco direct, and the help of our hard saved club card points.
Then there was the windows…Bifolds are all the rage aren’t they? But, they also cost a small fortune, and cost us a whole wall of unit space, so that idea was over before it really began. We optimised light into the kitchen by planning on two Velux windows in the sloped ceiling; one of my biggest worries was the room being dark in comparison to our old greenhouse style conservatory. We opted for oak wood shades, light units and white paint throughout to maximise the light throughout the room.
The dining room needed a little TLC as part of the build, so we asked the guys to include stripping out the dado rail and the gas fire, lose the Artex ceiling and lay flooring to match the kitchen throughout. We requested that they retained the original flooring from the dining room, which was also in our existing hallway, so we could match this in to the new hall, meaning the flooring would run seamlessly from old house to new extension.
This just left the utility room, which we asked Howdens to kit out in the same style as the kitchen, and the downstairs toilet. For the loo, we used Victoria Plumb, who we had used for our family bathroom previously, and picked out the slimmest sink and vanity unit we could find, and a little loo to make the most of the compact space.
Amidst the planning, we also spotted the opportunity to replace our boiler – a job we knew loomed on the horizon and had been waiting for the ‘do or die’ moment. Our boiler was an ancient back boiler located in the lounge, highly inefficient, and requiring floor vents which froze the kids when they played on the floor in the winter, not to mention my toes. Yes, this was definitely the time to get that sorted too, as the boiler could be housed in the new kitchen.
The builders were great, and agreed they could do all the additional work at a fair cost. We bombarded them with questions on the run up to the big day, which they answered, in their own time. We arranged the finances and constantly questioned whether we were doing the right thing – should we just move? But we loved our house, and the plans for the new design, so we carried on (whilst avoiding TV programmes like ‘Cowboy Builders’).
The weekend before D-day, we shipped the kids off to the grandparents so we could decommission the kitchen once and for all. I managed to destroy the plumbing by pouring unwanted dregs of squashes (lime cordial?) and booze (baileys?) into a curdled mix of nastiness in the pipes. Good job they were being ripped out…whoops.
I held back the anxieties as the father in law helped us disconnect and relocate the washing machine and tumble drier in the garage for temporary storage. (Baby + toddler, and no washing machine, gulp).
We got everything packed up amazingly quick without the mini-G’s around, so did the obvious thing in light of no kids and no kitchen – headed for a quick beer and a curry, and anticipated what the morning would bring…
Find out, next time.