Every good project manager knows that the final part of any project close out is to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what we could have done better. Home improvement projects are no exception, and now the initial shine of our new kitchen is well and truly coated in spag bol, I wanted to share the good, the bad and the ugly so that maybe you can learn from our mistakes, and the winning decisions. Two years have flown by, and we have weathered all seasons with our new home design, so here is how it has stood up to the test.
You can read more about our renovation project in these installments of the series…
We knocked through our dining room into the kitchen, creating an open L shaped space. The dining area has basically become a play room (not a dining room as we imagined) and the kitchen island our main place to eat. Whilst the open design has been a huge success, I sometimes wonder whether we might have been better off having the kitchen relocated to the dining area, and the garden facing room as a family / play room? There’s no going back now, but the one thing I slightly regret is not having a wide opening to the garden, blending the two areas. This couldn’t really be done with the architects design we had approved, but maybe we could have thought more laterally…
The utility room and downstairs WC have been a godsend. Tiny though they may be, they are extremely well utilised rooms of the house! I’m thinking of hanging a poster of Jon Snow in the utility room, and maybe an Optic for Gin, making it a real Mum-cave. I spend far too long in that room and it would massively improve the experience. If you are extending your property or having work done then do what you can to squeeze a toilet in…the cupboard under the stairs? Box off a corner? If you can do it…do it.
We agonised over the unit design – would high gloss modern (no handles) be a nightmare to keep clean? Tire easily? The answer so far is absolutely not – there’s never been any issue cleaning the cupboards – a bit of dettol and kitchen roll does the trick no problem. I still feel that being handle free will stop the design from dating as quickly – I couldn’t really find any handles that I liked anyway.
We purchased our kitchen from Howdens Joinery, and were extremely pleased with the service. The designer was friendly and the service was extremely personal. We had our designer on call and as the build progressed were able to pick up any extras we needed as we needed them (for example, a replacement side panel after one was damaged on installation).
It’s a scary concept having a window in the roof, but the VELUX windows we installed as part of the build have been one of my favourite parts of the overall design. The additional light really brings something special to the room and the breeze created in the height of summer by the windows being open is surprisingly effective. We didn’t invest in any VELUX blinds initially, but we will be doing exactly that this year – the bright sun on the kids sandwiches in the midday sun was a little too much on some days.
So far so good with most of the appliances. The only item we have been disappointed with is the most expensive one in the kitchen – the combination microwave oven. We very occasionally use two ovens – and the microwave function had a few problems with sparking and damage to the anodised tray. We contacted our supplier who arranged replacement trays, and eventually a replacement oven, so no complaints there, but I wonder if we’d have been better off with a standard fitted microwave. (You can’t really microwave some things in a microwave oven as it doesn’t rotate).
We were warned off getting an american fridge freezer with water dispenser, as we were told it was a gimmick that would lose novelty quickly. I’m so glad we stuck to our guns, because the plumbed in water dispenser is used every day, and in the summer, the ice is used as quick as it is remade.
Building teething problems
With any major building work, expect some settlement cracks. Ours have been manageable; nothing that a bit of filler and white paint couldn’t fix.
We also had a major leak in our roof during the first heavy rainfall post-build. We didn’t hesitate to get the builders back to sort it out and it turned out to be a broken tile on the roof. Once resolved, we haven’t had any more problems. That was one stressful morning!
Laminate or real wood?
For both our worktops and flooring we agonised over real wood or laminate. In the end, we went laminate due to the fact that we have two young children. No regrets so far – both the floor and worktop have been put to the test with paint, tomato sauce and god knows what else, and it’s a relief to know every spillage isn’t going to be stained into the surface forever more.
Cleaning the floor has been a bit tricky to get to grips with- as with any laminate it can’t be flooded with water, and steam cleaners are a no no to. We found the perfect cleaner in the vileda 1-2-spray and mop and so far, that’s doing the job without causing any blowing at the joints.
So, two years going strong…lets hope it lasts another twenty!