Seven Things I Learnt About Designing a Small Kitchen

We bought our first house a decade ago. The surveyor was very taken by its character but dejected by "what had been done to it". It seemed to add up to a century of abuse by DIY enthusiasts and cowboys builders. It was so dire that getting a mortgage was limit possible. 
We were warned that it was going to cost a lot to put it right. At the time we couldn't understand what anybody, neither the surveyor nor the bank nor our "in-the-know" friends were talking about. Sure, it had been done up quickly for sale but it looked good. It didn't take long before we fell down to earth with a bump.
So no wonder that the kitchen which is the most expensive room to do up (normally) had to wait a little and a little more. About 10 years later and much of our savings lighter, we had become experts in all sorts of building trades and the day the oven door stayed in my hand we knew it was time to give a new kitchen to this Greenwich Victorian ex-brothel which we call home. 

One thing we couldn't do, was to push the walls as they are baring-walls. Unless we moved the kitchen elsewhere we would have to make the most of a very small space. Eventually everything found a place but for one of these lovely cooker hoods

A small kitchen teaches you the art of compromise here are 7 things we learnt while designing ours.

Spend money on natural light: A small space needs light, natural light is best. It made a whole lot of difference when about 5 years ago, a window the size of the wall was fitted in. It frames the view to the garden. It's a bit like have a magic poster which changes every day according to the seasons and the weather.

Get familiar with all the health and safety does and don't: Before embarking on designing the kitchen, make sure what can and can't be done. It is surprising and a bit of a nightmare when the space is small. For example gaz hob can't be near a window and a plug can't be near a hob. It is possibly for the best but very constraining.
Add a touch of colour with a glass splashback: I rave about them, they are easy to fit (even if your wall are "wobbly" or even worse "very wobbly") you can get them in hundreds of coulor. Our was match to a swab. It is so easy to clean and not very expensive, in the scheme of things.

Think beyond the kitchen for storage: OK, so the space is small but instead of cramming everything in, look about. For example near our kitchen there is a cupboard under the stairs, it is a storage cupboard and storage spaces in Victorian houses are at a premium, but with a bit of jiggling we were able to make space. The old cabinets were re-used to make a pantry. So we now have "walk-in pantry" which didn't cost a penny.

A welsh dresser was bought locally to fit all the plate and fit nicely in the large room next to the kitchen.
I built a book case for the cookery books to fit under the opening from the kitchen to the room next to it.
 Toys are not always a good idea: Following Sarah's as in Maison Cupcake advice, we turned to Wickes for design and building work which I can't praise enough. The builders we were provided with, were very communicative, extremely organised and great at what they were doing. The Designer was equally brilliant. But, of course things are pushed your way, I am glad we didn't go for a tumble cupboard and I am sorry to have opted for a pull-out bottle and spice rack instead of a larger cabinet.
Trendy worktops are not the only tops: It is really by accident that we didn't buy a reconstituted stone top, expensive but smart. The thing is, the overall  top was 10cm short for which we would have had to buy a whole length. So we opted for wood and it fits perfectly with the rest of the house so think global, integrate the kitchen with the rest of the rooms, it will make it look bigger.
Don't compromise on the quality of appliances: it's not a tip for small kitchen only. It is of the upmost importance to get the right appliances in. The design needs to fit around the appliances for a kitchen to work and not the other way round .  
Our kitchen, all in all, cost a little over £8000 which included some major building work. So far it has lived up to our expectations,  it was a space where we spent a lot of time and now it is a space where we want to spend a lot of time. 


Unknown said...

I didn't know you lived in an ex brothel?!!

You've taken me right back to last summer with the upheaval of having all the same work done but the results are well worth the inconvenience.

Hope you're very happy with it!

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

oh yes 17 houses which were one of Greenwich red-light street. At the turn of last century they celebrate the birth of the 100th child living (concomitantly) in the street. I love our new kitchen and I feel I have you to thank for. I wouldn't have known where to start.
Thanks for dropping by.

Michelle @ Greedy Gourmet said...

Look lovely - I'm envious! x

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

Thanks for dropping by Michelle,
It was a long time coming but that's what it took to get it so I could say that it look great thanks to lot of pre-planning but that was not not case.

Blum said...

Nice kitchen window you got there.

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

Thanks,it's because we have very unconsiderate and uncaring neighbourgs who have a tree a tall and large as our house just 3 meters away, blocking all the light so we needed a solution to make the situation slightly better. Plus He is a very good gardener. We designed around these parameters.



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