When I moved into my humble abode 10 years ago, it was in a really sorry state. We have had to do so much to put our own stamp on it – including the kitchen.
In fact, the kitchen was one of the first things we changed about the house. When we moved in, it had dark cupboards, a single height fridge that hummed constantly and dark blue ceilings!
I remember painstakingly painting the ceilings with VIP over and over again until there was no hint of blue left. Our arms felt like they would drop off after the fourth day of painting! But we persevered.
And that’s what it’s all abut isn’t it? Persevering. And sometimes, we’ll try something and it won’t work or won’t quite look right, so you’ll change it up – until you’re happy with the look.
And that’s what happened in our kitchen. We went for a simple design when we got it, but made sure we didn’t scrimp on important things like worktops and appliances, meaning that they would last years.
It’s about getting the right balance. So where we had the kitchen fitted and it looked great, we did the whole design ourselves – saving a fortune.
And when the kitchen company suggested tiles throughout, we saved money by painting and wallpapering ourselves.
So here’s how I turned my drab kitchen into a fab one, plus the things that make my kitchen unique (and actually my favourite room in the house!)
The colour injection
Although the kitchen is south facing and gets plenty of light, I wanted a room that was bright and cheery. When I wake up bleary-eyed most mornings and thrust into a state of mayhem with getting the kids ready for school, I needed some positive affirmations and plenty of colour.
My 1950s poster ‘We Can Do It’ (which is an American World War II wartime poster produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943 as an inspirational image to boost worker morale) certainly does the trick in boosting mine.
And it’s worked really for the kids. They’ll sit and do their homework at the peninsula, and when they start complaining that they can’t do something, I’ll just turn and point at the poster. It works every time!
I’ve found matching accessories to go with the mustard yellow in the poster, including a colander and a clock, which I picked up at TKMaxx. And this is a great tip – if you’re going to be displaying a statement piece, which features a large block of colour, look for accessories that you can display near it that tie in with that hue.
Other ways of adding colour can be painting the walls – or wallpapering, putting the kids’ artwork into frames and hanging them up and displaying colourful blooms.
I always think great kitchens have a large dose of personality in them. It could be a humorous sign on the wall, kids’ drawings or just nicely placed family pictures.
Less is more as they say, so when you do look at displaying artwork, think about where it will go. Also, if you’ve blown up favourite pictures onto canvas, make sure you don’t place them in full sunlight as this will fade them over time – I learned this the hard way!
So, my favourite artwork (apart from the aforementioned poster) includes my retro ‘Mix It Up Cooking Wonder’ tin artwork, which I bagged many moons ago in BHS. It’s great for the kitchen as it’s wipe clean too.
I also love ‘The Shambles' sign I picked up in York while we were there on a short family getaway. Ever since I visited York last year, it has remained my favourite city.
We all had so much fun up there – with plenty to see and keep us entertained. I fell in love with one of the oldest streets in the country in York – The Shambles, so when I saw the poster, I had to buy it. And now it really brightens up the kitchen and is a talking point with friends when they pop over for a cuppa.
Last but not least, I bought this house-shaped photo frame to display some of my favourite pictures of the kids when they were younger. It brings back some great memories from holidays we’ve taken and is also a great talking point – especially with people who haven’t seen the kids for a while – and marvel at how quickly they’ve grown!
Don’t always scrimp
Although I’m all about thrifty and getting great value for me, I also believe that some things are just not worth scrimping on. That includes kitchen worktops.
When we bought our kitchen all those years ago, I’m pleased that I we opted for a quartz worktop. When I invest in anything that is going to be pricey, I make sure that I do hours and hours of research.
We opted for a quartz worktop as it’s long-lasting, won’t stain and, because it’s manufactured, I was able to get it with little mirrored flecks inside. When the sun shines through the kitchen window and catches the flecks, it casts specks of light on the kitchen ceiling and looks like little shining stars – I love it!
Updating your worktops (if you’re on a budget) is a great idea to updating your kitchen without the need to spend a fortune, and there are plenty of kitchen worktop surfaces to choose from.
In the same way, rather than ripping out all of the kitchen carcasses, unless you’re going for a complete redesign and workflow of the kitchen, you should only really need to change the cupboard doors if you want a revamp.
And if your budget doesn’t even stretch that far, then even simply changing the kitchen cupboard handles will help turn your kitchen from drab to fab!
Other ‘splash outs’ of ours to ensure they lasted included a Baumatic in-built coffee machine for VIP, in-built dishwasher and washing machines and an induction hob.
There’s a bit of a funny story with the hob – I didn’t realise we’d need induction-friendly pans when we first got it and thought that it wasn’t working properly. When I questioned the kitchen fitters on this, they pointed out that it was I who didn’t have the right equipment. Oooops.
The supporting acts
Our kitchen really is the hub of our home and I love surrounding myself with unique and useful accessories.
I’ll always try to be objective when I buy new accessories. I won’t buy something just because I like the look of it. I ask myself a series of questions like…
- Do I have room for this?
- Is it good value?
- Would I use it?
- Does it fit in with my other accessories/room theme?
- Does the colour also fit the room?
So, for example, even though I’ve got a number of decorative items in my kitchen that point towards a retro theme, I’ve also got a few unique pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in a country kitchen. I like both styles and somehow I’ve managed to make them work – and complement each other.
Again, I’ve been careful not to go OTT on the accessories, but a few of my favourite pieces include clip jars with decorative lids, my kitchen coaters and some storage tins (that I picked up in Lidl!)
The beauty with accessories if that they’re really easy to change – important when you change them through the seasons. For example, when summer comes, I love getting out my retro-themed milk bottles to encourage a bit of al fresco dining.
As you may know, I’m a huge fan of gadgets – tech gadgets, smart gadgets, kitchen gadgets…you name it. I’ve either got it or I want it.
I really believe that even though technology sometimes fails us, innovations and new developments for the kitchen – and the home in general, ultimately make our lives so much easier.
Home gadgets and tech that I love (and don’t think I could do without) include my nest smart home meter, my electric blanket, a home sound system (speakers in every ceiling) and the echo dot (we’ve got 3 of them!)
And it’s the kitchen where I really get the most out of new gadgets and tech. Here’s a gathering of my favourite ones – either ones that I depend on entirely or ones that I just love using…
The Amazon echo dot is used at least three times a day, mostly as either a food timer or to listen to music (or both at the same time!)
It’s a great motivator for when I tell the kids they have 10 minutes to tidy their room and then I’m coming to inspect it! I just tell Echo to set a timer for 10 minutes and they know that when it starts beeping, that’s when I’m coming!
And when I’m putting a dish into the oven, rather than start fiddling with the oven timer, I’ll just talk to echo to set the timer.
The mini chopper (from Cookworks) has been a godsend for speeding up the food prep – I also like the fact that it’s small and compact and therefore easy to store.
I also love Scrub Daddy, which I discovered at a home show in London. Although it’s not technically a gadget, it’s very clever as it’s soft in warm water and firm in cool water. I use it to clean my pots and pans that don’t fit in the dishwasher as it’s scratch free and resists odours – a win-win!
Another go-to item that works wonders in the kitchen is my wonderful potato masher, which my mum bought for me after I used hers once and realised how good they actually were.
This one is from Masha and is a whiz (pun intended) at turning potatoes into mash. And because the family is a fan of mash and we eat it regularly, I get a lot of use out of it.
My other favoured items include my ‘Any Sharp Twist’ knife sharpener (which you can buy on Amazon for £14.00), which means I get to keep my knifes in tip top condition and my old fashioned butter churner from Kilner, which works really well – and surprisingly quickly!
I love making garlic butter in it and its quirkiness adds to the whole theme of my kitchen – a bit of an eclectic mix, with a nod towards nostalgia.
So that’s how I’ve (so far) taken my kitchen from drab to fab. It’s a kitchen that gets a lot of use from all of us – and one that having had a direct involvement of its transition, I’m very proud of.
What room in your house is your favourite – or do you have a project that you’re particularly proud of?
A Pin For Your Interior Inspiration Board
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