The Previous owners fitted a reclaimed belfast sink in our kitchen but the glaze is chipped. Can it be repaired?
The Ceramic Sink Repair Kit, £37.62, from Brass & Traditional Sinks, is designed to repair small chips and flaking in kitchen sinks and other white ceramic or acrylic surfaces. To use, mix together the filler and hardener in the pack and apply to damaged areas with a spatula. After 30 minutes, smooth down the filled area with the sandpaper provided. Wipe clean and apply light coatings of enamel spray to integrate the repair into its surroundings. The drawback in a kitchen with only one sink is that the repair should be allowed to harden for about four days.
I need help finding contemporary patterned wall tiles for our kitchen. We have a red wall and white units and worktops, and I?d like to add pattern to break up the blocks of colour.
You could introduce your own patterning in the form of checks, stripes or bands of colour just by using red tiles or mosaic with white, or a medley of colours. Ranges to try include Prismatics by Johnson Tiles; Glassworks, Serenity and Mosaics from Original Style; or Bon Bon or Liquid Glass from Fired Earth From individual makers, check out Lubna Chowdhary?s collection (pictured, Blaze, £32 for a 10cm sq tile) ; Julia Moore at Tex Tiles; and Dominic Crinson If you have a design idea you would like to develop, take it to Jonathan Waights at Art on Tiles
I'm updating my cottage kitchen with new cupboard doors and drawer fronts. As these will all be painted, they could be in mdf or wood. Which companies offer a good choice?
Styles of replacement cabinet doors are pretty much standard from one company to another but not all offer doors in wood or mdf. Just Doors has a made-to-measure service for its Fielded Panel, Tongue Groove And V Joint, Shaker Style (pictured) and Plain & Flat options. Doors for a 610mm-wide base cabinet start at £49 (primed) and £63 (painted). Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets supplies doors as well as complete cabinets in solid oak. Shaker or Traditional panelled doors cost £62.50 for a 596mm-wide base cabinet door, available in a painted, lacquered, or sanded finish.
My student son would like an Italian-style stove-top coffee maker. I have found plenty of models made in aluminium, but I would prefer one in stainless steel. Do you know where I might find one?
The Italians have been brewing coffee in this sort of maker since the 1930s. Try the Bialetti Venus (pictured), a stove-top espresso coffee maker, available from Divertimenti Made of stainless steel, it comes in three sizes ? four-cup, £30.95; six-cup, £35.95; and 10-cup, £45.95 ? and is suitable for use on gas, electric and ceramic hobs. It is also the only stove model recommended for use on induction hobs.
We purchased a dinner service in an old Royal Doulton design, Etude (pictured), at a bargain price. Most of the pieces are in mint condition, but some plates and bowls have lost their fine silver decorative banding. Where can we get this restored?
Unfortunately, regarding the restoration of the silver banding, it is not good news. Conservators tell me that a metallic finish can seldom be matched accurately, nor can its application as a restoration procedure be kiln-fired as it would have been during the original production run. Any restoration undertaken on the silvering now would be purely decorative and wouldn?t survive being washed up in the usual way. It would also be expensive ? conservators? rates start at around £30 an hour. To preserve the silver banding on the other pieces in the set, wash them by hand rather than in a dishwasher. Should you wish to acquire additional pieces, china specialist Chinasearch has stocks of Etude, from £5.50 for a saucer.
Can you recommend a good storage solution for kitchen rubbish and recycling?
If you?re fitting recycling bins inside kitchen cupboards you may like the Built-in Separator, around £122, by Brabantia. It has three 10-litre plastic buckets on a track that is screwed to the base of the cupboard and slides out to give access to the bins, which lift out for emptying and cleaning. Another version is the Pull-Out Recycler, £69.99, by Simple Human, with two plastic buckets of 15 and 20
litres on a sliding track. Larger still is the Kes bin, £124, from John Lewis, with two 26-litre bins on a sliding track. All the above will fit a standard 60cm base unit. Free-standing bins with separate compartments are available in a range of styles and sizes. Again, try John Lewis; it has twin-bucket recycling bins in 24-, 40- and 60-litre (below) sizes, costing from £65 to £99.
Our kitchen has a run of old pine cabinets. We?ve painted them in a neutral tint, but aren?t sure which handles to add. The hob, oven and fridge-freezer are stainless steel.
Plain door knobs that reflect the style of the cupboards will work here, but choose satin nickel
or stainless steel to echo the hob, oven and fridge-freezer. Edina Lock & Key Co has one of the best selections of simple shapes, including Dundas ball, Shaker, Mushroom and Victorian, all in satin nickel, which cost from £2.24 each for the 30mm size. Architectural Components offers ball handles and plain Victorian-style cupboard knobs in finishes including satin nickel, which cost £3.36 each for 32mm.
I?d like to give a friend a small slab of marble to be used as a pastry board. Can you suggest a supplier, the best size to choose and tell me if the marble has to be finished in a particular way?
The marble pastry slab (above), £45, by David Mellor is a good size at 50x35cm. Marble for a pastry board should be polished, including the edges, and should be large enough to roll out pastry for a large flan case or rectangular tin.
I saw some tiles in South Africa, hand-painted with the names of herbs. Do you know where I could find something similar in the UK?
Tiles exactly as those you describe are made by Welbeck Tiles, 01736 762000, welbeck.com, for its Welbeck Words range (above). Because they are made to order you can choose your own wording, from names of herbs to a favourite quotation. Tiles measure 13.5x6.75cm and take a maximum of five letters. Longer words are divided across two tiles. Order as a panel or as individual words dotted among plain tiles. Tiles with lettering cost £9.97 each; matching plain tiles are £1.96 each.
We need to renew our worktops but we have small children and live in a hard water area. Which material would be appropriate and hardwearing?
Granite worktops will stand up to heat and heavy use, but dark, polished granite is likely to show watermarks in a hard water area. However, granite in shades of pink, green, brown and cream would disguise watermarks, especially if you choose a honed rather than a highly polished finish.
A combination of wood with granite gives visual interest in the kitchen and is more practical, with timber (water-resistant teak for preference) for the food preparation area and the sink surround. Timber is more forgiving than stone and if children put down glasses or china suddenly, they are less likely to break if the surface is wood. It is difficult to be sure that tropical hardwoods are obtained from properly managed sources, so if you opt for wood, check this carefully.
The kitchen in our 1830s cottage measures 4.5x3.25m and is very dark. What would be the best combination of light fittings to counteract the gloom?
For general lighting, try recessing low-energy LED downlights into the ceiling, spaced around
1 to 1.20m apart. It?s also worth installing lighting beneath wall cabinets to shine down on the worktops to help cheer up a dark kitchen. If there is enough space above the wall cabinets, you could also sit LED strip lighting on top, directed upwards; light will then bounce up and off the ceiling, making the room appear taller and brighter.
I'm looking for fabric that is washable or dry-cleanable for seat cushions in our kitchen. As well as being durable (hotel grade), because we have a small child, it needs to blend in with sofa cushions in a green and pink design. Can you offer any suggestions, please?
A hard-wearing fabric to go with your sofa cushions is the bright houndstooth check Pied de Poule LF4422 by Liberty at Osborne & Little. This weave (main fabric, above) is created from textured and smooth yarns and graded for severe contract use. You could also use bright plains, covering the bench cushions in Venice VN1118-41 Passion Flower and VN1118-25 Crab Apple from Villa Nova, with a different colour on the back and front, or cover the cushions in the pink with piping in green. These fabrics are rated for severe domestic use and are dry-clean only.
I wonder why you feel hotel grade is necessary; with small children, sticky hands and spilt food are usually the issue, not abrasion. Linen unions such as Plain Dotty or Stripe and Dash in Cranberry by Vanessa Arbuthnott are reasonably durable and can be hand-washed at 30°C.
My oven is comparatively new, but burnt-on fat resists efforts to remove it from the glass door. Is there a product that will solve this problem?
Oven Mate, described as an oven, grill, barbecue and pan cleaner, is strong stuff. It is sold with gloves and a brush, but you may care to don goggles as well. Where it scores over spray cleaners is in the controlled application by brush, making it easy to keep clear of the oven's rubber seal, which is always vulnerable to strong cleaning agents. Spread the odourless gel over your oven door in equivalent thickness to the deposits lodged there and leave it to work for anything from a few minutes to three hours. Wipe off with a cloth and rinse with water. Oven Mate costs £8.49 from Lakeland.
If you would prefer to have your cooker professionally cleaned from time to time, the company to contact is Cookerburra, which has agencies in most parts of the country. An operator comes in a van fitted with a heated tank in which elements such as panels, racks and pans are submerged.
The new units in the kitchen of our 1860s cottage, which has its original floor in local Delabole slate, will have painted doors and worktops in bleached oak. What paint colour would you suggest to complement the floor? Although grey, it sometimes looks blue and sometimes green.
The colour you choose depends on the size of your kitchen and how much light it gets. Are there many windows? Do they get the morning or the evening sun? You also need to consider whether the cupboards will be a dominant feature. In your letter you make the observation that the slate floor changes in different lights, so the colours you see within it are where I would begin looking for the paint colour.
Farrow & Ball can offer colours that bridge the blue-green divide. If there are lots of cupboards in the room, and you'd like them to recede visually, look at Light Blue, a pale chameleon tint which, like your slate tiles, looks blue, green or grey depending on the light. More distinct but still subtle colours are Green Blue and Powder Blue.
I'd like to buy a combined enamelled steel sink and drainer, but it seems that sinks of this type are no longer available. Any suggestions you have would be welcome.
Enamelled steel sinks and drainers haven't been manufactured in the UK for some years. They have generally been superseded by white sink and drainer combinations in glazed ceramic, which have a similar hard, glossy surface. A number of companies produce them in one- and 1.5-bowl versions with integral drainers.
I am looking for small appliances to build into a tiny kitchen. Can you help?
There are freestanding compact versions of most kitchen appliances, but none designed specifically for building in. To most manufacturers, the term ?compact? encompasses everything from slimline machines, such as 45cm-wide dishwashers and 50cm-wide fridge-freezers, to very small tabletop models. The ZRT210W is an under-counter fridge-freezer from Zanussi, offering a saving of 30cm in width over a conventional fridge and freezer standing side by side. Compact washing machines that wash from 3 to 3.5kg of laundry are made by Candy and Zanussi. Candy also supplies the Trio 501, a 60cm combination oven, hob and dishwasher.
To make the best use of limited space, approach one of the companies that specialises in fitting complete kitchens into small spaces. John Strand Kitchens has black, white, cream, stainless steel and wood-effect cabinets and compact appliances. Another firm specialising in standard and bespoke small kitchens, in coloured, metallic and wood-effect finishes, complete with compact appliances, is Space Savers.
We are having Shaker-style kitchen cupboards custom-made for us in black walnut. Who supplies cupboard door knobs in the same wood and style?
Nothing this specific exists but there are two companies who will make the knobs for you. Bruce Williams of Norwich has reference for a Shaker-style cupboard knob and will quote you a price based on the number, size and finish re-quired. They'll supply the wood or use wood provided by you. Brown & Wakling requires a drawing of the knob with diameter and height before a quote can be made. You'll also need to say how the knobs will be fixed: with a spigot on the back to fit into a hole in the drawer or door, or with a screw from the back of the door or drawer, in which case they'd be drilled with a pilot hole. Brown & Wakling can supply the wood but would need a piece of your own for matching. Both companies suggest you call and discuss your specifications in detail.
To make my kitchen look brighter, I plan to replace wall cupboards with a mirror measuring 3.52x1m, but I can't find a company to supply and install one with socket cut-outs. Can you help?
The risk with mirrors this large is breakage; a mirror can't be toughened like glass, so cutting out areas for sockets is a task for the experienced and adds to the cost. Also, the mirror that you require is larger than a standard stock sheet. However, Preedy Glass supplies mirrors up to 6x3m, so your dimensions would present no problem. 100% Glass can also call in a mirror in the size you need.
I am changing my kitchen but would like to keep the existing granite work surfaces. Can they be cut to a new size and have the edges polished?
Plenty of companies supply and fit granite worktops; far fewer will cut existing worktops to a different size and refit. For help in finding a suitably qualified company, The Stone Federation has members in most areas. Once your cabinets are in place, someone will be sent to take new measurements and remove the granite to the workshop for cutting and polishing and then refitting. This work demands specialist skills and machinery, which all adds up, so don't be surprised if the operation is expensive.
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