Before and after: raising a window made room for more kitchen units

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  • A tricky layout was no match for the owners' planning skills when they tackled their new home's kitchen

    ‘We bought our flat as a project and were really excited to be able to put our stamp on it,’ say the owners. ‘The other rooms just needed new flooring and a lick of paint, but the kitchen needed a complete overhaul.’

    The couple had to crack on soon after moving in, as the hob and oven weren’t working, leaving them on a diet of microwave meals. ‘Before the sale went through, we were able to take measurements of every inch of the room so we could start planning before we got in,’ they say. ‘It made things a lot easier when we got the keys.’

    Before they moved in, the pair spent many a weekend in kitchen showrooms, looking at doors and cupboards. Eventually they decided on handleless matt-finish doors with a composite worktop. ‘Our kitchen crockery and accessories are fairly bright,’ they say, ‘so we were keen to keep the kitchen fairly neutral, opting for white kitchen units and a light grey worktop.’

    After kitchen SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    Once the owners moved in, they were able to check the finer details like gas and water pipes, and start work. ‘The first thing was to change the shape of one of the windows,’ they say. ‘The one where the sink is now was originally about four inches larger, which prevented us from running a row of kitchen units along that wall. We were replacing the old wooden windows anyway, so it wasn’t much bother to simply lay a row of bricks at the bottom to bring the window up and allow the units to sit in front.’

    Once the windows were in, the couple started to rip out the old kitchen units. With the room bare, they were able to replaster the textured ceiling and sand the floor. Next came the plumbing – luckily only the sink was moving position, so this was a fairly easy job, which the builders completed in a day.

    Sink SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    ‘The most exciting part of our kitchen makeover was receiving the units,’ the pair say. ‘As Howdens kitchen units are prebuilt, it was just a case of levelling them off and securing to the wall. Before we knew it, the worktops were on and the room almost complete.’

    Cooker SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    The owners found this little table at a second-hand shop. ‘When we have guests, we simply place a large piece of board on top,’ they say. ‘Stacking stools are also great if you don’t have room for lots of chairs and we painted our seating to add a hit of colour.’

    Table SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    ‘We’ve always loved string shelves, but they were out of our budget,’ say the couple. ‘While searching online for alternative ideas, we came across an Ikea hack, simply reversing brackets and placing boards within them. We found scaffold planks at a local timber yard for just £1 per foot, cut and sanded them, and made the shelves up for under £20. We were so excited to get our china out of storage and finally have it on display.’

    Shelves SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    A wall of prints and fun pieces lends a personal touch to the space, along with the colourful crockery and brightly painted seating.

    Clock SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    Now that the work is complete, the couple have a kitchen that they can really enjoy. ‘Being able to cook proper meals again and have friends round for dinner or drinks is wonderful,’ they say. ‘Our kitchen may not be big, but we’ve really made the most of what was an awkward layout.’

    Fruit SAH July 17 p78 James kitchen units

    Get the look

    Buy now: Clerkenwell kitchen units in Matt White, £1,500, Howdens

    Buy now: Ice slimline worktop, £2,390, Bushboard

    Buy now: Deca 100 sink, £379; Aros tap, £215, both Carron Phoenix

    Buy now: SX1046S L PX built-in oven in Black, £549; and GX641FGK hob in Black, £529, both Hotpoint

    Buy now: De’Longhi Argento toaster, £29.99, Argos

    Buy now: Ivar chair, £15; and Frosta stool, £9, both Ikea

    Buy now: terrarium, £25, Urban Outfitters

    Buy now: Paloma cocktail coupes, £6 each, John Lewis

    This kitchen makeover originally appeared in Style at Home, July 2017.

    Image credits: Lizzie Orme

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