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Size DOES matter!

8 Jul

You know how sometimes the same thing keeps happening to you over and over to the point where you either have to accept your fate or get really angry about it? It’s like your kids always throwing a tantrum when you go to one particular friend’s house to visit, or it always raining when you wear your favourite cream skirt (so that you get a lovely puddle splash effect up the back of it  just when you’re on your way to an important meeting) or  kitchen designers always completely misunderstanding you and sending you silly designs for your kitchen accompanied by an equally silly quote!

Seriously now, this is the THIRD time this has happened to me. I shared Mr. Magnet’s designs a couple of weeks ago which were totally impractical and before Christmas we had Mr. Wickes whose designs lacked any sort of creativity or imagination (yes like Goldilocks, I am hard to please, or maybe I’m looking for designs that are just right – depending on your point of view!).

Anyway this time I thought I’d try a local bespoke kitchen service. They sell all manner of interesting kitchens, including Schmidt kitchens who do some really nice oak units cut on the grain giving a very natural and contemporary feel.  Now alarm bells should have gone off when Mr. Bespoke Service stood in the kitchen looking out through the back door into the utility room (which you may remember we are planning to integrate into the kitchen space) and announced (while nodding sagely) that when the building work was all done we would have a ‘huge kitchen, yes really huge’. Then he stood in the middle of the room for some minutes stroking his chin and mumbling ‘what are we going to do with this huge kitchen?’ Now I’m sure Victoria Beckham has a huge kitchen, but we definitely don’t and won’t even after the building work is finished. If we wanted a ‘huge’ kitchen we would have to extend out by about ten foot into the back garden!  After Mr. BS (!) had gone, I decided the whole ‘huge kitchen’ malarchy was some misguided sales technique to try and justify inflating his quote, you know make the customer think they have a big kitchen and then they’ll expect you to give them a big quote. Sure enough, when the quote popped into my inbox on Friday evening it was for £22,000! And when you look at the pictures below and see how many units that actually buys us, well need I say more about my ‘huge’ kitchen!!!



Watch out for the free floating microwave!

Just one problem, I told him this is where we’re putting our fridge! But what would I know, I’m not a kitchen design expert!

So that bit on the end is I’m guessing, the island that I told him I wanted!


Not so sweet kitchen dreams!

20 Jun

I had a dream last night that we’d got our new kitchen fitted. Well actually to say it was a dream is probably misleading, as the kitchen itself had some nightmarish qualities! All the cupboards for example looked great on the outside but when I opened them they were painted (literally you could see the streak marks) black on the inside. All the worktops were made from a sticky, gungy, green slime that stuck to my hands when I touched it and then instead of an island in the centre of the room, there was a teeny, tiny table with four little smurf size stools around it! Clearly this dream was telling me that I am more than a little stressed about getting a new kitchen and no wonder, now that I’ve read up on what’s involved and how many things we have to make decisions on. I live in fear of choosing the wrong splashback or carcasses or kickboards or oven etc, etc, etc. Forget kitchensdirect, I need we’!

I made the mistake the other night – for the purposes of research you understand – of googling ‘amazing kitchens’. On one level it only served to intensify my fear and anxiety but on another, it actually reassured me, because on there I found a number of kitchens that I would truly never refer to as ‘amazing’. While not quite as bad as the kitchen in my dream last night, they left me with a feeling that I might be able to do better! Now forgive me if you look through the following photos and you think, wow that looks amazing what’s diydame talking about? And forgive me even more if your kitchen is featured in the photo or looks just like the one in the photo. Don’t judge me for not appreciating these kitchens. Simply bear in mind that we all have different tastes, it’s what makes the world go round and it keeps kitchensdirect in business!

This is from


The next two are from

And courtesy of!:

And my particular (not-so) favourite (see


Actually I do almost quite like this one (from!

Well splash my back!

17 Jun

Did you know that on average UK households spend £6,000 on a kitchen while 16% of the population spend at least £25k? Well that’s according to Beautiful Kitchens the monthly periodical which I’ve spent all weekend studying!  I am SO determined now to get us the kitchen of our dreams (well the kitchen of our carefully budgeted dreams) that in the absence of any kitchen design expert stepping forward to do the job, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.  It would be nice to think that we could get the whole kitchen refitted for £6,000 but that might be something of a challenge given that there is absolutely NOTHING to work with in our current kitchen. The cupboard doors, the carcasses, the worktops, the oven, the fridge, the sink, literally EVERYTHING needs replacing.

One of the biggest design challenges we face is maximising the available space because even with the building work that we’re planning, the kitchen is never going to be that big. With that in mind we have to decide what to do with the larder? Do we keep it, give it a lick of paint and some new shelves and continue to keep it as valuable storage space. Or do we put the washing machine/tumble dryer in there and use it as a mini-utility room? We even thought about putting our fridge/freezer in there, but we’ve abandoned that idea now. Opening a door in order that you can open another (fridge) door is just too many layers for IB to cope with.  Besides, given that larders are effectively olden day fridges, it would be like putting a fridge within a fridge!

Beautiful Kitchens is very supportive of the larder concept though. In particular they note that larders are ‘highly functional and practical’ (not to be confused with ovens or fridges then!). They can be ‘left open during the day for food prep and closed at night to blend in with the rest of the furniture’! Forgive me but clearly the author of these words doesn’t live in a household full of men (well two small boys and one big one). If I left the ‘larder’ open all day we’d have no food left by the end of it.




Something else I learned while flicking through KB is that amongst all the important decisions that we have to make about worktops, cupboards, frames, flooring, ovens etc, there is also the small matter of the splashback – which as the name suggests is the protective material you put on the wall behind the ‘cooking area’ and sink.  Truly it hadn’t even registered on my kitchen planning radar. However, it seems you can’t underestimate the power of the splashback! Apparently if you go for a tiled splashback, the grout can harbour grease or bacteria. A one -piece splashback is apparently more practical and hygienic – who knew? So important is this piece of kit that BK has dedicated two pages to ‘how to choose a splashback’! And in doing my online research on splashbacks, what did I find? Why a website called splashbackdirect of course who specialise in vitreous enamel splashbacks in an array of colours. Is it the case that whatever household appliance, item, furnishing etc that you need, somebody somewhere has set up a website with ‘direct’ in the title? It even seems that so gutted was one kitchen company service at having missed out on the chance to call themselves, they decided not to be beaten and opted for How about that for creativity!!!

From Jane Raven Glass

See hidib

See Home Klondike


Or if you prefer something more traditional:

From Modern Kitchen Ideas

Designs, Disasters and Delusions

30 May

I’m planning a career change! To what you may ask! Well I’ve decided to become a kitchen designer. And the reason for this? Because that way, we may actually get the kitchen we want rather than the kitchen somebody else wants us to have! Remember how the first kitchen designer was hung over and give us an ABC kitchen plan with no thought and no imagination? Well Mr. Magnet hasn’t done much better. He’s given us plans for a kitchen that is the complete OPPOSITE of the one that we told him we wanted.

Our kitchen isn’t exactly a challenging space to deal with. It’s a medium sized square. At one end its got a door that leads to this………



Originally a utility room, we’re going to make it part of the kitchen space and then knock through the wall to the left of it so that you can walk straight through into the dining room.  Nothing complicated in that. The space that we gain where the utility room is, we were thinking we’d fill with an island that has built in storage and a lip so that it would double as a breakfast bar. Now we told Mr. Magnet all of this, but he obviously decided that he knew better, so here’s what he sent us –



Okay, so yes its got an island, but when you see the next pictures, you’ll see my problem!


See what he’s done? He’s put the cooker all the way down at the end where the island was meant to be! What a lovely view for people in the dinning room. Even worse, look at the all important kitchen triangle which kitchen designers are meant to put so much emphasis on, the cooker and the fridge (the grey box on the far right between the two white doors) are at OPPOSITE ends of the room!

Where is the person that designed this kitchen? I want their number and I want them round here first thing tomorrow!



from kitchen remodeling

This DIY life…..

23 May

‘So how are things going with the house?’ It’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis and normally its one I love to answer. It somehow validates what we’re doing when friends or family show a genuine interest in or curiosity about our progress. Even more so when something about our experiences triggers them to remember and share their stories of DIY or renovation projects. Sometimes it helps to know that you’re not the only one who has struggled with misogynistic builders or an on-line radiator sales company whose definition of good customer service is to shout at you and slam down the phone because you ask why your radiators haven’t arrived!

The thing is, I’ve noticed that just lately the question ‘how’s the house going’ is not causing me to light up with excitement. I know it’s not because I’ve lost interest in what we’re doing but rather we’ve reached a point where there is simply nothing to talk about because NOTHING is moving forward! Well when I say nothing, I mean specifically the kitchen, which is meant to be our main focus just now. But the DIY gods are not smiling down on us and we’re just not making any progress. Obstacles to date have included :

  1. Our favoured builder – of the three we got quotes from – is not returning our calls. So either he took a dislike to us or he’s just so damn good (which I have to say is the most likely option given the three page email filled with free advice he sent with his quote) that he’s booked out for the rest of his working life.
  2. The building regulations people cannot decide how much money we need to pay them or even what form we should fill in – all we’re looking to do is incorporate the external utility ‘room’ into the main kitchen space. So far we’ve spoken to two different people and been given two different quotes and two different application forms to complete! Granted on a positive note, the price is going down (by nearly two hundred pounds), so IB is in favour of us ringing a third time to see if the price will drop again.
  3. In terms of the kitchen design, well the first company we approached gave us a plan for a kitchen that was totally lacking in creativity and imagination. Something to do I think with the designer being clearly hung over on the morning we went in to the showroom. The second – remember Mr. Magnet – has not even bothered to come back with a design for us, despite us calling to chase him. So now, we’ve got to start all over again…….

Anyway, you know what, this DIY Dame is not going to be beaten. We will get the kitchen renovations up and running and in the meantime there are still lots of smaller projects that we can tackle – although time is proving tricky to find just now as we’re both so busy at work, earning the money to do the renovations – you know how it is!  Still, even if our renovations have ground to a stand-still, it doesn’t stop me looking for ideas and inspiration. I’m still obsessing about how to maximise our storage options (remember the stair storage ideas?)  and have been hunting around for other clever tricks we could use. I found these ideas on the channel 4 home design site. They focus on the living room but the site is worth a visit as it features ideas for all different rooms in a  house.



I love the idea of building a window seat with storage beneath in a bay window (although we don’t have any in this house!).  A lift up lid is the least expensive option of course but putting drawers in like this looks better.

Or you could have a sofa bed which also has storage below the cushions (checkout IKEA).




Oh and then I found this, which has nothing to do with living room storage, but I love to bake and I love the idea that one day in my new kitchen, I might have space for one of these (from Infarrantly Creative):




Finally, I also found some interesting storage ideas on one website for children’s playrooms but they could just as easily be used in childrens’ bedrooms.



I love the chalkboard idea in particular, but in terms of the last picture, well there’s no way my boys would ever settle for a bedroom or playroom that was that neat and organised, but hey a Dame can dream!

Lights, living rooms and cookers!

10 May

So, all bets on the table – will our kitchen get renovated before I manage to burn it down? And no it won’t be a deliberate act of arson……….. in spite of intense provocation. There’s the daily frustration at having burnt another dinner on my 1970’s ‘vintage cooker’ which totally has a mind of it’s own, not to mention the challenge of having to cope with only minimal worktop space in which to prepare a meal from scratch/bake.  Then there’s the storage issues…..  I have actual bruises on my forehead from where various items have fallen on my head when I’ve opened the cupboard doors………… Anyway I digress, our kitchen is a fire hazard because the front right ring on the cooker hob refuses to turn off (unless the cooker is switched off at the wall) and I keep forgetting!  So far, I’ve burned my favourite cream woollen scarf, scorched two wooden chopping boards and melted no end of plastic packaging.  So the quicker we find our builders, and get the building regulations sorted out, the better! I’m sorely tempted to start ripping up the carpet in the kitchen (well I say carpet, they’re actually carpet tiles, even worse!), scrape off the wallpaper and chip off the plastic tiles from the ceiling, but if I do that and the builders can’t start for six months, then IB will have to make sure he keeps the matches out of my way!!

Maybe I should write into one of the décor magazines and ask a diy agony aunt for advice/help. Seriously, the parallels between the fashion magazine world and the décor/diy magazine world just get stronger and stronger.  Instead of solving your beauty dilemmas, these magazines aim to sort out your diy and decorating dilemmas. In one magazine you can contact the ‘House Clinic’, and get all sorts of questions answered like what wall colour will work with a certain tile, where to go to buy animal print velvet and where to source wallpaper that resembles laid brick!! Mind you I’m not sure I know why anyone would want such a thing, but there you go! Anyway, no doubt by the end of a year or two of working on this house, I’ll be bombarding them with questions.

One nice thing I’ve done this week is to start looking at lighting options for the living room. We still have a bare light bulb in there and it’s starting to annoy both of us.  I found a wonderful website called where there’s lots of great inspiration! They feature options for all rooms in the house, not just the living rooom.





And if I can’t find anything there, I might be able to do a course and make my own lampshades courtesy of  an online directory of courses from interior design to cookery to scuba diving. Actually, forget making lampshades, maybe I should do a cookery course, that way we’d get a decent meal once a week!

Kitchen Lingo

29 Apr

So progress has slowed down a little – well a lot actually – since DIY dad’s departure. It was always bound to happen I guess. But it’s not bad overall, three rooms in 5 months. The living room and bedroom still need new carpets but for obvious reasons, we’ve decided to hold fire until the building work in the kitchen has been done. I’ve never met a builder yet who is willing to take his shoes off at the front door, much less wipe his feet before he comes into the house! Besides, everyone keeps telling me about all the dust that the build produces and how it gets EVERYWHERE, so definitely no to putting down new carpets and hanging the new doors before the kitchen is done.  The doors were a bargain that IB sourced at Wickes recently. They were running a 25% discount sale on ‘selected items’. Have you ever noticed that when a shop has a sale on ‘selected items’, that’s normally a euphemism for ‘nothing you want to buy’, but for once the opposite was true.

In terms of the new doors, that will be MY next project. 10  doors and they all have to be varnished guess how many times? …………………………… not just once, but THREE times! That’s THIRTY coats of varnish! That’s not going to be a boring job at all! How do I make it more interesting – all suggestions welcome!

The one thing that we have started looking into this week is the kitchen build. Basically we have this right now………………


do it yourself blog


And this – our vintage cooker!


do it yourself blog


And then there’s this very interesting storage space!

do it yourself blog


But we want something more like this……….


do it yourself blog

From Kitchens UK


OK, well I can dream can’t I??!! Anyway, what I’ve been learning this week from looking through my copy of ‘Beautiful Kitchens’ is that there is whole language associated with kitchens that I knew nothing about and which I now feel obliged to swot up on before the nice man from Magnets comes round on Thursday evening.

For example, when ordering your kitchen you might be asked about your ‘kitchen scheme’ which is basically where you plan to put your cupboards, oven, fridge etc. (and no I don’t have one sorted yet!). Then they might speak to you of ‘cabinetry’ which are your cupboards and carcass (the framework and walls of your cupboards). Kitchen design lingo doesn’t stop there, you also need to know about ‘cut-outs’, ‘kickplates’ and ‘upstands’.   Then apparently there are a whole bunch of rules we should follow to achieve the ‘ultimate ergonomic design’………… who knew! IB has told me not to bother reading up on all of this, because he says the only terminology we should be interested in, is ‘percentage discount’!!!