Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Affordable Kitchen Transformation

If we were playing Family Fortunes this would be the top four answers to the question Why do people procrastinate about changing their bathrooms and kitchens? 

  1. Cost
  2. Mess
  3. Time
  4. Too much choice

But imagine if you could have someone do ALL the research, AND make all the decisions, AND deal with all the trades, how amazing would that be? Well you can. Employ me and you eliminate answers 3 and 4, which is why one of my customers called me last year and told me he wanted to do both his bathroom and kitchen before Christmas. Last week I showed you his new bathroom and today I’m going to show you his new kitchen. But not without showing you some before pics first……

The diabolically dated kitchen

So this kitchen had everything and none of it good – dated kitchen units, broken appliances, missing tiles, fusty carpet, bad lighting, and tired decor.

Affordable kitchen transformation before image

It also had some old fire damage, and damp walls caused by bad rendering outside and a leaking stop tap behind one of the cupboards. And if that wasn’t enough, when we ripped out the kitchen we found that the previous owners had concreted the middle of the floor but not under the units where we had old loose tiles on a dirt floor. In some old Victorian terraces they didn’t grout or seal the floor tiles so that any water could just drain into the ground…..and you wonder why pleurisy was so common.

Affordable kitchen transformation before image

The plan

The customer wanted a light, modern kitchen, but like the bathroom I had a limited budget to work with so this needed to be an affordable kitchen transformation. We had quite a few practical issues to deal with before we could fit a new kitchen. So to minimise costs we agreed the layout would stay the same and the washing machine and the fridge freezer would stay. We also agreed we would take advantage of the partnership I have with Cockermouth Kitchen Co.

Cockermouth Kitchen Co

I’m an independent interior designer and can work with any kitchen supplier I choose to, but I do have a partnership with Cockermouth Kitchen Co which we formed a year ago. I did this for a number of reasons:

  • I like the style and quality of the kitchens and other products they supply
  • They can offer affordable, mid-range and high end kitchens and their pricing is right
  • They use the same great quality carcasses in all their kitchens available in a million colours and finishes
  • They have really excellent fitters
  • They’re a great team – and good relationships are important when your customers are spending a lot of money on a new kitchen

I can still work with other suppliers and shop around, but if a customer buys their kitchen from CKC they will refund the customer my design fee.

It’s a partnership that works for everyone. The customer gets a great product and a good deal. I get to work regularly with a trusted supplier who I have a strong relationship with (so I can call on favours when I need to). It works for CKC  because I introduce customers to them and take some of the work away from them. Win win win. CKC also employed me to design their huge new showroom so I have somewhere to take customers to show them what they can expect when they work with CKC.

So without any further wittering from me, here it is, the affordable kitchen transformation.

The Affordable Kitchen Transformation

We chose a simple white gloss kitchen from the Porter range by PWS.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Quartz and granite worktops might be hardwearing and provide the greatest protection against scratches and stains but if you don’t have the budget you don’t have the budget and there are some very good quality laminates available now for a fraction of the cost. We chose a dark grey slate effect laminate worktop by Durapol.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Surprisingly one of the things that can rack up the cost when you buy a kitchen is the end panels that get fitted at the end of any run of cupboards, which you normally purchase to match the doors. The way to avoid this cost is to pick a carcass colour and finish that closely matches the doors so you don’t need to add the panels.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We installed new integrated appliances, including an oven, microwave, hob, hood and a slimline dishwasher.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We picked simple stainless steel handles and a sink with drainer and mixer tap in the same finish.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We improved the lighting by adding new ceiling spots and under cupboard lights and used simple pale grey metro tiles as splashback.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The walls are painted one of my favourite grey colours – Chic Shadow by Dulux. And the floor is a very affordable but hard wearing sheet vinyl from the Gripstar range by Tarkett.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I think the thing I was happiest to see go is those ugly vertical blinds, which we replaced with simple roller blinds from one of my favourite online suppliers Blinds2Go. In case you’re wondering why the blind is shut the wall outside needs painting and I didn’t want it to distract you from the shiny new kitchen.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

A new kettle and toaster and a few matching accessories and we were done.

Budget

The average cost of a new kitchen used to be £15,000. But since the UK voted to leave the EU there have been price increases, even from UK suppliers. Because they have to source some materials from outside the UK I suspect this will raise the average by 10-20%. So I am very proud to tell you that even after all the additional plumbing, electrics, plastering and flooring work the final cost will be less than half the average.

Affordable kitchen transformation - old lady with shocked face

Shockingly good value don’t you think? So if you’ve been thinking you can’t afford a new kitchen hopefully this has given you a few ideas as to how you could. And if you’re a local give me a call I’d love to help you.

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

One of the great things about being an interior designer in Cumbria is that I see jobs of all shapes and sizes. And contrary to what you might think I enjoy the budget jobs just as much as those with more to spend. The Northerner in me loves to see how far I can stretch a budget and still achieve a bit of wow. A few months ago I wrote about my Budget Bathroom Challenge. The bathroom was finished well before Christmas but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and there were a couple of minor snags to fix before I showed you the finished result. And now it’s ready for its close up….hold on to your hats you won’t recognise this room.

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you might remember this is the customer who knew his house needed work, particularly his bathroom and kitchen. But a combination of time, budget, overwhelming choices and the upheaval had caused him to procrastinate. That is until he slipped in the shower and pulled the curtain rail down and some of the tiles off the wall. That was when he called me.

Budget bathroom - before image

As you can see the bathroom was more than a little tired. But because of the size it had huge potential.

Budget bathroom - before image

It even had lots of existing storage space which we could improve.

Budget bathroom - before image

The Plan

Changing layout is something you should try to avoid if you’re on a tight budget because of the cost of labour and materials but the customer was desperate for a separate shower. We also knew we would need to plaster the whole room, another additional cost. So to keep it within budget I shopped around for fixtures and fittings, limited new lighting and suggested a sheet vinyl floor and acrylic panels instead of tiles which we would limit to wet areas.

As the property is Victorian we wanted to keep some traditional elements. However, traditional bathroom fittings tend to be more expensive than contemporary ones so we made a small saving by keeping the existing sink and just replacing the taps. (Tip – look for tap packs rather separate sets for the bath and sink to save a few pennies).

Bringing in separate trades to do everything can also be expensive, and make your project take longer but I work with a great fitter Ben Butler Joinery & Home Improvements. and Ben (and his colleague Will) do everything except plastering and painting which is a godsend.

Modern bathroom with traditional elements in a Victorian terrance house designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors

I was initially planning a pistachio green colour to add warmth and a contrast to all the white fittings, but I then discovered the customers favourite colour was blue….. So goodbye pistachio, hello Windblown Blue by Valspar.

Budget Bathroom - Windblown Blue by Valspar paint

The Final Reveal

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I’ll pause for a moment so you can scroll back up to check this is the same bathroom……

So the finished bathroom now has a large walk in shower enclosure with a powerful 2-outlet thermostatic shower and recessed storage for shampoo bottles. I originally planned to include a heated towel radiator above the bath and a tall column radiator by the door until I found this Tissimo towel radiator which gives out a whopping 4649 BTU’s which is plenty hot enough for this bathroom. (Tip – buy a plumbed towel radiator and a dual fuel element so that you can run the radiator off the electric in the summer to dry your towels).

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Check out that stone flag effect vinyl floor, looks like tile doesn’t it?

We managed to squeeze a 1600mm long bath under the window. Thats only 10cm shorter than a standard bath, so unless you’re a giant you’d probably never notice.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

This left plenty of space for the toilet and sink on the wall next to it. There’s nothing worse than knocking your knees on the bath when you sit down, or cracking your elbow on the sink when you reach for the loo roll.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We used white metro tile effect acrylic wall panels inside the shower, behind the bath and above the sink. If it wasn’t for the fact that most people use grey grout these days and these sheets are all white they’d be easily mistaken for tiles.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The old cupboards had old shutter style doors and very few shelves which were slatted so stuff would fall through. The customer now has much better storage with access to the boiler, space for the laundry bin, and extra shelves for toiletries and towels. And you’ll have to take my word for it as I’m not showing you a picture of the shelves. Toiletries and packs of loo roll aren’t pretty and would spoil my post….

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We were economical with the lighting to keep costs down and just replaced the central light fitting and added a matching wall light above the mirror and a recessed spot above the shower.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

And lastly, a new window blind from my favourite online supplier Blinds2Go. They do a great range of very affordable made to measure blinds and curtains and will send you free samples which always gets my vote.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Budget

This is a good sized bathroom, everything except the sink had to be replaced, and we needed to do a lot of joinery, plastering, plumbing and electrical work. For a project like this you can typically expect to spend at least £7-8k, but (drum roll please) we did all this for just over £5,000 proving two things:

  • Employing an interior designer can save you money
  • Budget can still be beautiful

And most importantly the customer loves it. What do you think?

Opulent Interiors

The Christmas decorations have come down and the house is looking bare. It’s dark and cold outside. The news is all sad events and depressing politics, and worse still for some of us it’s a dry month. I think we all need a pick me up, and maybe a little sparkle in our lives, so the trend for opulent interiors couldn’t have come at a better time.

Opulent interiors luxurious living room and dining room

Image via Nathalie Priem Photography

Opulence in my own home is something I can only dream about. I have an old house in a very boggy part of the country, half way down what is only one notch up from a dirt track. And I have two dogs. Velvet has no place at Holly Cottage. But that doesn’t stop me from fantasising, and 2017 is about to supply me with a steady stream of luxurious loveliness to covet and force on present to my customers.

Opulent interiors - the Fendi boutique hotel in Rome

Palazzo Fendi in Rome – image via KOKET

The opulent or luxe look is heavily influenced by 1920’s Art Deco and the fashions of 18th century France,. It’s definitely not a subtle look but you do not want to overdo it and recreate the Palace of Versailles in your living room. Though if you do, please can I come round and take photo’s?

The key to getting it right is by having just one or two statement pieces in the room. Striking items that are well designed, and made with really good quality materials or fabrics.

Opulent interiors - Furia Odyssey blue velvet sofa and velvet ottoman

Furia Odyssey blue velvet sofa – image via John Lewis

Metallics

In the 1990’s everyone fell into one of two camps. If your taps, toilet roll holder and door knobs were gold you were old fashioned. If they were chrome you were fashionable. And choice wise that was it. But over the last couple of years polished, brushed and antiqued versions of gold, silver, bronze and copper (although apparently we call this rose gold now) have found their way into our furniture, lighting and accessories, although frustratingly not so many taps and bathroom fittings – why is that?. So metallics are not a new trend, but there are other elements which have pushed their way to the front pages and home pages of the interiors world, which when combined with existing trends like metallics tip us over from a little bit of luxe to pure opulence.

Opulent interiors - gold metallic finishes in a luxurious dining room

Image via John Lewis

Velvet

One of those new elements is velvet, and when it comes to fabric, velvet is the epitome of opulence (try saying that after a few). It’s soft dense pile screams luxury and is incredibly tactile. You literally cannot take your hands off it. I challenge you, try and walk past a velvet sofa without copping a feel. Bet you can’t.

It used to be made from silk and was expensive to produce, which is why it was associated with the rich. But thanks to the use of cotton and synthetics and new manufacturing techniques even us paupers can afford it. So if you want to be bang on trend in 2017 then buy a velvet sofa. If I could have velvet at Holly Cottage then I think I’d have the Crumpet sofa from Loaf in burnt orange. I love the shape and the name, and I wouldn’t need to change my curtains – bingo.

Opulent interiors - burnt orange velvet sofa from loaf

Crumpet sofa from Loaf – image via Real Homes

I’ve been trying to find a home for this emerald green IKEA sofa since I spotted it 2 years ago. Maybe now I’ll be able to find a place for it……It has removable covers and is only £1,000 which for a large velvet sofa is a bit of billy bargain.

Opulent interiors - emerald green velvet sofa from IKEA

Emerald green Stockholm sofa £1,000 from IKEA

But if you’re not ready to change your sofa then buy a velvet chair, or really make a statement with two in different colours.

Opulent interiors - Penelope velvet armchairs from sofa.com

Penelope velvet armchairs from sofa.com

Or take the opulence into the bedroom with a large velvet headboard (it must be large) or better still an upholstered bed.

Opulent interiors - plush plum velvet upholstered bed

Image via Houzz

Precious gems

Now you may have noticed a bit of a colour theme with all the images I’ve been showing you. If you really want to nail the 2017 opulent interiors look then make sure the colour of your statement piece is emerald, sapphire, ruby, amethyst, topaz, turquoise or any other colour associated with jewels. Or use these colours to accessorise.

Opulent interiors - velvet upholstery fabric from Sanderson in jewel colours

Boho Velvet fabrics from Sanderson

Dark walls

Now for those of you that have only just moved from magnolia to pale grey and are a bit  “thats quite dark enough for me thank you very much” then this isn’t an essential component in opulent interiors. BUT metallics, velvets and jewel colours do look amazing against dark walls. So if you’re going for the look, why not go the whole hog.

Opulent interiors - plum and gold velvet against teal walls

Image via Houzz

I just love these emerald greens against these dark grey walls….just lush.

Opulent interiors - emerald green velvet furnishings in dark grey living room

Image via Houzz

So what do you think, is there room in your home for a little opulence?