My glamorous life and some great before and afters

As you can probably guess the life of an interior designer is very glamorous. This week I have:

  • Driven hundreds of miles sourcing things for various projects
  • Spent 2 hours trying to remember how many miles I drove in the last 3 months for the records my accountant keeps telling me I need to keep, that I keep forgetting about
  • Collected, cleaned, restored and delivered secondhand furniture
  • Spray painted a chair…..plus my hands, shoes and a bit of the dog
  • Updated my own website so that I’m no longer on page 42 of Google when you search for ‘interior designer Cockermouth’ (am now on page 1 – result!)
  • Spent more hours on the phone that I can remember begging and bartering ruthlessly with suppliers for freebies and discounts
  • Photographed and edited a completed project
  • Started designs for a new customer and completed the designs and estimates for 4 kitchens in the showroom I’m updating

I then spent yesterday in the kitchen showroom meeting customers. So after a few drinks and dinner in Cockermouth with Mr W I was in bed (with the dog) at 9pm. Rock and roll.

But I wouldn’t change my new life for anything, its fab. And I LOVE designing kitchens. Probably because most people leave theirs until they become so outdated they’re almost fashionable again, which makes the transformation amazing. I can understand how this happens. The average customer now spends between £10,000 and £15,000 on a new kitchen and the mess and disruption can be quite stressful so you can’t just change it when you spot a new trend you like. Of course there are ways you can update your existing kitchen without spending too much,. You can keep the units but change the doors or paint the existing ones, replace the floor or wall tiles, or just change the lighting and accessories. Even a few small changes can often make a big difference. But lets be honest you can’t beat the WOW of a complete makeover.

To prove it I’m going to show you the finished kitchen which I photographed this week. This was part of a complete house renovation project I worked on, and has got to be one of my favourite before and afters. You’ll soon see why….if you’re holding a small child, or more importantly a glass of wine, put it down first, I don’t want you to spill it.

So here is how it looked. Magnificent mahogany!

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Poor lighting, gloomy tiling and useless corner shelves…..

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A very anti-social wall facing breakfast bar which nobody wanted to sit at….

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A window that didn’t get blocked in when the extension was built…..

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and a corridor of wasted space leading to random patio doors that open onto the front drive…

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So a huge kitchen with loads of potential and the owners wanted it gutting – I was in my element!

And here’s how it now looks…..

Cream shaker style kitchen by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The first thing I put in the plan was a downstairs loo which I put in the corridor of wasted space. Next to this I added a cupboard for the boiler which we wanted to move out of an upstairs bathroom, and a laundry area with a new washer dryer (the old kitchen included a separate washer and dryer). A small dividing wall zoned this area off from the main kitchen. Replacing the patio doors with a regular door meant the owners could use it to bring shopping straight into the kitchen. The owners were delighted when I showed them the plan as they have a lot of parties and really wanted a toilet downstairs to stop visitors traipsing upstairs.

Zoned utility area in kitchen for toilet, boiler cupboard and washer/dryer

And we still had room for all the extra ovens the lady of the house wanted for her annual Thanks Giving bash when she cooks dinner for 30+ people. Her husband would like me to point out though that this is the only meal she cooks. For the rest of the year it’s restaurants and microwave meals. (Sorry Wendy – he’ll only add a comment if I fail to mention this…)

Two ovens, microwave and plate warmer at eye level

and we still had room for a hob and a new wine cooler – yes this is the worlds longest kitchen…..

Gas hob with herringbone effect metro tiles

Next on my list was obviously the window which had to go, and a new belfast sink and taps to give the kitchen the more traditional look the owners wanted.

Cream shaker style kitchen with Belfast sink and herringbone effect metro tiles

I originally gave them a plan that included an island but after a bit of deliberation the owners decided against it as they were worried about losing floor space. Secretly I think this might have been dance floor space as they do like a party. So I reworked the plan to include a new breakfast bar that was more sociable with diner style lighting. (These pendants were a bargain BTW – under £40 from Tesco!)

Breakfast bar with diner style lighting

This meant the old breakfast bar could go and we could have more cupboard space with internal lighting. The fitters did a great job of modifying the left units so they fit around the stairs which are behind the kitchen.

Cream shaker style kitchen with in cupboard lighting

I re-designed the units behind the breakfast bar to look like a dresser to add to the traditional feel of the kitchen. I wasn’t concerned about losing the work surface between the units as there was plenty in the rest of the kitchen and the central horizontal wine rack made a nice feature.

Dresser style kitchen units

The owners had already decided they wanted a buttermilk colour, and when they went to see the kitchen supplier I’d found for them he suggested a contrasting worktop colour which he’d used with similar cream kitchens and they loved it.

I suggested keeping the painted walls and wall tiles neutral to avoid too many colours but used a dark grout and herringbone effect around the sink and hob to make the tiles stand out.

Herringbone effect cream metro tiles

I showed the owners a selection of simple stone effect floor tiles, and they liked these best. Both the wall and floor tiles are from Walls & Floors

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The owner had seen some bar stools that she liked which had copper coloured tops so we got these and I added a few more copper touches to complete the look. The owner has added a few  more since.

Copper kitchen accessories

When it comes to kitchens people tend to have strong opinions about what they like, and preferences they don’t even realise they have. Gas vs electric, mixer taps vs separate taps, knobs vs handles or levers, amount of fridge vs freezer space, combined or separate washer/dryers, recycling bins, traditional or jug kettles, 2 or 4 slice toasters….the list is endless…. This means these projects have to be far more collaborative than other rooms. It’s a big investment so it has to be right.

It’s probably another reason I enjoy doing kitchens so much – teamwork! Blimey thats a bit cheesy isn’t it, I was almost back in my former life ‘motivate the sales team’ mode then…..

So what do you think – best before and afters ever?

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