10 Things You Might Not Expect From An Interior Designer

I was at a BBQ recently on what I now realise was the only sunny day of the year, i.e. summer. A former colleague was asking me how things were going since I’d left the glamorous world of insurance *raises eyebrows* to become an interior designer. As I described a few projects and some of the challenges I’d been dealing with he started to develop a very confused look. In fact he looked a bit like the delicious Mark Wahlberg does here.

10 things you might not expect from an interior designer

At this point I should probably mention that he’s American. Now his nationality isn’t key to this story, although my northern accent has got a tad stronger since I moved to Cumbria so there’s a good chance this might have been the case. No, he was confused because it seems that in America an interior designer typically focuses on furniture and soft furnishings after all the other stuff has happened, you know like walls coming down or going up, pipes getting moved, rewiring, plastering etc. The stuff that takes up most of the money and that annoyingly none of your visitors appreciate when they come round for dinner when the skip has finally gone and the place no longer resembles a war zone. Apparently in America interior designers just get to do all of the nice stuff.

“I know Mark, that makes me pretty cross too”

I make no apologies for the shameless use of Mark Wahlbergs image. What’s not to like…

10 things you might not expect from an interior designer

So after a short period wondering if I should relocate, and then knocking that idea on the head because (a) really not loving Trump, and (b) really loving Cumbria I started to wonder if my fellow Brits were also in the dark as to how much we can do. Does the average Joe or Jo really think we are just cushion scatterers? This horrifying thought compelled me to compile a list of “10 things you might not expect from an interior designer. So here goes.

Ten Things You Might Not Expect From An Interior Designer

1. Planning applications

If your house is listed or you want to add something big, high or unusual (I’m summarizing obviously) you are probably going to need planning permission. This means submitting scale plans and drawings which normally has people immediately googling ‘local architect’. But if what you are doing is straightforward then this might be something your interior designer could do and save you a bit of money. I recently completed a Listed Building Consent application for this Grade II* listed property that included site plans, elevations and a complete design and heritage statement. Not bad for a cushion scatterer eh? And yes it got approved.

The Crescent at Lowther Village near Penrith
The Crescent at Lowther Village near Penrith – work underway and expected to complete September 2017

2. Moving your meter

Sods law states that if you want a new ground floor wet room it’s likely to be where your electricity meter is. Or maybe I’m just unlucky as this has happened to me on more than one occasion. Gas and electricity meters can only be moved by the utility company, and you usually have to submit scale plans showing where the meter is now and where you’d like it to go. The utility company are used to dealing with third party applicants, and your interior designer will already have drawn plans showing you what your fancy new wet room is going to look like, so dealing with the utility company is no big shakes.

Interior Design Blog - large wet room designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
My wet room once an adjoining outbuilding and home to my electricity meter

3. Organising a structural engineer

Structural engineers must love the trend for open plan interiors and flowing indoor outdoor spaces ‘cos where there’s a supporting wall you might just need a structural engineer. Most interior designers will see stuff like this all the time so will likely know a good engineer, by which I mean one that knows their stuff, doesn’t charge an arm and a leg and knows the local planners so can advise on best approach to getting your plans approved. Hell we might even be able to jump the queue for you as the good ones will (or should) be busy.

Interior Design Blog - moodboards for open plan kitchen living dining space
A structural engineer was brought in to advise on this open plan kitchen, living, dining space I recently designed

4. Tech advice

When I’m designing kitchens and bathrooms my customers often want advice on appliances and fittings in terms of spec, quality and price. This is of course something they can research themselves, but often don’t have the time. And as interior designers we have experience from previous projects and insight from customers, suppliers and trades that we can share. Online reviews are great but you can’t beat feedback from people you know. We don’t just advise on the pretty stuff ya’ know.

Interior Design Blog
One of the kitchens I designed for Cockermouth Kitchens new showroom – a supplier I regularly go to for appliance advice

5. Waiting in for deliveries

As an interior designer I spend a lot of time looking for unique items and bargains for my customers, and when I find ‘em I buy ‘em quick before they’re gone. I work from home so it’s easy to have customer goods delivered to me and I just store them until we’re ready for them. Not so easy for things like sofas and appliances but if the customer can’t be home for the delivery then I just take my Macbook and work from theirs until it arrives. All part of the service people.

Interior Design Blog
Thankfully no shots of me accepting deliveries from DPD so you’ll have to make do with this random image…

6. Cleaning your house

Bet you weren’t expecting this one were you? One of the things I can organise for customers is a big clean after the messy work has finished. Claire and her team are so good that this has led to a permanent arrangement for some customers. I know not everyone can afford a cleaner but once you’ve had Claire & Co clean your house you realise how poor your own attempts at cleaning were. And there’s nothing better than someone else magically making all that plaster dust disappear.

Interior Design Blog
A recent TV room project – Claire & Co came in to clean up after the builders had left and are now regular visitors

7. Stocking your cupboards

Now I’m not saying we’ll do your regular Friday big shop, but if you want to do a complete out with the old and in with the new then we can help with more than just the decorative stuff. I’m currently working on a 3 bed holiday let and second home and I’ve bought the crockery for the kitchen, the handwash for the bathrooms, the bulbs for all the lights and the logs for the fire. Literally everything including the kitchen sink.

Interior Design Blog
A recent budget bathroom project where I supplied everything from the bathmat to the bath foam

8. Restoring furniture

Before I became an interior designer I took a number of upholstery and furniture restoration courses, and I love finding old pieces with character and giving them a bit of TLC. This is also something I’ve done for customers and I know other designers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty in pursuit of your dream home.

Interior Design Blog
I bought this chair for £3 from a charity shop and reupholstered it myself

9. Selling your old furniture

I hate to see things go to the tip. Where I can I work with customers to rehome their old kitchens, bathrooms and furniture. This can mean sticking stuff on eBay for them, or taking it to the local auctioneers or charity shop. I’ve even sold their unwanted items to other customers. This customer may have a beautiful new bath but my next door neighbour bought and painted her old one so she has a spanking new bathroom too.

Interior Design Blog
Bathroom I designed in 2016 which was featured in Real Homes magazine. Photograph by Jeremy Phillips

10.Counselling and mediation

This is obviously a little tongue in cheek but a good interior designer also needs a good dose of emotional intelligence. Even good change can be very stressful for people, particularly when it involves spending what will feel like large sums of money. Just because a customer has a small budget doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of money for them. This means being sensitive to this, managing their expectations and not rushing them into decisions. Similarly couples don’t always agree on plans and a little practical mediation can help them reach agreement. Remember the red versus green dining room?

Interior Design Blog
Moodboard for the red dining room project. The final decision on colour was based on how well the Christmas tree would stand out…..

So out of 10 how did you score? Many surprises?

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.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part III

Ready for the final instalment of Eleven Beautiful Kitchens? Well I say final, as soon as we’ve fitted the things that didn’t arrive on time I’ll be getting the professional photographer in and you won’t be able to stop me showing you a bunch more pics – sorry.

If you missed parts one and two you can catch up here  and here.  So, three to go and I’ve saved the stunner until last. No, don’t scroll down to the bottom, be polite and at least skim through the others.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – The Final Instalment

9. The Budget But Beautiful Kitchen

Not everyone has a big budget for a new kitchen so we have both affordable and high end kitchens in the showroom. But a low budget doesn’t mean poor quality or plain which is demonstrated in this kitchen which has simple Bardolino grey oak floor cupboards and worktop, which gives a seamless finish, with white oak effect wall cupboards. I forgot to take a pic but the lower cupboard carcasses are also Bardolino grey oak which looks really neat. The sink and all the appliances are white, including the hood which will be changed next week when the traditional style chimney extractor which was supposed to be there arrives  *frowns and takes a deep breath*. The walls are tiled with simple white metro tiles but with black grout to give it a contemporary look. The drawer handles, cupboard knobs and the tap are chrome and white ceramic. The overall look being a modern take on a traditional kitchen.

The Matfen kitchen in Bardolino Grey Oak and White Oak by Browns
The Matfen kitchen in Bardolino Grey Oak and White Oak by Browns
The traditional style white chimney hood by Hotpoint which was supposed to be fitted
The traditional style white chimney hood by Hotpoint which was supposed to be fitted

 

The black grout between the white metro tiles gives it a cool contemporary look
The black grout between the white metro tiles gives it a cool contemporary look
Next alphabet coffee mugs
Yes I did clear Next out of their ‘C’ and ‘K’ mugs

10. The Marilyn Monroe Kitchen

I’ve named this kitchen after the late screen goddess because like Marilyn it’s bold with great curves, and it’s real name is Milton which isn’t half as sexy. This is actually the same colour as my own kitchen at home and we included these colours in the showroom because its so striking and it’s been in a magazine you know *smiles and nods proudly*. The doors have been colour matched to Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Clunch and look great with the black granite worktop between. The granite has a matt dimpled finish which I prefer to the polished sparkly granites you usually see in kitchens. Ever since we fitted this kitchen people have been doing a double take when they walk past the showroom and coming back for a proper look. We included this door style so that we could show off the great curved doors, and I picked the Moroccan style tiles to mirror those curves. There are supposed to be open oak shelves above the sink and more of those lovely tiles but we just ran out of time….

Milton shaker style kitchen by PWS in Rectory Red and Clunch with curved doors, black granite worktop and Moroccan style tiling
Milton shaker style kitchen by PWS colour matched to F&B Rectory Red and Clunch, with curved doors, black granite worktop and Moroccan style tiling
Curved doors enhance the flow of the kitchen units
Curved doors enhance the flow of the kitchen units
Moroccan style Quintessential cream tiles from Topps with pale grey grout and black Moak granite from the new Sensa range by Cosentino
Moroccan style Quintessential cream tiles from Topps with pale grey grout and black Moak granite from the new Sensa range by Cosentino
Check back in a few weeks to see the open oak shelves we're adding to this wall once its tiled
Check back in a few weeks to see the open oak shelves we’re adding to this wall once its tiled

11. The BEAUTIFUL Kitchen

OK, so this is the kitchen that got the most votes at the weekend and I won’t lie it’s not cheap. If you’ve a reasonable sized kitchen expect to pay £20-25k for one of these, but it would last you a lifetime and give all your friends serious kitchen envy. It’s from the 1909 range by PWS and it is gorgeous. When I originally planned this kitchen it was going to be charcoal and light grey, but then I visited the PWS showroom in Durham and fell in love with Moleskin which is the colour on the floor cupboards and island – if you can’t see the colour in the pics imagine a really good malbec. It makes the veining in the marble effect silestone look purple too which was a pleasant surprise. This kitchen is packed with features; a huge larder with pull out storage, a curved apron front Belfast sink, a mantelpiece with built in cupboards, bookcases flanking the island, champagne and herb troughs in the island and a cloakroom feature. I was concerned that it might look a little stark with the light grey wall cupboards, white wall tiles and marbled worktop so I had the area around the stainless steel range tiled with black batik tiles from Topps which really stand out and look fabulous when you look between the two enormous pendant lights. There were supposed to be three pendants but one arrived broken, and on reflection I actually prefer it with two now. So take a look…..

In-frame slab kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS in Moleskin and Partridge Grey, with Snowy Ibiza marble effect silestone worktops
In-frame slab kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS in Moleskin and Partridge Grey, with Snowy Ibiza marble effect silestone worktops
Black Batik tiles from Topps around the stainless steel Professional Deluxe Rangemaster
Black Batik tiles from Topps around the stainless steel Professional Deluxe Ringmaster – integrated extractor still to be added….
Bookcases and champagne and herb troughs in the island
Bookcases and champagne and herb troughs in the island
Cloakroom feature with more subliminal message for CKC customers
Cloakroom feature with more subliminal message for CKC customers
Pull out storage in the larder unit, which will be backlit
Pull out storage in the larder unit, which will be backlit
Solid brass trowel handles in a satin nickel finish
Solid brass trowel handles in a satin nickel finish

So that’s all eleven beautiful kitchens. We also built two sales areas and a new reception area, but I’ll show you those when I have the pro’s pics.

This has been my biggest commercial project and I have thoroughly enjoyed it from start to (almost) finish. There have been times when I’ve wanted to kill someone. Others have also come close to killing me with my ‘diva designer demands’. My reaction to the wrong white hood in the budget kitchen not being my finest moment….But the comments from the owners, the suppliers, the team I’ve been working with and the customers has been worth it. Here are a few of my favourites:

It doesn’t feel like a kitchen showroom, it feels like a home”

“I wasn’t planning to change my kitchen for a while yet but your showroom has inspired me to start the process now and I’d like your help”

I was going to buy a new car in 2017 but after seeing your showroom I’ve decided to buy a new kitchen instead”

Now how’s that for positive feedback. Keep checking back for pics of the things that didn’t make the grand re-opening….and if you’ve got a mo let me know which was your favourite.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part I

If you’re not already sat down then I suggest you take a seat PDQ because I’m about to show you some seriously beautiful kitchens. It’s been nine months since Cockermouth Kitchen Co was flooded (for the second time sadly…) but their new showroom is finally open and I couldn’t be prouder of what the team has achieved. As the designer I’ve been visualising this for months but it has still exceeded my expectations, and the owners. It flows, there’s space, light, colour, detail and personal touches…..but enough gushing, lets show you lovely people some beautiful kitchens, not all at once mind, it’s way too much to take in at one sitting.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part I

1. The Great British Kitchen

This kitchen was actually made in Germany by Schuller but the red, white and blue feels very patriotic hence the name. We had chefs cooking in here over the weekend as part of the Taste Cumbria food festival in Cockermouth and as the display is in the window it was all a bit Saturday Kitchen. It has a high gloss handleless design with a single run of dark blue cabinets behind a huge white island. Most of the appliances are wall mounted so they are easily accessed and cleaned and the ovens have slide and hide doors which I love.  We did order a white ceramic hob for the island but we needed to fit a temporary black 13 amp one for the weekend cooking demo’s… *tuts like a diva*. The worktop is white silestone and includes a moulded silestone sink and a very fancy (i.e. expensive) white mixer tap with pull aerator and light which changes colour depending on the temperature of the water. Completely frivolous but very cool. Although I love the contrast between the indigo blue and white I thought the red accents would perk it up a bit. Please try and ignore the fact that our neighbours across the street are having a sale. At least their sign matches…

High gloss handleless Next 125 kitchen by Schuller in Indigo Blue and White. One of eleven beautiful kitchens designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for Cockermouth Kitchen Co
High gloss handleless Next 125 kitchen by Schuller in Indigo Blue and White
KWC Eve tap in glacier white
KWC Eve tap in glacier white – RRP £899 (gulp)

Not lots of pics I’m afraid as its really really hard to photograph such a glossy kitchen, so you’ll need to wait till the pro does his magic next month.

2. The Retro Kitchen

The owners were really not happy very sceptical when I told them I was putting a brown and yellow kitchen in their new showroom. To be honest this colour combo usually reminds me of the nylon and knitwear outfits me and my poor sister used to wear in the 70’s so I surprised myself with this design. This is also a Schuller kitchen and the two things I wanted to show in this display were the slab door with unusual moulded edges and the integrated door handles. I picked a brown worktop and sink to match the doors to keep the look simple – there’s enough going on with those yellow doors right? The worktop has a matt marbled finish and is from the Dekton silestone range by Cosentino, and the Cristadur top mounted sink is by Schock. I think its the Ochre Catania tiles from Topps that really finish it off though, oh and my faux lemons of course. Please ignore the chimney extractor, this was a last minute addition when we realised the proper one hadn’t been ordered….

One of eleven beautiful kitchens designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for Cockermouth Kitchen Co
Schuller kitchen with dark wood effect and yellow slab doors
CDA glass shelf extractor
The CDA glass shelf extractor that should be in the display….
Catania Ochre wall tiles from Topps tiles
Catania Ochre wall tiles from Topps tiles
Matching accessories including a bronze plug socket
Its all in the detail – matching accessories including a bronze plug socket

3. The Shaker Meets Industrial Kitchen

This is the third out of five Schuller kitchens we are displaying and I wanted to show that shaker style doesn’t have to mean traditional so I added a polished steel effect silestone worktop, industrial tiling, reclaimed wood lights and vintage swivel stools. I love the huge wrap around breakfast bar and round cupboard at the end. It also features my two favourite appliances, a dual temperature wine fridge for lovers of red and white wine (is there anyone that doesn’t love both?), and a 90cm wide two drawer fridge which I have at home. I can’t show you a pic of the fridge in action as it didn’t arrive on time so the doors are just hiding a hole right now…

Schuller Casa shaker style kitchen in blue-grey with polished steel effect silestone worktop, and industrial and vintage tiling and accessories
Schuller Casa shaker style kitchen in blue-grey
Polished steel effect silestone worktop
Polished steel effect silestone worktop
A mixture of vintage and industrial tiles, lighting, seating and accessories
A mixture of vintage and industrial tiles, lighting, seating and accessories

4. The Late Bloomer Kitchen

I call it this because nobody in the team was loving this plain mid-grey slab door kitchen when it got fitted. And they didn’t love the polished copper handles when they arrived, “cheap looking” being the phrase most used (how very dare they). But when we fitted those handles they started to take notice. Then we added the polished copper tap, geometric tiles and copper accessories and bam! suddenly they got it. This is now a kitchen with impact. It also has a sleek Corian worktop with moulded Corian sink which is rather lovely.

The Nova kitchen by Schuller in grey with dove grey Corian worktop and polished copper accessories
The Nova kitchen by Schuller in grey
Polished copper kitchen cupboard and drawer handles
The controversial polished copper handles
Dove grey Corian worktop with Designer White moulded sink and Avia polished copper tap
Dove grey Corian worktop with Designer White moulded sink and Avia polished copper tap
Polished copper plug socket
Its all in the details – copper accessories and polished copper plug socket
Polished copper kitchen utensils and a polished copper plug socket
That utensil pot is actually a toilet brush holder – if you don’t tell I won’t….

So that’s all you’re getting for now, more to follow this week. I’d love to know if you have a favourite so far?

Things are hotting up in the kitchen (showroom)

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you’ll know I do a lot of work with Cockermouth Kitchen Company (aka CKC) and have designed their new showroom which is due to open in September *jigs about excitedly*. Getting the layout right was probably the biggest challenge. The main showroom is a massive 175 square metres but we needed to accommodate kitchens, customer service desks, displays for door samples, worktops, taps, handles and brochures, oh and some space for actually walking around….We also needed to use some of the space for the back office which will straddle the main showroom and the rear showroom – another whopping 100 square metres currently earmarked for bathroom and bedroom displays. It doesn’t look much from the street but it’s like the Tardis inside and I’m about to turn it into a retail space to rival IKEA.

Spatial planning is so important in retail as you’re never short of product to display and suppliers are vying to get their goods on show, but the space needs to flow and feel bright, clear and uninterrupted. After much hair pulling (and not just mine) I got there and the new showroom will have 11 complete kitchens, 2 customer service desks and plenty of room for samples.

Floor plan for Cockermouth Kitchen showroom
Floor plan for the new showroom at Cockermouth Kitchen Company

Next major headache challenge was designing the kitchen displays. Now I could have filled it with the top sellers but then it would basically be a white and grey showroom, not exactly gonna to draw the crowds in… But if you go the other way, i.e. multi-coloured mayhem, customers won’t trust you to deliver their dream kitchen. So there has to be balance. Give the displays in the window a little WOW to get them to look up from their smartphones and into the window, then once you’ve lured them inside show them something they’ll like but tempt them with a few other ideas. And it’s all about the complete picture. I go in some showrooms and their kitchens are so badly dressed its criminal. You know what I’m talking about, no lights or tiles, just the obligatory bottle of olive oil next to the hob, a jar of dried pasta and a set of cheap tea, coffee and sugar canisters. Inspiring? No.

This is the image that made me buy my own kitchen from CKC. It’s from the 1909 range that they offer and I just thought, if they can deliver this then I’m in.

Traditional 'pencilled and scalloped' kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS
Traditional ‘pencilled and scalloped’ kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS

Of course my own kitchen looks very little like this as I then got my interior design head on and started racking up a huge bill incorporating features I’ve always wanted. Click the pic to read more on this.

1909 kitchen pencilled and scalloped designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors
The kitchen at Chez Wilson

The average kitchen costs £15k so its a big investment, and why most peoples kitchens are at least 10 years old. But the great thing about kitchens is that you can design a very simple kitchen that won’t date, and then style it with tiles, lighting, seating or accessories that are more easily changed when the time comes for a new look. Coming up with all that for the 11 new kitchens was a lot of fun.

“So what’s it all going to look like” I hear you shout (in my dreams..) All in good time my friends, all in good time. But here’s a sneak preview of some of the things you can expect to see on opening day.

A modern take on the natural oak kitchen - clean lines and simple slab doors. Natural knotty oak by Schuller
A modern take on the natural oak kitchen – clean lines and simple slab doors
A traditional larder with more practical pull out shelving
Traditional larder with practical pull out shelving
Attingham Seagrass Geometric design tiles from Topps Tiles
Attingham geometric tiles – one of the striking tile ranges we’ve chosen from Topps tiles our partner for the showroom
Dekton Trillium worktop by Cosentino inspired by the look of oxidized steel
Dekton Trillium worktop by Cosentino – the finish was inspired by the look of oxidized steel.
A modern take on the traditional Belfast sink - a steel apron fronted sink
A modern take on the traditional Belfast sink – a steel apron fronted sink
Clear 10 light cluster pendant light
Clear 10 light cluster – no longer available from BHS (sob). Every kitchen includes feature lighting.

So that’s enough teasers for now. It’s been a fabulous project. I’ve wanted to kill a few people along the way for omitting to tell me I can’t have certain items when I’ve designed the whole bloody kitchen round said items (you know who you are….). And not having the same floor space as IKEA I couldn’t have everything I wanted. And I keep seeing new things I want which is very frustrating. I saw this idea the other day, a splashblack and breakfast bar made from a quartz that has translucent patches that allow the light from LED’s behind and below to filter through. Bloody genius. *scowls furiously for not being clever enough to have thought of this, and no room in the showroom for it now*

Quartz splashback backlit with LED in PWS Design Centre
Quartz splashback backlit with LED
Quartz breakfast bar lit from below with LED
Quartz breakfast bar lit from below with LED

So the countdown to opening day has started. Keep checking back for updates.

Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools

Sorry it’s been a few weeks since my last post but I’ve got that rather nice problem of lots of work right now. I’ve got a few projects in implementation, including The Swan Inn, which is really starting to take shape. I’ve been pillaging the local charity shops for accessories and dragged Mr W in there last night so he can see work in progress. Well I say dragged….  It was quite entertaining actually, I was like a mystery shopper quizzing all the regulars about what they thought of the changes without telling them I was the designer. Thankfully feedback was good or it might would have ruined my night.. us designers are sensitive about our work you know.

I’ve also got three new design jobs on including a Victorian terrace, a Georgian farm cottage and an already very elegant stone townhouse. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy I’m taking a stand at the Lakes Hospitality Association trade show next week. To say the plan for my stand is ambitious is an understatement. It’s been like the Great Interior Design challenge at Holly Cottage, what with me making lampshades and hunting for accessories on eBay (including the fabulous hostess trolley below). Mr W has been painting furniture, papering plywood boards and fixing picture frames all week. Not sure what I’d have done if he hadn’t become my house husband retired.

Gold hostess trolley

We also had some friends stay last week who were on route to Black Sail youth hostel (possibly the most isolated hostel in the country, but great walking and spectacular views).  One of them has been running an amusing series of posts on Facebook entitled ‘Kitchen Mysteries’.

Kitchen Mystery No 1 – Tupperware

Why can you never find the matching lid for the plastic container you want to use? (Check out how organised she is tho, you open my tupperware cupboard and everything falls out).

Kitchen mystery number 1 - why no lids for the tuppaware

Kitchen Mystery No. 2 – Herbs & Spices

Why is it that you can have a cupboard full of herbs and spices but never the ones you need for the recipe you want to cook? (Again, very organised, but she did used to work for Ikea and I think they make you take a course on storage).

Kitchen mystery number 2 - never the spices you need

This week I offer up my contribution, a problem that almost drove me crazy this month when I was working on a new kitchen design.

Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools

Why are retailers still selling ugly kitchen stools that belong in the 1980’s, without even pretending they’re retro?

Seriously, google kitchen stools and see the monstrosities that pop up. Like these. Yikes.

Kitchen mystery number 3 - why are there so many ugly kitchen stools on the market

The Kitchen Stool Challenge

The biggest problem I have when I’m designing kitchens and looking for seating is height. There are lots of lovely bar stools on the market, probably because the designers of bar stools understand that there are bar owners that care about aesthetics. But I’ll be honest I’m not quite sure what some kitchen stool designers are thinking. Or maybe I’m just rubbish at my job and can’t find all the nice ones. But anyway, back to height. The difference if you’re wondering is about 10-15cm. If your breakfast bar is the same height as your kitchen worktops then you need a seat height of around 65cm for your kitchen stools, whereas bar stools tend to be 75-80cm. Fascinating eh?

Now you can raise your breakfast bar, which is what our American friends tend to do.

Breakfast bar in white kitchen designed by Kitchen Stori via Houzz

Raised breakfast bar in contemporary kitchen designed by Kitchen Stori, image via Houzz

Then you could have these babies by Zeitraum. Well you could if £579 per stool isn’t an issue.

Kitchens - Morph walnut wood bar stool by Zeitraum, available from madeindesign.co.uk

Morph walnut bar stool by Zeitraum available at madeindesign.com

You can also lower the counter and use dining chairs. Personally I’m not a fan as it always feels a little like I’m sitting at the kiddy table.

Low level breakfast bar in Highgate Kitchen photographed by Paul Craig Photography

Low level breakfast bar, image via Houzz

But these two tone dining chairs from Design Icons would look fabulous, and they come in red, taupe, nougat, mustard, sky blue, black and white so you can mix ’em up if you like. Currently in sale for £137.70 each so a little more affordable than the bar stools above.

Calligaris Jam dining chairs with sleigh style legs

Calligaris Jam dining chairs available from designicons.co.uk

So what I have I managed to find for you lovely people that just want a regular counter level breakfast bar? Well thank you for asking, I’ll show you.

First up these lovely wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on Clippings.com. You have a choice of black, white, grey, blue or red. Lovely as they are though, at £270 each they’re not going to be in everyones budget. They also come as a bar stool or a dining chair so very versatile. If I could afford them I think I’d need to add a seat pad. I don’t want to think about the amount of my bum that would poke through the gaps…..

KM06 Kitchen stool in Haze Grey by Pastoe on Clippings.com

Wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on clippings.com

Adjustable seats are very handy if like me you’re a short arse. And if you like the industrial look then these from Industville are great quality and at £99 very affordable. I put one of them in the kitchen showroom I designed recently and they’ve been very popular.

Adjustable height industrial kitchen stool from Industville

Adjustable height industrial kitchen stool from Industville

If you need a bit of cushioning what about these glam girls? Available in black or white leather, and in two heights. They’re not cheap at $375 (£260 to us Brits) from One Kings Lane. Unfortunately they don’t ship outside the US but there are some suggested shipping companies on their website. Would look great if you’re going for the luxe look in your kitchen or if you had a retro bar.

Black leather and gold kitchen counter or bar stool from One Kings Lane

Lakeshore stool from One Kings Lane

I’m starting to wish I’d bought something with a backrest for my own kitchen though. I’m too old these days to perch on a stool that doesn’t have lumbar support. So I’m thinking about these beauties made by District Eight Design in Vietnam and available through outandoutoriginal.com. Just don’t tell Mr W as he thinks the kitchen is finished. When will he realise that your home is NEVER finished when you live with an interior designer?

Adjustable industrial kitchen stool by District Eight Design

Industrial kitchen stools by District Eight Design

When I was styling the showroom for Cockermouth Kitchens I bought a couple of these moulded plastic chairs from Cult Furniture. They come in 12 different colours (shown here in olive) and a choice of leg finishes. They are soooo comfortable and only £89 each.

Moulded plastic Charles Eames style kitchen stools with eiffel legs from Cult Furniture

So this is what ended up on the mood board for the kitchen I just finished. The homeowner wanted affordable, adjustable, cushioned, easy to clean and with a backrest. So they might not be your cup of tea but they met the brief (£99 for two BTW) and the customer loved them. Personally I’m not a fan of stools with a gas lift mechanism but I do like the leather and curves on these.  A little Charles Eames-esque

Carcaso chrome and brown leather adjustable height bar stools from www.simplybarstools.co.uk

Brown leather and chrome adjustable stools from www.simplybarstools.co.uk

So logging off now. I’ve got lists to make for the show this week. Can’t get half way down the motorway and realise I’ve forgotten the electric screwdriver or the pasting table…..

P.S I nearly called this post Stool Samples which had me sniggering for ages, but Mr W the professional part of me wouldn’t allow it.

2016 Interior Design Trends Part II – Kitchens

For those of you patient enough to endure my waffle about interiors…..and occasionally chickens and Mr W, you will have seen last weeks post 2016 Interior Design Trends, and be up to speed on my plan to share my pick of the interior design trends the big guns in interiors are predicting for 2016, along with a few of my own ideas and comments. So its week 2, and as I’m right into kitchens at the moment thanks to my partnership with Cockermouth Kitchens I thought I’d make this Kitchens week.

Before I get stuck in, there is a general theme at the moment that applies to both kitchens and bathrooms, which is to design these rooms to look more like living spaces. It’s easier to achieve if you’re lucky enough to have an open plan space that can incorporate dining and lounging areas. But it’s still possible to create a homely feel in a more compact kitchen by adding warm colours, soft furnishings, open shelving, feature lighting, artwork and decorative accessories. I particularly like it when I see old Persian style rugs on kitchen floors like these below.

Kitchens - Melrose Kitchen by Luciano Group via Houzz

Melrose Kitchen by Luciano Group via Houzz

1. Open Plan Kitchens & Larger Islands

So first on my top ten list – open plan layouts, which for obvious reasons continue to be popular They increase light and space, give you multi-functional areas and keep the family closer together (though some may see this as a negative….). Add an island and hey presto extra storage space, but if you have room you can really sweat your asset by adding a sink or hob, a food prep area and seating. Our chums across the pond are calling this a ‘workhorse’ island. The one below even has his and her sinks. Sounds like two places for Mr W to dump dirt dishes if you ask me…..Kitchens - The Cliffs at Mountain Park by Linda McDougald Design via Houzz

Kitchen in The Cliffs at Mountain Park by Linda McDougald Design via Houzz

2. Contrasting Cabinets

Now number 2 isn’t a new trend, t’s just one that’s getting bolder with different finishes now being used not just contrasting colours. I would keep the upper cabinets lighter and play around with texture and darker colours on the lower cabinets for the best effects. My own kitchen is a combination of ivory (Farrow & Ball Ringwood Ground) and deep red (Farrow & Ball Rectory Red) and I love this combination of burnt orange and grainy brown.

Kitchens - Rozelle Cottage by Scott Weston Design Architecture PL via Houzz

Kitchen in Rozelle Cottage by Scott Weston Design Architecture PL via Houzz

3. Porcelain Worktops

I may not be getting any slimmer but worktops are. If you’re a fan of the minimalist look, porcelain worktops are now available as skinny as 3mm, and in a range of colours and finishes including wood, stone, marble and metal effects. They are also more heat, flame and stain resistant than other products on the market which is good news for foodies and red wine drinkers like me.

Kitchens - Slim porcelain kitchen worktops - hot trend for 2016. Image courtesy of Walls & Floors.

Slim porcelain worktops are perfect in minimalist kitchens. Image via Walls & Floors

4. Deep kitchen drawers

According to a survey by Houzz ease of storage is the number one priority for those fitting a new kitchen. Deep kitchen drawers are great for small appliances and the dishes you use once in a blue moon (tagine anyone?), making them more accessible than if they were in cupboards. No more rooting around the back of a cupboard on your hands and knees. Personally I’m not a fan of dividers but these can also be used to organise the contents if you feel the need.

Kitchens - Deep kitchen drawers for small appliances etc by Leicht Kuchen AG via Houzz

Drawers by Leicht Küchen AG via Houzz

5. Black appliances

Tired of cleaning fingerprints off your shiny chrome appliances? Then you’ll love the new range of black stainless steel appliances from Samsung and LG. I covered these last week but they’re uber stylish so deserve a second mention. The sleek lines and mildly industrial look means they work well in both traditional and contemporary kitchens.

Kitchens - New range of black stainless steel kitchen appliances from Samsung

The new range of black stainless steel appliance from Samsung

6. Gold hardware

The interiors metallic movement continues, banishing silver and chrome in favour of metals like bronze, rose gold and copper. I’ve got a bit of a crush on polished gold hardware, it really adds glamour to a kitchen or bathroom. I love this kitchen with its moody green cabinets, dark marble worktop and gold finishes.

Kitchens - Midcentury dark green and gold kitchen via Houzz

Midcentury dark green and gold kitchen via Houzz

7. White kitchens

When I was a kid white was what you used for undercoat and ceilings, but there are now as many shades of white as there are other colours, and all-white kitchens continue to be popular for their simplicity and bright, clean look. But they can look a little sterile so make sure you incorporate some colour. This can be anywhere in the scheme including your tiling, worktop, accessories or even a brightly coloured appliance like this fab orange fridge. I think it might be the Swan Retro Fridge available from AO.com, if not its very similar.

Kitchens - White kitchen with bright orange fridge by Etre via Houzz

White kitchen by Etre via Houzz

8. Creative use of LED lighting

It’s important to have good lighting in a kitchen but you want to avoid rows and rows of spotlights in your ceiling and use different sources. Lighting under your upper cabinets and shelving can provide both task lighting and softer light in the evening. But also consider pendants, particularly over seating areas and wall lights. Low level under cabinet lighting is easy to install using adhesive strips of LED lights. It creates a feeling of warmth and the low light stops you stubbing your toes when you raid the fridge at midnight. Top tip – make sure your lights are on different circuits so you can use them separately, and install dimmers where possible.

Kitchens - Freeman Residence by LMK INTERIOR DESIGN via Houzz

Kitchen in the Freeman Residence by LMK INTERIOR DESIGN via Houzz

9. Raw materials

Kitchens are not pretty, wishy washy rooms, they’re full of heat, light, smells and noise, or at least they are when me and Mr W are cooking together. Which is why I think industrial looking raw materials look so great and are becoming increasingly popular. These materials look best when mixed together, for example concrete worktops with exposed brick walls, wood floors and steel appliances like in this kitchen, although it does look a little like the set of a cookery show….

Kitchens - Channel Island Fort via Houzz

Kitchen in Channel Island Fort via Houzz

10. Feature Tiling

We can’t talk kitchens and not talk tiles now can we, and tiling has definitely transitioned from functional to feature over the last few years, with bright colours. bold geometric prints and patterns like herringbone and chevron everywhere. A trend I expect to see more of in 2016 is creating zones in kitchens and larger bathrooms using flooring, either with combinations of tiles or mixing tiles with other types of flooring. This is a great way to minimise costs if you have your heart set on expensive tiles but can’t afford to do the whole floor. Just use them in part of the room and something more affordable around them. If you put different tiles under your table breakfast bar it can look like a rug which adds to the whole homely look I mentioned at the start.

Kitchens - Evangelist Rd y Martins Camisole Architects via Houzz

Kitchen at Evangelist Rd by Martins Camisole Architects via Houzz

So I think I’m all kitchened out. Off to my own kitchen now to put the kettle on. FYI it’s very cool is my kettle.It was designed by Heston Blumenthal and has half a dozen settings for different teas and coffee. Complete waste of money as I only use one setting but it does look nice…..

Project Donatella and the metallic movement

Generally I like to think of myself as an early adopter, always on the look out for new ideas and trends, and after a few glasses of wine I might even suggest being a little ‘down with the kids’, (cue cringe) but I confess there are a couple of parties I’ve joined very late… It was a long time before I would ditch my boot leg jeans for skinny ones, but as a curvy 5ft 3.5 you can hardly blame me. When I finally discovered the TV series 24 I had 8 box sets  to catch up on, and I was still toting a blackberry until last summer, although I blame my former employer for that one. I’m ashamed to say it’s also taken me a while to really embrace the copper trend. When it first poked its nose into the interiors world I was convinced it was going to be a one season fad, that would leave the charity shops stock piling copper accessories. But two years on I have to admit it’s probably here to stay. Now I’m still luke warm about polished copper unless its subtle. Possibly because I’m imagining the cleaning required to keep it shiny…… I mean, come on, copper baths? You’re havin’ a larf. But I do love a bit of patina, particularly if it’s got a green hue to it. Industville have a fabulous range of industrial lighting and bar stools and I’m a massive fan. I have their pewter pendants in my kitchen, and I LOVE their vintage copper version. Now thats the patina I’m talking about.

Industrial style vintage copper pendant light from Industville

Old factory vintage copper pendant light from Industville

But for me the best thing about the copper trend has actually been the spin off – the whole metallic movement. We can now choose gold, brass, silver, copper or bronze, plus polished or antique finishes and a million tones in between. Fabulous. Which is why my latest job has been named Project Donatella, i.e. its rockin’ more bronze than Ms Versace after a long Italian summer.

So my client is buying a new kitchen from Cockermouth Kitchen Company, who I have a partnership with. She has chosen the kitchen and work surface she wants but has no idea what to do with the rest of the room and wants my help. She has picked very simple contemporary lacquered slab doors in a matt off white finish, and polished steel bow handles.

INZO kitchen in Porcelain

Inzo kitchen by PWS

The acrylic quartz effect worktop she has picked is grey with specks of white and brown.

MISTRAL IGNEA worktop by KARONIA

Mistral Ignea worktop by Karonia

It’s impossible to form any ideas until you’ve seen the room and the house it sits in, but the minute I did I knew what the new kitchen needed was a metallic touch of the coppery/bronze variety. I ran this suggestion past both the homeowners while I was there and they liked the idea so I was off to a flying start.

Back home, I started with the tiles. I wanted something big for the floor with lots of texture and shades of colour that would hide dirt and paw prints (remember we live in Cumbria – rain and dog central). It was love at first sight when I saw these in Topps. But at £54 a square metre I was going to need some alternatives.

Metalik wall and floor tiles from Topps

Metalik wall and floor tile from Topps

So I found these equally lush tiles suitable for walls or floors at aptly named Walls & Floors who I use a lot as they have a huge range and great prices, and their VIP service for trade customers is top notch. No they didn’t pay me to say that – its just true. These are only £29.95 a metre so a big price difference for tiles that don’t look that different.

Hellion Gold wall and floor tiles from Walls & Floors

Hellion Gold floor tiles from Walls & Floors

and then I stumbled across these lovely bronze armour tiles. You need to sit down before I tell you how much they are……£9.95 a metre – a billy bargain.

Bronze armour wall and floor tiles from Walls & Floors

Bronze Armour floor tiles from Walls & Floors

So floors sorted and onto walls. The kitchen is lacking in natural light, so even though the doors are off white I’m still going to suggest we keep the walls light and limit tiles to the areas around the sink and cooker so we can continue the metallic scheme. Number 2 on my list are these from Topps – they’ve got everything, colours, texture, patina…..they’ve also got a price tag though which is why they’re number 2. We won’t need much for the areas I’m proposing but they are over £200 a metre…

Copper fusion modular mix tiles from Topps Tiles

Copper Fusion Modular Mix tiles from Topps

I toyed with a very simple but chic copper coloured glass splash back for a while, but that was even pricier and it would have needed cleaning every 5 minutes which nipped that in the bud quite quickly. So these are my number 1 choice. Still not cheap at around £150 a metre but mosaic isn’t cheap and with my plan we won’t need much.

Copper mosaic tiles from Walls & Floors

Copper mosaic tiles from Walls & Floors

Next on the list – seating. They are having a breakfast bar which will be 1.4m by 90cm. Sounds big, yes? But they’re a family of 5 and the client would really like 5 stools. So do the math – they need to be narrow. They also need a seat height of around 65cm to work with an 80cm counter, which is 10cm less than a typical bar stool. I was gutted when I saw these beauties from Swoon and realised they were too high…..

Chrome and copper topped bar stools from Swoon Editions

Copper and steel Orson stool from Swoon Editions

So I’m suggesting these Xavier Pauchard Tolix style copper metal stools from Cult Furniture. They’re a little more industrial than I had been thinking about, but they’re the perfect size and colour and are only £69 each which is important when you’re buying 5.

Xavier Pauchard Tolix style copper metal stools

Xavier Pauchard Tolix style copper metal stools from Cult Furniture

Next major decision – lighting. Recessed spotlights are a no-brainer because of the lack of natural light, and there will be in cupboard and under cupboard lighting but I think every kitchen should have some feature lighting, particularly if there is a seating area. The room has the height for pendants, but not so much that I’d recommend one large pendant, and as the bar will have 3 seats on the long side I’m suggesting 3 smallish pendants. Remember how I said I’m luke warm about polished copper unless its subtle? Well how about these smoked glass and copper pendants for sleek, stylish and subtle?

Smoked glass and copper ceiling pendant lights from Habitat

Marlowe smoked glass and copper pendant lights from Habitat

Me being me, it isn’t enough having contemporary and industrial elements in a room I need to add something else. The client told me she wanted a contemporary kitchen but nothing uber modern. They had some really nice antique art deco furniture in their dining room which they’d picked up from a local dealer for a bargain. Both these facts suggested to me they might appreciate a nod to the past in their kitchen which led me to this clock which will match the dark wood window frames and the metallic tones. And if they don’t like the £120 price tag I know I can pick something up on eBay or when I’m out treasure hunting for less – if I’m lucky I might even find something original.

Newgate vintage inspired sunburst clock

Newgate vintage inspired sunburst clock available in John Lewis and Heals

So here’s the final mood board. The client hasn’t even see this yet so you’re getting a proper exclusive.  I’ll fill you in on the rest of my ideas if she gives it the thumbs up. I’m seeing her later this week so fingers, legs and eyes crossed please.

Mood board for contemporary kitchen with industrial and vintage elements by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

In the market for a dream kitchen?

Just a short post today as I have an exciting announcement! I have formed a partnership with Cockermouth Kitchen Company to provide customers with a full interior design service. CKC are a local company with years of experience in designing and fitting kitchens, and they specialise in providing bespoke kitchens at affordable prices. As it’s been my goal from the start to make my interior design services affordable, and I love creating designer looks on a budget, I felt we would make great partners. I also bought my own kitchen from them so I can vouch for the quality of their kitchens and their fitting service.

Customers taking advantage of the service will receive detailed kitchen plans, a design mood board and details of where all items on the board can be purchased.

Kitchen mood board - Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The cost of this service is only £300 which is fully refundable if you purchase your kitchen and appliances from Cockermouth Kitchen Company. When you consider what an investment a new kitchen is, it makes sense to take advantage of any expertise you can lay your hands on, especially if it isn’t going to cost you anything!

We launch the service next Saturday and I will be in the showroom all day to meet with customers, so come on down and say hello. I’m off now to celebrate – happy Friday!

Bold rustic kitchen with industrial elements designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

My very own dream kitchen

All the best parties end up in the kitchen

So my personal interior design challenge continues and after 11 weeks my kitchen is finished. Being such an old house a lot of decisions could only be made as went along. We didn’t know what we’d find behind the chimney breast. We didn’t know what would be under the floor that had to be dug up for the underfloor heating. We uncovered original features we didn’t know we had and we had to alter multiple units to make them fit my misshapen, wonky walls. Consequently my plan always had multiple options for certain features so not even I knew exactly what it would look like when it was finished. It’s been frustrating, filthy and sometimes freezing but it has all been worth it. I LOVE my new kitchen. It’s where I eat all my meals, it’s become my new favourite spot to work and it’s where we always end up if we have visitors. It’s like having a brand new room in the house.

The feedback I’ve had has also been very rewarding. Every single contractor that has been involved (and there has been a lot) has commented that they had been unsure about my colour choices, the size of the island and some elements of the layout but once they saw it completed they were sold. So as promised here are some photo’s.

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The kitchen is from a shaker style range called 1909, and I had it painted in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Ringwold Ground. The mantelpiece is oak as is the 10cm thick custom made butchers block top on the island. This butchers block is like a magnet when people come into the room, you just can’t stop yourself from running your hands over it because it’s such a piece of craftsmanship. It’s had 5 coats of Osmo oil so far and will probably need a few more yet. We finally have a dishwasher and an in cupboard bin, and I love the pull out wooden trays under the sink. For years I’ve been exasperated by having to store trays on top of cupboards or down the side of a unit. Why has it taken until now for kitchen companies to introduce these into their ranges!

IMG_2399   IMG_2409

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We made room for the island by digging a hole in the chimney breast to fit a 90cm wide SMEG oven. It was a tight fit and getting an extractor small enough to fit above it and remain hidden was a challenge but the builders came through for me. We even had to quickly source a steel plate one afternoon from a local scrap merchants to ensure there was enough support in it for the wall above. The space above the mantelpiece was perfect for another localised timezone clock (see my post on Murray’s man cave), some vintage ginger beer bottles a good friend of mine bought me when she came to stay, some antique pewter tankards and an hour glass I picked up in Heals years ago and love.

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The island itself houses an 18 bottle wine chiller and a 2 drawer fridge which is fantastically spacious and means you’re not always bending down to peer into the back of the fridge. On the wall behind the island next to the back door is a unit which houses a custom made wine glass rack – no more cramming wine glasses into cupboards or having to store them in the garage!

I bought two pewter finished adjustable height stools from a company called Steel Magnolias for seating, although we have brought another 4 stools in from the summer house a couple of times when we’ve had visitors so we can all sit around the island. It’s also great to finally have enough lighting. The old kitchen was so dingy and now I have multiple options. The pewter lights above the island and the sink are from Industville and are one of my favourite features. It looks so cosy when all the other lights are off.

So with the kitchen complete I am now finishing off the bedrooms and have started the plan for the upstairs bathroom. Another two months and I might actually be finished here…..

So now we have a habitable house we can have visitors again and this weekend Mr W’s entire family descended on us, so many of them that additional accommodation had to be booked in Cockermouth. They normally come in December but as the house was a bomb site we postponed until January which also meant we could celebrate Burns night together. The Trout Hotel in Cockermouth held a fantastic dinner on Friday night, with six courses, a piper and of course the traditional “address to a haggis”. The kilts were out, a few wee drams of whisky were consumed and the minibus home was very rowdy…..

IMG_2365
The host reciting the “address to a haggis” by the famous Robert Burns

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On Saturday night the party was back at Holly Cottage. We’d bought a Serrano ham at Christmas but had been too sick to eat it so we brought it out for the party and created our own alternative to Burns night with the “address to a ham” skilfully delivered by Chris my step-daughters boyfriend. My sister-in-law plays a mean air bagpipe….

And where did all this occur? But in the kitchen of course – where the best parties always end up and this interior designer is happiest.