The kitchen in our house isn’t actually too bad a size: 3m by 3m. To me that’s enough space for units etc, but it’s not enough space for a dining area. This is the view through the door when we bought the house:
I’m not a keen cook, but it’s a job that has to be done and it’s only made worse in a kitchen which isn’t connected to the rest of the house. Going in there to do anything (cooking, washing, whatever) feels like being banished for punishment, and that means the kitchen is going against the life I want to live:
I want to eat healthily, which means eating unprocessed food and preparing it from scratch, which means enjoying cooking as much as possible. It needs to not feel lonely, to feel connected to what my daughter is doing and to be somewhere you want to spend time in not just get-in-and-get-out-asap. I dream of wafting around in a beautiful sunny kitchen-diner, chopping fresh vegetables while my daughter does crafts at the dining table….
I want to be sociable and have friends round for visits and dinner. I could put a dining space in a separate room, but I know that room would then only get used when guests come round for dinner, because it would be cut off from the daily life of the home. This house is too small to have living space which doesn’t get used daily. We’re casual people, and I can’t imagine a time when we’d ever need or want to throw a really “formal” dinner party. Therefore the dining area needs to be smart enough for a dinner party, but comfy enough for homework, crafts and family meals, and feel connected to the kitchen.
So, onto the challenges of the current kitchen.
- Hardly any worktop space
- Not enough storage space
- No space for a dishwasher
- No space for a dining table
- As I mentioned, it feels isolated from the rest of the house. The worktop issue makes it hard even to cook with another person, and there’s no space for someone to sit in there and chat to you while you work.
This photo, which I used to sell the kitchen on Ebay, shows all the units we had:
Not a lot for a family of 3.
The room size isn’t the main thing causing the problems, it’s the layout…there are obstacles in bad places:
- That gap between cooker and base unit has a pipe sticking out of the floor so you can’t fit another unit in there.
- That gap between washing machine and wall has the electricity consumer unit so you can’t put a dishwasher or base unit there.
- There are gas pipes running along the skirting board behind the fridge so you can’t push it back against the wall.
- There’s a chimney breast taking up space, but it houses the back boiler in the adjacent room so you can’t just knock it out.
- The enormous water tank is in this room, so you lose a lot of storage space there.
- There’s a back door leading to the shared driveway (pic below), but it doesn’t lead to the garden and it brings you out just a couple of metres away from the front door, so isn’t essential. If it wasn’t there you could have another 2m of worktop and base units.
After many months of thinking, using Roomsketcher and the Ikea kitchen planner, changing my mind and realising alternative solutions, we’ve settled on a kitchen plan. This will be the new view from the door:
So the plans are as follows:
To solve the lack of worktop
Instead of a back door and large window next to it, we’ll have two narrower windows and put a range cooker between them. This is a good place for the cooker as it’s on an exterior wall, and the gas supply is already on the other side of the wall (saves money and effort). I wanted to keep windows there as this is a north facing room which needs as much light as it can get. I could’ve done a single larger window but I love symmetry. I’ll be losing about two thirds of the light this back door+window arrangement used to give. (The kitchen is going to be knocked through to a windowless dining room, so I’m still worried this will all be too dark but I’ll tell you more about how I hope to solve that later. ) Importantly, we’re also moving the electricity consumer unit so that corner of the kitchen can be used.
To solve the lack of dishwasher
I’m moving the washing machine to another part of the house, and putting a dishwasher in its place.
To solve the isolated feeling and the lack of storage
We’re knocking the kitchen through to the adjacent room which is currently the living room. This was the living room before we bought the house:
This will give us a kitchen-diner, so instead of this being the view from the kitchen sink looking towards the back of the house (honestly that’s as far back as I could stand to take the photo):
The view should hopefully be more like this:
It means getting a new boiler (changing the whole central heating system in fact), but that’s ok as the old one was scarily terrible and would’ve needed replacing anyway. The new kitchen diner will have a whole wall of storage/utility space which is where the washer-dryer will go. We’ll also put cupboards for pantry storage there, because the new kitchen itself won’t have any more storage than it does now (we sacrificed that for a bigger cooker, bigger fridge-freezer and space for a water softener).
So there we have it.
The kitchen currently looks like this at the moment, so the dream is a little way off yet!: