When I say "before" kitchen, I actually mean it in the truest sense. Work hasn't even started yet, planning is slow and every penny needs to be carefully considered. So this is our kitchen. This is what we moved in to. And this is what we're currently living with. Needless to say, in its current state, this is my least favourite room of the house. To make matters worse, without heating in either the kitchen or utility room and the currently very cold weather, even the thought of spending time in there makes me want to reach for my thermals.
When we first viewed the house it looked like the kitchen - whilst absolutely not to my taste - wouldn't be too bad to live with for a while. I mean, it had cabinets, cheap laminate flooring and white walls. It could have been much worse. As always though, a viewing doesn't really reveal enough especially when a house is pleasantly lit and accessorised for show. Just before we moved in, I went back to take a closer look at the kitchen and to evaluate where I would need to make space for my large glass cabinet. It's such a chunky piece of furniture that I needed to be clear where it would go before the removal company dropped it off as moving it afterwards (especially with a huge amount of moving boxes in the way) would have been a real struggle.
It's then, in this empty kitchen, that I started to have a closer look. It smelled and felt damp and it was cold - not exactly inviting, but not unexpected and that's just the way things often are with an empty house. However, when I took a closer look at the laminate, carefully lifting a corner, I could see that the floor underneath was not only damp, but wet. Water was literally locked in between the floor and the laminate. It had to come up. There was no other choice since the walls were already suffering from damp issues and ignoring this could potentially lead to even more problems. So I went to work and ripped out the flooring. Let's just say I was glad to have had the foresight to bring plastic gloves because what I found underneath wasn't pretty. After chucking the laminate out, I had to of course clean the floor underneath. Years and years of dirt and grime. Nothing seemed to shift it. I literally poured boiling water straight from the kettle onto it to wash it and even resorted to bleach in a desperate attempt to make it clean enough for us to walk on. It's still not great, but there simply is nothing else I can do for now...
I ripped out some of the existing cabinets to make space for my large piece. Turned out the doors had simply been covered with sticky foil and the cabinets were actually much older than they had first appeared. Not a great loss then - apart from the lack of work surface which I'm now facing. The adjacent utility room had yet another flooring problem: the bright sparks who owned the house before us had decided to paint the floor tiles (around the appliances, as you do...) and of course that was never going to last. So, every time we entered and exited that room, we would tread black paint flakes through the house.
Moving in with all our (ok, my) kitchen stuff posed a whole different set of problems. Where our last kitchen had been small, it did have masses of storage. I was able to hide away an awful lot and it consequently looked fairly tidy. Not so here. With a complete lack of storage space, we had to come up with something, anything. A trip to the big swedish furniture retailer was in order to buy (temporary) shelving for the utility room where I would be able to house most things. Of course it looks a complete mess (which I'm not good with), but at least we were able to unpack. We had an electrician take a look at some of the problems and I asked him there and then (I'm sure all tradespeople hate the "oh, while you're here could you please..." question) if he could install and hook up my new Plumen light. I always knew it would be perfect for the kitchen and just needed a small touch of something pleasant. Of course things have now already shifted a little and it's now in the wrong spot. I guess I'll wait until the kitchen is complete to have it re-hung this time. I put up a little shelf I've had for many, many years and figured since the kitchen needs a whole makeover, a few more screw holes in the wall really wouldn't matter. Again, I just needed something...
So, what's the plan now? Well, I have (as you might already expect) a lot of big plans which will involve a lot of work in the kitchen as well as the utility room which will become my pantry. So, all the tiles need to be ripped off, the floor needs to come up and underfloor heating needs to be installed, the boiler will be moved into the utility room, the back door will be bricked up and a larger window installed (there's a double-door leading into the garden in the utility room and the kitchen has 3 doors plus a chimney breast on the fourth wall!), the low ceiling has to be removed, all damp issues need to be remedied, the chimney breast needs to be enlarged to make space for a range cooker, the glass bricks in the utility room need removing and the openings bricking up (there are large sky lights, so enough light), both the utility and kitchen will need plastering, new floor tiles will need to be laid in both (I am so, so excited to be working with Original Style on this!) as well as a small area of wall tiles in the kitchen, new kitchen units (actually, they're not new as I'm sourcing them from ebay and the kitchen will be free-standing) need to be put in, shelving from reclaimed scaffolding boards put up and some new appliances will need to be bought (our brand-new all singing - literally - and dancing washer/dryer from Samsung is already in the utility). It will be a huge job involving a lot of people (my plastering and tile-laying skills aren't quite up to scratch for this!) and a scary amount of money which I have yet to find. I'm looking to create my perfectly imperfect cooking haven.
As much as I wish I could share some beautiful images with you, I'm afraid these will have to do for now. This is my current reality, the real "behind the scenes", the grotty beginnings. I realise that not even the image quality is up to my usual standards. I have to admit that I feel so utterly uninspired by my kitchen in its current state, that I didn't even want to get my camera and tripod out, sorry. Then again, "before" pictures are supposed to look rubbish, aren't they?