North London Kitchen

Cooking, eating, and designing a kitchen in North London

Category: DIY

The North London Kitchen

The kitchen fitters finished in the first week of May and since then I’ve busied myself laying flooring, skimming where the wall cabinets had been removed, and painting the walls and ceiling.  On Wednesday afternoon my custom made pantry doors arrived, and though they would have been easy enough to hang myself I had running group on Wednesday evening, a comedy show on Thursday evening and on Friday my friends were due to come over for a combined birthday/housewarming party.

It was then that I declared my kitchen finished enough.  Finished enough to cook in, host guests and enjoy.  The doors still need putting up along with some shelves and a picture ledge, but it is finished enough.  Suffering from DIY fatigue, I texted my handyman.  Sometimes it’s ok to pay someone else to do work you don’t have the time or inclination for.  He’ll come over when he has time but for now, this is where we’re at.

First let’s take a look back at Before:

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My old kitchen was built in 1970 when my flat was built.  About seven years ago the old boiler was removed and a combi boiler installed, leaving that lovely blue panel covering an empty space under the new boiler. A DIY dunce had tiled the floor – I guess whoever it was ran out of tiles so opted for the mosaic effect you see there.  A slightly uneven subfloor led to cracks in many of the tiles.  Though the cabinets all had integrated handles the owner before me stuck wallpaper up on them and brass curly handles for some sort of 70s Victoriana mashup.

The first thing I did was to have the washing machine moved to one of the hall cupboards, where once a hot water cylinder had stood.  I had this done when I had my bathroom replaced last year.  Then I ripped down the net curtains and put a blackout blind up.  For privacy (my kitchen is at ground floor level), I coated the window with mirror film.  I can highly recommend this stuff.  They cut it to exactly the size you need.  It’s cheap and really easy to install yourself following the video they have on the site.  After I recommended it a colleague bought some too, only he had it fitted – if you are in the London area it seems their quotes for fitting are very reasonable (not a paid link, I was just very happy with it and it stopped a nosy neighbour in his tracks).  I gave the brass handles away on Streetbank and ripped the wallpaper off the cupboards.

Enough of that. Let’s cut to After:

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Normally the yucca lives in the living room and there would be a kitchen table there, but I swapped them to serve food on for my party.  Well, actually the table hasn’t made it back into the kitchen since before the kitchen fitters came.  Like I said, soon there will be shelves and a picture ledge, but for now I have a usable kitchen and I couldn’t be happier.

As for my party, being short on time (see above) I outsourced the catering to locals The GreenBean.  They have a regular stall at Tottenham Green Market selling vegetarian and vegan salads and savouries and always seem to have the longest queues!  Here are the salads they made me:

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My friends loved them and everyone had a great time!

I’ll post again once the finishing touches are done (and the pantry deserves a post of its own), but for now I’m going to go and enjoy my new kitchen.

Kitchen carnage

I apologise; it’s been a long time since my last post.  I’ve been overseas again, this time running a half marathon in Budapest.  It was wonderful, but Budapest is not in North London so falls outside the scope of this blog!

On top of this, I’ve had a job interview (successful) and have been busy getting some kitchen DIY done.  I had thought I would write more about this aspect of my kitchen, but it’s been taking up all my energy just to do it, let alone write about it.

Nevertheless, the kitchen fitters arrive tomorrow.  I’ve been at home this Bank Holiday Monday, waiting for deliveries from Ikea and Appliances Online.  Everything is here now (I hope; I haven’t counted all 150 Ikea packages).  It’s time for a little show and tell.

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This is the current state of my kitchen.  I’ve spent a couple of months on and off (but mostly the past week) bashing tiles off the floor with a chisel and mallet.  The floor had ceramic tiles on top of vinyl tiles.  The ceramic tiles were in pretty bad shape as they appeared to have been a bodged DIY job to begin with.  The vinyl tiles underneath made them easier to lift – no tile adhesive or grout stuck everywhere – but harder at the same time, as age had made them brittle and messy.  The internet to the rescue – I learned that vinyl tiles are easy to lift using a heat gun to make them more pliable.  I had a heat gun on hand from stripping the door frame and skirting boards.  It made things easier.  Still, my mallet arm is aching and my glutes and calves are screaming out from all of the crouching down.  Another tip I learned from the internet: talcum powder brushed over a sticky floor will de-stickify it!  I did not learn this one in time to stop myself tracking black sticky stuff all over the white floors in my hallway, but white spirit made short work of that.

Anyway, I have another half marathon this coming weekend so have just under a week to recover from my travails!

This also raises the question of how I’m going to look after myself with no kitchen.  I’m currently camped out in my living room imagining how it would be like to live in a studio.

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That’s my Lakeland heated airer between the fridge and the media unit.  If you don’t have one, get one.  They’re throwing in the cover free of charge at the moment.  That’s not an affiliate link; buy one then buy me a drink out of sheer gratitude if you ever bump into me.  This thing is life-changing.

There’s a microwave, my new filter kettle and tea and coffee stuff.  Cutlery is in the tray on top of the microwave and crockery is in the drawer below.  The fridge is stocked with cheese and a couple of ready meals, but I’m going to eat out or get takeaways as much as possible over the coming week or so.  I had a very good lunch at Sushi Heads today when I realised I had an hour between the Ikea delivery and the Appliances Online delivery.  That’s a place I keep meaning to write about but I go there so hungry I forget to take photos of the food.

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The other side of my living room.  The console table folds out and is usually my kitchen table.  I’ve done some pretty impressive kitchen Tetris with everything else.  There’s a coffee table under there somewhere too.  I have a dish drainer set up in the bathroom.

It all feels very grown up, this kitchen business!  Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how I get on with having a kitchen fitted while preparing for a half marathon….

 

Kitchen decisions

Tonight I went to Ikea to finalise my kitchen design and get in the queue for installation.

Here’s a Pinterest board I’ve made with my choices:

Follow North London Kitchen’s board North London Kitchen on Pinterest.

The design actually all started with a tap:

 

I think I spotted this on Pinterest a while ago and I decided I had to have a copper tap. I kept an eye on the website – then one day the tap was out of stock, but they had a few very slightly blemished taps left at half price. I snapped it up. There is a tiny nick in the neck of the tap but nothing that wouldn’t happen after a few days’ use anyway I think.

I chose Ikea because they had the styles I liked most – in particular, white matte cabinet doors with integrated handles. The big difference between Ikea and other suppliers is other suppliers have a “service gap” at the back of their cabinets so all pipes etc are neatly hidden away. Ikea cabinets have their backs right to the wall so sometimes holes have to be cut for things to pass through. People will warn you that this results in more work, taking longer and costing more. My contractor poo-poohed this. He says he gets paid the same for kitchens from other suppliers like Wickes and sometimes pre-assembled cabinets have been assembled poorly, so there’s more control over quality if you do it yourself (or get your contractor to).

I was a bit torn over the worktop. I had been tempted by various acrylic worktops, wood, or even marble or composite stone. I hated laminate, that was out of the question. Then one day I went to a friend’s flat in Camden Town and saw her worktop in grey (my favourite colour) with a wood effect straight edging. It looked great. Laminate has the advantage of being both cheap and durable – compared to the other samples in store it was certainly holding up the best! It just seemed the sensible choice.

I soon realised that the issue with picking copper to base my kitchen around was that stainless steel would have to be ruled out. So white appliances and a white sink it is! I decided not to go with Ikea appliances as I couldn’t find enough reviews of them. Instead I trusted Which? reviews and decided mostly on Bosch appliances – mid-range and reliable, and also available in white.

I’m not leaving everything up to the contractors. I have a pantry down one end of my kitchen. It used to house (before I moved in) the boiler, fed by two steel pipes sticking up through the middle of my flat. The gas supply has now moved to the other corner of the kitchen so I had an engineer come over to confirm it was ok to take these out. Getting the pipes out involved first removing some floor tiles so I could get as close to the floor as possible with a hacksaw. A lot of chiselling and sawing later and victory was mine!

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There was also a copper pipe running around the top of of the wall from where the boiler used to be to the far corner of the kitchen, where the new boiler is. This was no longer needed, though it set me down the path of thinking about copper accents. It was also very easy to remove with a nifty (and safe) little tool called a pipe slice which cost all of about £3.

The upshot of all of this is there is now a lot more room in the pantry than there ever was before. I plan to fill this with Ikea’s IVAR shelving, which is customisable with things like bins, hooks and – most importantly – wine racks.

 

So this is how I spent my Friday night. But it’s all in the pursuit of better Friday nights to come entertaining friends at home – I can’t wait.