Thanks for visting Simply The Nest. I'm an English girl married to an Portuguese boy, and when I'm not working or taking care of our three adorable daughters, I blog about our house renovation, DIY projects, and family life in a Victorian Manchester nest.

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Kitchen Inspiration Board


Here's the inspiration board that I made to pull together the look for the new kitchen. These days I'm all about the technology, but my first boards were made retro-style, with paper, scissors and glue:

You can see a larger version of this image in the Inspiration Board photo gallery.

For years, I had been reading design magazines, ripping out the pictures I liked, and then leaving them to gather dust in a box under the bed, on account of the fact that I moved from one rented flat to another, and had to deal with a succession of landlords who had palpitations at the thought of so much as a drawing pin being stuck in the wall.

So when we finally bought our little house I couldn't wait to haul my dusty old pictures out and put them to good use. I spent hours going through that box, pulling out all the pictures I liked, dividing into piles for the kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedrooms and garden, and then dividing again into piles of pictures I really liked, kind of liked, wasn't sure if I liked, really liked but knew my husband Andre would hate, and so on.

The colour scheme for the kitchen came together really easily. I showed Andre a handful of very different possible kitchens to see which one he liked best. "The red one's all right", he said. All right then - a red kitchen it was. You can see this picture in the bottom right hand corner of the inspiration board.

The next step was to work out what kind of style to go for. I like a rustic vintage look, and Andre likes contemporary. OK then, we'll have contemporary (glossy red units) mixed with vintage/rustic (belfast sink and rustic-look oak flooring). What can I say, sometimes it works not to over-think these things.

Digression - we actually bought the house by following exactly the same process. We were at the very start of our house-choosing process, and I showed Andre some pictures of houses on the internet. "I like the look of that one", he said. I also liked the look of it, so we went to see it that day, put in an offer the next day, and moved in... about six months later cos it took soooooooooo long to get all those surveys undertaken, which are basically identical to the surveys that were undertaken by the people who owned the house before us, which are basically the same as the surveys that were taken by the people who owned the house before them, and so on. We now have fifty years worth of identical surveys sitting heavily in a box on the bookshelf upstairs.

Anyway, I know you are supposed to look at dozens of houses before you put your hand in your pocket and fork out more money than you will probably ever spend on anything else, EVER, unless of course you are Victoria Beckham and regularly drop the price of small houses in Harvey Nicks - but we bought the first house we saw and have never looked back.

For me, an inspiration board is just that - an inspiration for what you eventually create, rather than an example to be copied. But our kitchen pretty much turned out exactly the same as the inspiration board. Glossy red units? Check. Pale blue walls? Check. Belfast sink? Check. Rustic wood? Check. Stainless steel range cooker? Not only check, but we bought the identical model to the one on the right of the mood board.

Here's another photo of the Big Kitchen Installation in progress, with the inspiration board pinned to the wall to keep us going:

And here's a sneaky after photo:

More coming tomorrow!


The Big DIY Kitchen Renovation

Let's kick things off with a sneak peek at our DIY kitchen transformation. The whole process took two months, during which time we lived almost exclusively on shepherd's pie, because before we ripped out the hideous old cooker, I'd fortunately had the foresight to make a couple of huge shepherd's pies and freeze them, and unfortunately hadn't had the foresight to make anything else.

For those of you who are worrying about whether we came down with scurvy due to lack of vegetables, let me hasten to add that I supplemented the shepherd's pie with bags of fresh spinach from the local grocer. We also became deeply familiar with the menu of local pizza takeway (which has now sadly closed, maybe we were their only customers?) and the humble microwaved jacket potato. Delectable.

Anyway, that's enough about our eating habits (although I am thinking that How To Survive a DIY Kitchen Installation and Not Get Scurvy would be an interesting future post) - let's move onto what you've all been waiting for, the great Before and After photos!

So here's the first before photo. Not that bad, really - at least it's nice and light, despite the elderly wooden cabinets, boring white splashback tiles, and the came-with-the-house-and-hasn't-been-replaced-in-twenty-years kitchen sink:

Here's how it looks now:

Right now you're looking at this photo thinking either 'wow, red!' or 'eww, red!'. Naturally we think it's gorgeous - we love how the sleek lines of the modern cabinets and mixer tap contrast with the rustic-look wooden floors and traditional ceramic belfast sink, how the glossy red works with the pale blue walls, the black worktops, and the warm golden-brown floors - and how we've created a room that perfectly suits our quirky style, rather than trying to cater for the tastes of the people who will live in the house at some unspecified period of time in the future, particular when after the mammoth 'carrying all our furniture down three flights of stairs when we moved out of our old flat because the building didn't have an elevator' extravaganza that was our big house move, we decided we are Never Moving Again. This is it. We are Done. If ever we need more space, we'll get planning permission to put up a teepee in the back garden.

So here's the second before photo. Again, not too bad, if you like the whole 'let's place random pieces of furniture next to each other and call it a kitchen' thing:

And here's how it looks now:

Yay, more red! And a sneak peek at our beautiful range cooker. This photo was taken quite early in the day, when the light is just starting to pour into the kitchen. Truly, the best thing about DIY'ing your own kitchen installation (apart from the huge cost saving, natch) is that every time I sit on one of those kitchen bar stools with my morning espresso, looking out over the garden (which we also landscaped from scratch ourselves during one classic Manchester summer when it rained so much I thought we should probably stop building a deck and start building an ark - to be covered in a future post!), and I'm not covered in dust/paint/wearing dirty old overalls/peeling off endless layers of wallpaper/wielding a hammer - I think 'man, I really deserve this'.

Here's a few things to look out for in the photos:

  • The bottle of wine that the previous owners left for us (the before photos were literally taken the day we moved in)
  • What we did with the boiler
  • The one thing that we kept from the original kitchen.

I'll be back later with more details including the price breakdown, specific projects, and the mood board that inspired the renovation.


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