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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Entries in Kitchen (19)


Spring Is Here And So Is Our New Kitchen

This post is in collaboration with Debenhams

When we moved it over five years ago, the kitchen we inherited was a tiny 2x3 metre space squeezed into a tower bay window with about 80cm of usable counter space, and not a single useable drawer of cupboard. With hindsight we should have spent time and money ripping it out and installing something cheap and cheerful, but with an 18 month old and another on the way, we didn't have the time or money to do anything about it. Then last year the builders came and ripped it out for us, and we relocated the entire kitchen, dishwasher and all, to the cellar. I prepared meals underground like a Victorian cook for a few months, and then we moved the kitchen upstairs to the new extension - not an actual kitchen, obviously, just a ramshackle collection of cabinets and wardrobe-door worktops, please may I. 

To be able to stand on my Moroccan cement tile floor, admiring my Ikea kitchen cabinets, plumbed-in sink, three ovens (well why not splurge after five years of a single oven that was too small to fit the Christmas turkey in) and new scaffold board worktops (installed today!) feels incredible. The novelty of storing our cereal boxes in an actual kitchen cabinet drawer instead of a random plastic box along with a load of onions and wooden pegs is almost too much for my sensibilities.

Pictures? Why, certainly. Here are some progress photos, starting with the roofless breezeblock extension from about this time last year. 

And look! Beautiful rustic plank worktops (hot off the press!) with delectable washing-up accessories (so close to not having to wash all our vegetables in the bathroom sink, oh the convenience) and pretty star lights and vases.

It's so lovely having everything feel all new and clean and fresh and Spring-like after years of living with a kitchen that just felt grimey despite our best efforts. 

Next up - finish, sand and oil the worktops. Fit the tap and induction hob. Fit the scaffold board open shelving. Hang the last couple of wall cabinets. Customise a cabinet to fit around the pillar so we can finish the peninsula. Compared to what we've churned through so far, we should knock this lot out in a week or so. Follow along on Instagram if you like, which is where I post most of my day-to-day renovation pictures. 

Debenhams provided me with a number of kitchen and home decor accessories as part of their Spring home 2017 campaign. All words and images are my own. This post does not contain affiliate links. 


The Cellar Kitchen

Today I'm have sharing an insight into the darker side of renovation - literally. We have been living in the house during our building works - because the work is taking place entirely on the ground floor, moving out would have added unnecessary cost, and even if we'd wanted to move out, I doubt we'd have found a short-term let locally that allowed dogs.

While the builders were working externally, we were largely unaffected. Even when they knocked down the back of the house, the building site was partitioned off from the part we were living in, so it wasn't too bad, albeit a bit chilly. However, when the time came to rip the old kitchen out, I'd say that's when we started to notice the presence of the builders ;-)

Having lived through a two-month kitchen renovation at our old house with only a microwave and a panini maker, I was adamant that we would not be spending weeks and weeks washing up in the bath and feeding the children takeaways this time round.

Our solution? Move the entire kitchen into the cellar, Victorian style. Behold - we are living underground like moles:

My favourite part of the room is the baby bouncer that lives under the table, air-raid style, to prevent plaster raining down from the ceiling onto baby Elodie's head.

The room used to look like this so we had a lot of clearing to do first!

And how it looks now from the opposite corner:

Actually it's not too bad. We've got a sink, washing machine and tumble-dryer, fridge-freezer (which joy of joys is in the same room as the rest of the working triangle for the first time in four years), electric oven, worktop space, microwave, toaster, kettle, and all our crockery and china; the latter thanks to Andre who painstakingly removed everything from the shelves, dissembled the Ikea unit, took it downstairs, reassembled it, and then took the china and glassware downstairs piece by piece and placed it back on the shelves (meanwhile I rested peacefully upstairs with eight-week old baby Elodie).

The only downsides are the fact that it's absolutely blooming freezing when it's cold outside, to the extent that you need to wear a parka while cooking (although quite pleasantly cool during the occasional scorchio day we've enjoyed recently,) it's a pain carrying trays of food upstairs Victorian-style to the bedrooms where we are mostly living, and our beloved Gaggia doesn't work as well as it should due to the colder ambient temperature. Middle-class problems... :-) We've managed to muster up some fairly decent chop, mind, despite the slightly unpropitious circumstances - including pulled pork (cellarpulledpork), espresso (cellarspresso), pizza (cellarpizza), and so on. Various lovely friends have also taken pity on us and provided delicious homemade meals to be warmed up, or invited us round for Sunday lamb or Spanish-style tapas. Thank you all!

I'm glad I didn't actually live here during the Victorian age, as I'd almost certainly have been a scullerymaid (if I was lucky) and spent most of my waking hours down here.

Mercifully, the plasterers have nearly finished so we're planning to relocate the temporary kitchen into the new kitchen space while we gradually install the new kitchen units.

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Possibly The World's Slowest Renovation Project

We moved in nearly four years ago. We lived in the house for a year to get a feel for the space and decide what we wanted to do with it. We spent another year finding an architect (Dan), finalising the plans, and getting planning permission. We then spent six months finding a builder (Tom), whose waiting list we have been on for 18 months (he is very good, and therefore very popular). It's therefore a tad ironic that after planning this for such a ridiculously long time, when I phoned Tom to nail down an actual date in January 2016 for him to come and start work on the extension and ground floor remodel, he asked "when's your baby due?" (yes, baby number three!), I told him the date, and he said "that's a co-incidence"...

Hell, I guess it's a middle-class problem to have - men turning up to dig holes in your garden on the same day as your baby is due. Could be a lot worse. Actually the only thing that could possibly make me happier than coming home with our new baby would be coming home with our new baby and finding a team of dudes in back garden digging a large hole (or having tea and biscuits, obviously). 

Here's what we're having done: 

  • Side and rear ground-floor extension to create new kitchen, utility area and downstairs WC
  • Fit folding sliding doors and a large roof lantern
  • Build a deck and terrace area outside with steps down to the main garden
  • Put glass panels into the walls around the stairwell so that it can be protected (therefore meeting building regulations) but also allow us to see all the way across the house
  • Knock through the front and back rooms and install double doors
  • Create a cloakroom and toy storage cupboard by pinching space from the current dining room with new access from the hall
  • Knock through the current kitchen and dining room
  • Install new drains outside the extension so that we can add ensuites in our bedroom and Eva's bedroom at some later stage. 

By the time all this has been done we'll have run out of money, so we're installing the kitchen ourselves, along with sanding existing floors and adding new, plasterboarding and plastering, installing woodwork, tiling, laying underfloor heating, moving radiators and so on. 

You can see my artistic impression of the plans here. More importantly though, kitchen! Our current kitchen is actually fairly functional considering its tiddly size, but I am nonetheless greatly looking forward to installing the dream kitchen we've been planning for four years, and having a working triangle that does not involve leaving the kitchen, passing through a lobby, and entering another room. 

Here are some of our inspiration pictures. I'm afraid that I'm going to be horribly lazy and say that all links can be found via my Kitchen Diner Pinterest board

Grey Ikea kitchen units (love Ikea kitchens) with a combination of floor to ceiling windowed cabinets and open shelving. 

Patterned, tiled floors. 

Subway, scallop or arabesque tiled backsplash (to provide a visual counterweight to the patterned floor).

Reclaimed wood worktops. 

We can't wait to get started. 2016 is going to be a very exciting year. 

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