By Sarah Mayberry
This time next year, I am hoping that I will be standing in my new kitchen, looking out over my new living/dining room. I know that planning things 12 months out might seem a little excessive, but I suspect I am going to need all the intervening time to finalise all the choices me and my man need to make in order to get this renovation happening.
When we bought our house twelve months ago, we did so with the knowledge that we wanted to extend. I wanted to do a little extension - just adding on a medium-sized extra living space - but my husband was adamant. “If we’re breaking ground, we might as well go all the way”, he said. I’m not sure where he got this “breaking ground” catchphrase from, but it’s been bandied about quite a bit in our household lately. After some to-ing and fro-ing, we finally agreed (ie I caved in) that the more generous extension would be better value.
So. Sometime next year we will be adding a 10m x 6 m “box” (approx 32’ x 20’) to the back of our existing house. It will be attached to the current kitchen so that the kitchen will look out over the large open plan space. Our current living and dining spaces, which are connected via a wide archway (much less elegant than it sounds!) will become our library/office and writing room. Just writing the words “writing room” gets me excited. This space will be about 6m by 4m (approx 20’ x 13’) and will feature my Chinoiserie chaise lounge (a magnificent folly of a piece of furniture that I bought while we were living in New Zealand which has since plagued us to death because it is so BIG), and me and my man’s writing set ups. It will be spacious
and light and bright and soooo much nicer than any of the tiny little rooms I have been jammed into over the years. In case you can’t tell, I cannot wait to be in this space.
The new living and dining spaces will essentially be a big rectangle. The wall facing the yard will feature at least 3 sets of French doors to give us an outlook onto the pool and garden, really bringing the outside in to our home. At one end of the rectangle we will have an open fireplace with more French doors either side of it that will lead to our outdoor entertaining area.
I have so many ideas for how this new space might look, but as I start to gather information and costs I am beginning to realise that most of my wildest fantasies will go by the wayside. We are not millionaires, after all, and some sacrifices will have to be made. For example, the beautiful French Provincial style carved sandstone mantelpiece on the right is probably not going to make it into the final spec. It’s way too expensive, and as much as I love it the indulgence is not worth sacrificing lots of other things.
The kitchen is the area where we are going to have to make the most decisions, I think. I have been trawling real estate pages and decorating magazines for months now, grabbing images of kitchens that I love. Finally, after months of debating and looking and wondering, I think we have finalised the “look” for our new kitchen. We are going to go for very simple “Shaker” style doors and drawers. We will have a large island bench/counter, and I plan on stealing a couple of the design ideas from this kitchen - see the big old ice box hinges and latches on the island cupboard doors? We love these, and I have already found a supplier on line who can get these to us. It’s a bit different, but also subtle and we think it will be a great design feature, along with the metal base caps on the “pillars” of the island. So, basically, we are rather shamelessly going to "steal" the look of this island bench/counter.
We would like to be slightly daring with color in our kitchen and are going to go with a black island bench/counter and white cabinetry on the wall. We will have a “chimney breast” style mantel above the freestanding oven to vent cooking smells
outside, and we will use a common bench top material/color to unite the island bench and the wall cabinetry. To the right is a picture of another kitchen that has used the black and white idea and which I am using as my inspiration.
I would love to have carrera marble counter tops, but all my research tells me that they are murder to maintain - they scratch, the surface is susceptible to acid etching, they stain. Someone on a blog I read claimed it was like having “a fourth child” to look after. Given I am not the neatest, most fastidious person in the world, I suspect carrera is not for me. So I am currently on the hunt for an alternative. There are a couple of engineered stone counter tops that mimic marble - my mission in the next few weeks will be to visit some showrooms and take a look at what this looks like on a large scale. If it looks good, I will be rapt - marble look + low maintenance = happy me!
Then there will be handles to choose, splashback tiles, tapware, sinks, etc, etc. We will need to wade through the myriad choices for door materials - vinyl wrap, melamine, 2-pac, solid timber, the list goes on - and start talking to kitchen companies about quotes. I was showing my friend all these ideas on the weekend and she told me my kitchen is going to cost $50,000. Needless to say, I nearly fell off my chair. I flat out refuse to pay so much for what amounts to a bunch of laminated timber. Maybe I’m tight, but spending the average person’s income on one room in a house strikes me as being crazy and unnecessary. So, I will be shopping around, sharpening my pencil and haggling with cabinetmakers and other tradespeople. I am a woman on a mission, and I am determined to prove that a beautiful kitchen does not need to cost an arm and a leg.
I would very much appreciate any tips, suggestions, warnings or advice you might have for me as we embark on this exciting project. Have you renovated a kitchen before? Are there things you would do differently the second time around? Are you planning your own renovation at some time in the future? I’d love to hear from you, and I will be giving away 2 books from my backlist, winner’s choice, to a random poster. Over to you!