New kitchen – et voilà!

It’s a dull, drizzly-drazzly October Sunday and for once Colin and I (both suffering from heavy colds) have decided to award ourselves a day of rest. So I spent a quiet morning collecting and chopping the last of our tomatoes to make chutney and while I mused about how lovely it was to have a kitchen I enjoyed cooking in, I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t actually shown you the finished room! So this afternoon I’m sitting down to catch up a bit on the blog.

Let me take you back to this time last year…

Anticipating a kitchen-less winter at the mill we had crammed in a few ‘dinners for friends’ in November and December to keep up our side of the social round. They were a little bemused that we were ripping out a fairly recent kitchen which would obviously have cost quite a bit of money. But it just didn’t work. A small window (which couldn’t be enlarged) meant the area was dark and gloomy – not helped by the dark brown units and hideous green-and-red-splodge marble worktop that looked like the kind of culture you would find in a laboratory dish.

The kitchen, seen from the living room when we first viewed the mill

The hob and oven were squashed into a corner, where the adjacent unit had been cut back to allow room to stand in front of them but the drawer couldn’t be opened because the oven controls were in the way.

An enormous radiator next to the sink meant that I frequently burned myself when washing up and the poor fridge freezer next to it, struggled to cope.

So, we were REALLY looking forward to having  a kitchen we would enjoy cooking in.

After our somewhat challenging weekend collecting the new kitchen in the UK, we arrived back in France raring to go on the new project. Inevitably the day jobs got in the way for a few days but three days before Christmas Colin decided it would be a good idea to do a ‘test’ demolition of the wall dividing the kitchen from the living room.

The dividing wall between the kitchen and living room areas is gradually demolished

We had kind of assumed that this feature was built of concrete blocks faced with brick ‘slips’ but the initial exploratory blows with a sledge hammer produced nothing but a jarred shoulder. Lump hammer and coal chisel revealed that the wall was in fact solid brick, built in (appropriately enough) English bond. Two adjacent rows of brick with every other row having the bricks laid cross-wise. Not only that but the holed bricks that the previous owner had used each had 10 square holes, which he had very carefully packed completely with rock hard mortar on every brick. This meant that each brick had to be chipped out bit by bit.

After two bricks we decided that the exploration was complete and put the shelf back on the top!

On Boxing Day, (him, armed with his latest toy – a whacking great hammer drill thingy and me, with a lump hammer and chisel because I couldn’t even lift the drill!), we set to with renewed vigour. Four days and four van-loads of rubble taken to the tip later, the wall was gone.

Over the next few months our weekends were taken up with the following tasks:

  • Remove all old kitchen units, oven and hob
  • Remove radiator
  • Remove dividing wall between front door and kitchen and rebuild (it was cock-eyed and the previous owner had cut the corner off the back of the unit to make it fit.)
  • Replace old mouldy plasterboard and insulation behind sink and cupboards (from historical links – no damp now, luckily)
  • Install electrics for relocated oven, hob, extractor and fridge
  • New sockets
  • Down-spots, under-cupboard lighting and pendant lights over peninsula unit
  • Install new radiator by front door to replace kitchen one
  • Install all units, worktops, sink and appliances
  • Tile splash backs

The kitchen was all but finished by April but to be totally honest, the tiling of the walls didn’t happen until this month (ie October). The original tiles I had sourced in the UK just didn’t look right, so we ordered some more in France. Typically, they weren’t kept in stock and by the time they arrived 6 weeks later, summer had arrived, we wanted to be outside all day and I was already well into my summer project – a new terrace (watch this space!)

So there we are. What do you think? I’m really pleased with it and the first lot of friends to visit after installation of the new kitchen (a French couple who are very down-to earth  and habitually sceptical of our efforts) gave it a spontaneous ‘Waouh!’ when they walked in.

New kitchen from dining area
built in pantry, ovens and fridge-freezer
sink area
breakfast bar with drawer units
gas hob and wok burner

The old kitchen didn’t go to waste as the units went to a young couple who were just moving into their first home together in the village and the worktops were apparently just what a friend of ours was looking for, for her own kitchen makeover!

The floor will eventually be re-done when we do the whole ground floor (hopefully next year, funds permitting), so if any of you have any good ideas for a floor we can lay on top of  existing tiles, which will be suitable for kitchen, utility room,  living-room, guest bedroom and entrance – please let me know!

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