DIY Kitchen Makeover! (or How I Took My Kitchen From Blah to Ahhhh!)

Detail shot of peonies and brass lobster on salome marble table

It's finally time to show you my kitchen makeover! Hooray! This has been one slooooooooow makeover. Lots of things contributed to this dragging out for nearly a year, mostly life in general, coupled with a severe lack of time and sometimes a severe lack of energy, which I'm sure most of you can relate to!

With a ten year old girl, and a rowdy three year old boy who requires a fair bit of attention as kids do, it's almost impossible for both my husband and I to get stuck into a DIY project together. It's a constant juggling act, with so much stopping and starting. Nearly all the work was done by just one of us on weekends and evenings when the kids were in bed, or my husband would take the kids out on the weekend so that I could crack on with it. Divide and conquer.

I know the before wasn't completely awful, (especially in photographs!), but it was uninspired, felt dull and not very 'us' at all. We weren't using the space well, there were so many things that bothered me. I can't find an image of the overflowing ikea Expedit unit next to the fridge which was just became a junk and dust attractor, but it was kind of the straw that broke the camels back. One day I decided it just had to go, and then everything started to snowball. In a good way!

We inherited this kitchen we we bought the house about eight years ago, and the cabinets were an awful shade of darkest oppressive green (and I love green, but this was such a miserable shade!), and there were no splash-backs at all - nope not even behind the sink or hob. I slapped a few coats of white paint on the cupboards the day after we moved in, and stuck up the cheapest mosaic tiles I could find, thinking this would be a very temporary fix. Well of course, seven years later, the tiles were still there, I'd painted the cupboards grey, but the rest of the room remained pretty much unchanged. Except the floor. Oh the floor. I was given some vinyl flooring when a friend used the house as a location for a shoot, and for some inexplicable reason, I chose a shade of pink that I really dislike, thinking very very wrongly, that it would work in this room. To make matters worse, when we finally laid it, thinking it would at least be better than what we already had, we did a terrible job and it looked utterly dreadful. We all make mistakes, but in this instance I honestly don't know what I was thinking.

Anyway, moving on...

We had always intended to do our kitchen extension before we did any other major work on the house, to make the most of the redundant 'side return' space at the side of the kitchen, which in our case is an 8.5 square metre section of the garden that is never used. If added on to the kitchen we'd have a pretty big space to play with. But when I fell pregnant with Baxter, we soon realised that doing the loft conversion would by far be the more sensible option, giving us an additional two bedrooms and a second bathroom. So that's what we did, and the kitchen sadly stayed the same.

However, we still intend to do the extension one day, so I had to consider that with every pound spent in this makeover. Well, almost every pound - I needed to have a bit of fun too! This is not our 'forever' kitchen, so I couldn't justify spending as if it were - much as I might have liked to. The aim was to make it more liveable and a lot more loveable in the meantime, but working with what we already had - without replacing anything major like the units or worktops, and without moving radiators or plumbing etc.

So here are a few before shots, some prettier than others, but you can get an idea of how it has looked over the last seven years.

Before shot of kitchen with white cupboards and laminate floor
Not long after we moved in with white units and laminate floor

Magazine images of old kitchen before makeover
The kitchen in Home magazine back in 2011
Bench Seat being built from kitchen cabinets and MDF
A rare shot of the dreaded pink floor and the bench unit nearly finished before I decided to move it!
Messy kitchen before makeover
Okay, so the image above shows the kitchen at it's absolute worst! We'd taken the big Expedit unit out, and the contents of it and loads of DIY supplies just ended up being plonked here for weeks! This picture makes me feel very anxious. Urgh! And look how badly the walls needed painting. Don't fret, the Eternity neon has since been relocated to the living room.

I posted my moodboard back in June last year, and I think I've stayed pretty true to it which is kind of surprising considering how prone I am to changing my mind, though there has been the odd change and addition - the flooring being one of them.

We did things a bit backwards with this makeover because when we started all the work, we hadn't intended to change the floor again, even thought I'd obviously wanted to. However, in the end it seemed a shame to do all that work and not replace it with an affordable compromise, and I knew it would dramatically change the room for the better. So no, we didn't go for the poured resin or herringbone parquet of my dreams. The compromise was not even tiles, as we decided they'd be too cold and we didn't want to install underfloor heating. The compromise was actually a concrete look laminate. WHAT??!! Yes, there is a time and a place for cheap flooring despite what some people will tell you, and this was one of them.

We ripped out that pink vinyl (I WAS SO HAPPY!!) and the god awful laminate we'd covered up with it, and installed the concrete laminate and I love it. Because of the lines, it actually makes the room feel much wider, and despite it being grey, the room now feels brighter too. That pink was wrong on so many levels, but I didn't realise how much darker it had made the room.

Old kitchen floor being ripped up before DIY makover
The floor being ripped out! Hooray!
New Kitchen Floor Indus Concrete Laminate
The new 'Indus Concrete' laminate
We've done a LOT in this room to make it a nicer place to be in, and I've achieved more than expected - I'm so pleased with the finished result. It's cosy, comfortable and totally multi-functional. With two seating areas it feels like a living, dining and kitchen all in one, which is great if someone is watching television in the living room and I feel like listening to music and reading (a magazine of course - you didn't actually think I had time to read BOOKS did you?!). I often don't go into the living room in the evenings at all now. Result!

Wide Shot of kitchen with concrete laminate floor and palm bench seat

The pictures really speak for themselves - it's quite a dramatic change, but here's a list of what we did. My very patient husband did loads - especially taking over a few of the big jobs like the tiling and flooring. I hope you're comfy, because this is a long list...

• Removed the old mosaic tile splash backs.

• Tiled an entire left hand wall incorporating the splashback, and the splashback opposite, in matt black hexagon tiles. An absolute bastard of a job, but the results were absolutely worth it.
Boy helping with the porcelain hex tiles
Baxter 'helping' me by adding as many spacers as possible!
Hex tiled wall before grout
Finally making progress, but this was the easy bit! Before grout obvs!
• Painted the lower cabinets and kick-boards in Farrow and Balls Hague Blue (aka my new favourite colour). I'd previoulsy painted them in Little Greenes Lamp Black, but I changed my mind and wanted a bit more colour. Yes, I know.

• Painted the upper cabinets in Little Greenes Urbane Grey. A really pretty, soft true grey.

• Replaced the cupboard and drawer knobs with stepped brass numbers. A total game changer. Not the satin brass ones from Schoolhouse Electric in the US that I really wanted to use, but I eventually tracked down some polished brass ones in the UK that look fabulous. I wrote a post about them here.

• Replaced the old health and safety nightmare of an extractor fan (can you say MANKY?!), with a cheap Ikea one, really just for the light and so as not to leave an odd gap - I'm not convinced it actually does much!

• Ripped up the old pink vinyl flooring, and the original hideous 'wood' laminate underneath. You might think from some of the before photos that the original floor looked okay, but trust me here - it was VILE.

• Installed concrete look laminate. Not a particularly easy DIY I must say, and at one point I thought we were going to have to call in help, but we persevered and did it ourselves. We did a great job in the end, and now I've finished all the edges properly it really looks fab.

• Installed under cupboard lighting.

• Converted the old country style in built plate rack into and open shelf. I love the way this easy DIY has really updated the feel of the kitchen, and given me a pretty little open shelf. I love the look of open kitchen shelving, but I'm just not organised and tidy enough to have it. So it's nice to have just the one shelf for bowls and pretty ceramics without putting all the not so pretty and certainly not so tidy stuff on display.

I added a bronze tinted mirror as a splash-back here to add a little glam. I love bronzed mirror, it's like you've dimmed the lights on normal mirror, so it's not so in your face obvious, but still does a good job of throwing light around. It has a seventies feel about it and it's definitely glam and a bit sexy. When we did our loft we were going to do a whole wall in tinted mirror, but then ran out of funds (Boo!) and Baxter was almost due, so it went by the wayside, but I'd still love to do a whole wall one day. More on this and other ways to add a bit of glam without breaking the bank soon.

Kitchen sink area with reclaimed tap and open shelf converted from plate rack
Reclaimed sink and tap and the open shelf that used to be a plate rack, with bronzed mirror splash back
• Sold the oval table and replaced it with a small rectangular walnut veneer table. I've changed the placement of the new table a few times, can't work out what works better.

• Bought in a metal bench from the garden for one side of the table and popped a sheepskin on it - perfect for the small people who get a bit wriggly and fally-offy at the dinner table!

• Installed a shelf above the fridge for vase and platter storage. And added brass butchers hooks to hang utensils below.

• Repainted the ceiling in brilliant white and the walls in Little Greenes Rubine Ashes (a paler and slightly warmer grey than the upper cabinet colour). Not sure about my colour choice here. I feel like it could take a bit more colour like Hay from Farrow and Ball, but we'll see if I can actually be bothered to do that! I'm so over painting at the moment, but already have a huge 'to be painted' list!

• Repainted all the woodwork in Wimborne White by Farrow and Ball. It always refreshes a space so much when you give the woodwork a fresh coat.

• Relocated the large Expedit ikea cabinet to my studio where it's much more useful - now holding stock and materials rather than junk!

• Installed a wall light next to the bench seat. I already had a spare one from Ikea, so I have compromised on the beautiful brass sconce I'd like to have put in, but you know, you can't have everything.

• Built a bench seat out of Ikea kitchen cabinets and MDF. This is perhaps my favourite thing about the entire makeover. It makes it infinitely more sociable and comfortable and with all that added storage. I'll do a separate post about this soon.

I then changed the floor plan and moved the bench seat to the opposite wall, but it didn't fill the whole wall, there was a 35cm gap which looked bad, so we added a little box to the end of it which acts as an end table and bookshelf. I just picked up a piece of 'extreme marble' for the top and I love it!

• Made a cover for the bench seat. Somebody give me a medal!! I started off all 'you want HOW much to make a box cover for a piece of foam??!!', to 'I'll pay you double!! HELP!!!', but of course once I had started it was too late. It took me probably 20 hours, never having made anything of the sort before, but I'm pretty proud. Next time I'll get someone else to do it as mine isn't perfect and if you're going to invest in beautiful fabric, you want a professional job. I do adore that fabric.

• Changed the sink and tap. We finally put in the discarded Franke sink complete with tap, that I'd grabbed from outside a neighbours house probably two years ago. Can you believe that? What a score. This was the only thing we called in help for, as the sink was not an ideal fit and required a fair bit of jiggery-pokery by our plumber friend. It only just fitted. Phew! No money changed hands here - my husband traded skillz for denim. Yeah I know.

• Put a new washer kit on the what turned out to be a leaky tap! Meaning the new sink and tap cost £4!

• I found a gorgeous vintage aztec style rug on ebay for £24.00 which is perfect in here. It warms things up a bit and keeps it feeling relaxed.

• Sanded and oiled the worktops.

Kitchen bench seat with matt black hex tiled wall and plants

PHEW! Is that enough??!! Well, it will do for now, but in a perfect world I'd still....

• Change the worktops

• Replace the oven and hob with an all in one cooker that doesn't require the awful and very odd bit of raised worktop as demonstrated currently. I mean, really?! This is up there with some of the stranger things the previous owner of our house did. But until we do the 'forever' kitchen or it dies (she says hopefully), this will sadly stay as is.

• Replace the fridge. I don't do red, but we have a red fridge because my husband bought it just before we met, and it's still hanging in there 14 years later. Dammit. It's also not a family friendly fridge as it doesn't have a separate freezer, just a silly ice-box style internal one. I'm planning on buying a friends big American style fridge when they start their major kitchen renovation - that can't happen soon enough.

• Figure out a way to fit in a dishwasher and dryer. Yes we currently live in the dark ages with no dishwasher, and a clothes dryer that's located down some death-trap rickety stairs in the cellar. Not ideal, but I can't see how we can fit them in without sacrificing major cupboard space or spending a fortune putting plumbing it in on the other side/end of the room, relocating the radiator etc. I'm so used to it that it's not a deal-breaker right now, and I'd rather spend money on pretty things.

Other than putting up some hanging plants and perhaps boxing in the boiler, it's pretty much done in here. I might paint the black cupboard doors on the bench seat Hague Blue to match the rest of the lower units, but as I've said, I'm a bit painted out at the moment.

Oh, and there's one more thing I'm planning on doing in here to add a bit more glam. But you'll have to wait for that post. The devil's in the detail!

Kitchen Before and After French For Pineapple Blog

So, there you have it. My nearly year long kitchen makeover. I'd love to know what you think!

Baxters Blue Bedroom Makeover

Blue Boys Room French For Pineapple

I had a lovely afternoon on Saturday photographing Baxters bedroom for this post. I don't really spend much time in there as my husband does most bed times, but it's such a lovely room with a view of the garden and it's filled with lots of things that belonged to Edie when she was little that have been handed down, given to her by friends and family so it is really rather special. I've bought very little for this room makeover as most things we've owned for years - the walls really do most of the talking which is testament if you needed it, to the transformative powers of paint!

This room was my studio when we first moved into this house over seven years ago. I out-grew it pretty quickly, then the room swapping began, and we moved Edie in. Then it became the guest room, and now it’s Baxters bedroom. We like to switch rooms a LOT around here. When I say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’, and my husband definitely doesn’t ‘like’ it. He does tolerate and facilitate it however, so I’m not complaining.

This is what the room looked like about five years ago when it was Edie's bedroom (she was five). Our house has been in several magazines over years, these top images were taken from a book called London Family Style by the Japanese publishers Paumes, and the bottom image was shot by the lovely Ben Anders for Home Magazine. The article was published in 2011, but I think the shots were taken earlier than that - perhaps in 2010. Looking back through these images is like falling into a time warp and I can't believe how much nearly every room in the house has changed, and indeed my taste!

In the interest of keeping it real, this is what the same room looked like about six months ago when it was the spare room and about to be transformed into Baxters bedroom. To be fair, this shot was snapped on my phone, at night time, once the chaos of the big room swap had already taken hold. It didn't always look quite this bad, but boy, it really makes a good 'before' shot. Are you ready? I'm not sure I am...

Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

See?! There's a hoover, a filthy sponge, cleaning products, a paint tray and roller, and a ladder in the window reflection. That's proof that I was about to start redecorating and that we don't actually live like this! Not all the time anyway.

I was determined to get him into this room and into his 'big boys bed' before my mum arrived from New Zealand on the 19th of December, which I did do, but the finishing touches have only just been done, because you know, life got in the way. So without further ado, here it is now, finally ready for it's close up!

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

I wanted Baxter to love his bedroom and feel involved with the big move, so I asked him if he wanted to choose the colour and he very definitely wanted blue. I was pretty pleased with his decision and might have steered him toward the final choice, which is this beautiful St Giles Blue by Farrow and Ball. It slightly scared me when I first started rolling it on, because it’s not exactly a subtle choice, but it didn’t take long for me to totally fall for it - it’s such a deep rich colour, and doesn’t feel cold at all.

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

I had intended to change the green roman blind to a simple dark grey roller blind from Ikea, but I’m still undecided and actually quite like the combination, so I’ve left it as is for now. His wardrobe was from Habitat a few years ago, it’s been taken apart and moved several times (sorry Ed!!), and is still nice and solid - I love that it’s not too tall so it doesn’t dominate the room as the ceiling in this room is low. The top also acts as a shelf for more toys and jigsaw puzzles. The Stuva range from Ikea is quite similar. 

The window was in bad shape, so I couldn’t get away without re-painting all the woodwork too - but it’s made a huge difference and I’m so pleased I didn’t decide to ignore it. The door took so many coats I lost track - going back to white from a mid-grey is never going to be quick. But I do love this cute elephant robe hook from Anthropologie, and some might not, but I like the mix of cold and warm whites.

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

We’ve installed a new light that I picked up from Heals in their sale (reduced from £100 to £30!), which I wasn’t 100% sure would work in this room, but I love it. It has a long flex and we've hooked it up so it hangs over his reading area. A friend pointed out that it looks a bit like a torch. A very shiny torch - who says a boys room can’t have a bit of bling?

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

Up until yesterday, there was a rather large cardboard space ship taking up pretty much a quarter of his room. It was a Christmas gift and possibly the best £25 I’ve Santa has ever spent. I actually thought it would have fallen apart by now, but it’s surprisingly good, heavy-duty quality, so for now it’s been dismantled and stored behind his wardrobe. It’s only a five minute job to re-build it when he wants to play with it again and freeing up that space has made his room feel huge. I think he will enjoy playing in there even more now with the extra space, and I will certainly spend more time in there reading with him. He loves lying on the floor playing lego and cars and reading books, so the new reading corner has lots of cushions alongside his über cute vintage wicker chair which was an eBay purchase a while back. Little Boy Blue himself popped in to see what I was doing to his room, and as you can see he was pretty happy - 'it's the best reading corner EVER, and I want it to stay like this for ever and ever!’.

The denim cushions are from H&M. I made the cross cushion from a piece of felted wool (an old passing hobby), the Bahia and Panama cushions are from my Tropica collection, and the black and cream circles cushion is made from Designers Guild fabric. I made the tiny chair cushion from some linen and green zebra print cotton that I got from eBay.

The sheepskin is a faux one from Ikea - I have a stash of them - they’re great for chairs, backs of sofas, the end of the bed, beside the bed, you name it - you can never have too many sheepskins. The road rug was also from H&M and so much nicer than the road rug that Ikea do (but I don't think it's available anymore - eek!)

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

His bedside table is the Rast chest of drawers from Ikea, painted with blackboard paint, with knobs from Anthropologie (again, not a recent purchase). The cat light was Edie’s when she was a baby, but you can still buy them here. I picked up the rubber lion at a school car boot sale, and the money pot was a gift from my husbands Aunt. The alphabet artwork above his bedside table is by Ben Eine. We bought it probably nine years ago, but you can pick up something similar from Nelly Duff, or obviously find a more affordable option. The safety pin artwork is by me.

The 'Oliver' bed was also Edie’s, purchased over seven years ago. I thought about spraying it a dark charcoal grey, but I’m not sure about doing such a big spray job myself and I don't want to ruin it, so I’m leaving it for now. You can still get this bed from Feather and Black. I fear she may soon get bored of her current high sleeper and want this one back, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Blue Boys Room Makeover French For Pineapple

His bedding is also from H&M - they do really affordable 100% linen bedding and I have it in both the kids rooms and the guest room. He sleeps with an absurd number of soft toys in his bed - we’re not allowed to take any of them away, they just get added to. It really is a wonder he sleeps so well.

Blue Boys Room Makeover Bookshelf  French For Pineapple

The bookshelf is from The Great Little Trading Company. These front facing bookshelves are great value and quality. I’d actually like to put one in the living room for displaying pretty books and paint it the same colour as the walls. In fact it’s tempting to have one in every room. Yes, I like it LOTS. I should admit that he has more books in his wardrobe and that this one doesn't hold them all, but I try to keep the numbers in check because kids books are one of those things that can get out of hand - blink and suddenly you have hundreds of them, so I try to go through them regularly and get rid of any that he’s grown out of.

Not pictured are the three felt toy baskets under his bed, yet another H&M purchase that has been so great. It’s easy to let kids toys take over the entire house, but this is one thing I’m quite vigilant about. If they have too many toys and they’re too chaotic, broken or with parts missing etc, they just don’t play with anything properly, or at all, so I try to go through his toys and sort them out every two weeks or so. I throw out anything that’s broken, and donate anything he doesn’t play with anymore. Of course some things are too precious to give away, like the big spinning top that actually belongs to Edie that was a gift from Ed’s parents, which we’ll always keep, but a broken plastic helicopter? BIN IT!

One day we’ll be replacing the lilac carpet with a charcoal one, but it’s pretty low on the list of priorities right now.

So that’s it for Baxters 'new' room! What do you think? He always wants to show visitors so I think that means he really likes it. I certainly do, and it will be so easy to update it as he grow up.

When Edie saw his finished room yesterday she thought it looked 'awesome', and I could almost see the cogs turning in her brain - I know she's hankering for her room to get a little makeover, so she might have to be next on the list.

And so the redecorating domino effect continues...

Elusive Brass Knobs and Pulls

When I was looking to replace my hideous kitchen cupboard knobs with contemporary brass ones, I quickly realised it was not going to be easy. It seemed the only option was to either spend upwards of £40 per knob, be stuck with really old fashioned / traditional shapes, or order them from the US or Sweden.

I'd have loved these hexagon ones from Schoolhouse Electric. They're simply perfect and not too expensive, but try as I might, I couldn't justify the shipping and customs charges on top, which suddenly makes them not quite so affordable.

I also adore these beautiful simple ones from Superfront, but I needed seventeen, which really pushed the price up quite substantially. These are great if you only need a couple, but buying seventeen was out of the question for me. So frustrating!

A quick look online throws up a gazillion 'traditional' or hideous 'designer' shapes if you want a brass finish. I searched high and low relentlessly for weeks on end, then one day I stumbled upon M Marcus. I think I actually let out a squeal of delight as I had finally found great selection of shapes at really reasonable prices, IN THE UK! I now have hardware from their Heritage Brass range (I know, don't let the Heritage bit put you off) on my bedside tables, kitchen cupboards and bedroom drawers. Do shop around for the best price - I found quite drastic price differences for the same pieces online. This place has a good selection at low prices.

Unfortunately they don't do a satin brass finish, (they do an antiqued version and I don't like the black tones in it) which would be a great addition to their range as it feels a bit more modern. I'd have probably chosen that if there was an option, but at least there finally is an affordable brass option, and I do love the polished finish - it's super glam. These are great quality - solid heavy brass and they just feel so nice to touch. No sharp edges here. They have a 92 page catalogue on their site which also includes door hardware, hinges, and house numbers. They have something to cater for every taste, you have to sift through to find the good stuff, but it's worth it!

I have also since discovered Beslag Design, which are available here. They have some great shapes available in brass and copper finishes which is really quite exciting. I haven't used any of these yet, (but I do have a project in mind!), so I can't vouch for the quality, but they're worth investigating if you're in the market.

Changing the handles on our rather rickety old kitchen cupboards has definitely given them a much needed facelift. We're on the final push for the so called 'mini' kitchen makeover by the way, so I promise to share that as soon as possible!

I'm still confused as to why the trend for brass in particular is taking so long to filter down to the high street for cupboard hardware. There's been a move  away from silver/chrome happening for some time now and I'm surprised the likes of Ikea haven't presented an offering yet. Perhaps they're waiting to see if it's a passing fad, which we know of course, it's not.