I’m so excited to finally reveal our kitchen makeover which you may have spotted on Instagram.
Having used it daily for the past three months, I’m delighted to say that this is now the perfect kitchen for us in terms of storage, usability and design. I absolutely love it! In fact, there isn’t a single thing I would change.
At home, our living space (kitchen, dining, lounge) is open-plan.
So this is really the heart of our home and the room we spend most of our times as a family. We eat, cook and entertain friends and family. It’s where we all gather and hang out together.
I also work from there on a corner of our Norman Copenhagen dining table.
SHOP OUR TABLE:
The kitchen before
The first time we did the kitchen up (and the whole house) was 12 years ago.
At the time, I wasn’t cooking much and a lot of my decisions were based on look, design and budget.
The kitchen had decent storage. Not so much after we relocated from London with our kitchenware & tableware (our London kitchen had plenty of storage!!)
Yet there were a few things that really bothered me…
The sole workstation on the right-hand side of the sink was only 1200mm. If the two of you are working in the kitchen at the same time, it’s
not ideal a flipping nightmare.
Our countertop was made of pinewood and over the years, had become stained with water. Despite several attempts to restore it to its former glory, it wasn’t looking great.
Then there were small aesthetic details but one specifically bugged me for years…the Ikea ceiling light we had to add, was in my field of vision and became more obvious that the three beautiful pendant lights by Kathleen Hills we had first hung.
Initially, I had planned to re-do only our bathroom (see my stories). Unfortunately, we got a water leak last June which seriously damaged the oak floorboard Steve and I laid twelve years ago.
So we decided it was time to re-do the kitchen and make it work harder and better for us now that we were living in our holiday home full time.
You can order the book HOW THE FRENCH LIVE here.
Our family requirements
This time I really spent a lot of time on planning the design of our kitchen, bearing in mind Steve’s requirements and my own.
When we have friends around, Steve is generally the one cooking and will often throw a kiwi roast on the BBQ and bakes his signature dish: a delicious Pavlova.
His requirements for the new kitchen were:
- two built-in ovens,
- plenty of space to prepare the food,
- an island facing our dining table so he could cook while talking to friends,
- and a breakfast bar.
I don’t cook extensively but I cut and chop fresh, organic food and make smoothies every day so my requirements were:
- a beautiful minimalist kitchen with plenty of storage,
- easy to clean,
- plenty of space to prepare the food.
As our home is located close to the beach and often welcomes large groups during Summer, I wanted a kitchen that would exude a summery, feel-good, happy vibe while at the same time, being easy to clean to make everyone’s life easy.
I was inspired by a few timeless, white kitchens I had featured on the blog such as this industrial kitchen in London fitted with Smeg appliances and the white kitchen with concrete floor that Pella designed for her home.
I was also very inspired by the natural touches of this home in the Scandinavian countryside, which reminded me of the hues of our local sanded beaches.
As my style is minimalist with natural touches – think simple lines, white & light grey hues, stonewashed linen and natural utilitarian accessories on display, here is the mood board I created for our kitchen
Finding the right tradesmen
When we did the house up twelve years ago, it was my first major house renovation and I made several rooky mistakes. One of them was hiring tradesmen who turned out to be cowboys.
This time around, I also spent a lot of time finding the right builders, getting recommendations from friends & tradesmen I worked with and trusting my guts feelings. Then I nurtured the relationship during the renovations which in the end paid off.
While we experienced a certain degree of delay and frustration with the delivery of the kitchen units, everything else went smoothly. Mostly because all the tradesmen involved were fantastic and did everything they could to make up for the delay.
You can see the building work done before fitting the kitchen here.
Designing our kitchen
When designing your kitchen, it is usually recommended to follow the golden triangle (see below) and have the sink, hob/oven and fridge/freezer close to each other.
This means allowing at least 1000mm between facing units and 1200mm if you need to open an oven or fridge.
To follow this, we had planned to move the door frame across to have a 1200mm gap between both the kitchen counter and the island.
The builder started knocking down the original door frame to move it sideways but when I came home, I realised how the kitchen would benefit from an enlarged door frame. So we decided to leave it that way.
The door frame leading the kitchen to our recently renovated hallway is now 1250mm wide.
The space between both counters is 1400mm, slightly larger than normal but it works well, especially when the three of us are in the kitchen at weekends.
Having an enlarged doorframe has opened up the kitchen, giving it a more spacious and modern feel. It’s definitively something I will do again.
While I’m really loving the new layout of the kitchen and increased storage, the small details make it even better to use on a daily basis…
Like the spice drawer right next to the hob, the deep pull out drawers that allow us to get things easily (they are more expensive than cupboards with fixed shelves but if you can spare some budget, go for it. It’s a game changer), the dishwasher right next to the sink and the moulded drainer in our countertop. As I said…just details but they make the whole kitchen works better for us.
Having decent workstations to have several people in the kitchen at the same time, was important to both Steve and me.
We have now two stations we can both work from. The one on the right-hand side of the sink (#15) is 1200mm wide and the one on the right-hand side of the hob is 1140mm wide and can be used from both sides (kitchen side or dining room side).
As we wanted to achieve a minimalist, streamlined look, we decided to replace our large American style fridge freezer. with a built-in fridge.
One thing to bear in mind is that integrated fridge freezers contain a lot less than freestanding fridge freezers.
Rather than compromising on its capacity, we chose a tall, integrated larder fridge to accommodate large groups and fitted a small integrated freezer next to it, which leaves us plenty of room to store frozen food.
For the appliances on display like the ovens and hob, I chose SMEG for the simple reason that I’ve always loved the brand design especially the classic range designed by Architect Guido Canali.
It’s the brand I used when we renovated this home and this one on Airbnb (now sold to my best friend) and my first flat in Stoke Newington. The only time we didn’t go for Smeg was during the London kitchen renovations because…you know…compromises you make when you’re in a loving relationship so it says loving :-)
Like in our London kitchen, we decided to have two ovens. A bit of a luxury but if you have the budget and like cooking, it’s one decision you will not regret. Both are regularly used together in our home.
The models we have are:
- the Classic multifunction built-in Oven SFP6378X: It has 11 cooking functions including defrosting and Smeg’s Turbo Circular, which allows you to cook multiple dishes with no flavour transfer. It’s also easy to clean and has an ‘A’ energy efficiency rating. Order yours here.
- The smaller size is the Classic combination Steam oven: This one has 20 cooking functions such defrost by time, weight and Rising. It has also several steam cooking functions which are great if you cook a lot of vegetables and want to keep all the nutrients in your food. This one has an ‘A+’ energy efficiency rating.
- Our hob is the induction hob SI5643D: As you probably know, induction is faster than gas cooking and more energy efficient than ceramic hobs. It takes just over a minute to heat a pint of water and is easily wiped clean. You will find various hob models at John Lewis here.
If you are a die-hard gas cooking fan, the Dolce Stil Novo series in stainless-steel looks amazing.
SMEG is one of the few brands to have an extractor with a minimalist design so I also ordered the KSEG90XE-2 canopy cooker hood.
However, when our Electrician came back to fit the underfloor heating in the bathroom and the extractor, he realised that our ceiling was made of bricks and this would mean finding a builder that could make a hole in our kitchen ceiling.
By then, I had already painted the kitchen and frankly, I couldn’t bring myself to re-do it once the extractor was fitted.
Since we have a large French door opening onto the garden, we decided to keep the cooker hood for our next renovation project (yes you’ve read properly!): CASA PYLA
If you head to London, I recommend you visit the SMEG flagship store on Regent Street. It’s not far from Arket and you will get the chance to see the products you may consider for your kitchen and discuss your requirements with a Specialist (you can book an appointment here).
Having previously used a pinewood worktop (this home), an oak worktop (London flat in Stokey) and a Corian worktop (London home), I was keen to find a hard-wearing material, easy-to-care-for.
As much as I like the look of wood in the kitchen, it is a material I will never use again for the worktop. Realistically speaking, if you like your kitchen to be clean and tidy like me and you grab the sponge regularly, forget about wood (at least on the kitchen counter!).
After doing some research, I came across some beautiful quartz countertops at my local marble workshop.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a marble workshop but it’s quite an experience to see all these beautiful slates of quartz Silestone, marble and ultra-compact surface Dekton. My mind was racing in front of all the possibilities on offer for the kitchen and bathroom.
During my first visit, I took three samples with a suede finish (very soft & tactile) from the Eternal collection by Silestone by Cosentino.
The Eternal Serena, which was my first choice, looks like concrete with fine, gentle, white lines drawn through to its depths. I also took samples of the Eternal Calacatta Gold and the Eternal Statuario. Both look like white marble with elegant, wide grey highlights, more or less pronounced depending on the model.
Since then, I have found out that the Silestone by Cosentino countertops are stain-resistant (my Corian worktop wasn’t), scratch and shock-resistant and they come with a 25 years guarantee.
Once we chose the Eternal Statuario, the marble Worker came to measure our kitchen and ordered the slates of quartz for us. The slates took about 2 weeks to arrive.
It usually takes another 3/4 weeks to carve them to your kitchen measurements (subject to workshop’s workload).
Luckily it was June and they managed to carve them for us quicker but bear this in mind for your planning.
We also used the Eternal Statuario for our backsplash which runs fromwall to wall. To this day, I’m still amazed at how luxurious our kitchen feels and looks with the Silestone countertop despite being fitted on Ikea units.
They also do large slates for bathrooms which I would have loved to use but timewise it wasn’t possible so maybe for our next project Casa Pyla.
In London, we had a large sink. It looked great but was a pain to keep clean as the food was always staying on the edges.
In France, the Ikea sink we had was too small to soak large dishes.
After measuring my dishes, I ordered this stainless-steel sink from Amazon, which is perfect.
Small tip: check the internal and external dimensions of your sink before ordering to ensure it will fit within your kitchen cabinet.
Finding a modern, simple, white tap (and affordable!) was not easy.
Vola makes beautiful designed and minimalist taps in various colours including a white one but it will set you back by about £500 at least.
SHOP WHITE KITCHEN TAPS
Using so much white throughout the house, one question that often comes back is what paint I used. I plan to write an article to summarize what paint I used in all the rooms.
So naturally, I went back to Dulux Valentine. As the Dulux Trade paint wasn’t available in France, I used the Dulux Valentine Colour Resist paint in pure white with a satin finish, which has been great.
The paint has a perfect consistency. It doesn’t drip when you apply it and you don’t have to press hard on your roll (if you are used to painting, you’ll know what I mean).
I didn’t use undercoat in the kitchen as our walls were already white. For the bathroom, I found that one coat of undercoat on new plaster boards and two coats of paint did the trick to obtain a smooth, regular finish.
Like the Dulux Trade used in London, the Colour Resist paint in pure white by Dulux Valentine is washable, doesn’t get yellow and is a proper pure white.
In London, having white walls painted with washable paint really helped to keep my sanity.
More than once, I managed to get rid of scuff marks by using just a sponge and a bit of washing-up liquid. This saves me from having to re-paint the whole room.
And that’s about it!
I hope I have covered everything. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below so everyone can benefit from your queries. I would also LOVE to hear what you think.
You can follow our next renovation project @casapyla here.
Compagnie de Provence hand soap is available from END‘s flagship store in London and LookFantastic online
Black ceramic pot used to store sponge from Zakkia Homewares
INHALE fine art print, from 60 euros
Le Parfait jar, from £3.92
Vertuo coffee machine, from £99.99
Wooden chopping boards, from £20