interior design, Kitchens, our home in France
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Our white kitchen makeover

Le relooking de notre cuisine blanche, minimaliste

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.

BEFORE: Our kitchen featured in the book “How the French Live” by Siham Mazouz | French by Design

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.

My inspiration

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

Mood board for our white minimalist kitchen makeover

A white canvas with plenty of natural light and natural, textures touches

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.

BEFORE: Doorframe leading to hallway had a standard size.

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.

#2: Dishwasher, #3 sink, #4 & 9: deep pull out drawers, #5: freezer, #6: fridge, #7: ovens, #11: spice drawer, #11: hob, #12: cupboard (14 to 17 are wall cupboards)

our white minimalist kitchen makeoverWhile 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.

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

Having the dishwasher right next to the sink allows me to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher without making a mess.

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

Cleaning products are stored in the top drawer, rubbish & recycling bins in the bottom drawer

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

Having the spice drawer next to the hob is very practical while the Silestone countertop is very easy to wipe clean

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

The moulded drainer & spacious, waterproof countertop also enables me to use the kitchen as a laundry room when I need to soak stained linen before putting them in the washing machine

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

The white tap purchased on Ebay contributed to give a modern, minimalist feel to the kitchen

Having decent workstations to have several people in the kitchen at the same time, was important to both Steve and me.

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

When preparing the food, this island can accommodate up to 3 people and Mila uses it as a breakfast bar in the morning

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).A white minimalist kitchen makeover

Appliances:

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 :-)

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

The SMEG induction hob is easy to clean, energy-efficient and fast

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

Having two ovens allows us to cater for big family meals & large gathering while not spending the day cooking

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).

Worktop

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.

In the end, I felt the Eternal Serena may clash with the grey floor tiles I had chosen from my local store and went for the Eternal Statuario countertop.

A white minimalist kitchen makeover with a Silestone by Cosentino countertop

Our Silestone countertop has fine veins like marble but it is stain & shock resistant

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.

The sink

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.

The tap:

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.

In the end, I ordered this white kitchen tap from eBay France but this one looks similar.

SHOP WHITE KITCHEN TAPS

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

The moulded drainer can be made to your specs. The sink was fitted by our local marble workshop HM Deco

A white minimalist kitchen makeover

Wall paint

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.

In our home in London, I used Dulux Trade in Pure White. You can see it on the walls of our lounge in Grazia here & here, in our bedroom here and kitchen walls here.

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.

Our home is available for rentals here. Please check #cazauxbeachliving and feel free to email me if you wish to inquire about bookings at leblog (at)bodieandfou(dot)com.

You can follow our next renovation project @casapyla here.

Source list:
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

Credits: Golden triangle diagram by Kohler | Styling & photography: Karine Köng Photography

This article is posted in partnership with Silestone by CosentinoSmeg UK, Smeg France, and Dulux Valentine and contains affiliates links.



41 Comments

  1. Très intéressant et détaillé. Bravo pour cet article qui pointe toutes les petites (ou grandes) questions que l’on se pose avant de se lancer dans une nouvelle cuisine !

  2. Louise C. says

    Beautiful. Lots of information. I didn’t read it all because I didn’t want to regret any of my decisions 😄 I had mine redone less than 2 years ago. We worked with what we had, I needed a designer. The house was built in the early 20’s and the kitchen was very small, kitchens were not important in Canada at the time. It had 3 door entrances plus the one to the basement and a large window, basically not much space for cupboards. So we also did large drawers in the island for pots and pans and cooking utensils and a separate unit with drawers for the dishes. It had been renovated but by amateurs. The designer had a much better vision than me and totally opened the space on the dining room.

  3. Fair enough :-)) At least the day you are in the market to design a new kitchen, you can always come back and read the whole thing :-)))
    The most important thing is that you’re happy with yours and that the Designer managed to design something that works for you with the space you had

  4. Bravo, c’est canon. Apaisant et reposant… De belles histoires restent à écrire dans cette cuisine !! Bisous

  5. Michèle says

    I’m also planning to renovate my kitchen and picking the right countertop is the toughest part. I am an avid cook so stain, scratch and shock-resistant worktops are a must. Def going to check out the Cosentino countertops and hopefully they pass my ‘turmeric and lemon stain test’.

    • Yes. I know I didn’t want a wooden counter or something that looked too plasticky. The countertop by Silestone is made of 94% of quartz and the remaining 6% are materials that make it scratch, shock and stain free. Something my expensive Corian worktop wasn’t! I was panicking each time we put tomato sauce and tea stains was a nightmare too.
      Cosentino have another material called Dekton which is suitable for indoors and outdoors (great for an outdoor kitchen) so worth checking this one too

  6. ripert says

    merci il est top ce post!!
    vous devriez rajouter votre bouilloire car j ai acheté la même grâce à vous et elle est magnifique .
    EN PLUS demain je vais choisir la cuisiner de mon fils et je pense que ça va être très utile .
    JE SAIS QUE IKEA N A PAS été à la hauteur mais peut etre pouvez vous me renseigner : vaut il mieux un blanc mat ou brillant ? QUELLE EST LE MODeLE DES PORTES?
    Autre chose aussi l idée du tiroir a epices est super , je vais la copier!!

    • C’est vrai mais franchement j’ai passé tellement de journées sur la rédaction de cet article que je n’en pouvais plus :-))
      Les facades des caissons sont les VOXTORP finition matte. Il y a 12 ans, j’avais mis des portes brillantes et je trouvais que cela faisait un peu 90s du coup j’ai changé et je ne regrette pas. Je trouve cela plus classe et Scandinave. Après si qq’1 a eu des portes mattes pendant 10 ans, je comprendrais qu’il ou elle préfèrerait mettre du brilliant.
      Ikea n’est pas vraiment le problème… Ca va être difficile de trouver des cuisines à des prix compétitifs par contre j’éviterais de rentrer dans leur système de livraison. La prochaine fois, j’irais chercher les éléments moi-même comme nous l’avions fait il y a 12 ans…

  7. ripert carole says

    merci il est top ce post!!
    vous devriez rajouter votre bouilloire car j ai acheté la même grâce à vous et elle est magnifique .
    EN PLUS demain je vais choisir la cuisiner de mon fils et je pense que ça va être très utile .
    JE SAIS QUE IKEA N A PAS été à la hauteur mais peut etre pouvez vous me renseigner : vaut il mieux un blanc mat ou brillant ? QUELLE EST LE MODeLE DES PORTES?
    Autre chose aussi l idée du tiroir a epices est super , je vais la copier!!

  8. wonderful kitchen, absolutely love it…just had mine done 3 years ago…as i changed my cooking habits a bit (starting to like it more, experimenting more) I just wished my cooking stove had just one or two more pits. It has 4 now and it’s a bit small. Further it looks a lot like yours only i work with a concrete counter. Beautiful, and for now still in good shape. Some scratches here and there and one tiny piece missing, dropped a plate on it. Trying to find out now if they can fill it up, which seems to be the case. I think your counter is much stronger material, good choice !! Really beautiful :)). Behind my sink and partly connection working station i have placed glass (see through colour so you hardly notice). It looks actually really nice (nice reflection with the light), it’s hand made. I found it very handy since with the washing of the dishes, spattering, using blenders etc, a lot of stains reached the back wall and in the end the wall showed some signs of stains which i couldn’t remove anymore.
    Thanks for sharing Karine. Warm hug. Linn

    • Thank you so much Linn, really glad you liked it. I found having a slate of quartz as the credenza very useful too. Ours is very easy to clean and finishes the look of the kitchen nicely

  9. Hi Karine, first time ever I react to a blog, but wanted to say that Steve is wrong: yes, people do read long blogs! as long as it is inspiring and it is! Enjoy your new kitchen!
    Inez

  10. Sivan Spivak tzafi says

    Perfect post . So accurate and open minded . I’m an interior designer, design many kitchens and still read it all , enjoyed it very much .
    And of course I looooove the outcome! Bravo!!
    If you still have an Airbnb apartment, have to stay there one day .

    • Thank you so much Sivan. I’m glad you still enjoyed reading this very loooonnng article and love the outcome. I will be delighted to host you if you come to our little corner of France

  11. Great article! I’m hoping to renovate our kitchen next year. Happy with your information and sharing your experience with the different materials for the countertops. Thank you!

  12. What a beautiful Kitchen and what a great and informative post. Thank you so much! I’ll remake our 12 year Ikea Kitchen next year so this is very helpful!!! Hugs from Vienna, Eva

  13. I really love the look of the kitchen!
    What tiles do you use for the floor? They look beautiful!

  14. Grande réussite Karine ! Bravo !
    Je me pose une question concernant ton nouveau mitigeur… avant tu en avais un avec une douchette il me semble voir sur la photo et le nouveau ne semble pas en avoir… toi qui consomme beaucoup de légumes : n’est-pas une fonctionnalité qui te manque ?
    Autre question concernant ce même mitigeur (très beau !) : le fait que le contrôle (la manette ? je ne sais pas comment ça s’appelle ;) soit devant, n’est-ce pas parfois gênant ?
    Voilà, merci ! Ca va m’aider dans les décisions que je dois moi-même prendre pour la création de ma cuisine ;)

    • Merci beaucoup Cécile.
      Alors non la douchette ne me manque pas du tout, je ne l’utilisais pas plus que cela et la manette ne me gène pas non plus. Elle est assez discrète et je ne me suis même pas posée la question si cela allait être un problème. En fait tu t’y habitues de suite

  15. Alison says

    Thank you so much for this post – it came at the perfect time as I’m just starting my kitchen reno plans :) I was wondering if your cabinets are all Ikea (including the fronts)? Also do you have anything behind your countertop on the wall (backsplash material?) or is it just paint? Is there a lip on the countertop at the back where it meets the wall? If not do you find that area gets wet from the sink or do things get caught in the connection between the wall and the countertop? I love the minimalist look of no backsplash and no lip but worry about how it will function. Thanks again for the great post!

    • Hi Alison,
      Yes the cabinets and front are from Ikea.

      Our backsplash is the same material as the countertop and is made of Silestone by Cosentino and cover the whole surface between the low-level cabinets and the ones fixed on the wall. I called the backsplash “credenza” in my article but I will amend this.
      We also have a piece of Silestone on the left-hand side of the wall where the wooden cutting boards are and a small return which you may spot on the picture featuring the spice drawer.

      Our backsplash was made of glass before and I find this one, easier to wipe-clean

  16. Montse says

    Félicitations pour cette cuisine incroyable!
    J’aime vraiment tout!
    Je voudrais demander quel est le modèle de mobilier Ikea.
    Un admirateur de Barcelone.

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