Thursday, 20 May 2010

Kitchen English - Part I

Plan A: Fix what’s broken.
Plan B: Re-do the whole kitchen because that’s the only way B&Q will do the fitting.
Plan C: Fortunately, found some people (The Kitchen Centre; I recommend them highly) who would fit what was needed and let us do what we were able, so we went back to Plan A, plus a little updating.

The Paint. The main driver for the whole project, actually, was the cracked plaster around the power point next to the stove. I was tired of carefully aligning the crock full of tall utensils in front of that mess when we expected company. Because the kitchen has always felt really cold, and with good reason we discovered, I thought about matching the walls to the red light fixtures and heating up the place with a bit of hot colour, a distinct change from the white and cream palette that was there before. Painting was my main contribution to the project besides moving stuff and dealing with workmen. Bill did everything else. I know you’ll agree he is a wonderful man.

The Floor. The east end of the kitchen was originally a scullery, with a sink for scrubbing veg and a back door that originally faced out onto the street to a gap in the brick wall that surrounded the garden. When I bought the house there was linoleum in the scullery end and carpet in the breakfasting end and we replaced it with like a couple of times. Bill wanted a single floor covering this time. We started with the idea of wood, then tiles, but ended up with a tile-looking snap- together flooring. I thought Bill chose brilliantly, gold-beige tiles, some with vaguely red/orange in them. The room felt much larger when the flooring went down.

We discovered a vast black empty space under the wood floor when Bill replaced The Radiator, as the house is built on a hill and the ground below the kitchen falls away steeply. It wasn’t a nice wood floor, whoever did that ‘reno’ for the scullery went the cheap route. (‘Reno’ is a word I learned here. I thought it was just a place in Nevada.) The gaps in the floor let the North wind off the North Sea come into my kitchen, particularly under the cabinets as there was no floor covering for the wood planks under them. That explained a lot. Bill put an insulating layer down under the cabinets while he was dealing with the visible floor.

The Oven & the Hob. Most of my experience in the US is that this is a single appliance. Not so here. I’d learned in my old job that gas fires emit nitrogen dioxide and this is an irritant for asthmatics. I’d thought about replacing the stove top with electric for some time, but as I’ve no intention of losing my gas fires in the living and dining rooms, it didn’t seem viable to use health as the excuse. Turns out that in replacing The Bench they’d have to remove the gas ‘hob’, what Brits call the stove top, which sounds to me like something even shorter out of Tolkein. Health and safety regulations have changed since the cabinets were installed and the fitters couldn’t legally replace the gas hob without moving the cabinets to a higher position. I can barely reach the shelves as it is, never mind the expense and the mess, so this was an argument in favour of an electric hob. However, the new hob needed its own electrical wiring. While we were at it, Bill had the electrician replace the fuse box under the stairs with a modern version and that involved carpets and flooring being ripped up (and replaced) upstairs as well. Not as bad as it sounds, but more chaos invasion of privacy. The stove was also replaced as the old one had problems with the glass front and the rubber gasket. To be continued...

P.S. There are some 'before' pictures here.


Frugal Scholar said...

The flooring looks great, but anything would look good with that wonderful cupboard. You are so lucky!

James said...

Nice job. Bill.

Struggler said...

Thanks for this link! I think the red wall is fabulous.