Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Our old dining room couldn't have been further from my contemporary taste. Not only was the carpet old and dirty, the back boiler in the middle of the room turned out to be the biggest challenge and the first thing we got rid of!

I was excited to transform this room and after the removal of the boiler and new Quickstep laminate flooring (installed by O'Brien Flooring) we were half way there.

We also installed spotlights and removed all the wall paper (all 3 layers of it!). The walls were painted using Dulux Timeless colour which is off white and we have used this same colour in every room downstairs. I am very pleased with the outcome!

The new paint and flooring really makes a difference. We wanted to make sure that there were no 'breaks' where the doors are so the flooring would flow throughout.
I was searching for the perfect cabinets for this room for over a year until I stumbled across a very obvious choice (so obvious, I hadn't even considered it!) and found them in good old Ikea. I loved their Stockholm range as soon as I saw it!

Cabinets: Ikea Stockholm range
Lighting: Ikea Stockholm cabinet lighting and Grundtal for glass door cabinet
Table and chairs: Harveys Furniture
Mirror: Argos (I think...)
Rug: Ikea Stockholm

I know the room looks very black and white but this has been the theme downstairs in every room so I thought it would keep the look consistent. Also, I love the contrast that black cabinets against white walls brings. It adds a bit of drama to the room!

The shelving on the left consists of two Stockholm book cases combined into one. My brother and father assembled these last year for us and they did a top job! You really wouldn't know they are from Ikea. I get loads of compliments on them!

My favourite part is that I can use them for my 'fancy' China. I collect Iittala Taika (means Magic in English) as well as Arabia and Iittala Teema range. This arrangement is ideal as our kitchen storage space is limited. Plus when you have nice tableware, why would you want to  hide it anyway?
Tableware: Iittala, Taika
Candles: TK Maxx

Tableware: Iittala Teema
Salt and pepper set: Alessi

Also, our glass-door cabinet is from the Ikea Stockholm range. I'm not sure if they've discontinued it as I couldn't locate it on their website...?! It used to come both in Black and Oak.It's perfect for storing wine glasses and is quite spacious.

We installed Grundtal lighting inside it which looks fantastic in the evening. I am very positively surprised how well built and sturdy these cabinets are. They are the only Ikea furniture in our house but they are definitely good value for money!

Cabinet: Ikea Stockholm
Wine bucket: Dom Perignon

Cabinet lighting creates nice ambiance in the evening.

I love that I can store cook books and occasional kitchenware in the bookshelves. Our kitchen is not big so I like to use our dining room as an extension to it. I bought boxes from Ikea to store items I don't use regularly  and I think they look great!

Tableware: Iittala Taika
Art prints: Ikea Chelsea Collection
Boxes: Ikea

Pepper Mill/Grinder: Iittala Collective Tools
Tray: Vintage Backman Teak Tray (1966)
Box: Ikea

I do need to buy more wall art as the walls in our dining room look still pretty bare. My latest purchases have been two figurative art prints from Raft Furniture, by artist Bella Pieroni. Raft is definitely one of my favourite furniture shops here in the UK. They have a great selection of contemporary accessories and furniture.

Art print from www.raftfurniture.co.uk

Even though, the dining room has come along way it's still not finished. I need to buy more wall art and find a good place for a clock. Also, once we build our new extension, I might consider moving the kitchen table and chairs there and use the dining room as a second living room. We'll have to wait and see...


Since my husband hates going to Ikea (I actually quite like it!), I decided to use an online company to purchase and deliver the goods. Their turnaround time was very quick (1-2 days), and the best part is you don't pay until they show up on your door step! Wonderful! Their website is: www.pickdropgo.co.uk

PS. You can also find my monochrome dining room featured on Top Reveal - 21 Daring Dining Room Ideas !

Sunday, 16 March 2014


In the last few weeks I have learnt, that there is no such a thing as stress free kitchen renovation, no matter who you hire to do the job!

The thing with kitchens is that you never know what you will find, and with the history of our house, we should have known it's like opening a can of worms! Kitchens fitters have been working very hard all week and even though we are far from being finished, it is finally starting to look like a kitchen should!

Our temporary worktop 

Funny looking temporary taps

There is always room for a wine fridge!

We are waiting for the painter decorator (different person) to paint the walls next week and for our laminate floor to be installed by our usual floor guy (sometime in the next two weeks..he seems to be fully booked at the moment). Our kitchen fitters were supposed to install the laminate floor initially but because the floor is different level from the dining room  floor, there is a step involved, and they were  unsure how to deal with this.

In addition, one of the cabinet doors was damaged in transit and we are waiting for this to be replaced. Also, there was no sign of our 'hidden drawer' (which I desperately need for knives and forks!) so we are still waiting for Magnet to send this . The most annoying part is that we will not have worktops for 3 weeks!! We chose to have quartz worktops and they come from a different supplier, recommended to us by Magnet. The reason why it is taking 3 weeks is because our Magnet contact messed up and forgot to arrange them to come over to take the measurements. After a few angry phone calls to Magnet last week, they have now given us a temporary worktop until the quartz one goes down. It's not ideal but at least I can use the kitchen for cooking purposes.

Choosing the right worktop was such a fun but nerve wrecking experience. I love natural stones but after my high maintenance bathroom marble floor, I wanted to steer clear from them. Initially I thought I wanted granite (laminate and wood were out of the question as I love the look of stone worktops) but then we remembered quartz being the perfect alternative.

It was actually easy to pick the colour we did. Both my husband and I loved it from the minute we saw it. The colour is called Meteor and it's black with mirror flecks (it looks like there is a bit of grey there too). I was concerned first picking a sparkly worktop as some of them in other stores looked a bit over the top and 'plastic' but I found this particular Quartz did not. I hope the sparkles will reflect the light nicely from our kitchen window and add a touch of glamour to our room.

Here's a very similar type of quartz that we had picked:

Source: http://www.thegranitehouse.co.uk

Just to give some background on quartz, it is a man made material. It consist of  90% of quartz (mineral) and  7% polymer resin. I did a lot of research online on quartz and the biggest benefit over granite seems to be that the patterns in quartz are consistent throughout because it is an engineered stone and also it is more durable to scratches and does not need to be sealed like granite. I found an excellent article on quartz online, see http://www.thekitchn.com/all-about-quartz-countertops-countertop-spotlight-166190.

So for now, all we can do is wait and hope everything will go as planned in the next few weeks (sounds a bit too optimistic doesn't it?!). I will be also submitting a detailed review on Magnet shortly!


Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Finally our kitchen remodel has started (one week later than expected because the builders previous job got delayed). Our kitchen had arrived on time though and for a week it had been sitting in our conservatory ready to be installed. We were lucky we had this extra space as I don't know where we would have put it otherwise.

We decided to use Magnet recommended fitters, called Aspirations M J Ltd, to make everything as stress free as possible for us. I wanted someone who is recommended by a reputable company and also if there are any issues they can talk to Magnet directly.

The fitters certainly have the work cut out for them. Our kitchen remodel entails:

- Removing old kitchen cabinets and wall tiles and fitting the new kitchen
- Taking down existing ceiling and re-boarding it with plasterboard
- Skimming and painting the walls
- Removing old waste and running a new one outside the property
- Installing new lights
- Required electrical work
- New laminate flooring (we are using our usual floor guy for this, not the Magnet fitters)

This is how the kitchen looked after day 1:

Old ceiling

The fitters told me that in the history of 25 years they have been in business, they come across a kitchen as bad as ours about 5 times a year. So we are in top 5 of worst kitchens?! Should I be honoured or offended? :D  Well, one thing is for sure, it can only improve from here!

Here's a few problems the fitters found:

- Kitchen electrics are sub-standard and a new ring circuit is required
- Need to replace hot and cold pipes
- Plastering the walls
- Removing old gas pipework
- Need to level the concrete floor

After Day 3:

Old ceiling is taken off and new beams are put in for the new ceiling

After Day 4:

New ceiling and walls covered in blue grit before plastering

It is difficult to envision what the room will look like once ready but you can see an example draft in my previous post http://finnteriordesigner.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/kitchen-remodel-plans.html

Due to the fact that the fitters found these additional problems, we have ended up spending more than initially agreed. They always say you should set aside 20% buffer for contingency expenses and this certainly has been the case with any job we have done in this house.

On the positive side, the original brick work was still in great condition and I am a firm believer that houses these days are not made to the same standard as they used to be. 1930s houses were built either during or post war and they had to be strong in the case of any bombings. Now that's pretty impressive!

I am hoping there will be no further 'surprises' but I must say, I am getting very excited what the end result will look like!  It has not been easy living in the middle of dust and noise (not to mention without a kitchen!) but I am hoping it will all be worth it in the end.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Our kitchen has been on the 'to do list' since we bought the house. Similarly to many old houses, the kitchen is separate from the dining room and living space. It is u-shaped and not very large at all. The biggest problem I found was not the size or the shape of the kitchen (I find u-shaped very handy when cooking as everything is in the reach of my hands - good work triangle!), but the way the cabinets were designed. Especially the corner units were difficult to get to and the top units so high that I had to grab a chair to get in there.

Also, it was difficult to decide whether to extend the kitchen or not. The kitchen is straight off the dining room and there is a door going into the conservatory. There would have been a possibility to create one big kitchen diner, but in the end, we decided it was not worth extending. Not to mention the cost but also we would lose garden space and our second sitting room.

In addition, in terms of resale value, we would probably not make the money back and I quite like the idea of formal dining and did not want to lose our separate dining room as a result.

In the future, we are planning to demolish the conservatory and rebuild it as an extension to the house.  We will also knock down part of the wall connecting to the kitchen and create an arch, so hopefully this will give a nice open plan feel to it.

Here's a shot of our first floor floor plan (kitchen is on the right).

We were shopping around for a kitchen for a while until we found the service and style of kitchen we liked in Magnet. Oddly, our old kitchen is apparently also an old Magnet kitchen (20 years old or so). We found out this interesting fact when our fitter arrived to do the survey in our house.

In our first appointment Magnet designed our kitchen with their software. Well, actually, I pretty much designed the kitchen  myself, as I brought my ipad with me with an image of a kitchen I liked. Magnet sales guy then used their software to create an identical kitchen. If you are looking for someone to design your kitchen from scratch and have no ideas yourself, it is best to hire an independent kitchen designer.

Since our kitchen is not very big, we really had to utilise every single bit of it. We considered having open-shelving but came into the conclusion that it only looks fantastic in interior magazines but is not suitable for our life style. We wanted to fit as much as possible in the kitchen which means that there is very little flexibility for the builders when fitting the kitchen, so the measurements need to be exact. This is why it took so long to get everything right.

Here's one of the first drafts. The kitchen type we went for is called Integra White and this is a new style that Magnet have recently released. I find it looks very similar to the famous German designer kitchens from Poggenpohl (www.poggenpohl.com). We thought the integrated handles looked neat in a closed space and found that it looked very well with the rest of our house decor. In the end, we went for a smaller extractor hob and added a wine rack to the top shelving to fill the extra space (there is always room for a wine rack!)

Images from Magnet Ltd

Images from Magnet Ltd

The biggest challenge so far has been to fit our new fridge in the kitchen. My husband always wanted a big American fridge freezer and we chose a slightly larger than average fridge (width 70 cm). However, our Magnet contact had not factored in any ventilation space that the fridge would require. Unfortunately, we had already bought the fridge so we decided we will keep it and just hope for the best! Worst case scenario, if the fridge breaks, we just buy a new slightly smaller one  but we are hoping that once the builders remove the existing tiles, we will gain a few inches around it.

Now, we are just waiting for the builders to start the job tomorrow! Wish me luck!
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