Tuesday, 2 February 2016

MAGNET KITCHEN REVIEW - PART 2

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time now but somehow time has just flown by. It has been now almost 2 years since we bought our Integra kitchen from Magnet (read my review here) and even though I have been mostly happy with it, there are definitely few points I'd consider when kitchen  shopping next time.

First of all, let me guarantee that our kitchen is heavily used. I cook 2 (sometimes 3) meals a day and don't baby any appliances or surfases. I am pretty tidy though but I have become incredibly sloppy in the last few months and have started dropping cups and banging pots on the cabinets. Luckily, the kitchen is still looking good and I've managed to cover up small dents with good old tippex (the perfect solution for white glossy surfaces if you don't have professional paint on hand).

DESIGN

I had a pretty strong vision how I wanted the kitchen to look although our Magnet kitchen designer (in reality a sales person) did come up with some smart space saving solutions. I wanted my kitchen to look bright and airy and I knew that the white gloss cabinets would work very well in a u-shaped kitchen. Also, white kitchens never really go out of fashion so I think it's a pretty safe investment to your house.

The kitchen is definitely well designed in terms of the function. Our kitchen is mainly used for cooking but thanks to the extension we added last year (read here) it is now open-plan and works as an entertaining area as well. The open space allows me to interact with guests when entertaining and we tend to use the extension/kitchen combination as a pre-dinner hangout area. It was also important for me to choose a kitchen design that flows well with the rest of the house and it would be a real shame to hide it behind a door. Open-plan living is not for everyone but it has definitely made a big difference to our lives.

I do love cooking in this kitchen. It's minimalistic and I tend to keep it that way as I hate clutter. The white cabinets are ideal for small kitchens as the light bounces off the cabinets making the kitchen appear even bigger. Getting a large sink has been a godsend as I like to hide our dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (which is particularly handy when you have guests). Also, having the grooves on the right has given me a much larger food preparation/baking area on the left. I love that I got to design this kitchen according to my own needs. And, because it is u-shaped everything I need is within reach.




CABINETS

I have been very happy with our Magnet cabinets. They are sturdy and well built. The best part is that our daughter, who is a toddler, has had no interest in opening the cabinet doors and I am convinced it is because there are no handles! So it seems integrated cabinets are pretty baby proof too. Both me and my husband agreed that in a small space like this it's best to keep things simple so you don't make the space look too 'busy'. The glossy surface is easy to clean but I do have to clean it farely regularly (once a week is a lot for me). By the way, initially we did consider open-shelving but I am very glad we didn't go ahead in the end. It would only gather dust and I would find it quite difficult to keep the shelving organised. I do admire people who are able to live with open-shelving in their kitchen and keep it looking stylish too!

We have had a few small chips on the cabinets. This has been my own fault. I managed to knock a cooking pan on the edge of a cabinet which of course left a small mark. I fixed this with Tippex and you wouldn't even know that there had been any damage. The soft close hinges for our corner cabinets have come off a few times as well but they are very easy to put back on yourself. This only happened when the units were too full so it can be avoided.

I wish I had given more thought to the location and the height of our coffee machine, kettle and toaster when designing our kitchen. We have the Siemens Porsche Design range (which is currently discontinued) but all the appliances are very high and should not really be used straight underneath the cabinets as they can get very hot and steam up. This is exactly what happened with our kettle and it caused some of the paint to chip on the wall. I have now put our kettle in a different spot which has solved the problem for now.

Also, I should probably add that the wine rack was not part of the original Magnet Integra design. We happened to have some room left on each side of the cabinets and asked the kitchen fitters to build integrated wine racks to fill this extra space.


WORKTOP

I am still loving our quartz worktop. I was worried first it might date too quickly or even look too flashy but because everything else is kept so minimalistic I think we can get away with it. Even though I adore white worktops, in this space it would have looked a bit too plain in my opinion. The contrast of black and white works very well in a u-shaped kitchen and makes it even appear wider than in reality.

I mentioned in my previous post how a few flecks had lifted once the worktop was installed but luckily I haven't seen any dents or scratches on the quartz since then which makes me think that it is pretty hard wearing. I did drop a kitchen knife on it once (facing down) and perhaps I was lucky but it didn't leave a mark. And, even if it did what would you expect? This is a kitchen after all and accidents like this are bound to happen. I haven't put hot pans onto the worktop (they don't recommend you do this with quartz) but to be honest it will probably be ok. I have also dropped a few cups near the edging and luckily we have not had any chips so far but I know a friend who was not quite so lucky. Fortunately, it was quite easy and affordable to fix which is good to know in case we happen to have a similar dilemma in the future.

Word of warning though! I find cleaning the worktop quite challenging. It's best to use a surface cleaner like Detol and kitchen paper otherwise it tends to look streaky and dirty (especially with soap and a sponge). You could puff it with a micro fiber cloth afterwards of course but it's too much work for me. So, I guess quartz isn't as low maintenance as they claim it to be but considering the aesthetics and durability I don't really mind. The only thing that really annoys me is cleaning the hard water deposits off the worktop/sink edge. Apparently baking soda and water should do the trick but I have used the soap from Brillo pads gently to remove any larger stains. Manufacturers really don't recommend using them (or anything abrasive) so do it at your own risk.

So would I go for quartz again? It really is a tough one.  Because even though I have been very happy with quartz, part of me knows that dark granite is as forgiving on food stains as quartz and is heat resistant too. I do love the look and the feel of quartz which is why I am happy with my decision. I would actually recommend finding your own supplier than going with Magnet recommended ones though. You will pay a premium with Magnet and I am not convinced the workmanship is far superior than anywhere else. Even Ikea sells quartz worktops although they use local fabricators and not their own. It's really important that you get a good installer for the job so it might be better to source this yourself. Good installers will also make sure that the seams are small and match the colour of the worktop.

By the way, the automatic soap dispenser from Umbra is so handy. It's the perfect colour for our kitchen and virtually germ-free so it's ideal for a house with children.


APPLIANCES

You can read my AEG review here.

STAINLESS STEEL

I love the look of stainless steel but I have to admit it can be quite high maintenance. We have avoided scratches on the surface but few small dents have appeared on the fridge (which are only visible in specific lighting thankfully). Stainless steel shows dirt quite easily so I do have to wipe the appliances every few days. By the way, baby oil is great for polishing/cleaning stainless steel!



LIGHTING

Lighting is always important when it comes to kitchen renovations because you will need good lighting to prepare food. We certainly didn't skimp on the lighting. We have over the cabinet lighting, under cabinet lighting and LED strip lighting attached to the kickboards. We tend to use all of these but not necessarily at the same time. When I am cooking I use all of them but in the evening and at night we just leave the strip lighting on and it's nice to wonder into the room without having to switch the lights on.

I do think Magnet lighting is over priced so it's worth sourcing your lighting from another supplier or DIY shop. Needless to say, make sure you get a good qualified electrician for the job as well.

SPLASHBACKS

This is something that I decided not to install at the time and I do have slight regrets about it. Don't get me wrong, our kitchen looks great without them but this means that you need to do regular paint touch ups. It's pretty impossible to cook without splashing food sauces onto the wall and when you wipe it off a bit of paint comes off to. Having said that you can use special paint made for kitchen which is supposed to be more durable. We simply used Dulux timeless like in the rest of the house.


I also haven't decided what type of splashback I'd install. Perhaps a grey mosaic tile or a white subway tile style  would look nice in our light filled room. Of course, it would be much more simple to install a glass one that can be just cut to size. I really don't know what I want so I guess we will leave it for now.

FLOORING

Laminate flooring isn't ideal for kitchens but if you are careful you shouldn't have a problem. Since our kitchen is now open plan, I wanted to use the same flooring we used in the rest of the house. Our Quick-step laminate has been great, mostly, but I have recently seen some minor water damage on it (I will need to write another post about that soon!) and I realise that even though it is incredibly attractive material to use it is not ideal for areas where you might have leakages or splashes. If you are careful it will be fine but don't expect it to be hard wearing or very moisture resistant as it's not.

By the way, we recently got a clock as a present that we decided to place on the pillar between the kitchen and the new extension. I love personalised presents and this one couldn't be more appropriate!



MUST HAVES

There are few things that I simply couldn't live without now. Well, I probably could live without them, but they make everyday life so much easier that I feel our kitchen wouldn't be what it is today without them.

Large Sink

It was a smart move to get one large sink rather than two small/medium ones. If you have the room get two sinks of course but since I had to sacrifice something it was worth gaining the extra worktop space. I hate doing the dishes and only do the absolute minimum so I really don't need two sinks. However, having one large sink means that I can put dirty dishes in there without actually having to look at them. It is a lot easier to clean large pots as well.

Wine fridge

If you are big into wine, especially whites, a wine fridge is a necessity in my book. We actually have two (one for reds and the integrated one for whites) and it is very convenient to keep your wine chilled (ie. ready to be consumed) at all times. Also, our integrated wine fridge has freed up some space in our fridge now which is a big bonus.

Stand Alone Fridge

We didn't get our fridge from Magnet as their selection was quite disappointing at the time. I think most people want a stand alone fridge these days as they are much bigger than integrated ones. We have been very happy with our Samsung fridge although I do hate cleaning the water dispenser. By the way, the manufacturer adviced us to leave more room on the sides but we didn't want to waste any space. It has been working fine for 2 years now so I think there shouldn't be a problem.

Filtered water tapI use our filtered tap all the time and I swear that coffee tastes much better when it's made from filtered water. We have to change the container every 90 days usually so it's really not too bad. I used to use Brita jugs and this is a much better solution for filtered water.

Induction Hob
It took me a while to get used to cooking with our induction hob. Mainly, because it is so fast that I burned my food for the first few times. I do absolutely love it though. Cooking is so much faster and it's easy to keep it clean. It's much safer around children as well (you cannot switch it on without pans) so I cannot really see any disadvantages to having one once you get the hang of it.

AFTER SERVICE

Magnet told me that they come and visit you after 1 year from purchase to make sure everything is fine with your kitchen. Well, this has not been the case I'm afraid. It's been almost 2 years and I haven't received so much of a phone call from them. It's pretty bad they don't keep their promises but at least I haven't had any problems with my kitchen since the installation.

Getting a new kitchen is always costly and stressful but it's also a fun, rewarding experience as far as I'm concerned. I am still very happy with our kitchen (despite some of the negatives) and it still looks new so I guess overall it hasn't been a bad experience. However, I did learn a few lessons from it and if I ever plan to do another kitchen reno, there are definitely few things that I might do differently. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them!


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2 comments

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