After the dust

This time last year we were up to our eyes in dust and stour as the kitchen from hell was being transformed into the kitchen from heaven. Well over the last 12 months we have really come to love this space and to be honest despite having a lounge at the front of the house we spend most of our time in this beautiful, light, open space.

So having spent so much time in so much filth you’d think that I’d have stayed away from major renovation projects? Woah no, not at all. And here’s the reason why.

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Despite this being a great party / dining space we haven’t been able to have lots of friends round for big meals because we just couldn’t seat everyone at the dinner table. Our lovely core group of around 14 friends just didn’t fit around the table that we have so we were in need of a flexible, not too expensive solution. Before Mum & Dad moved last year I managed to snaffle the dining table that, for as long as I can remember, the whole family sat around to eat. Now although it’s no great antique it’s a brilliantly useful piece of furniture that’s managed to endure all that a family of six could throw at it. Plus of course over the years with all those Christmas dinners and family events it holds a lot of great memories for me. The original is a draw leaf table made in1950 ( I know this because it’s been date stamped on the underneath but sadly there’s no place of manufacture given) with leaves that pull out at each end making it long enough to seat a couple of extra people. If you put ‘1950s draw leaf table’ into Google it’ll throw up lots of variations but our particular design featured a large, plain bulb at the centre of each leg and two runners rather than one at the base of the legs. Being the obstinate woman that I am I’d decided (much to Sam’s annoyance) that the ideal solution would be to find and buy the exact same table which could sit side by side or end to end with the current one to make a large dining table that could seat up to 14 people. Easy… right? Wrong!

After weeks and weeks of trawling the ‘net, and numerous messages over Ebay ensuring some greedy woman in London that applying a layer of chalk paint didn’t make the table worth £300 I found an exact match. Here in Brighton. For just £10.

Now I expected a bit of damage, the odd dent, scratch and watermark but as you can see below what I got was a truly knackered, pitiful piece of furniture with large areas of veneer missing and extensive rippling across the surface. Yep you’ve gotta love how students in rented acccomodation treat their furniture.

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As a child I’d watched my Dad make furniture from scratch and French polish both chairs and tables to within an inch of their lives. And so with what knowledge I got from him last Monday I set about renovating this pathetic table in order to give it some much needed love. Initially Sam and I talked about buying veneer to try and create an invisible repair but given my limited skills and the fact that I didn’t want to be working on this for the rest of my natural life only to end up with a poor result that would haunt me every dinner time we decided to go a la tomofholland and go with a ‘visible’ mend. 

So on Monday after filling in the worst of the holes with wood filler I set about sanding

……….and sanding

……….and sanding

……….and sanding

(stops to change grade of paper) 

………and sanding

…….and sanding

(stops to aplogise to neighbours for the noise)

………..and sanding

………..and sanding

…………. until eventually on Friday after two coats of paint and four coats of varnish (each interspersed with rubbing down with ultrafine grade wire wool of course) it was done. 

And so was I.

It had taken far longer than I’d expected and yes I moaned about it a lot whilst at the same time refusing Sam’s frequent offers of help. Being bloody minded of course I’d fixed in my brain how this was going to go and whilst Sam was tasked with painting the dining chairs the dining table was my project.

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Yes I’ll admit it’s not perfect but I really did give it my all. My hips still hurt, my neck is sore and my back is killing me but I am so, so happy with the results.  Our twin tables really make this room and whether there are seven of us sitting around it for our Stitch & Bitch sessions or fourteen of us eating and drinking at it into the early hours it makes the kitchen from heaven just that little bit more heavenly plus,  now the dust has settled I can finally get back to my knitting.

Have a great weekend all

J x

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Building the kitchen from heaven

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The Kitchen From Hell

Sam and I don’t do things by halves – we never have. We moved into this house last year 8 weeks after my brain surgery and within 2 weeks I had it looking like we’d been living here for …well much longer than that. I can’t stand chaos and disorder and as much as I loved and still love this house when we first moved into it the one thing we knew would change was the kitchen.

It was bad, I mean really REALLY bad. In fact in terms of layout it was the worst kitchen in which I’ve ever had the misfortune to prepare food. So back in March we saw the beginning of a major building project to transform the Kitchen From Hell or KFHL (as I came to refer to it) into the Kitchen From Heaven or KFHV. The build took around 3 and a half months, it cost…well more than a fiver….and if you follow me over on Instagram (where I’m @jeanettesloan) you’ll have seen some of my regular posts as the work was progressing.  It wasn’t however until a couple of weeks ago when I was at Ally Pally for the Knitting & Stitching Show that I kept being asked what the final results looked like. Well here’s the (shortened) story

The house was built in the 1930s and had a number of original features like stained glass  on the interior doors that thankfully the previous owners had kept but they’d also knocked the two downstairs rooms into one long bowling-alley type space. This used to house the living & dining area with a strange play area at the end leading to the garden. The KFHL was just off the dining space backing onto a utility room and all together this strange arrangement made up the ground floor of the house. The main aim of the building renovations was to make sense of these 5 spaces and turn them into a more clearly defined kitchen/dining area that backed onto an open plan living room with a utility room, office and store room built onto the side of the house.  This meant knocking down walls and making a mess……a LOT of mess.

In order to give us somewhere to eat in relative peace and away from the chaos our lovely builders erected a wall to create a new living room which became the ‘camp kitchen’ for the duration of the build. Then they started knocking seven bells out of the rest of the house and this meant lots of early mornings, the consumption of literally gallons of tea and coffee, washing up in the middle of a half built room, storing all our downstairs furniture in the middle of the garden and living on ready meals and takeaways for 3 months.

 

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Mess with more mess beyond
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Alfie up to his knees in it

Before you get the wrong idea we knew it wasn’t going to be easy and the disarray sort of reminded me of living as a student but throughout  both Sam and I kept our eyes on the prize, the bigger picture. I kept envisaging how my dream kitchen would look when it was finally finished, how I would no longer have to wash up in the  bath, how I could eat steamed vegetables rather than ‘nuking’ our dinners in the microwave every night and how I could actually bake in my new Neff oven!

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Ricky taking a breather having erected the steel frame

Now I could go into minute detail about the visits from Brighton & Hove Council’s building control, the enormous picture frame of steel girders that could hold up an entire block of flats let alone our modest semi or the countless cock ups by the ‘kitchen designer’ from a well known supplier that meant the completed kitchen is around 2 cubic metres larger than we were first led to believe. (Better bigger than smaller though, right?).

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Yes I washed up in this sink before they had to remove it

But I won’t. The main thing is that the building work and the months of filth and disruption were more than worth it. It has transformed our house into a beautiful, welcoming space that makes me smile every morning when I come downstairs. In fact I can’t believe this is actually MY kitchen.

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fullsizeoutput_6baI finally found a home for the Charlie Harper bird decals I bought at Bristol’s Arnolfini

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along with the mounted section of locally produced linen that was gifted to me by my friends Ian & Jo who live in the south of France.

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My favourite spot in the Kitchen From Heaven

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And amongst the many features and gadgets in the ktichen I love that choosing to install one orange and one turquoise cable on these pendant lights still drives Alfie absolutely mad.

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I could dribble on and on but I think the pictures say it all. Huge thanks to Ricky, Bailey, Alfie our first team who did the structural work, David & Robi our sparkys, Mark our plumber, Ian, Chris & James the chippys and everyone else who helped to work this miracle. I’d also like to give a special mention to Boysie; a lovely lad with a cheeky sense of humour who was a member of the first team and sadly was killed in a car crash just a couple of months ago.

J x

PS. Yes boys we know we still owe you that barbecue!