Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tackling The Kitchen

I love to cook. I love baking. I make my own bread. The kitchen is an important space to me, because I spend quite a lot of time in there. The kitchen I "inherited" with this house was dirty, smelly, with an oven that only worked partially, mismatched drawer and cupboard door handles and a lot of damage to cupboard doors and walls. (It looked like they had endured a few fits of temper!)

When I first moved in, the most important job was scrubbing everything down (multiple times) until I was satisfied it was at least clean, even if it still looked shabby. I had to put up with it like this while I got on with a few other more pressing things, but once I was able, I started repairing the holes in the walls, the kicked in cupboard doors and replacing broken catches (ALL of them!) I bought a new oven and had it installed by an electrician (definitely NOT a diy job!) Oh, the joy of simply being able to bake again!

Walls, ceiling and cabinets painted and the kitchen started to feel fresh and renewed.

Before - old oven on the way out!

Starting the tiling on the old/new splash back

 I could have called in a company and had all of this old kitchen ripped out and replaced with a brand spanking new *bland* one, but I really wanted to see how well an old kitchen like this could be refurbished and repurposed. These drawers are made from dove-tailed hardwood - you won't see that in your melamine-coated MDF flat-pack kitchen! And money is an issue - I'll save it wherever I can.
On ripping off various stuck-on finishes etc, I uncovered these lovely burnt orange tiles on the wall behind the stove and above one of the benches. I really wanted to keep them, but of course, the tiles could never be matched and I needed more  because the newer stoves don't have that high back like the older ones and I also had to take off an inch-thick melamine splash-back that was worse for wear. So I chose some tiles that were a contrast in both colour and texture and went to town employing my  skills as an artist to design a graphic interplay between the old orange shiny tiles and the new grey-toned matte ones. In my head I could see how it might look, but the reality, when it was done far exceeded my expectations……I LOVE it!

I chose greys and white for my kitchen colour scheme - nice and restful, but with the zing of the surprise orange. As serendipity would have it, some of my best cookware is also orange. This was meant to be.

Same view showing the tiling job completed - before and after painting the cabinets

When I bought the oven, I also bought a range-hood and because it was one you just plug into a socket, I decided I could install it myself. This was a fairly big job - I had to make an MDF box to house it, attach the box securely to the existing cabinet and wall and install the hood. (It said on the packaging, that it was a two-man job to install it, but with a bit of ingenuity, I managed it by myself……two men = one woman?) All that remained was to fill in the space with a piece of plywood and paint it to match the cabinets. Astoundingly, is is all straight and neat!

This is what I was replacing………!!

New range hood

I would have liked to have put in some new bench tops, but because what I'd like is expensive, I decided to do a refurbish job on the old tops until I can afford new ones. There is a special laminate finish that is available, so I decided to give that a try - I got it tinted to a tone the same as the cabinet doors, but a shade darker and just followed the instructions on the tins for prepping and doing the job. There was one burnt, damaged area that I had to repair before I started. 

One bench top completed

The finish is so good, you can't even see where the repair is. It remains to be seen how durable this is once I start using it, but it probably only needs to last for a year or two.
So the kitchen is now pretty much done. For now. Except that I'm going to put in a microwave cabinet and some open shelving above the refrigerator. I love my kitchen!
Next job? not such a big one…….repairing and repainting the small dining room adjacent to the kitchen.


  1. The bench tops look great! The curing time is quite long especially in this weather! We used it in QLD and it was really durable. We're doing up a set of old cane breuer chairs, the laminex paint might be durable for the frames?? The timber and cane seats and backs will stay au natural. Like you we love to repurpose.

  2. Thanks for the tips Cathran - I was planning to allow the bench tops quite a lot of curing time - a couple of weeks or so before I start using them. Of course, one of the cats jumped on one while it was still a bit wet, so it had to be re-done……that cat jumped where he'd never jumped before. I'll never understand cats…..I'm getting a duck!