Interior design

Transforming the heart of my home

I have finally reached the end of a project which I felt would never end, those of you who know me will be breathing a sigh of relief that it is now finally over!

In November 2016 we started to notice damp patches rising in our walls and on the floor on the ground floor of our house. It was a total nightmare and we had no idea what was causing it.

Water damage to parquet floor

Our insurance company conducted an investigation which quickly revealed we had a leak in our central heating pipes that ran in channels under our entire ground floor. After about a month of investigation the excavation started, the water had spread over 90 percent of our ground floor; we were totally gutted.

 

Next the industrial strength dehumidifiers were installed, that was even worse. Not only were they really noisy, but in the process of drying the house they also sucked all the natural moisture out of the air and caused additional damage and cracking in many other previously unaffected areas.

Excavation begins

Continuing to live in the house whilst this was going on was enough to drive us all insane. I lost count of the amount of times one of our children, (and the occasional guest) tripped over one of the various ‘channels’ that had been excavated in our kitchen and hallway.

We continued to live in the house for around 6 months until we were told we had to move out so the entire ground floor could be excavated. It then needed to be dried, the pipes replaced and the screed reinstated.

Okay, so that’s the background. Now lets talk about the positives, I had the opportunity to re-design my home!

Just to ensure I don’t bore you, lets just focus on the kitchen for now…

The kitchen really is the heart of our home, its the room we use the most for family mealtimes, helping the boys with their homework, entertaining, and if we get the chance even hosting the occasional party! It is because of this we knew we needed to incorporate a stylish interior that was also practical for this multi-functional space.

The main decisions we needed to make were: kitchen units (colour & style), handles (cups or knobs), worktop (material/colour) sink, tap and floor.

Sounds simple enough, but like most couples we have completely different tastes, so when it came to agreeing on design choices it was never going to be a smooth ride was it? We had so many differences of opinions, (okay arguments!). I am surprised that we made it to the end without breaking up in the process!

After looking at different options we decided to go for the Howdens Tewkesbury Framed Antique White kitchen. The units have solid timber shaker doors with a framed feature and a veneered centre panel. The framed style in particular really brings a simple timeless elegance to our design. I would have liked the option of the Tewkesbury Framed kitchen being available in a bolder colour, however, we were limited to only three colour choices in this lovely range.

Howdens Tewkesbury Framed Antique White kitchen

During the process we were fortunate enough to have a kitchen consultant from the Romford Howdens, called Daren Short. From our initial meeting Daren worked with us to ensure that the final product balanced the needs of our family alongside our design ideas. He kept us fully updated throughout the project from conception to completion. If you are considering replacing your kitchen, I would not hesitate in recommending Daren Short or Howdens.

We decided to go with the Lamona double Belfast sink in the kitchen and a Lamona ceramic Belfast sink in the utility room, this was in keeping with the classic style we were trying to achieve.

We chose the Lamona chrome professional style single lever tap in both the kitchen and the utility room.

Armac Martin Cotswold round furniture knobDeciding what knobs and cup handles to chose was easy for me as I had been hankering after the 33 mm Armac Martin Cotswold knob in polished chrome for ages. They have a really simple design and are made from solid brass.

 

Classic Cup Handle

I also chose the Classic Cupboard Cup Handles by Second Nature in polished chrome. I love these because I think they give the kitchen a more luxurious feel. They reminded me of the cup handles that Neptune use on their kitchens. Unfortunately, Neptune will no longer sell their cup handles unless you are buying a kitchen from them. Believe me I tried to get hold of them but they simply refused to sell me any, (very frustrating!).

Having made the decision that we only wanted to use natural stone for the floor and worktops, a friend of mine suggested I get in touch with a company called Trajan Natural Stone; they are based in Pal Mall SW1. She raved about her experience with Trajan, the level of customer service, the variety of high quality stone available and the hands on consultancy they provided throughout the duration of her project which was critical to its success. Of course after a recommendation like that Trajan were my first port of call.

Trajan Stones Jo Harding filled me with confidence from the very beginning. She was clearly very experienced and used to working closely with clients to ensure that she interprets their design brief accurately. That is not an easy thing to do, especially for someone like me! Although I tried hard to set out my vision clearly, I often became over excited when looking at all the options open to me and before I knew it I had completely altered the direction of the project. Thankfully Jo was on hand to get us back on track, or to re-evaluate accordingly to ensure my vision remained in tact. I am smiling about this now as I recall the countless telephone conversations and emails I had with Jo during the course of this project and I remember her uncompromising commitment to its success.

I originally had my heart set on Arabescato marble worktops after seeing this photograph that Jo showed me.

Arabescato Marble Worktop

I know that marble is not the most practical worktop as they will inevitably show signs of wear, have etching marks and will chip. However, personally I don’t mind seeing signs of wear and tear on such a beautiful piece of stone; but my beau does not. On seeing the first signs of wear he would want to rip it out immediately so in the end it wasn’t really a viable option.

During this process, I spent a significant amount of time visiting warehouses looking at stone samples. Believe me, there is no substitute to looking at these materials in the flesh. In addition, I always took a sample of my kitchen cabinet so I could truly visualise the end result.  I also learnt that is important to hand pick the exact slab you want because each piece of stone will have variations due to it being a natural material which is often quarried in different areas.

In the end, with help from Jo we chose this 30 mm granite called Anhara black, it has a leather finish. The finish is not only beautiful, it is also looks unique and is practical because it does not show every single mark like a polished granite finish; meaning less cleaning for me!

Arabescato Marble Splashback

Okay, I have a confession to make, although I compromised with the marble worktops I really did want to add some Arabescato somewhere else. In the end, instead of going for a tiled splash back in the utility room, and above the hob  in the kitchen, we decided to utilise a slab of Arabescato. I think it looks absolutely stunning!

 

Did I need marble splashbacks? Absolutely not. Do I love them, yes I really really do! What do you guys think of the splashbacks?

After a considerable amount of to-ing and fro-ing we finally decided on Crema Venato tumbled limestone in 600 x 400 x 12 mm tiles for our kitchen floor. These tiles truly are beautiful, no one tile is the same. They are even characterised by the occasional Ammonite fossils!

We have ended up with a simply gorgeous bespoke floor that is filled with intricate details. It is amazing to know that we have added some natural history to our home and it was great to see how much the children enjoyed trying to find new fossils!

Jo’s commitment to our project was unwavering and her enduring patience throughout made me feel like I was her most important client. This made what could have been an extremely challenging process really pleasurable, (thank you Jo!). I would not hesitate in recommending Trajan Natural Stone. They really were an amazing company to work with and truly exceeded all our expectations.

I really love the simplicity of our kitchen and how it captures that quintessentially classic English style. There is no sacrificing form for function. It just suits the needs of our family perfectly and we know we are very fortunate to have such an amazing space to call home.

Love Katie xxx

Photographs by Adam Hollier Photography

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