about a kitchen


I finished painting the kitchen yesterday! Although it is still waiting for various things to be put on the walls, I am very happy and wanted to give you a peek.


I’ll try to summarise the main features:
The cooker is a (gulp) rangemaster with an induction hob. (The house has a fantastic stove in the sitting room that fires up the boiler and heating, so we didn’t need the range to do that). This is the first time I’ve used this kind of hob and I rather like its efficiency. The oven heats up amazingly quickly and a delicious roast lamb appeared out of it yesterday: in short, so far we really like it.

The worktops / counters are oak to match the floor, and the units are from the Appleby range at Magnet. I have to say that I have been mightily impressed by pretty much everything about Magnet. Over several hours and in great detail, we designed the kitchen with Bert at the Edinburgh branch. Then, with the kind permission of the former owners of our house, Scott the fitter came out to measure up carefully before we moved in so that we were able to make some necessary adjustments to the plans. Everything arrived on the date we’d arranged and Scott and his brother Tom removed the old kitchen; built, wired, plumbed, and fitted everything in just six days. Tom also fitted nine new ceiling lights, relaid areas of floor, and arranged for the walls and ceiling to be replastered. Tom and Scott arrived when they said they would; kept everything remarkably clean and tidy and were incredibly accommodating and helpful. Best of all, though, there was nothing to worry about, as I just knew we were in really good hands: the quality of their work is superb, and the whole finish of the kitchen is really lovely. In short, if you are in the UK, I would heartily recommend arranging a kitchen through Magnet’s Edinburgh branch. (Thankyou, Bert, Scott and especially Tom for all your help.)

Walls. Because the kitchen faces East, and because the natural illumination in this room comes from two windows set deep into the wall (our house is a converted old farm building), we wanted to keep the space as light and airy as possible. We decided on open shelves, clean white tiles and walls painted a pale, fresh shade (we are putting up spice racks and utensil rails on either side of the range so the walls will not be completely bare). We tried out several Farrow & Ball shades, and were going to go for ‘Pale Powder’, but in dim rooms F&B recommends selecting a shade lighter, and we have experience of the way blue paint can intensify over large areas, so plumped for ‘Pavilion Blue’ above the tiles. Though it was not our intention to match the Appleby units, the colour actually turned out to be virtually the same, in both tone and hue. I am really very pleased with it.

The tiles are of the standard white metro / subway kind, of which I am very fond, and would stick everywhere if I could. Because I wanted them to look very defined, I have spent quite a bit of time over the past few weeks thinking about grout. I honestly never knew there were so many different kinds of grout, or that it came in so many shades of grey, but it really does. The grout used here is neither ‘silver’ nor ‘charcoal’ but a mid-grey ‘cement’ colour. Our tiler Paul, came on the recommendation of another Paul (the former owner of our house), and I am incredibly grateful to both of them. Accommodating my very specific grouting requirements, Paul-the-tiler sourced all the materials I’d asked for at trade, and, with no fuss and considerable aplomb, laid eleven square metres of tiles over one long day. I hadn’t thought of laying tiles into the kitchen’s two deep window recesses: this was Paul’s suggestion and it looks fantastic.

(pots, waiting for herbs)

Paul made more work for himself inside these windows as the recesses are on a slightly narrowing slope, so the tiles had to be cut at an angle. Observing Paul’s work, I have a new appreciation for the craft of tiling.


. . . and am pleased with the very precise greyness of the grout.


So, here is the whole room, which also features a Belfast sink (which I have always wanted), a dishwasher (which for me, the washer-upper, is extremely exciting) and a couple of tall larder units. This is the first time that Tom and I have designed a kitchen for ourselves and both of us are really pleased with how it has turned out. But I have to say that, so far, this pleasure has been tempered by a certain amount of class guilt as neither of us are used to spending lots of money on our immediate surroundings. However, yesterday, when I put the final coat of paint on the walls, I could see just how lovely it looked and finally sort of accepted it. Our main aims were to make the most of the light and the space and to create something that felt calm and homey and just like us. Now its finished, it really does feel like our kitchen and I know that this is a room that we are going to enjoy for many years to come.