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Living, Homes, Interiors

Real Renovations: Dream Kitchen

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“It was a life-long dream for us to have a kitchen like this”, explain Karen and Les, an Oxfordshire-based couple who have finally come to the end of their year-and-a-half-long renovation project. After undergoing a complete kitchen redesign and renovation, Karen adds “it’s completely exceeded our expectations.” Looking at this impressive space, with its swathes of marble, ample storage, and neatly designed zones, we were eager to hear more, starting with asking exactly what it is that they had done…

We had an extension to the kitchen, a redesign of the existing space, a kitchen refit and some garden landscaping.”

When did the work start?

We started in July 2020 and we are only just coming to the end. There are still little bits here and there which need finishing.

What was the most challenging aspect?

Definitely Covid, and not being able to go places and see things.

Did anything inspire the project?

We enjoy having lots of family and friends round so we needed a bigger space to entertain and we enjoy cooking and have lots of gadgets to fit in the kitchen. We were committed to it before Covid, so we didn't think about the difficulties of that.

Where did you source your materials?

We went a lot on recommendations from people who had already done projects.

I understand you didn't have a kitchen design team, but instead worked with individual contractors.

Yes. If you get a kitchen from a kitchen company, they manage the electricians and the plumbers and they make sure everything is done in the right time so that everything can be fitted. We didn't do it like that; we got the kitchen ourselves and we decided where everything went. We then had to get an electrician, a plumber, someone to fit it, someone to paint it –trying to get all those people to come at the right times was very challenging.

Who were the main contractors you used for this project?

The extension was a company called SEH BAC. It’s a very large and long-established company which has been going for years.

The company we used for the floors were Textures Flooring, based in Summertown. They were brilliant and they have a lovely showroom. We found that they were really knowledgeable, and by virtue of it being a family business, they’re very friendly and happy to talk you through all the different options.

The kitchen cabinets were from a company called Handmade Kitchens of Christchurch and they were fantastic because you have the freedom to do it all yourself as far as measuring up goes. They will make any cabinet of any size, depth or width so you can get everything to completely match. With other kitchens which only offer a set size, it doesn’t truly fit your needs. Handmade Kitchens had a massive range and it was all pretty unique.

The worktops were from Oxford Stone Craftsmanship and again, they were very helpful and patient with us because we kept changing our mind.

The kitchen itself was fitted by Tom Weaving and it was all painted by a company called D G Rivers & Sons – they did a beautiful job. Lighting was from Pooky Lighting in Gloucester, we’re very pleased with those, indeed!

The hob was quite an innovative design; it was from a company called Bora and it’s a down-draft induction hob so there’s no need for a cooker hood or a venting system – this one sucks all the steam down into the centre of the hob. We love this idea because it means there’s no overhead extractor fan, and it allows a much more open and sociable cooking environment which is really important for us.

The radiator was from Leamington Spa from the Radiator Centre. It’s like an old school bench but also radiator, so you can sit on it and warm yourself up – it’s just lovely. The reason we did it was to preserve wall space.

What was the first meal you made in your new space?

We made farfalle pasta with savoy cabbage, pancetta and mozzarella – it’s so nice to have people over for dinner again.

What other work was undertaken as part of the renovation?

Once we had the extension done, we wanted to re-do the old patio which it looked out onto, so we had a new pathway put in by a company called W G Clay who were great; they work really hard and have made it look beautiful.

Lastly, what top tips would give someone looking start their own project like yours?

It’s all in the planning and attention to detail. Detail is key!

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