We got a new Kitchen! Here's the story...
We went to Wickes. They have run a lot of adverts, and are convenient and local and have a showroom to see how all the different styles work. They came and measured and then did a design on the computer with (horribly slow) rendering of what it would look like. Sandra sorted all of the details, of course, though oddly she ended up with things like "I am sure he said this unit here would be a pull out thing not just shelves" so maybe some misunderstanding in the process. I paid for the units and everything there, and the installation is paid separately at the end.
It seems Wickes subcontract to a local installer, a chap called Mark from Wokingham. At this point I would recommend him, his number is 0118 977 2405. He is the installer, but he arranges all of the other tradesmen needed. Finding a good tradesman is a nightmare, and we have found Mark and he knows good local tradesmen. They were all good, and we needed a sparky; a builder; a plumber and gas man; tilers; and decorator. They all did a good job and Mark sorted it all with one bill at the end. The bill was very close to the original quote with changes as we had changed what we wanted.
For the walls Sandra originally wanted all of the walls tiled wall to ceiling. That was bold indeed, and expensive, but Mark persuaded her to go for only half of the room tiled, but she did go wall to ceiling, which worked well. The tiles she chose were a tumbled marble mosaic tiles, i.e. 6x6 of them on a sheet. Apart from not being cheap in the first place, if ever you go for these you have to consider a few gotchas and tell the tiler before getting a quote. For a start, being a natural stone, they were not sealed. This mean they had to be washed, dried, sealed, dried, and
sealed again and dried. This adds time (and cost) to the job. Also, they
do not go up like normal tiles - you cannot score and snap them, you
have to stone-cut the tiles and fit like a jigsaw puzzle. This adds more time
and cost. Then, finally, as they are separate, you are looking at around 6 times the normal amount of grout and time to do the grouting. Using
mosaic natural stone tiles probable doubles or triples the tiling job
and adds a lot to the cost - but they look bloody good. There is another catch - do not let them get wet before they go up as they lose adhesion to the backing material and a sheet of tiles becomes 36 separate small tiles on the floor when you pick it up. Thankfully only the bottom sheet of some of the boxes got wet and they needed the individual tiles to cut for edges and around sockets.
Mark was able to use some of the worktop to make up some additional shelves we wanted that were open and not really a traditional kitchen unit.
The result is we now have a door to the kitchen off the hall and easily accessibility for the front door. I am very pleased with the change, but obviously it added a few hundred to the cost.
This did mean the sparky re-doing light switches and adding a new light fitting in the new corridor to the utility room.
It also meant creating a new door step out of worktop wood.
They used shiny copper fittings, which look OK, but I expect in time we'll end up painting them white when the get tarnished.
As you can see, we also went for an old style butler sink, which is nice. The tap pulls out on a hose so you can spray things, but seems to be much lower pressure for some reason.
The end result is impressive, and we now have the fridge and freezer and dishwasher and microwave and kettle and toaster all back in the kitchen and Sandra is working out what will live where.