New Kitchen

We got a new Kitchen! Here's the story...

The excuse was that I got a new cooker, and the colour did not match, but to be fair the old kitchen was around 14 years old, and some doors had come off cabinets, and it was not that good a design anyway, and well, you know how it is. Why we had yellow walls I do not know. I am a sucker for doing whatever Sandra wants.

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.

The only bit not part of the Wickes order was the lights. I did that. Of course anything I do would be wrong, being married I know this, but what was handy is that when I put them up and they did not look that good, Mark suggested a different way to fit them, and as it was not my suggestion it was right. Thanks for that Mark. I drilled the panels, and got some longer screws for the plasterboard fixings. I had to 3D print the white screw caps as I could not find any. I had to drill a hole in the ceiling for the transformer. The end result is great, and it was not actually that hard to install them - they save power at only 45W each but are very bright. They give the impression of skylights.

For the floor, Sandra went for patterned tiles in a somewhat Moroccan style. Bold choice, but I think it worked well. The tile supply company also recommended the grout to use, some flexible grout the tilers had not heard of, and sadly it shrunk and cracked the next day. They ended up scraping it out and re-pointing the floor. Moral of story is let tilers pick the grout they know.

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.

The work tops are solid oak, which means they will need oiling every month or so. No idea if that will happen, but they are pretty impressive none the less.

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.

As part of the work we realised that it would make a lot of sense to move a door from the end to the side of the kitchen. Hard to explain but the result is much better. The new door way turned out to be in a supporting wall and not just wood and plaster, so took a while to knock out, and needed a lintel.

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.

The units in the kitchen are standard Wickes units, which are chipboard with laminate. This is standard stuff, but I was quite impressed with the build quality. They used full chipboard sheets as backs and not a thin sheet as I had seen before. They also have mechanisms for the drawers that rival what we see in server racks for the rails. The corner unit is a feat of engineering pulling the hidden corner of shelves out when you open the cupboard. All doors and drawers have a soft close thing that looks quite cool.

Sandra also decided on a new radiator. She wanted something that would allow her to dry tea-towels, and the like, and the old radiator was not really good for that. What she went for was a rather old style and I think looks quite cool - or hot - or whatever.

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.


  1. Have you put any LED lighting underneath the units, to light the worksurfaces?

    Interesting to see your ideas here, we're about to re-do the kitchen here now we've been in the house for nearly 6 months!

    1. Not yet - we have the power all in place for that though.

    2. I'll be interested to see what you choose :)

  2. Kitchen looks very nice - although I couldn't have that floor myself! But really like the wall tiles and worktop.

    If you want to keep the copper pipes shiny, polish them with 0000 steel wool then put a coat of clear varnish on to stop them oxidising and turning dull. I don't like painted pipes, so did that in my house. Keeps them looking great for a long time.

  3. New tap probably has a water saving head on it, which aerates the water to make it look like a lot is coming out when it isn't. Maybe this is the cause of the reduced pressure? I think they're daft in a kitchen, because it takes twice as long to fill a pan etc!

  4. For my bathroom radiator I used chrome plated pipes and compression fittings. Being all chrome this matches the radiator better.

  5. I find those sinks terrible for my bad back, they're low and require too much bending down.


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