I’ve hinted at this in my last two posts and now it’s time to come clean. I have no kitchen. We’re now in the throes of the refit and since I’m going to be struggling to cook much in the way of interesting food for the next few months I thought I might share a little of the reason why.
It’s been a little over three years since my husband and I bought our first home – a dilapidated Victorian terrace in need of some love and attention. It had been empty for nearly two years and, judging by the decor, hadn’t been decorated or properly maintained since the 70s. The narrow galley kitchen was once the scullery and had a door at one end looking out into the outside loo. It was only just wide enough to open a cupboard door and very dark and dingy despite the day-glo yellow paint. We peeled back the brown 1970s wall paper to reveal bright sunflower-patterned ’60s paper that was itself hiding amazingly kitschy ’50s paper featuring Chianti bottles and colourful fruit on a blue background. In the dining room there was a larder built onto the back wall– an original feature from 1894 – which had completely rotten wooden shelves. There was even a tree growing through it! One of our very first jobs on buying the house was to brick up the larder and knock the kitchen and dining room into one, after that we cleaned up, bought a second-hand oven and made do while we got on with other important jobs like installing central heating, replacing old aluminium windows with double glazing and fitting a bathroom.
We’ve been renovating on a shoe-string budget and doing all of the work ourselves save for fitting the windows, bricking up the larder and installing the gas combi boiler. Given that we only have evenings, weekends and holidays to work, progress is slow. This year we are finally ready to fit a kitchen, something I’ve dreamed of and been planning ever since we bought the place. I thought it would be interesting to chart our progress on the blog, even if its sole purpose is to remind me of where we started when the going gets tough and I’m sick of plaster dust and cooking in the lounge with a single hotplate and a microwave.
In this first stage we’re aiming to strip the room of all the old plaster (made with horse hair), swap the window and door, replace the uneven concrete floor, renew the plumbing and wiring and create a blank canvas ready to receive a shiny new kitchen. In addition I’m really keen to clean up and repoint the brick chimney and fireplace we uncovered after pulling out the green tiled fireplace that was fitted (according to the newspaper we found stuffed behind it) in March 1939, shortly before the break out of war. We’d love to keep the bare brick as a feature; it’s going to require a lot of work to bring it back but would look great with one of these hanging on it!