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.

111 thoughts on “about a kitchen

  1. What a lovely room, Kate! I am of the opinion that a kitchen needs to fill your heart, so that what you cook there fills the hearts of others, and I think the space you’ve designed fits the bill perfectly. Wishing you many years of enjoyment.

  2. What a gorgeous kitchen! We refurbished our kitchen earlier this year and we used those tiles (we also have them in our bathroom, it’s a small flat, so we wanted things to unify, plus like you, I’d happily have them everywhere!), we also have wooden worktops and a Farrow and Ball colour (Folly Green I think it was).

  3. I love it, absolutely perfect, well done. Your tradesmen sound like treasures. Hope that you enjoy every cup of tea and meal produced from your new kitchen.

  4. Such a lovely space. Great utility as befitting the busiest room in the house but also elegant and soothing. I like the semi industrial butchers shop tiles and the soft wood floor and countertop.

    In fact I love it all. All smelling of a delicious roast lamb. I bet you love it! Class guilt, such nonsense, be happy and proud.

    I’m guessing Tom gets the stuff off those top shelves?

    I’m going to keep a record if this blog entry for when I get a kitchen if my own…one day.

  5. Beautiful counter tops! Amazing cooker! The whole job is wonderful, and it sounds like the level of professionalism in all the people working there is something I have not met here in the US. I am envious.

  6. Ah, that grouting – perfect.I do like a nice bit of tiling.

    I think I know just what you mean by class guilt in relation to the cost, but your pleasure will be long lived, I’m sure.

  7. Congratulations to a very good-looking kitchen. I personally think that the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. It’s a room that you should like to spend time in, even when your not cooking.

  8. I know what you mean about spending on your surroundings. However, it is a good investment. The house is your home and why shouldn’t it be nice? You will get so much pleasure and feel good whilst using your kitchen. Worth every penny. I hope you have many happy years in it.

  9. Love, love, love the light….it is calming. I thought that first look and there you wrote it. For all the art, knowledge, good and kindness you both bring to the world, it is good that you are creating a place to renew. Happy Home!

  10. Congratulations Kate! It is truly a beautiful and functional kitchen. I too underwent an entire kitchen renovation last year and understand the challenges of picking items. You will certainly enjoy your induction cooktop. When we picked ours we had no idea how much we would enjoy it. I do not know another person with induction as it is relatively new in Canada. I also marvel each day at my very large sink in granite. Amazing how such functional items can bring us such joy!! I too went with white subway tile and know I will love it forever! Enjoy it every day. You should not feel guilty. You have more than earned this wonderful kitchen.

  11. Lovely kitchen but GREAT teatowel!! – I bought one of those lovely Teazle tea towels from the makers shop in Frome when we were in the UK (from Melbourne) in November last year. Our family fell in love with teazles. Enjoy both!

  12. Lovely work – thanks for sharing. A kitchen is the heart of any home especially if you love to cook. It will definitely be worth the investment. And don’t feel guilty – I’m sure you’ve paid your tradesmen and you’ve celebrated and recommended their craftmanship. It’s all good!

  13. Your kitchen looks wonderful! We renovated our kitchen a couple of years ago and I was a bit surprised at how much more fun it was to cook and bake in the new space. You see, I already loved cooking and baking, but the renovation took it to a whole new level. I hope you have as much fun in your new kitchen as I have in mine!

  14. It’s beautiful, Kate, and looks like a kitchen made for cooking rather than a decorating exercise, always my favorite kind of kitchen. I wish you many happy hours cooking in it.

  15. Guilt – there is nothing to feel guilty about. You both have worked hard and there is nothing wrong with fixing up and creating a home you both will enjoy. However when I feel a bit like I have so much and am so lucky – I make a donation to Second Harvest to benifit ing those who don’t have as much and aren’t so lucky. In the states Second Harvest is an organization that provides food to low income families. As little as a $ can provide 5 meals.
    But really just enjoy your new home and cooking in such a beautiful space.

  16. You are indeed a talented woman! Not only can you design knitwear but also homes!! I bet you never thought you could do such a beautiful thing. You kitchen is exactly the look I am wanting in a kitchen if we ever find an affordable house. We are limited by area as we both need to stay close to ageing parents. But the white cabs, white subway tile, and blue walls with stainless appliances is EXACTLY what I had in mind. One questions though, being from the US, I am just curious; do you not use a microwave? Or is it somewhere in the kitchen that I cannot see? I couldn’t survive without one but if you manage to do it, maybe I could :) Love it! Bravo, Kate! And Tom and Bruce (I’m sure he helped a little).

  17. Truly lovely Kate.
    I believe you achieved what you wanted and needed a beautiful kitchen space.
    I can almost smell the scones baking. Enjoy!

  18. Beatifully done ! I love,love,love the deep recessed windows , as they give feeling of a fortress, and the tiles pair wonderfully with the warm wood tones. Just gorgeous beyond praise. I see an orderly yet homey room which will best inspire two ardent cooks and beer brewer :)

  19. It is lovely. The calm and beauty will radiated into yours and Tom’s work and lives, which guarantees that gets passed on to others. That makes it money well spent.

  20. We have been remodeling for years . . . the kitchen was one of the most challenging. It looks like you nailed it perfect. Light and space are so important, plus the right amount of natural wood makes it a warm relaxing place. Enjoy Kate and Tom you have earned it!

  21. Beautiful kitchen. We had a Rangemaster in our old house and plan to have one again when we build our new one, currently in rented having moved north. I love the window alcoves, the tiling really works and is clearly well done. Enjoy, it is your home and as such should be treasured.

  22. What a lovely kitchen! Very welcoming & I love those deep windows. Like Karen above, I’m a Yank, too, and couldn’t do without my microwave. But another thing I don’t see – where is the refrigerator? Is it hidden in the cabinetry? Wonderful job. What luck you had with all your tradesmen & builders. Wish you could send some of them over here, as we haven’t been as lucky as you with ours. Enjoy your wonderful new home and forget this guilt thing. You deserve this!

  23. That’s great how the shiny tiles in the window recesses make the most of what light you get. It also makes the light coming from outside look mysterious and exciting.

    As for the class guilt. . .yes. What to do? Give thanks for what you have and share, as I have a feeling you already do. :-)

  24. Beautiful craftsmanship! You’re so lucky to have found the skilled craftsmen who listened to your vision. Enjoy the new kitchen.

    One question regarding your range. Does it have three ovens?

  25. It is absolutely perfect. It is the perfect balance in all ways, and I am so glad you shared pictures with us! The windows are so enviable, and I love the floor! I love all of it, really. Enjoy it, it is such a cheerful room. I hope you both enjoy millions of fantastic meals made there!

  26. Oooo, I’m loving your kitchen! Kitchens, for me, are a place to gather and chat, share and taste. The heart of the home. Your kitchen is beautiful! I’m a subway tile girl myself. Just gotta love all those clean lines! Great job designing it :)

  27. It looks beautiful, Kate! Money invested in your surroundings is rarely wasted, so no guilt! Have to grin at your kettle on the hob… I used to heat tea water like that until my British friends laughed me into an electric kettle!! ;)

  28. That is a beautiful kitchen! I re-did mine three years ago and it has been a joy. I love your paint color. Mine is also a very pale blue, matched to the color of the eggs laid by some of my hens.

  29. Oh Kate, this turned out just swell! I have some experience with tile (having tiled in a former kitchen and bath) so I completely get your amazement with grout choices. I thoroughly enjoyed grouting (a lot like frosting a cake, really) and I also needed to cut tile and enjoyed that as well. You are correct in that it takes some skill and, for me, patience. :)

    Enjoy your many days of kitchen pleasure.

  30. I think the kitchen is the most important room in a house – the heart of the house. I’d much rather spend on a kitchen than any other room! Yours looks lovely. Will there be room for a table & chairs?

  31. Lovely! I, too, am partial to white subway tiles. That’s what I have in my kitchen, and I love them. There is something special about designing your own kitchen. I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

  32. What a lovely space!! I’m sure you and Tom are happy that you took the time to plan this all out. Many happy years to you in your new home.

  33. “Class guilt”? Hmm, a most interesting term. I think that’s what I’ve experienced myself… . Oh, and by the way, your new kitchen looks lovely! A true investment to enhance and reflect your quality of living. Congratulations.

  34. Stunning, stunning, stunning. Like you I am trying to justify a new kitchen in a house only 5 years old, the design of mine is awful and crying out for a window overlooking the garden. it’s a case of shutting eyes and saying “investment” if you ever sell, and if you stay put then even better!! I miss my Rangemaster range cooker left with old house immensely! Fiona x

  35. Fresh, crisp, light….it is quite stunning Kate. I imagine the paint will change, as the light of day changes. It makes me smile to think of you and Tom first thing in the morning; standing, smiling at each other, in front of those lovely windows about to start your day, with a steaming cuppa.

  36. Your kitchen is beautiful and what a wonderful expanse of counter space! I enjoyed the pictures and dialog depicting the different terms and accessories of the UK compared to what we have in Texas! Happy cooking!

  37. It’s a wonderful kitchen, cleanly and simply designed. Since this is the room where you prepare meals to nourish body and soul, you certainly deserve it. So enjoy!

  38. What a lovely and confortable kitchen! The tea towel also captured my attention. Lovely! I really enjoyed your windows with all the light, the herb pots and the herbs you will have there, the beauty of the three ovens, and the tea with scons. Enjoy it all, just beautiful and cozy!

  39. Absolutely beautiful. I love the subway tile and the range. Because this kitchen is truly yours, everything created in it will be made with love.

  40. Ohhh, that kitchen looks just so perfect. Absolutely like the one I dream about… I fell when I saw the range, and the rest just made it even better.
    Enjo, and have many wonderful years in it!

  41. It all looks wonderful. I have only ever had one kitchen that we renovated. All the others we made do. Dear Reader, we have not moved….

  42. Your kitchen is really lovely. Especially the oven and the tiles (we have the same). Enjoy working there, and if you think how long you will use it, it is not too expensive.

  43. Oh i love subway tiles too and would slap them everywhere if I could. What is it about them? They are just so…pleasingly rectangular.
    We didn’t have a dishwasher until we moved to our new house – we didn’t have one in the flat as it is not as efficient power-wise as washing up by hand. BUT is very efficient at sterilising jam jars and making the kitchen look tidy, as well as doing the washing up and you would not take it now from my cold, dead fingers. I’ll just turn down the heating and put on a sweater instead.

    I wish you many happy hours in your lovely kitchen.

  44. Beautiful. I am so pleased for you that it has happened with so little fuss. It is a real joy to get someone skilled in to do things for you. And there is no need to feel any guilt about it. You are mending and looking after your surroundings. You wouldn’t feel guilt about mending socks with good quality materials to make them last longer so don’t feel it about your house. After all you will share it with many people: your family, friends, us, the next people to live in the house, and it will bring them joy too.

  45. Beautiful kitchen, crisp and quiet and lovely. Well done, and well deserved. Congratulations ! You need good tools for the serious business of feeding kin and friends, just like the good needles and well-designed patterns for the serious business of knitting pleasing garments, don’t you?

  46. It is only a few years since we designed and built our own homely and very ‘us’ kitchen. Reading your blog brought all the joy of that back to me, so thanks. But the best bit, Kate, is that we just go on and on loving it, the very hub, the hearth of our ordinary suburban home. So it is pretty certain that you will go on enjoying this for many years.

    And we don’t have a microwave either. Stirring pots on the hob and using the range oven (gas and electric respectively) give me such slow cooking pleasure with friends and family sitting at the table nearby. I am sure short-burst irradiation and pings will never replace that for me.

  47. What a wonderful kitchen, and how lucky you were to have such terrific contractors and such a great renovation experience.

    In Vermont, we call your Belfast sink a “farmhouse sink”.

    And I can testify to the power of blue paint. There’s a classic color in the US called (generically) “porch ceiling blue”, which was always used on veranda and wrap-around porch ceilings, to emulate the sky. Nowadays, the classic color has morphed into many shades, and I have an enclosed front porch. I used a light blue on that porch ceiling with great success.

    That success encouraged me to try that color on the ceilings of the main rooms in my house. Wow! It worked, magnificently. Those rooms have very little direct light. The light blue ceilings seems to draw light in, and (better yet), keeps the ceilings from looking dingy and grey at night. Blue paint is the answer!

  48. It’s lovely, Kate. I sigh with admiration and agree whole-heartedly with Liz above: your kitchen is a beautiful, functional space that will provide much happiness for years to come.

  49. It is so beautiful and restful, and I’m glad that its installation went so smoothly and well! Though I don’t know you or Tom, I have a feeling that it couldn’t happen to nicer people. : ) And re: “observing Paul’s work, I have a new appreciation for the craft of tiling.” Yes! I have found that tiling, bricklaying and mosaic work have fascinated me even more deeply since I began knitting nine years ago. The art and craft of building a wall and the art and craft of building a garment out of component pieces and the skill of one’s hands seem to have much in common.

  50. I’ve looked long and hard at an induction unit over the years. My current stove is a glass topped range with quartz heating elements. The smooth surface serves as counter space when I’m rolling put cookies during Christmas baking. The down side of the quartz elements is that the glass stays hot for some time after it is shut down. I always thought that the instant off and cool cooktop of an induction unit would be a real plus.

  51. Gosh, not only do we have swallows, we have teasels here as well. This was a big wool growing and processing area and they actually grew the teasels (our spelling) commercially. They still grow on roadsides and in ditches and have a stateliness about them (most farmers would disagree). The kitchen is lovely Kate and don’t worry about the extra power for the dishwasher, you will save it with the cooker and using the small oven instead of the large for quick small things (I love mine, roast vegetables drizzled with olive oil, pies, home made pizza, become ten minute meals you turn the oven on and by the time you’ve cut the vegetables or rolled the dough it’s hot and ready, and you can use it for anything that fits, you will love it. With the sink if you have fine china place a toweling tea towel on the bottom if you ever wash dishes, it will stop chips and breakages and be aware the sink can chip as well, do everything thoughtfully and it will stay lovely. About the class guilt, builders and tilers have to eat too, someone has to employ them, thanks for helping their business, well done!

  52. I thought you might also be interested to know that our wool museum (a working museum) has an operational teasel machine.. It is very beautiful, in an industrial way and does a beautiful job on the old machine, woven cloth they put though it. They also weave rugs on an early jacquard industrial loom.

  53. What I wouldn’t give for a kitchen such as yours! I love it! And pray you will have many happy hours cooking, baking and tidying up! Another benefit of putting the tiles inside the window – it helps to reflect more light. Have fun!

  54. A kitchen is a very good place to spend money on your home — the quality makes a difference, you use it every day, and it adds value to your home. We waited ten years to remodel our kitchen, and of course said, “we should have done it sooner.” I hope you enjoy this blessing! Lovely and fresh looking!

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)