15 Mar Our Free Standing Kitchen
It’s been a while since I ran through how we assembled our kitchen in our narrow, tall, victorian Yorkshire terrace. When we moved in, nearly five years ago, the ground floor was separated into two rooms, living room as soon you entered the front door. Past this, a door through to a small kitchen with a backdoor, window and steps down to a small cellar, similar to an underground tunnel the length of the house.
We knew from the get go that we wanted to knock down the dividing wall, open it up into one living space and change the flooring. For months, we lived amidst rubble and dust, using a camping stove in our bedroom to cook on and the bathroom sink for washing up. Two predictable factors slowed it down: cash flow and a builder who was flitting between several different jobs.
Eventually, finally, the bones of the space were in place: the ceiling was supported by an RSJ, the walls were re-plastered and the wooden floor had been laid (now a regret, I find the colour too warm and the texture too modern.)
But it meant we could start putting a kitchen together. We knew we had no interest in a fitted kitchen, it isn’t our style or something we would be prepared to spend money on. So we set out to find unique pieces instead, and build the surfaces where freestanding wouldn’t be suitable. We knew we wanted a large gas stove, a dishwasher, a small fridge and a Belfast sink.
- Jon and his dad built a cupboard around the ugly boiler with ply wood, which we painted white and added an antique brass handle to.
- For the open shelves and the surface area around the sink and over the dishwasher, we bought old scaff planks from a local builder, sanded them, waxed them, cut them to size and fitted them in.
- The open shelves are great and we found industrial brackets on ebay. The scaff boards around the sink have slightly warped and can get a bit black with the water but it’s possible to sand it back. If I could change anything, I would have built theses parts around the sink with polished concrete instead.
Free Standing Units:
- The Glass and wood cabinet on the wall was a lucky find in a charity shop for £20. I’ve never seen them this cheap, so I thank my lucky stars every time I reach into it to make a cup of tea.
- The Dresser was an ebay find. We were luckily the only people to place a bid and managed to get it for £100 plus the van rental to collect it from the big old house in Cheshire.
- The wooden table was also an ebay find for £200 from an old stately home kitchen. It is our fourth kitchen table, but finally the right one. I wasted a lot of time and money on paint trying to make the wrong tables work for me.
- The blue 50’s cabinet I found on the side of the street in Manchester and has gone everywhere with me, including France and Spain.
Because our kitchen is where we spend the most of our time, and is connected to the living room, I knew I wanted a soft, welcoming space with character. We’ve brought this into the space with an eclectic array of ceramics on the open shelves, plants that may or may not be clinging on for dear life, pieces of artwork, dried herbs, trinkets, jars full of dried goods and candles on the table. It is rarely perfect, but always cosy and reflecting our life.
People often ask about dust, and it can definitely be an issue, but only really on the top shelves with the crockery we don’t use as much. I suppose it’s not as streamlined as a fitted kitchen so can be fiddlier to clean, but you get used to the nooks and crannies.
In terms of storage, the kitchen houses the art cabinet for the kids, our love of buying food in bulk, my collection of vintage kitchen utensils, cookery books, piles of my drawing pads and inks, our shoes, coats, records, board games, newspapers, firewood… It’s where the most of our living happens. We have a lot of things on display. I think it is possible to carry this off as a minimalist, but it’s a lot of work.
My main takeaways from creating a kitchen like this is that it can take time, especially if you’re on a budget. Finding all the pieces that fit together correctly is time consuming and relies a lot on luck, plus the current price of antique and vintage furniture can make it tricky. But if you have time and patience, you will find what you need. We were extremely lucky with the pieces we found, but we had to be resourceful and willing to spend that extra time searching and walk that extra mile to find what we were looking for.
But it also makes it fun, and completely personal to you. And if you ever move, you can take your kitchen with you!