We all know that moving house is a pretty soul-destroying experience and as someone who can’t function properly unless her home is clean, clutter free and organized, for me it is a living hell. I hate not having my belongings in their places and boxes… urgh, don’t get me started on how unsightly millions of cardboard boxes are. I truly can’t bear to have them round the house longer than necessary. My name is Alice and I am a massive control freak.
So in our house the unpacking gets done pretty swiftly: in a week, if not sooner. And this time around I had the bonus of my mum looking after Elfie for the day and my mother-in-law working on the kitchen. She brilliantly unpacked everything in a wonderfully organized fashion that I honestly could not have done better myself. This made the process of cramming the contents of our old kitchen (including walk-in pantry) and utility room into about three quarters of the space so much easier for me.
This is by no means my dream kitchen, and in the hour I was alone in the house waiting for the removal men to deliver our belongings I was a bit concerned. The floors were cold, the walls were bare, the wood was dark and the worktops were green – so completely different to our old house. There were no shelves or cupboards above worktop level and it seemed like a very functional and cold room. Here’s a couple of before shots:
See? Positively chilly.
We knew on taking the house that we’d need an additional table as our long existing one was to go in the new dining room (which you can see through the arch). A couple of days on eBay later and we found the perfect round table for the new space, solid wood, four chairs and located in Bedfordshire, only 20 minutes away from us. The table and chairs will go through a facelift in due course: they will be rubbed down and painted white, aside from the table top which will be left and sealed, kind of like this.
The first shelf we (I use the ‘royal we’ here as I have never put a shelf up in my life) put up was between the two windows on the sink side of the room. I’ve chosen to store here a couple of my nicer Le Creuset dishes and saucepans, my pasta in kilner jars and a lovely jar of mustard that I picked up in Paris. I’ve used hooks to display some of my royal mugs (I love my royal mugs, no lie, my favourite is one that says ‘I am a royal mug’ with a photo of Kate Middleton’s face) and some of my most-used utensils. A smaller shelf extends off the larger one – good old Grundtal – and we store Elfie’s medicines here so they are easy to lay your hands on at 7am or the middle of the night.
I originally bought one more Grundtal shelf to go on this wall but we decided against it in the end to save on a bit of clutter. Instead I hung a couple of pieces of art, this food poster by What Katie Does is on the left and the Chronic Bitchface print by Kris Atomic on the right. I keep my cooking utensils in a jug that has been passed down to us from my mother-in-law (my husband says that every times he glances at it he thinks of his Sunday lunches at home) and I like to decant my olive oil into a fancy glass bottle.
This side of the kitchen is the most functional of all: breadmaking, laundry bits, microwave, blah blah blah. I keep all my bread ingredients in a large white box on the windowsill so they’re easy to get to every day (and now that my belly’s getting to big to allow easy squatting to cupboards).
The second lot of shelves we’ve put up are here; this wall was so terribly bare before and with no inbuilt above worktop storage we really thought we’d need the extra space. I’m still not sure which way I’m going to go with these, I think our white china would look lovely stored here but it’s really convenient to have it so close to the dishwasher at the moment.
Then I take a step back and realise that I’m 30 weeks pregnant and really, does it matter which china is displayed on my open shelves at this point in time? I’ll get to it later.
All the vases, candles and nicknacks used to be stored in our utility room and the shields (I think from one of the World Wars) were inherited from Will’s grandfather. I have my beloved Le Creuset teapot on display alongside my little collection of jugs and the ‘Elfie the Littlest Elf’ record that I found on eBay and framed.
So that’s it: the unpacked kitchen. Despite my initial misgivings I have to say it’s the most low-maintenance kitchen we’ve ever had (I loved my range cooker at the old place but bloody hell did it take some cleaning) and this wins over looks every time. We gather so much more as a family around the new table – Will on his laptop, Elfie drawing, me cooking – and from that point of view it’s a very sociable room. You can’t quite see the rug under the table which is the biggest pain of arse of all with a toddler but I’ve solved this buy purchasing a hand-held vacuum cleaner and trying not to get too worked up about a few crumbs – I think it’s a necessary evil to break up the tile floor in here. It’s not my Mr Right kitchen, but as a Mr Right Now it does a pretty good job.