Painting the Kitchen Cabinets Garish Green


I have spent hours and hours of my life using the ikea room planner to come up with what would work in my kitchen. After much playing around and screaming at programming errors I settled on something roughly like this:

kitchen mockup

I decided long long ago that I wanted a weird coloured kitchen. Trawling through pinterest I noticed that I preferred kitchens with green cabinets, either the beautiful vintage sage green, or a deep dark green that made me go ‘Oooooh‘.

The Oooooh noise is my compass and follow it I did, all the way to the paint section of B&Q.

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This is a handful of ‘Colours I have or will have in my house’, and following the success of painting the bathroom cabinet deep blue with Dulux weather shield, I grabbed a tin of Heathland Satin and began destroying the ikea cabinet doors with it.

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The doors had been sanded down and were ready for painting. Turns out the satin finish wasn’t oil based, but I ploughed on anyway, because waterbased paint is easier to clean up, right? RIGHT?

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It’s just the first coat, Tab, I’m sure after you do three or four the brush lines will disappear and you’ll get good coverage.

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After several days and several coats on both sides, it became clear that it wasn’t going to get better.

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Every time I turned the cabinets over the paint came off, in scrapes or flakes.

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This is from a light scratch of my (very nubby) fingernails. Frustrated, I went online to see what I was doing wrong.

paint reviews

So yeah, the reviews for this paint sucked. As in, everyone who bought it said it sucked and it was no surprise that it sucked for me too.

That meant the only way for it to not suck… would be to strip of the whole damn lot and start again.

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I learnt pretty quickly to just slather the paint stripper on, not to bother waiting the hour it said on the bottle and as soon as I’d finished applying it to the whole set of doors, to move on to stripping down the first door.

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The glass cabinets were just the worst. So many angles and edges.

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Stripping paint is, sticky, ugly, horrible work. It was like peeling snot off a reluctant toddler.

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After getting the worst of the paint off I’d take the cabinets up to the bath and scrub them down with a steel wool, then scrub the bath down from all the sticky paint gunk I’d gotten on it and all over the edges.

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Eight window cabinets, three regular doors, two thin doors and several days later I finally got the cabinets back to (a slightly battered) version of their former glory.

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Then there was more sanding.

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And finally a wipe down with some white spirit. Here you can see that there’s still some flakes of paint remaining, but at this point I was just glad to have the worst off. 2015-11-24 21.10.13

During the several days of stripping paint I had a lot of time to think about and research the next paint I was going to use. Unfortunately most paint tutorials for cupboards use chalk paint which doesn’t come in the deep green I wanted or uses american based products for which there is no equivalent over here. In the end I found a recommendation for this stuff, BIN primer.

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It’s shellac based which means the only way to clean your brushes is to use methylated spirits, stuff so bad for you they dye it bright purple so you can’t ever mistake it for something drinkable.

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BIN dries really fast (40 minutes to recoat) and using a roller made the application very simple with no drips. The stuff is expensive at £20 a tin, but much better than having to touch up the kitchen cupboards every few months. I decided to do a test of two doors this time instead of just painting the whole lot, which would have saved me a lot of time if I’d been sensible the first time around.

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After consulting reviews I decided not to abandon Dulux completely… mainly because all the other paint brand reviews were even worse. This time I made sure to go with an oil based gloss paint, because while oil is a pain to clean up it’s far more durable and shows less brush strokes than the alternatives.


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This paint still dripped through to the other side of the window cabinets, but the drips stayed wet so I could just brush them off with a cloth and do the coat on the next side.

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Door test success! This is after two coats, so much better than the last paint. Now onto the rest of the doors…

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(My drying racks are made from whatever stick-y things are around the house. In this case a broom, a rake, a sledge, a paint roller pole, a spirit level…)

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Between each coat I gave the doors a quick sand to try and undo some of the damage the first attempt at painting did to the texture.

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The oil paint took 16 hours to dry for each coat, so I’d do one or two coats a day over the course of a week, all the while counting down to the wall knock through.

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I finished just before the builders turned up on monday, and quickly covered everything with a tarp to try and keep the worst of the dust off the newly cured paint.


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While the house was already super dusty I got this baby out and started putting the kitchen cabinets up. I bought an SDS (which apparently stands for Special Direct System, not Super Duper Speedy Drill) back when I was living with my Mum for about £70. It’s worth every penny because drilling into brick takes hours without one.

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Ikea uses a railing system for it’s cupboards, all you have to do is mount a level metal bar to the wall and the cabinets slot over it. MAGIC.

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First thing to go up on the wall was the extractor fan so the cupboards would line up with the cooker properly.

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The cupboards were standard ikea flatpack, but I wanted lights to go inside of them, which meant mounting all the lights inside before they even touched the wall.

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I tested all the lights first, because that would have been the worst to undo if one of them happened to be faulty.

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It’s aliveeeee!

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Next some super (un)accurate cutting on the back of the cupboard for the extractor fan switch.

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A pretty pair!

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Happy with the first set we then put up the other side. He’s invisible to photos but my friend Ruben helped here, which involved lots of standing on wobbly worktop and attempting to draw a level line on a very wobbly wall.

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Getting my brick dust tiger stripes!

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So. Much. Brick dust.


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Then it was planning how to make a cupboard fit around the boiler at the side. This is the cardboard template we attempted before realising that because you had to lift the cupboard up and over onto the rail, the hole had to be the same as the boiler itself to allow putting the damn thing up.

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By lucky coincidence we turned one of the old ugly cupboards I’d saved from the previous kitchen on it’s side and it was the perfect height to match the rest of the units.

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The last thing to go in was this unit on the end which was also recycled from the old kitchen.

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After much huffing and puffing to try and hold the cabinet in place while we screwed, I realised we were being dumb and whacked a temporary support under it.

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And lo, the units are now high!2015-12-04 17.46.11

The next couple of days were painting the old cabinets white to match the rest, using the BIN primer and standard white gloss using a roller.

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Here’s a test for the glass doors. Turns out ikea hinges are the devil to get in if you paint the doors, so I abandoned them and started work on the bottom cupboards instead.

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This meant moving all my ugly pots and pans to the top cupboards.

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At this point my house was starting to look like an episode of Hoarders.

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I removed all the doors and the extra… gross from the cabinets.

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Then gave them all a pepsi bath to clean off the worst of the grime.

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Each of the cupboards were stripped, cleaned and painted.

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Meanwhile all of the old doors were cleaned.

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Then dried out on my super professional drying racks.

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Then back to painting doors!

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I was trying to get this all finished in the run up to Friendsmas, so after a few days of painting and flipping the doors over I realised I could make little legs for them out of screws and paint the entire door in one coat all at once.

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Much of the painting was done with the help of Amanda, who also helped me man up and put the glass and hinges on the upper cabinet doors.

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Such hammering, very wow.

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Putting the door on an extractor fan is difficult, okay?

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Noooo not my shame.


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Then we used the totally legit method of insulating the back of a cupboard by using a broom to shove foil behind it.

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Ahhhh cutting worktop. D:

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It fits?!?!

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Then we cut the second half to length and trimmed the corner.

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And now I have this fantastic hat.

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Amanda sanded the edges of the worktop down to perfection, then we soaked it all in a liberal coating of danish oil.

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Worktop selfie!

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With Friendsmas fast approaching it was time to put some doors back on the cupboards.

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I tried to make a jig to mark where to drill the handles… but it didn’t really work out. I ended up using a paper template and eyeballing the rest, with help from my friend Lottie.

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This was the last photo taken in the blurred rush before Christmas, but today I took some actual photos of the kitchen in it’s almost complete and festively decorated glory.

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I decided to keep under the sink open because as much as I like the idea of having a pretty kitchen, I’m a practical person first and these bins are so convenient.

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Drinks cupboard. The tassels are my christmas decorations, not a permanent feature.


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Tea cupboard.

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Finally all my cookbooks are unpacked, and I can use the weird egg rollercoaster my Dad brought me!

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Almost there to a fantabulous kitchen, next step is building the pantry/fridge cupboard and doors, the backsplash and of course, the new floor.

Happy New Year, happy new kitchen!


Floors fixed, Walls whacked down and Doors drummed in…in time for Christmas?



It’s easy when buying a house to think about all the happy, cushy stuff. For example, here are my rainbow chandeliers, which I found on gum tree:

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If there’s anything more tasteful, I haven’t found it!

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And here is my fireplace, which will look amazing with the victorian tiles we found.

But before these beautiful things can be installed, I had a lot of work to do. To recap, here’s the planned work on the house:



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This is the dining room. Over time the air brick to the wall got clogged and combined with a lack of damp proof course and a tonne of rubble in the wall it got damper and damper. When I took the wallpaper off all the plaster came with it, and showed some signs of rot in the joists, which we found when Clem helped me rip them up in the summer. 

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It’s gross, isn’t it Mr Millipede?

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Get out from this hellhole while you still can!

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I’ve got a good metre of free space under the house, which is officially corpse free! Finding a dead body under there would have really delayed the build.

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Fortunately joist replacements aren’t that difficult, they just look scary. I hired some damp experts to look at mine and treat the entire area for rot while they were down there.

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The new joists just get butted against the old ones, everything gets sprayed down and levelled out as best they can and the job gets closed over.

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Boom, new floor!

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Over on the other side of the house I had some floor props to fix. Clem and I ripped these open in august and discovered it was just that they needed some tiles shoved under the wooden props. I just…hadn’t gotten around to it for a few months. What’s one more hole in a floor anyway?

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Whoooo standing on the ground underneath my house was weird. But not as weird as contorting myself underneath to try and insert the tiles.

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While I was down there I wrapped the props with membrane to keep them from getting damp. Nothing says fun like staple gunning while hanging upside down with your legs kicking out the floor!

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Safely supported and not a corpse in sight!

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Putting down floorboards was a lot easier than yanking the damn things up. Though I’m starting to regret not leaving a time capsule down there.

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Now that two holes were fixed, it was time to start making more holes to even out the balance. This was the window from the dining room to the patio out back. If you look at the lintel on top you can see it needed repairing, and with the damp issues on the wall and damage to the plaster I decided I might as well just rip the whole thing out and put a set of patio doors in there. This involved several phone calls, paying money to building regulations, and a month of getting quotes from builders until I found someone I wanted to work with.

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But then on a miserable December morn the hole was finally knocked through!

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It was loud. And messy. I gave my neighbours flowers to apologise.

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But then the doors went in and I knew instantly that it had been the right choice. It opens the space up so much and lets even more light in.

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And in the summer, this place is going to be killer for barbecues.

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You know, when there’s less rubble out there.

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The builders roughly blocked up the holes around the bottom to keep cats out, and left me with a free air conditioning unit to keep the house nice and chill until they could come back the next day to rebuild the upper arch.

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The next job a couple of days later was to get rid of this bad boy. Sure, he’s a lovely wall, but between you and me, he had to go.

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The builders put dust sheets over the door when they made the cut, but the smoke still crawled up the stairs, setting off the smoke alarm as it went.

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So. Much. Dust.

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They cut into the wall on one side with a petrol powered angle grinder, and took off the plaster to expose the brick.

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The next day they turned up with the beam, which was A LOT bigger than I’d realised. I got a structural engineer to calculate this one for me, turns out my house requires 12 inches of steel to hold it up.

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Before the beam goes in they prop the house up with supports that run all the way through the floor to the sublevel below. These took the weight of my living room and bedroom while they knocked the top bricks out and inserted the steel.

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Then they just knocked the bricks out bit by bit, slowly unveiling the other room.

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They lower the props and then leave it overnight to make sure it’s well and truly not moving.

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At this point I just left them to it, so the next day when I came home they were done!

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Look at all this space!

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It was a horrible 2 weeks of noise and dust but it’s going to be a brilliant workroom and I have no regrets about getting this wall knocked through.

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They even managed to keep the skirting board from one side so I can put the original one back up after the plasterers have been. My next job in this room is to rip out the awful fireplace, then take all the wallpaper out and get some quotes for getting the room plastered once I know the extent of the damage.

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(Here you can see a sneak peak of the kitchen cupboards, but that’s another fantabulous story.)

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Then it was time to decorate the house for my annual Friendsmas celebration!

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Amazing what a good mop, some lights and a bit of tinsel will do to a place.

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Happy Holidays everyone!


And the Kitchen Sink

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When you last saw the (not) fantabulous kitchen it looked like this. Shining, bright and ready to be ripped asunder.


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I’d spent a couple of weeks uming and ahing about what cabinets to change, designing and redesigning over and over again. I’m keeping a lot of the lower cabinets because the doors are solid wood, but I wanted a new sink, taller wall cupboards and an extractor fan that actually goes outside instead of recirculating the filth into the ceiling

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(a reminder of the filth that was behind the upper cabinets when I pulled them down)

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A rogue Dad appears! Together we decide on the final height of the wall cupboards. In the end I went with the height that would keep everything level with the boiler.

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I wanted to go higher and have the cabinets almost touching the ceiling…

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…But my ceiling is about as straight as I am so that wasn’t going to happen.


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We get everything marked out just in time for the Ikea kitchen delivery to arrive!

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There were a LOT more boxes than this, some of them ridiculously heavy, some surprisingly light. In classic IKEA style we also accidentally received half of someone else’s desk, after much puzzling and ‘wait how many 40×80 doors are here????’ it turns out I’d managed to order 4 lots of the sink base.

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I think I’d been um-ing and ah-ing so much over what parts to buy that it must have errored at the checkout. Much counting of hinges and doors later we made a pile to return to IKEA for a whopping £279 refund. Whooo cheaper kitchen!

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Opening the box for the sink made it all worth it though.

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I love you sink.

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I also love you new cabinet doors.

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Then it was on to the Super Important job of the saturday- drilling the extractor fan hole.

The hole ended up being just past the arch on the side of the house, more by sheer chance than any planning I did. It also looks like there might have been something there a couple years previously, so I’m not the first person to destroy the house in this way.

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You can hire diamond cutter drills, or you can have a Dad like mine who just happens to have one. I cannot overemphasise how important a decent drill is for doing this job- When my electrician drilled the bathroom extractor it took about an hour to get through. Brick walls are SOLID!

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The rubble at the half way point.

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I’m sorry cooker, I truly am.

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Light at the end of the tunnel! This was the same weekend it snowed, so this hole made the room Very Drafty.

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Much better! Good thing I hoard bubble envelopes.

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This is me hoovering my wall. The struggle is real.

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Goodbye old sink!

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Hello and goodbye random deactivated socket we didn’t know existed until that moment.

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Behind the sink was super filthy with plaster falling off and old sink water. It was at this point I started to panic as we only had until that evening to finish this and get the new sink in so I could, I don’t know, still LIVE in my kitchen.

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Ikea cabinets are really weird sizes. To get it level with the other cupboards we made it some new legs then used shims to get it even on the (so not even) floor.

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Everything coming together!

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Because of previous issues with damp I chucked some insulation behind the cabinets to try to help with mould. The alternative to this would be stripping the entire kitchen down and getting DPC installed, which I’d do if I weren’t attempting to live in the house at the same time.

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At this point we realised that we’d have to put the worktop in before the sink as it’s the belfast kind that sits over the top. After all my whining about worktop the second this stuff arrived I fell in love with it, so now we just had to cut it to fit. This was using the old worktop as a guideline for the corner angle.

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To cut it we used a circular saw and a metal spirit level clamped to the worktop. I’d been going on about needing a circular sander to finish off the edge but some elbow grease and a sanding block did the job in a lot less time than I expected.

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Worktop AND sink in! You can see where we changed our mind about the corner angle- Ikea worktops are also a weird side so I made it line up with where the cupboard sat.

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Next job- plumbing!

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Getting behind the sink to put the wastes on took considerable manoeuvring- at which point I realised that I could fit my hands through and…. well.

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I treated myself to a fancy tap from Germany after going for the least expensive worktop option. The end comes out so you can spray water at unsuspecting visitors. 😀

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Some leaking issues with the wastes and a wet back later we were finally done!


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The old kitchen goes off to kitchen heaven.

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AKA the dump the next morning.


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The Dishwasher goes on it’s maiden voyage! I’ve never owned a dishwasher in my life so I was more excited than a middle aged man playing with their son’s lego at christmas.

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Unfortunately due to my inexperience I didn’t realise that there were some things that you shouldn’t put in a dishwasher. RIP my Great Gays coming out the Closet Colour Changing Mug, you were too beautiful to be untainted in this harsh world.

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All hail the new (not quite finished) kitchen!

The next thing I have to do is paint all the cupboard insides white (they’re that kind of filthy that only a coat of paint will fix) and then paint all the doors to match.

(And that’s another, horribly long, horribly sticky story.)

Have a fantabulous week!

Xx Tab

Kitchen Plastering, Painting and Plants


The kitchen is on it’s merry way (CUPBOARDS, I HAVE CUPBOARDS PEOPLE), but before all the fun and ikea assembly I had to strip the entire thing down, ready to be replastered.

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Wallpaper pieces go EVERYWHERE when you’re pulling it off. It’s deeply satisfying though if you’re the sort of person who likes to pick spots.

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Unfortunately for me, pulling wallpaper off often means pulling plaster off in this house. Check out those wooden door lintels!

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This was before the old door  got happily ripped out. Rest in pieces old crappy door.

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A view from above! I spent most of my childhood clambering onto kitchen countertops to get things in the upper cupboards, clearly not much has changed.



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Now it was time to make the weird angular cupboard go away.

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This thing did NOT want to move. I had to get a sledge hammer out to make any progress, while carefully avoiding hitting the fridge.

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Mmmm rotten. At this point I was starting to worry about rot/damp in my kitchen until I found this:

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Turns out this cupboard was over 50 years old! Some rot is probably reasonable wear and tear, considering the age. Amazing how some of the timber still looked brand new underneath.

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As a reminder, here’s what the kitchen looked like when I moved in.

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(TIME SKIP) I didn’t actually do the back wall until after everything was plastered and painted. Shhhhh don’t spoil the illusion.  This wall will (hopefully) one day have a door going through it to a bathroom, so there was no point getting it plastered if I was just going to cut a hole in it. Also that one piece of wood is more part of the wall than the plaster is at this point, try as I might I couldn’t get it off.

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What a beautiful delicate yellow.

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Time to tidy up, because the plasterer is coming!

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All the junk goes into my back garden, sorry neighbours.

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Day 1 the plasterers take down the lights and put browning on the really big holes made by the wiring.

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(I also buy milk, because tradesmen need their tea)

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Later that night I realise ‘oh yeah, they took down the lights’ when I attempt to cook dinner.

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The kitchen gets sadly moved to the dining room.

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Nobody said this was easyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

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Day 2 the plasterer finishes off the kitchen!

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Finally I can have the lights back!

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(Well, not really. I managed to mangle the wiring so the switch that used to turn on the kitchen lights turned on only one of them and the switch for the outdoor light turned on the other kitchen light and the outside light. This was eventually fixed when my dad came to visit after much swearing.)

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Then it was off to do other bits of the house while waiting for the kitchen to dry, and take a visit to my Dad down in Birmingham!

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I’ve hunted high and low for a reasonable priced kitchen tile that I like (I even considered getting copies of the tiles I found in the fireplace reprinted, but that’s for crazy people with too much money). In my utility shed there were some slate roof tiles just knocking about, so I’ve decided to make a backsplash with those. Firstly, it’s recycling, and secondly if I hate all the options available then I’m going to go with the cheapest option, and this one is basically free. I mentioned to my Dad that I wanted some slate and he had a bunch more in his garden, so brilliant!

Ask me how I feel about the idea once I start the project, while I weep bitter, slate filled tears.

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This is Terry the Terrarium, part of my ‘The house isn’t finished but I can still have nice things’ project.

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He’s got a big sister who was donated by my Dad, and currently holds the twins, Poison and Ivy.

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Clearly I just want easily breakable glass things in my life. Glass bells are surprisingly cheap so when I saw them (and had a car to get them safely home!) I bought three of them.

For reasons.

Kitchen reasons.

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I return home with the plaster finally dry, so it was time to clear everything out the kitchen again-

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*Silent Weeping*

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-Because Karen came to visit to help me paint the kitchen!

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Such brightness! This is a mix of cheap emulsion and water, and it goes EVERYWHERE.

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(Painting around pipes is hard, okay? I figure I’m just going to paint what I can then clean them up later with steel wool. Also, yes, the last guy in the house was an old man who was probably swindled by some shoddy workmen when they installed the boiler. I’m keeping the pipes like that because it’s like, totally Steampunk, right?)

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And lo, the kitchen is once more on it’s way to being beautiful!

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Time for a congratulatory cup of tea.

Now you better get ready Mr Sink, because the next post is about how you got ripped out and replaced with a shiny new one.

‘Till next time!


x Tab