May 28, 2013

Cuisinary developments

I’m expecting family visitors in a few weeks time, my mother who’s 94 tomorrow (Happy Birthday Mum!), together with my sister and my brother-in-law, and I’ve decided that there’s no way that we’ll all be able to live in a reasonably civilised manner for the week or two that they’re here without some kind of proper kitchen. I really wanted to get the wood-burner install finished before I started on the kitchen because I keep starting new jobs without finishing the ones I’ve already got underway but I think that I have no choice with this one. The reason is because I’m still making do with a camping kitchen and double-burner stove and a couple of camping tables but there’s no way, even if the weather is lovely and we eat out a lot and outdoors if we’re eating at home, that such an arrangement will be suitable for the four of us. And it’s lucky that I installed the new toilet when I did, otherwise I’d have had that problem as well 🙂

So I’ve decided that although I’d ideally like to deal with the kitchen ceiling before installing any kitchen units, because I know it’ll be a horrible dirty job, I’ll have to do that later and at least get all of the base units in. As luck would have it, last week the regular leaflet announcing the latest ‘Arrivages’ and special offers at Brico Depot arrived and it included details of a special offer on kitchens, so I went over there on Saturday and bust the bank by buying all of the kitchen units I need while they’re on offer. In fact I was able to get hold of a higher price kitchen than I’d originally planned for, for less than I was originally going to spend, so at least that was a result. In fact I’ve been back again after checking what I’d been supplied with to correct their and my errors and get some more units and I’ll be returning again soon to change one cupboard door for a door/drawer combination and pick up the accessories and worktops that I’ve chosen.

I’m going for a traditional French kitchen design in real solid oak which I think will suit the style of the house perfectly and I think the extra investment in solid wood rather than chipboard will be worth it in the long run. I’ve got my reservations about the handles that come with it, though, and as the doors and drawer fronts haven’t been drilled, I might see what options I’ve got to replace them with something I like more. The handles on my original choice kitchen were much nicer but unfortunately there’s no option but to accept the ones that are originally supplied with each style of kitchen, which is a bit of a shame, I think.

Here’s a picture showing the layout I’ve designed for the main wall. There’s no window in it sadly and although it might be possible to put one in (remember the walls of my house are nearly 3 feet thick) I think it would be too big a job to take on just now.

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The kitchen walls are way out of square and the left hand corner has a great big bulge in it, electric wires running down it as well and it’s also where the water pipes pass through the wall into the bathroom. However, I’m pretty certain that all of these will not present too many problems because of the amount of space the standard worktops leave behind the cabinets to allow for services, that there is to play with.

Here’s a pic of the heap of flat-packs that I’ve got to assemble into full units and this was after I’d already assembled the corner unit and the two cabinets on the left hand side in the picture above.

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And finally, here are the corner unit and the two left hand cabinets, not in position but just standing in the middle of my kitchen floor, where I assembled them. And yes, that is my new wood-burner behind them, still standing in my kitchen waiting to be installed into my new fireplace since January 😐

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At the moment, I’m using the ramshackle old wall-mounted gas heater that was here when I moved in, for hot water. It’s old and not very efficient and never got the water above luke-warm when the supply was very cold in the winter. Its flue also discharges straight into the kitchen and as well as not being safe, it’s also now making the ceiling above it black and sooty. But there must be many thousands more just like it in rural France! I’ll be installing a 200 litre electric water heater on the wall in the corner of my bathroom. I’d prefer to have it in the kitchen but there’s just no way it can be accommodated, so I have no choice. I’m hoping to be able to box it in in the form of a ceiling high cupboard because that will keep the steam away from it and also give me some tall storage, which I’d otherwise be lacking, for things like my ironing board. The heater won’t be the usual immersion type but will instead be of Steatite design, which is very popular here in France. It’s a bit more expensive but much more efficient and therefore cheaper to run, which’ll be just as well given the whacking great EDF bill that I’ve just received for using my electric heaters over the past few months 🙁