Our kitchen makeover

I am so excited to finally reveal our new kitchen. It’s been a long time coming and now, a month after the work ended, I couldn’t be happier about it!

Our kitchen before

We moved in to our house just over a year ago and when we first viewed it, I knew it was going to be our home. Despite the magnolia walls, brown carpets upstairs and the cream kitchen, I loved the countryside location, the views, the layout, and the living area’s oak floors. The kitchen was a good size, big enough for a large dining table and the beautiful stone floors totally sold it to me. The kitchen units however looked dated and the cheap brown worktops had seen better days! All of it perfectly usable until we could afford to get a new kitchen.

Fast forward a few months of avoiding sharing the kitchen on the gram, 2 things were crystal clear: The kitchen units were very well made and the layout worked well for us. With that in mind (and a serious lack of budget!) I started plotting and planning on how I could make it all work and tie it in with the rest of the house. I pinned kitchens like a mad woman and I started to see a pattern for pared back neutral tones and black taps! I was certain i would need to repaint all the kitchen units and get rid of the cream units.

The planning

I put a mood board together and immediately started looking at new worktops which would be the biggest and easiest way to transform the kitchen. Any of you who have designed a kitchen will know how much choice there is out there and how confusing it can be especially on a tight budget. It soon became obvious that, although I loved the look of marble, it was way out of my budget. I could either wait and save to buy a marble worktop in roughly 10 years or I could do what I preach every day which is be flexible! So back to the drawing board as I was not about to give up my dream of an under mounted sink and grooves in the worktop!

I then considered wood which i had and loved in my previous kitchen but wood is very high maintenance especially if I chose to have an under mounted sink so I carried on looking.

IKEA worktops had been mentioned to me a few times as being good value for money as well as Formica® laminate worktops which, I have to be honest, conjured up ideas of 1970s kitchen tables and not quite the look I was after! As a complete coincidence, in December last year I received a press release from Formica Group and their new Aria worktops. The rest as they say is history!

Trying to combine the elements of a modern kitchen but adding warmth and interest with wood accessories and a vintage table.

Trying to combine the elements of a modern kitchen but adding warmth and interest with wood accessories and a vintage table.

The Aria worktops by Formica Group

The Aria range combines the beauty of natural materials with a highly developed engineering process. Formica Group developed Aria to give us a solid and tactile alternative to natural and engineered stone, without compromising on the quality. I ordered three colour samples from them: Calacatta Marble, Carrara Bianco and Polar White. When they arrived I instantly fell in love with the wonderful solid feel of them. I decided to put them to the test before committing fully: I spilt tea, coffee, beetroot, lemon and left them overnight. In the morning a simple wipe with a soapy cloth removed all the stains. Good as new! Plus as Aria is fully waterproof and non porous I would be able to have the under-mounted sink of my dreams and drainage grooves!

I recommend ordering samples of the work surface before making the final decision.

I recommend ordering samples of the work surface before making the final decision.

Thinner work tops will give your kitchen a sleeker more modern look than the traditional 50 mm surfaces.

Thinner work tops will give your kitchen a sleeker more modern look than the traditional 50 mm surfaces.

I chose Polar white in 20 mm thickness as I wanted the space to be as light as possible. As the new work surface is thinner than the old one I had a choice of either replacing all the tiles or go for the option of an upstand which would fill the gap between tiles and worktop.

A few weeks later Paul from Formica Group came and measured the whole kitchen as well as making sure our units were in good enough condition and strong enough to support the Aria worktop. It then took two days for the installation to be complete (our utility room was done at the same time). Needless to say the transformation was amazing!

The cabinets

The old brown work surface made the cabinets look very yellow but with the new surface in place the units no longer needed painting! All that was needed was to replace the dated metal handles. I knew I wanted leather as it would bring texture to the plain shaker style units. Dowsing and Reynolds had the biggest choice of leather handles and the option to customise the metal knob in four different finishes. I chose the Magni leather handle in light tan finished with black metal which would work perfectly with the taps.

I chose leather handles to add texture to the scheme.

I chose leather handles to add texture to the scheme.

The sink and tap

As soon as I saw the matt black Purist tap from Kohler, I knew it would be perfect and give our kitchen the modern and minimalist look I was after. I paired it with Kohler’s white under-mounted Iron/Tones cast iron sink, a simple and sleek design but robust enough to withstand the busyness of a family kitchen.


Here the old washboard used as a pot stand provides texture and contrast next to the modern black tap by Kohler.

Here the old washboard used as a pot stand provides texture and contrast next to the modern black tap by Kohler.

An under mounted sink and draining grooves were an absolute must!

An under mounted sink and draining grooves were an absolute must!

The appliances

The oven and the hob were already here when we moved in and the oven had broken down a couple of times. It is custom to buy matching oven and hob but I decided against it and go for the Bosch white ceramic hob and the Smeg Cucina stainless steel oven both from AO.com. It may sound a little odd but visually it works much better fro me. I wanted to keep the work top areas white and felt stainless steel would break that the continuity of it. However the cooker hood and dishwasher are stainless steel and it felt natural to have stainless steel oven rather than white to match the hob. The Smeg oven I chose is absolutely amazing with features such as a dedicated pizza function (no soggy bottoms for our home made pizzas!), a dough proving setting (invaluable if you don’t have an airing cupboard!) and last but by no means least the pyrolytic function which mean the oven literally cleans itself!

A stainless steel hob would have broken the seamless lines of the white work surface so I chose a white hob and a stainless steel oven to match the dishwasher and eventually the fridge.

A stainless steel hob would have broken the seamless lines of the white work surface so I chose a white hob and a stainless steel oven to match the dishwasher and eventually the fridge.

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The accessories

Again here no matching kettle and toaster! I have owned a Dualit stainless steel toaster for a very long time and I have no plan to replace it, it’s the best toaster I have ever had. However, I needed a new kettle and The Stelton range had been on my radar for a long time, I chose the Emma electric kettle in white from Amara. I also added another chopping board to my collection with the beautiful Field bread board from Hay. I had also spotted the House Doctor Jela planter which I use as a fruit bowl. Finally a couple of new pans which feels like a total luxury after having the same pans for over 10 years! Eva Solo do white pans and I chose this saucepan and this saute pan

Designed to reduce bread crumbs spilling on work tops this bread board by Hay combines design and function.

Designed to reduce bread crumbs spilling on work tops this bread board by Hay combines design and function.

The Emma electric kettle by Stelton is a classic and proves again there is no need to match toaster and kettle!

The Emma electric kettle by Stelton is a classic and proves again there is no need to match toaster and kettle!

Kilner jars serve a multitude of purposes in the kitchen.

Kilner jars serve a multitude of purposes in the kitchen.

This planter from House Doctor makes a perfect fruit bowl.

This planter from House Doctor makes a perfect fruit bowl.

My beloved coffee machine from AO.com.

My beloved coffee machine from AO.com.

Fresh herbs always on hand in this Ikea pot. I tend to buy the fresh pots of herbs in the supermarket and replace them as and when I need to.

Fresh herbs always on hand in this Ikea pot. I tend to buy the fresh pots of herbs in the supermarket and replace them as and when I need to.

Instead of traditional plants i have used herbs in the kitchen. They make the room smell divine and bring a little colour.

Instead of traditional plants i have used herbs in the kitchen. They make the room smell divine and bring a little colour.

I may have a slight wooden spoons obsession!

I may have a slight wooden spoons obsession!

Obviously no hot pans on the work surfaces so I chose this Eva Solo trivet from Amara.

Obviously no hot pans on the work surfaces so I chose this Eva Solo trivet from Amara.

Ok I may also have a chopping board obsession!

Ok I may also have a chopping board obsession!

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The finished result

Our kitchen is the most used room in the house and the result has far exceeded my expectations. I have a beautiful, practical kitchen which will last for a long time. As with every room in the house always choose carefully what you invest your money in. If you have good solid cupboards try replacing doors only or just handles. Worktops are the biggest game changer in the kitchen, do your research and order samples. I hope you like it, if you have any questions please comment below I will do my best to answer.



This article is a collaboration with Formica.com, AO.com, Kohler UK and Amara Living. All thoughts and opinions are mine.