when you’re 98
and you’re cooker is from the 1960’s
This kitchen was a challenge to modernise because, as well as looking stylish, the design needed to incorporate the specific needs of my elderly client. He was a lovely 98 year old gentleman and his goal was to reach 100 to receive his telegram from the Queen.
To keep himself fit, like Sir Captain Tom Moore, he would go for a walk twice a day, but he wasn’t allowed to cross roads because of his failing eyesight. On one of our visits, my builder found him strewn on the bedroom floor and thought he had ‘croaked it’ so he started to phone for an ambulance… but it was just my gentleman doing his daily exercises. It was such a fright but thankfully all was well. My visits have fond memories and I feel honoured to have met him.
I’d initially met his daughter when she asked me, some years ago, to help refresh the living room in her cottage. Now, she needed me to help modernise her father’s kitchen because it was becoming unsafe with the original 1960’s cooker, and the carers were finding the space difficult to make healthy meals for her father. The kitchen was looking dated and was an accident waiting to happen.
As well as an old freestanding oven, there were other problems with the kitchen space. Predominantly, you couldn’t close the kitchen door because the units stuck out too far, so there was no fire safety in the house if there was a kitchen fire. Also, the wall units were too high, so you couldn’t reach most of the shelves without using a ladder, the hatch was redundant and there was no room for a dishwasher.
The daughter had a kitchen design from a builder, using the high street Magnet range, but the layout was lacking and didn’t resolve any of the kitchen issues, apart from changing the old oven with a more modern replacement.
The kitchen needed a total reconfiguration to optimise the space, and make it fire safe, whilst keeping the integrity of the kitchen so my gentleman still felt comfortable with the new layout.
For the new design, my gentleman wasn’t keen to spend his lifelong savings on something he wouldn’t outlive, so I focused on a high street B&Q kitchen to modernise the space whilst also being affordable. (This is not an advert for B&Q but it was the most appropriate kitchen for this project)
The galley shape of the kitchen wasn’t changing but, to create more space and enable the kitchen door to close, I reduced the depth of the base units as you entered the kitchen and exited the back door.
Another key design change was moving the hob to the opposite side of the room, running the gas supply under the new floor and venting the extractor to the outside wall. This allowed space for full height units, on the sink side, to accommodate an integrated double oven, fridge/freezer and boiler cupboard. The washing machine and dryer were moved out of the kitchen, to a cupboard under the stairs, which provided space for an integrated slimline dishwasher in the kitchen. The carer said that, for her, this was the best thing about the kitchen makeover.
The design changes helped to streamline the layout whilst resolving the issues and creating an attractive kitchen.
I chose the B&Q shaker Alpinia kitchen, in Matt ivory, because it was a sleek traditional style in a light colour. It would make the space feel large and the style would suit the age of the property, as well as my gentleman, whilst also being pleasing to potential buyers in the future. Complementary handles were chosen for their ease of use with joint mobility problems.
My gentleman was used to the pale blue colour, so I gave it a modern touch with metro wall tiles. Just be mindful, when you remove an old kitchen that you might encounter additional building works. In this kitchen, once the units were removed, the old plaster came off as well, so the walls had to be re-plastered before it could be tiled. The electrics also needed replacing to be in line with current safety standards.
I based the colour scheme on a dark and light design, to make it easier for my gentleman to recognise the different elements in the kitchen with his poor eyesight. A dark floor and dark worktop were separated with light units so that he knew the defining lines between the spaces. I also incorporated a dark blue glass splashback, to be a feature but also enable my gentleman to easily see where the hob was positioned – not that he’s cooking anymore but it gave him a sense of the new kitchen layout, so it’s a safety feature for him.
The new design has transformed the kitchen into an organised and practical space. It looks light, spacious and stylish.
With the boiler disguised in a full height cupboard and integrated modern appliances, this streamlined design has created a sleek and attractive kitchen.
If you’re planning a makeover, here are my designer tips to ensure you create your dream kitchen:
- For the perfect kitchen layout
- make a note of how you like to cook (this will give you a list of the appliances you need in your new kitchen design)
- take a note of what you like to cook (this will give you a list of utensils, crockery and pans that you need to store in your kitchen)
- For a kitchen that suits your personality
- make a list of any special preferences (drinks fridge, special oven, larder cupboard)
- take a note of lifestyle choices (space for a pet, breakfast bar for quick meals)
- recognise any personal mobility and physicality needs (extra space for wheelchair or mobility aid, soft floor in case of trips and falls, taps and handles to accommodate restricted grip)
- For a kitchen with style
- make sure your design is future proofed (does it attract buyers if you’re planning on selling your home)
- balance the colour scheme with the rest of your home
With endless possibilities when designing your practical and stylish kitchen, it can often feel overwhelming, so I’m always here to help and guide you. I can design high street or high end kitchens to suit every budget and personal style.
Whether you need a total redesign, a professional glance of your new kitchen layout, or assistance choosing products, I’ll advise you on the best way forwards.
BIID Interior Designer & Bathroom Designer
M: 07841 519802