Renovating a Kitchen

How We Designed and Renovated our Kitchen (Including Mistakes and Learnings)

Hello lovely lot,

This blog post is dedicated to my lovely navy kitchen. I get asked a lot about my kitchen on instagram… how we did it, what material we used, what colour the presses are… etc. etc. So I thought it would be useful if I broke it all down. 

Before we bought this house we used to dream about having a kitchen island where I’d sit, have a glass of wine and my husband would serve me dinner (he does all the cooking in our house, lucky me). We were determined that we would get that space right and it was the first room we renovated.


The kitchen is south-east facing so we get lovely morning sunlight but when we bought the house the laminate countertops that were there had turned green from the sun, not a good look. The walls were purple, brown tiles on the floor and cream presses. It definitely wasn't our style, however we could see past it.  

The estate agent's photo of the kitchen before we bought it.

Clueless renovators at first, and with a small budget we thought we could just spray the presses and get a new countertop. In came carpenter Jimmy O'Donoghue. He broke the news to us that the presses were really bad quality laminate and that spraying them was not the answer.  

Also, the kitchen countertops were below average height, which created some issues when we replaced the floors.

Leaning #1: Don’t put down the floors before having your final plan.

Of course we got straight into our new house and put down all new floors before any of the main renovation work commenced. We actually didn’t realise how much we were going to renovate till we got into it. When we replaced the floors it turned out we trapped the dishwasher in under the counter as the counters were below average height. This was another reason (besides the cheap laminate presses) we needed to update the kitchen. 


We stripped everything back to the bare walls so we could re-do the wiring and tiling, which seemed like a normal step… NAWT. Of course we uncovered an issue. There was evidence of fire damage and some of the wires were live and possibly dangerous, such a nightmare. We had to get additional electrical work done, which we hadn’t planned on, but in reality we were lucky to have found out when we did.

That’s the thing with renovating an old house, nothing is straightforward so make sure to add 10-15% into your budget for little discoveries. Plus overestimate the amount of time it will take for any job because in reality it never goes to plan.

When everything was stripped back, we also exposed one of the original exterior brick walls before the extension was put on some time in the 80s. We decided we wanted to keep this wall as a feature and so we built a frame around it. A happy discovery.

I would have liked to keep the original brick colour but it had glue all over it so we painted it white to match the walls.

Exposed brick doorframe
The exposed brick wall door frame before and after we painted it

When it came to the actual kitchen build we wanted to repurpose whatever we could to save money and also not to be wasteful. Our carpenter recommended we use the original carcasses. It had a solid layout that we could just tweak to suit our needs. This saved us a ton of money.

We went for shaker style doors painted in Hague Blue by Farrow and Ball. 

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue kitchen presses
Farrow and Ball Hauge Blue


We got a brand new island painted in the same colour and finishes as the presses. We decided on pull-out drawers instead of presses, easier access to the pots and pans we wanted to store there. The back of the island is paneled, a wood finish I love. 


We knew we wanted a solid wood countertop and we ended up going for solid oak. It’s a beautiful light wood and looks great with navy. 

Leaning #2: A solid wood countertop is hard work. 

Something to keep in mind if you're going for a solid wood countertop, it needs to be sanded down and resealed nearly every year so it is tough work. If I’m ever designing another kitchen I think I’d go with hard ass concrete, even though I do adore the wood look. The wood is a little bit delicate… you can’t put anything hot on it and never ever ever use a knife near it. If you scratch the bar lacquer that goes on top of the wood to protect it, and water seeps in, the wood will get damaged. 

I wanted a matte, raw finish but we had to get a bar lacquer on top of it to protect it from heat etc.

Solid oak kitchen countertops
Solid Oak Countertops


We decided to tile the whole back wall around the window and also in behind the main workspace and hobs. We went with white subway tiles, a play on the industrial design with the wood countertops and dark colour presses. We actually picked up the white subway tiles in Homebase and they were super value. We didn’t need designer patterned tiles, we just wanted generic white, gloss subway tiles. They’re super easy to wipe down and perfect for a kitchen. 

Learning #3: Tiles are a great way to create impact, different textures and to keep clean.

I really dig all the different white wall textures... the brick, the tiles and the paint. This is a subtle way to make the walls more interesting without adding colour or pattern.


We didn’t really have a budget. We thought we could do most of it ourselves and just get new countertops and tiles. Little did we know. 

When we got into it and realised everything we needed to do, along with fixing the electrics, that figure went up. We just took it job by job. In total we spent a lot more than we had planned when we bought the house but since we kept the original carcasses we were able to keep costs down. Including accessories and appliances or accessories it cost about €10,000. 

Learning #4: Spend on your countertops, they set the tone for your whole kitchen.

As I mentioned we saved on the actual layout of the kitchen and the frame-work. We liked the original layout and the carcasses were in good condition so we didn't feel the need to replace. Plus, I wanted to save some money so I could buy gold cutlery!

I guess the tiles were something I was surprised at how inexpensive they were. I’m not sure why I thought they’d be more expensive because we were just going with plain white subway tile. Like I said, we got ours in Homebase and they were super affordable and exactly what we were looking for. I think tiles really finish off a look, so they’re a small investment for the impact they have.


If I was to do it all again I think I'd go with a poured concrete countertop. Saying that, a raw finish like that would not work in our house. A plan for the next house maybe.

One other thing is that I'd cover the dishwasher in, rookie mistake. We might still get a panel built for it and stick it on the door of the dishwasher to blend it in. But we'll wait till we update our dishwasher, we're due a new one.


Subway/Metro Tiles in Homebase £12 per M2 here.

Stools: Cult Furniture (Gifted) 

Out of stock but similar ones: Here (€156)

And here (€122)

Smeg Toaster and Kettle: Harvey Norman 

Kettle (€129) here.

Toaster (€129) here.

Brass Tap: Ikea 

NYVATTNET Mixer Tap (€100) here.

Brass handles: Ikea

BAGGANAS handles (€7 for 2 pack) here.

Prosecco Sign: Finders Keepers, Waterford

Out of stock but similar one in Oliver Bonas (€48) here.

Mustard Locker from Finders Keepers (€339) here.

Best Thing Since Sliced Bread print from Beibhinn (€40) here.

If there's anything I'm missing that you'd like to know jump on down to the contact box and hit me up, always happy to help.