kitchen before

Kitchen Facelift | Before

Remember when I said I was planning to meticulously photograph every single nook and cranny of my house, so I’d have proper “before and after” photos of any work we did, and would be able to look back many years from now, and remember what that one wall in the living room looked like in 2013?

That’s not going so well.

First, Terry decided to knock a hole in the kitchen wall before I’d even started my photography project.

Then the powder room got torn apart before we even had a chance to photograph it.

Which brings me to our current kitchen facelift project.

You’re thinking I’m going to say I forgot  to take the “before” photos, aren’t you?

Well, HA! You are WRONG! Not only did I take approximately 1756 ‘before’ photos of the kitchen, I made Terry take some, too. So we were SORTED for kitchen photos, seriously.

Then I deleted them all from the camera by mistake.

No, I’m not joking: I actually did that. I could have slapped myself. I have no idea how I managed it, either: I’m normally really, really careful about making sure photos are backed up before I hit the ‘delete’ button, but… not this time, apparently. Which means that all we now have to remember how the kitchen looked for the first year-and-two-months of our residence here are the photos we took while we were viewing the house (which have someone else’s stuff in them, obviously), and this one, which appears to have been taken in the dead of night, at some point last year:

kitchen before


Anyway, if you read that “knocking down the wall” post I linked above, you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of our kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the worst kitchen in the world, but dark wood isn’t really our taste, and the worktops are – well, they’re hideous, basically – so it’s always been at the top of my home improvement wish list.

Unfortunately, to properly re-do the kitchen would cost way more than we can afford right now, which is why I’m calling this project a “facelift”, rather than a renovation. Basically, we’ve done what we can to make it look a little brighter, and more in keeping with our taste, working around a couple of very big issues, namely:


Now, we don’t hate the cabinets themselves. We don’t even hate the dark wood. They’re just… not what we’d have picked ourselves. (That’s pretty much the theme for all of my home-related posts, actually. I should call this series, It’s Nice, But It’s Not What We’d Have Picked Ourselves….) As you probably know by now, we like very light, bright, minimal looking rooms, and although the cabinets are a fairly modern design, they’re neither light nor bright.

When I first wrote about the kitchen, a lot of people suggested painting the doors, or simply replacing them. we’ve ruled out both of those options for now. We don’t want to paint them, purely because we’re worried we wouldn’t be able to do a professional enough looking job, and would end up having to replace them anyway, if we hated it. We hopefully WILL replace them at some point (or just replace the cabinets completely), but for now it’s not within our budget, unfortunately.


When we moved in, I spent literally hours scrubbing that floor: and I mean down-on-my-hands-and-knees, scrubbing-until-my-fingers-bled. THAT kind of scrubbing. It was all to no avail, though, because no matter how hard I scrubbed, the floor still looked filthy. It was only after a few days of this that Terry took a close look at it, and announced that it actually wasn’t DIRT I was trying to clean off: it was grout. Yes, whoever fitted the floor had spread grey grout all over the tops of the tiles, the result being that, no matter how clean they are, they still look like they haven’t ever seen a mop in their life.

Naturally, I HATE this. Now, as it happens, I don’t much like the tiles themselves, either, because while they’d be perfectly nice in some other kitchen, they’re not really in keeping with ours. The kitchen, although dark, is a modern design. The tiles, meanwhile, have a kind of “country kitchen” vibe going for them, which just looks strange to me. Terry DID manage to clean some of the grout from them, but it’s a painfully slow process – and by that I mean it takes about an hour to do each tile. We got maybe a third of the floor done, but then we gave up. I keep intending to get round to it (and must stress again here, that it’s not actual dirt: I obviously DO clean the floor, but the process of removing the grout is different), but there’s always something more pressing to do, isn’t there? Like… watching TV.

Anyway, the long-term plan is to remove and replace the tiles. It’ll be a hard job to remove them, though, and an expensive one to replace them, so the short–term plan is to just try to ignore them as best we can.

So, that’s what we CAN’T do (yet) in the kitchen. As for what we DID do… you’re going to have to wait (with bated breath, I have absolutely no doubt) to find out. And so am I, actually, because at the time of writing, the kitchen “facelift” is still not totally finished (Seriously, I could have had ACTUAL facelift and taken a month off to recover in the time this has taken…), and the kitchen itself is still buried under a mountain of power tools, DIY paraphernalia, and, well, DIRT, basically. Because no matter how often I clean it – and seriously, people, I clean it A LOT – it just keeps on coming back. We’re at the stage now where I basically feel like cleaning is my REAL job, and blogging is just something I do in between cleaning sessions. I also feel like the house will NEVER BE CLEAN AGAIN, which isn’t much fun for someone who has taken to walking around the house with a microfibre cloth in her pocket, just in case she sees something that isn’t quite perfect.

“Dude,” said Terry at the weekend, “You’ve become obsessed with cleaning. It’s weird.”

“I’m not OBSESSED with cleaning,” I retorted. “I just… like things clean. There’s a difference.”

Terry turned to my mum. “Is Amber obsessed with cleaning?” he asked.

My mum thought about it for a few seconds. “Here’s an impression of Amber,” she said. Then she dropped to her knees, and pretended to be closely examining the floor for marks, before buffing it up with an invisible cloth. While she was doing this, my dad walked into the room. “Oh,” he said. “Are you pretending to be Amber? Because every time I’ve seen Amber lately, she’s been cleaning a floor…”

So, OK, I GUESS I might have taken it a bit far. But seriously: YOU try living with non-stop DIY work for weeks, then get back to me. And if you’re coming to visit my house… bring a microfibre cloth, and be prepared to use it…

books by Amber Eve
  • Amy


    There’s a show on Channel 4 called Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and I love watching. I love cleaning too and watching people clean things is amazing. You should check it out. 🙂

    November 11, 2014
  • TinaD


    You can tile over tile, so long as the subfloor is firm and the bottom layer of tiles is well-stuck. (And surface prep is done properly, which I think means taking a grinder to the original floor…although it sounds like you’re already doing that the low-tech way.) It might also mean your tile layout should be done so that the groutlines don’t all line up–picking a different size of tile does this automatically. I mention this only because (poor Terry) taking up a tile floor off a concrete subfloor is a ticket to bursitis surgery. Ask me how I know.

    November 11, 2014
  • However we have a show here in America called Clean House where people with the absolute messiest homes in the country would have people come clean it and host a yard sale for them and them redo some rooms. It was horrific to watch sometimes.

    Fashion and Happy Things

    November 11, 2014
  • Irene


    I can see why you dislike your kitchen, it really doesn’t seem to go with your decor style, but gosh how I wish MY kitchen looked like that. Not that it’s my ideal style, but in my NYC apartment the kitchen is a tiny thing with yellowish wood cabinets from the late 70s covered in greasy grime that’s impossible to remove (I keep buying cleaning products hoping one of them will perform the miracle) and the ugliest dark grey speckled rubbery tile floors that never ever look clean. There’s only a window opening to an alley in it, so it’s permanently dark. And to top it off, the range hood is broken and my landlord won’t fix it because usually people in NYC don’t cook, so why would they need a range hood? But I cook, and a lot! If I owned my kitchen, I’d definitely want to change it into what’s perfect for me, so I get your frustration at yours 😀

    November 11, 2014