Sunday, 8 September 2013

German kitchens, British weather and a patio

Kitchens - Possibly the most painful experience of renovating a property. Most show rooms show you a kitchen with a price "All this for £7999" , However when you spec up your kitchen often with less units it ends up costing three times as much. We went to the usual big chains but the prices were scary The kitchens we liked without worktops or appliances were coming in at tens of thousands.

I found a local independent kitchen company called Uno Kitchens near me that only specialised in German kitchens. Now I am a fan of German engineering which is why I went with Grohe bathroom products . I researched into why German kitchens have such a good reputation. The short of it   is that in Germany when you buy a kitchen - that's your kitchen, when you move house you take the ktichen with you. Houses are commonly sold without a kitchen. The second hand kitchen market in Germany is huge. Due to the installation, dismantling when you move, reinstalling again ( and doing this a few times over) German kitchens are built extremely well to with stand this. When I popped into Uno Kitchens I was extremely impressed with the quality of the Schuller kitchens they stocked. Everyone does soft closing doors and drawers now, however the hinges etc in the units were sold and looked very well made. A lot of the high street kitchen companies, have a hardboard back in the cupboards which are held in place by channels around the side of the cabinets. Over time these can warp and fall out, the Schuller kitchens the hardboard was screwed in place.  The kitchens come completely assembled meaning that the builder was able to install the kitchen in around a day. Tina at Uno Kitchens was a great help , giving her expertise and design to come up with a kitchen design we both liked. It's hard to describe but the units are an anthracite gloss grey with a bronze metallic speckle in them. We decided on a galley kitchen with a large island and breakfast bar in the middle. The island will house the gas hob so that we can cook and entertain at the same time. At the end of the row of units along the wall will be a cupboard that will house the boiler and washing machine.  We went with an american style fridge the rest of the appliances we went for integrated. In keeping with the German theme these were all Siemens. Uno Kitchens supplied all the Siemens appliances and managed to beat all prices including online only prices for them.

Due to having big families and often entertaining the wife wanted two single ovens as well a microwave. This left us with a problem,  three appliances look odd in the oven housing units. We need to get one more appliance. A coffee maker was one option- but both us don't drink coffee. Another option was a steam oven- so that's what we stuck in there. I hope we actually use it. We went for a black glass 90cm 5 burner gas hob in the island. 

The whole ordering process was pretty painless and was done over an hour. Anil from Uno Kitchens conducted a site survey then 6 weeks later our kitchen arrived! With the Schuller kitchens, the ktichens are made exactly to your specification . Unlike a lot of the high Street brands where often you need to get the unit which is the closest specification to the size you may need and then have your fitter cut it. 

My builders already included the price of fitting a kitchen in his quote so I went with a supply only option with Uno Kitchens. I was supplied with detailed plans and drawings from which my builder worked from. It was very reassuring that both my builder and the worktop templater commented on how well built the Kitchens were.

For the worktops I went with Chiltern Marble . They were extremely paitent  I had to delay templating 4 times due to delays on the project (we're currently four weeks behind) and made last minute changes (the wrap over near the pillar). My builders didn't prepare the site to the required levels for fitting due to miscommunication however Julie at Chiltern Marble made sure everything was sorted and arranged for the fitters to go above and beyond what they were supposed to do to make sure it was fitted in time.

I went with a 20mm Quartz top. I prefer 20mm over 30mm as I think it looks more modern. Chiltern came in around 35% lower than the three others quotes I recieved. To say I was pleased is an understatement.

Outside the retaining wall has been rendered and the patio has been laid. Tonnes of sand had to be taken in by hand through the house due to losing the side access to the extension. I bought indian sandstone for the patio. The walls will be painted white once we have a dry day!

Bathrooms have all been tiled and I will updated the blog once the showers , sinks etc are installed.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Flooring, heating and installing the ceiling speakers

Heating system is fully installed , tested and working! We started from scratch and ran new piping throughout for both the heating and water supplies. As explained earlier I went with a conventional condensing boiler and radiator set up , the only change to the plan was installing underfloor heating in the new extension.  I was concerned with having a 6 meter bi fold and a large roof lantern that this could leave this area of the extension colder than the rest of the house.

Finally some of the fun bits I want. A big thank you to Simon at Bartlett's Hifi who came round and installed the ceiling speakers .

The picture above shows the speakers which are evenly spaced across the front of where the projector screen will drop from. The TV itself is off centre but this is due to the position of the chimney breast and we had no other options.

Picture below are the four speakers around the dining and kitchen area.  The bathroom and upstairs bedroom have also had the speakers installed.

I am really pleased with the monitor audio ceiling speakers. Visually very unobtrusive and blend in well.

Simon recommended and supplied a Grandview Cyber Screen. I am pretty excited to see this in action. For the last ten years I have just been using cheap screen I bought for £100 from eBay. I opted for the in-ceiling screen so when the screen is not in use it sits flush within the ceiling and you can't see it. The screen size is 8ft. Compared to other projector screens which can retail for several thousands + the Grandview is cheap with a RRP of £1150 it's much , much cheaper than everyone else . It comes with a remote and 12v trigger.

On to the flooring which has all been laid. This alone took 3 days!

A feature wall opposite the chimney breast. Instead of wallpaper we used tiles here. (please note the tiles had just been grouted so were wet round the edges when I took this picture . Once they dry the borders won't be obvious)

The kitchen has also been installed but will update that shortly.