The months of June, July & August have been very very busy. Myself and Kathleen have become near best friends as we’ve been in constant communication! The kitchen was all set to go into production and we were moving on to planning bedrooms when, horror of horror we realised we’d mis-measured one of the walls in the kitchen. Nobody’s perfect! Mistakes do happen, especially on a busy site with so much going on and luckily this one was caught just in time! It did mean a few revisions to the design but this actually worked in Kathleen’s favour as the two larders got wider. We also took another bit of time to look through everything and Kathleen and David worked out a new arrangement for the wall units to incorporate a plant that Kathleen wanted to have drape over the side of the cabinet near the window. Kathleen also showed me the dining table they were intending to buy! Oh WOW! Can I just say that I LOVE Seabourne Chic, (Kilmacanogue and Wicklow). This table is made of reclaimed tropical wood and is going to be the feature of the kitchen. Kathleen’s original kitchen quote from “Grab and Go” had allowed for a solid oak worktop and we had offered to match that quote, so had assumed that was what Kathleen had wanted. It turns out they hadn’t gone into a lot of detail with her regarding worktop choices. When I saw the table I had to say something! I just felt that oak wouldn’t blend too well with the table. Kathleen wanted the kitchen to be WOW but the table to be the feature. Matching the table and the worktop wasn’t what we wanted but a blend would make the world of difference. We looked at a few different samples but my feeling was that beech would work really well. And so we changed the order to suit! And so off to production again! And very quickly the delivery date arrived. Below is a picture of “Our Terry” working away on the kitchen. Terry’s been with Oakline for as long as I can remember. He’s a stickler for detail and a perfectionist in his work. The high gloss finish that Kathleen chose for her kitchen can be easily damaged so Terry took his time making sure everything was perfect. The beech worktop got five coats of Danish Oil. Kathleen, Derek and Terry spent a long time discussing the best positioning of the handles. Hanging on the wall is curtain samples and yes that is the oven on the floor!And while all this was going on, Kathleen and I were planning the bedrooms as well!
Well, things have moved on apace since our first meeting but first things first;
For anyone who thought I was joking about the Love Bird I am enclosing a photo, isn’t it a most beautiful and exotic creature? Unfortunately, her partner has flown away and she is heartbroken. Kathleen and her husband, Derek are now in the process of finding her a new man! I wonder would internet dating work?!!!
Kathleen and Derek have been planning this build for over four years. When they first bought the site and got financial approval they were renting a house in Bray. They decided to move onto the site to both save money and watch their dream grow. They bought a mobile home to move into. However, the fates, (or Wicklow Planning!) were against them. It took four attempts at different designs before they got approval to build. At this point, the recession had hit big time and things had changed dramatically again! This, now served them well as the cost of building has been significantly reduced. However, when Kathleeen realised that it would be quite some time before they would be moving into their completed home, they decided that a mobile home would not meet their needs long term. The picture below is of their current abode! This ingenious building is made up of both the mobile home and a forty foot container, combined with a fabulous greenhouse! Everything in this house is recycled from film sets! It is THE most personalised, bespoke home I’ve ever seen. They have a wood-burning stove, a compost toilet, fitted kitchen with dishwasher, satellite tv and high speed broadband. Remember the winter just gone?!! Just as well they insulated!
So, back to work….Julieanne had her measurements and photos and a good idea of what Kathleen wanted in terms of curtains, couches and colours! They scheduled another meeting for the following week. We stayed on to discuss some of the fitted furniture elements. Kathleen asked us to have a look at her kitchen plans and explained that she thought her budget was probably too tight for Oakline.
Kathleen’s plan had been to order her kitchen that afternoon but she realised that the advice given in the ‘ Grab and Go ‘ kitchen centre she was dealing with may have been tilted more to their product than her wishes. It was obvious that she needed something just a little more tailored, for instance, extraction was an issue which needed resolution. How far would the ducting have to travel and would that reduce the effectiveness? I felt that maybe the design could be tweaked a little to give as much storage without filling every single bit of wall space and therefore giving a cleaner look. We discussed some options and I went away to see what we could do. The timing was tight but I sent through plans to Kathleen that evening.
We had streamlined the design to open up the area around the window. There are beautiful views and I wanted them to be the focus. Along the hob wall we had changed all the base units to be drawers; three sets of wide drawers which would hold all the pots and pans as well as plate and food storage. Three wide cutlery inserts would take care of any size canteen and all the accessories you could ever use.
Kathleen had said she would prefer not to have a flyover shelf over the extractor and so we took that out and agreed that we could build the wall cabinets around the ducting and make it blend in with the wall colour so as to keep that light, open feeling throughout. This also meant the ducting would go in a straight line from the extractor to the hole provided. With two large larder units either side of the fridge and a full height fitted bin under the sink, Kathleen had all the storage she wanted with a clean, crisp design to match.
At 9am the next day, we met again on site and Kathleen agreed to give Oakline the order. We won’t get into financials but I think Kathleen would say she was surprised at how competitive we were. Kathleen and I spent quite some time together going through the finer details of the kitchen. How would we finish off the top of the units as they would be seen from the minstrels gallery? Would every exposed gable match the doors? We arranged to meet again a week later at Kitchen Accessories Ltd, where we went through all the different extractors and their decibel levels and extraction rates per sqm as well as looking at sinks and taps. (Kathleen had already bought the rest of her appliances before meeting us, including an amazing Liebherr Fridge/Freezer).
So everything set in stone, the kitchen went into production. We then turned our attention to bedrooms…..
On the phone she sounded lovely, she was enthusiastic and excited and I thought how lucky was I to have that energy greeting my first foray into blogging.
Kathleen had just finished a stint on a film set and so the cares of work taken care of Kathleen was now 100% into her project, the building of a replica Famine Cottage in the middle of the Wicklow Mountains. This was a little different from the original of the species and was big enough to hold a guest apartment.
And that’s where we started. She had invested huge creativity into the building and when we met it was 8 weeks from scheduled completion, just needing all the touches that make the difference between a house and a home.
Kathleen had made some great decisions. The floors were a ‘limewashed timber wore by age’ the ceilings had just enough structural timber exposed and critical spaces were well sized. I particularly liked the large entrance hall. A hall gives a house its signature and this would act as a perfect gallery with an open stairs tucked nicely to one side leading to an upstairs with a minstrel’s gallery, two home offices and a bathroom.
Downstairs from the hall we had the master bedroom with a bathroom, a large kitchen, sitting room, utility room and a cloakroom.
With Kathleen, we started in the guest apartment, reviewing her planned layouts for the kitchen, shower and bedroom. No real changes to the downstairs but a fresh eye on the bedroom turned the setting of the clothes storage onto another wall to give better use of the room and moving the bed out from the wall with clever storage behind leaving improved headroom and so onto the main house…
Again, the use of a fresh eye helped. Kathleen had made most of the key decisions including plug and light points.
These are required very early in the process and are difficult to get right. Budget is a key issue and Kathleen had sought out amazing bargains in flooring and tiles. The issue around furniture though is a really good layout and we were able to improve things in this area and giving her a range of options while keeping within her budget.
Julianne kept a cool eye on colours suggesting some change and using tones to enhance key areas. Her expertise on window dressings was also evident and so we look forward to visiting Kathleen in a few weeks as she processes to a happy ending.
By the way, did I mention ‘ THE POT‘? No, oh well lets keep that one for the next blog and if anyone has seen Kathleen’s missing Love Bird, maybe they would give us a call.
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