For anyone embarking on a home renovation project up against hours (or more like days!) of researching products and brands ahead of them, I wanted to list the tried and tested suppliers we used for our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Diner to hopefully help you make some faster choices :)
We finished our kitchen diner renovation in November 2017 after 3 months of rubble and dust, just in time for Christmas and all the entertaining that was to follow. The project on the whole actually came in slightly under budget thanks to careful planning, tight budgeting and making a few small compromises along the way, and so far (3 months on) we've been really happy with the products we've chosen and the suppliers we worked with to bring it all together.
So get the kettle on and get ready to talk reno shopping!
Our kitchen supplier was Howdens
Let's begin with the main supplier – the kitchen units and worktops.
You won't be surprised to hear that I went back and forth with different suppliers to make sure the kitchen we were buying was high quality and on budget.
I looked at Wickes kitchens to begin with, loved their range of country looking designs but disliked how even on sale they were way above budget.
Then I had a kitchen fully designed and ready to buy for us by B&Q. It came in on budget and the design was okay, but one night when a tradesmen friend came over for dinner we got talking and he said his B&Q kitchen wasn't the highest of qualities which really put me off. The designs we had made up also lacked the wow country factor I was looking for, but for anyone who wants a more modern look then I would recommend researching more reviews on B&Q kitchens as they're likely to be fine and do supply great modern kitchens.
In the end we settled on a Howdens kitchen because our old kitchen was supplied by them and we adored it. It came in on budget and I love all of the country ranges they stock. Other pros were that they are super flexible if you need to swap unit sizes or need extra parts during the build. Having many branches across the UK means that they are almost always in stock of what you need and can refund you for anything leftover. A downside was that Howdens don't stock granite/marble worktops but these are simple to source from other suppliers and Howdens very much encourage you to source parts elsewhere even if they stock similar products as their main focus is to design you a kitchen you love.
Our kitchen is the Howdens Fairford Cashmere range with 60mm solid oak worktops oiled with Osmo Clear Matte Top Oil (4 coats). I oiled the worktops myself, using the finest grade wire wool I could find between coats which made it feel much smoother to touch. The oil gives a slight sheen but is no way shiny enough to call 'satin' or 'gloss'. So far 4 coats has been enough but I will need to re-oil the most used areas again in a month or two. I'm happy with how the oil has made the oak look. It's made the grain more prominent without adding colour/stain to the wood in any way. I love it.
I got a top tip from our kitchen fitter about IKEA kitchens in case you are looking at those - an IKEA kitchen is a good choice if you are fitting it yourself, but if you are paying a contractor to fit it, expect to pay almost double in labour due to everything (including the white unit carcasses) being flat packed. Our builder said contractors can refuse to fit them because they take so much time. Just something to bear in mind when you are budgeting.
The kitchen 'upgrades' we opted for...
We didn't go too wild on the kitchen 'add-ons' i.e the fancy gadgets that pop out and organise things for you when you open the cupboard doors, or fancy sliding pantry cupboards or wine racks etc.
The one thing I insisted on were these deep pan drawers which we had in our old kitchen. They are just so much easier to grab pans from without too much clashing around.
We also got a bit of a fancy built-in bin and recycling unit which was essential for the layout of the room. We don't have wall space to put a freestanding bin beside, so our bin looks like a cupboard underneath the breakfast bar that pulls out to reveal recycling organisers too.
In one of the bottom corner units (to the left of the cooker) we upgraded to nifty swing shelving (looks like this) to make better use of the space deep inside. I limited us to only one of these even though we have 3 corner cupboards because they were quite pricey at almost £300 a pop!
The wine rack is customisable to any size/shape from Bottle Block
The wine rack shelving is from a really innovative company Neil found online called Bottle Block. The shelf it sits on is bespoke using parts from the kitchen fit so we had a bit of a tricky job in finding a wine rack to fit the exact opening, even Howdens wine racks couldn't fit the space.
As with all difficult jobs, I handed over to Neil to work his magic researching and he came across Bottle Block, a company that make stackable, paintable and moveable wooden blocks you slot together like a jigsaw which securely holds wine bottles within the rack / honeycomb formation.
I'm really pleased Neil found this because it retails at a fraction of the cost of having a bespoke wine rack made up for the space which I wouldn't be able to re-home elsewhere like I can with this one.
Our kitchen appliances are from a range of suppliers...
Our fridge freezer is a 70/30 Gorenje Integrated Fridge Freezer from Mark's Electrical online. It's completely built-in and is tucked away behind one of our Howdens units.
Honestly I probably wouldn't recommend this model now that it's been fitted and we're 3 months into owning it. It's fine, and does the job, but the light is really dim inside it, and it makes odd fridge noises (nothing too loud, just strange). I think in hindsight we should have spent a little bit more on a better model.
If you're looking for a built-in fridge freezer pay attention to the ratio of fridge to freezer space depending on your needs and always make sure it's frost free. We opted for a 70% fridge space, 30% freezer space because we have a freezer in our garage and need more fridge than freezer space.
Our cooker is a Rangemaster Kitchener 90 from myrangecooker.co.uk. It's one of the best assets to our whole house and I think we made such a brilliant decision with the model and style of the cooker.
It's a dual fuel, electric oven and gas hob made in stainless steel which has been surprisingly easy to keep clean. I'm so glad I chose stainless steel over the black option. The hob is a little harder to keep clean as we cook our meals and make spills and it isn't as easy to wipe down as an induction hob that is on flat surface for example but I really like the sturdiness of the black heat plates and it's super easy to cook on. The fan oven and grill cooks food beautifully and there's some great pros to the model like it having an on/off oven light, a removable roasting tray on the oven door and the option for a large hot plate to the right of the hob. The one downside to be wary of is how narrow the right oven is. There are a great number of racks inside the oven but it's impossible to find slim enough roasting trays to fit it. I saw that Rangemaster sell their own ovenware range but I didn't feel comfortable paying their prices so luckily found some slim, sturdy and good quality brownie trays after a long hunt for them. I picked these up in HomeSense for about £6 each and they work a treat.
The extractor hood was a much trickier decision than all our other appliances. I wanted a concealed extractor hood to sit inside the chimney breast, but after the new chimney opening was created to building regs standards we realised we had a very small amount of space to fit an extractor hood snugly up the chimney. Neil searched all corners of the web and found this Bosch model to be the slimmest he could find. It was a tight squeeze but it fit thank goodness. Really happy with how it all looks but the install has started playing up a bit. Nothing to do with the model though, it works a treat. Not so happy that we forgot to budget for an extractor hood and this cost us upwards of £300 though! Oopsy!
The dishwasher is the only appliance we bought from Howdens alongside the kitchen as it was much more affordable than buying one separately. It's this standard size Lamona dishwasher which seems to do the trick! The glasses come out sparkling. On the odd occasion we've experienced marks/dirt on the glasses but that's down to us either not changing the salt regularly or not scraping plates properly and not the fault of the dishwasher itself. Literally love having a dishwasher now though! It's the first time I've ever lived in a house with one!
Our double belfast sink (my baby!) is from Tap Warehouse
The one part of the kitchen I felt would make or break the modern farmhouse vibe I wanted to achieve was the sink. If you can imagine for a second that this was an aluminium sink and not a white double belfast, the room would feel very different, right?
Ever since a little girl I have wanted a Belfast sink and because we opted for solid oak worktops which are prone to water marks, I opted for this double Belfast sink from Tap Warehouse so that one sink is used for washing up and one sink is used for draining. Having no draining board on the worktop keeps the kitchen looking tidier whilst limiting water dripping onto the worktops.
I found this lovely sink drainer specifically sized for double Belfast sinks which slots in nicely into one of the sinks to collect clean plates/glasses. It doesn't hold a huge amount of drying up but it's fine for me and Neil when we aren't using the dishwasher.
The tap is this Victorian Swan Neck model from Howdens which I'm so happy with having lived with non-mixer kitchen sink Taps for most of my life. The water flows so softly from it (I'm such a design geek, I love this sort of thing) and I think it pairs really well with the Belfast sink too.
Our door and windows are from Bereco
Now here is a supplier I was so glad I found when I did. If you've ever had to shop for windows and external doors you'll know it's a minefield trying to work out your needs, what will suit the house, what colours, materials etc etc... all while not being able to see the window/door until you've shelled out the best part of £1,000 on it's arrival day. And you hold your breath when it's being installed, hoping the measurements were all correct *gulp*
Bereco made the whole process of designing the window and door super easy after I stumbled across one of their brochures online and instantly saw a sage green window and door case study they had done on a modernisation of a farmhouse that was bang on the vibe I was looking for. They made everything as simple as it could be, providing me with guides and advice on measuring the openings and sent an in depth sample pack and mocked up drawings of how the final window and door would look.
I was only around when the door and frame arrived and it took three men to lift it. The glass is solid triple glazed and amazingly sound proofed. Now that it's fitted, I feel so secure in the house knowing that it's got such extensive locks and tough glass. A drastic security improvement to our home considering our old back door was a single glazed light interior one!
Our flooring is all from Quick Step
I've written a lot about Quick Step in past blog posts as we've used their flooring throughout the whole ground floor of our house now. They supply beautiful laminate flooring that look almost identical to the characteristics of real wood but don't come with the high maintenance real wood has – like not being able to mop it rigorously in a high traffic kitchen area.
Read my post on: Wood Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring – which is better?
Our flooring is Quick Step's Perspective Wide Reclaimed Chestnut Antique flooring, with matching scotia / quadrant. We are so pleased with it because it is solid under foot, it's laid with good insulation underneath, it's tough as old boots – not a scratch in sight, and it's actually so close to wood as far as laminates go. I am very tempted to get Quick Step floors for our upstairs too, when we come to do it.
Our kitchen tiles are from Topps Tiles
This design choice was the only real part that was done on a bit of a whim without pinning galore first! We found ourselves in our local Topps Tiles choosing utility room flooring (which I will reveal on my blog soon once I've finished styling in there) and I came across these Artisau Gloss White Tiles. I picked up a few samples to take home and positioned them in different formations with a sample of the worktop, cupboard and paint samples and instantly loved how it all came together.
I really love Topps Tiles for tiling. They have a beautiful range of stone floors which we laid in our utility room, but also plain and patterned tiles for pretty much any corner of the house. The service in our local branch was really great too, they advised us on tile trimmings, which coloured grout and were really patient with me as I take ages to choose! So yeah, highly recommend Topps for tiling. I'll be shopping with them again when we do the bathroom.
Our heating suppliers were Plumb Nation
I adore column radiators in houses of all eras. I think they add a certain charm to a room whilst obviously being really functional. During this whole house renovation I've actually developed a bit of a love for all things radiators and valves haha! It's amazing how many different styles you can get to suit any room from modern to country.
As I wanted a country vibe and the radiator in our dining room would be displayed on a wall visible to people entering the front door I wanted a column rad, so it looked beautiful. We found a Discount 3 Column Radiator at more reasonable prices than most places from Plumb Nation and splashed a little more on the valves getting these Chrome Thermostatic valves from Soak.com (which are currently on offer).
As we don't have wall space in the kitchen area, we got clever and installed this Smith's Space heater (sometimes called a plinth heater) connected to the gas central heating system. A plinth heater is designed to sit underneath kitchen cabinets, blowing warm air out with an electric fan installed inside the unit. We're really happy with the model and at times are so surprised at how effective something so small can be in a fairly large room. I would say it throws out more heat than the radiator!
The dining room table and bench were custom made by Luc from LEJS Carpentry (Brighton)
I spent a long, long, long time looking to buy the perfect size table for this area, to comfortably seat 6 people around and have farmhouse elements to the design. Having zero luck I was so glad to have found Luc on Instagram (his website is here), a local carpenter, who made the table for us with wood from the Wood Recycling Store in Brighton. He waxed the top and painted the legs Lime White by Farrow & Ball to suit the colour scheme of the room.
We are so pleased with it. This room comes into its own when the candles are lit and the table filled with food and happy faces!
Since these pics were taken we've had our dining room chairs delivered which we bought from Next. They're the Moda II Button Chairs in Wool Blend Stone fabric with Mid Leg option on the legs. You can just about see one in the above pic.
Our cooker shelf was design by me (and one I saw on Pinterest!) and built by Luc, LEJS Carpentry
For a long time during the build, having a shelf above the cooker to style little bits and pieces on was one of the most exciting parts of the finished look. I looked at a lot of pre-made shelves on eBay for something, but couldn't see exactly what I wanted. Neil and I agreed that it was important to get something the fits with the simple, nod to farmhouse look, and nothing too heavy, detailed or rustic, so we commissioned Luc from LEJS Carpentry to build this shelf for us from a photo I'd seen on Pinterest.
I seriously adore it. It was especially fun to wrap garlands and fairy lights around during Christmas :) I often change up the trinkets I put on here. On this pic I have 2 little duck egg stands that my mum bought me from Asda, an ornament house from M&S (discontinued), and 2 jugs, one from Ireland which says "Caed Mile Failte" and one a gift from Neil's mum and dad.
Suppliers to look at for those finishing touches...
Murmur – I got so many pretty finishing touches from this gorgeous Belfast based company. Table linens, glassware, grey jug. Highly recommend looking here for those last few pieces.
ProCook – The best part of having a new kitchen installed is the excuse of getting a whole new pan set without as much as an inch of guilt. Our ProCook pans seen in the pics above are all brilliant quality, really easy to cook with and clean. ProCook also have lots of kitchen accessories like this pizza chopping board and some farmhouse-esque tea towels that I picked up to make the place more homely.
Sainsburys Home – Their A/W 2018 collection made me palpitate I loved it so much. I got lots of little woodland accessories for the kitchen, like these woodland plates and these cute hare placemats. I love shopping in supermarket's homeware sections on the weekly shop.
Weaver Green – We picked up a really lovely completely recycled rug for underneath the bar stools from here. They have a really nice selection of eco friendly accessories if you're looking for one-off statement pieces that have a boho vibe.
Rose & Grey – Another beautiful online homeware shop where we picked up frames, little glass bottle trinkets and finishing touches for the room. Rose & Grey have a brilliant selection of timeless, vintage-esque accessories that I could quite literally fill the house to the brim with! Love this place.