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A kitchen corner

Our kitchen is as old as our house – 32 years.  That is pretty ancient for a kitchen, is it not?  We had a slight re-vamp in 2000 when we installed a new oven, new hob, new extractor over the hob, new sink and taps, and a new worktop, and bought a round kitchen table to replace the old oak gate-leg table which our younger son now has (the best recycling is passing something on to a member of the family – provided they want it, of course!)  Even so, after 17 years our kitchen really needs a bit of a re-vamp again but, for the time being, I keep it as clean, tidy and as attractive as I can.

I dare say that the tiles look old fashioned now.  Today, I wouldn’t choose patterned tiles; I might even chose plain white or cream ‘metro’ tiles, but there again, knowing me, I’d think to myself, “they’re everywhere! They will date my kitchen just as much as any pattern will date it!” and choose something totally different!  In point of fact, I like the kitchen tiles that border the worktop, the colour is perfect with the cream tiles above and the granite-look worktop.

Even though the kitchen is old (like its owners!) I quite like this corner of the worktop where I have a small table lamp and where the kettle ‘lives’.   This area won’t take a larger lamp because of the shelves above. The fly in the ointment here, though, is that the gas boiler (that’s a furnace to anyone reading this in American or Canada) which is not a thing of beauty, although it is functional.  Boilers  in houses that are being built today are often sited in cupboards or in garages or utility rooms, but when our house was built in 1985 the obvious place for it – as we don’t have a utility room –  was the kitchen.

The boiler above the worktop – not a thing of beauty, but functional

The red kettle (there is a ‘matching’ red toaster) was a relatively inexpensive one but it has seen better days, bless, and I think it won’t be long before both of these gadgets will need to be replaced.

I’d not choose red again. It’s too “in your face” and, surprisingly for this choice, red is not a favourite colour of mine.  I prefer what I think are referred to as “off” colours; colours which are not primary colours, red, yellow or blue, or even brown, purple and bright green.  I prefer the gingers, the taupes, the terracottas, the broken whites, the dusky pinks (and particularly the shade of paint in our bedroom which to some people looks grey and to others green as it’s neither one nor t’other.)

Over the years we have had a variety of mugs which have hung from hooks under the bottom shelf above the worktop.  These (below) were cheap and cheerful, a bit lumpen as they were pottery (I’m not keen on pottery, much prefer porcelain) and they chipped easily, handles even became loose.


But, as I say, they were cheap and cheerful, about 90p a mug. And they looked cheap.  I was rather glad when the last one finally bit the dust and I could replace them with some of better quality.  You know the old saying: buy cheap, buy twice.  I do tend to repeat this, so forgive me!

I found these (above) in Waitrose; they are pretty and are of fine white china patterned with pink roses, and while we tend to use cups and saucers much of the time, these mugs are not too large – I dislike huge mugs – they are heavy when full and I simply can’t drink a huge mugful of tea or coffee.

What wasn’t cheap and cheerful were the saucepans (see 2nd photo above). We bought these 20 years ago and they are as good today as when we bought them.   I now seldom need to use the large ones on the top shelf as there are just the two of us here now, but when I’m making a large batch of soup, or when family come to a meal, they are pressed into service again.

And here is the same corner a few years ago, with fruit rather than flowers, and the previous kettle (kettles don’t last as long as once they did, but neither are they as expensive as once they were.)  Behind the kettle you will see that the tiles don’t appear to ‘fit’ properly.  This is an area where the pipes feed to the boiler, and they have been boxed in and the front of the boxing has been tiled (by husband, of course.)

And above, a photo showing the previous lampshade (being in a kitchen, the lampshades need not only cleaning regularly, but renewing occasionally) on the glass lamp, and a pot of white cyclamen.

What I don’t like around this kitchen sink area (for the sink is just to the left of this corner) are all the pieces of equipment required for washing up – the plastic bottle of washing up liquid, the pan scourer, the dishcloth, and the washing up gloves.  I use these, of course I do, but when they are not in use, I pop them – with the washing up bowl – into the cupboard under the sink, leaving the sink clear of clutter with the exception of the lavender handwash, hand cream, and my new bottle of lavender linen spray.  One day, when manufacturers decide to put washing up liquid into attractive bottles I will quite happily keep them on display next to the sink.  Thankfully, most of the time, the dishwasher washes up for me!  And I don’t mean my husband!

Until next time.


About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. I think that corner of your kitchen, with the lamp and roses, looks lovely, Margaret. I have white square tiles in my kitchen but they don’t have a flat surface so they look to have more texture. I love to put vases of colourful flowers up against the white because they look so pretty. We don’t own a kettle, because we don’t drink tea or coffee, so it’s quite a joke between my Mum and I that if she comes to visit I have to boil water in the saucepan for her beloved cups of tea. She only visits once a year or so, because she lives so far away, so I don’t feel too bad about my lack of a kettle. Meg:)

    • Margaret Powling

      Your kitchen with white, textured tiles sounds lovely, Meg. I do think a neutral colour, such as white or cream is best, you can then put any colours you like against it.
      I think, even if we didn’t drink tea and coffee (which we do drink), we’d still have a kettle to boil water quickly … to make gravy, to pop into the steamer to get it going far more quickly than boiling the water on the hob, and so forth, even to make hot orange, hot Ribena, or hot lemonade with honey in winter. But obviously you manage without one, and that even frees up a bit of space on the worktop, too!

  2. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Your kitchen is lovely Margaret, if things are quality they will last, I would be happy with a kitchen like yours. You are right about buying cheap and paying twice, as you know in the last few years we had to buy everything again furniture, kitchen ware the lot, but we bought well apart from the sofas which lasted two years but have now been replaced. All the furniture is Oak now. I have some very nice cast iron pans and also Denby ones. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen which I don’t mind so i like it to look nice as well as be fully functionally, I know what you mean about the thingie on the drainer which holds the brushes and clothes, I am looking for something else to make it look a bit nicer. I have never had a white Cyclamen indoors I rather like them.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you for your kind comments re the kitchen, Marlene. It is an oak Schreiber kitchen, fitted when our house was built, and it’s certainly lasted well. Not many kitchen have their original doors 32 years on. We’ve not painted it because, well, once you start to paint you have to keep on painting. We will be doing some renovation, though, in the not too distant future. Perhaps new worktop, sink, hob, tiles, walls and flooring, keeping the oven, extractor, washing machine, dishwasher, and fridge/freezer.
      I love white cyclamen and often buy them from round about now onwards and have even had them on the mantel piece for Christmas. Well, I like all cyclamen, but especially the pure white ones.
      Oak furniture is lovely and will actually improve with age, as most quality furniture does. What a lovely choice. Our dining table and chairs (we bought them when we came here, 32 years ago) are burr ash and still look nice. OK, they’ve a few knocks and scratches, but what do we expect after so long and rearing a family as well!

  3. a lovely kitchen. I just love your feminine artistic touches in your home

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti. We women (and some men too, of course) spend a lot of time in our kitchens. We should make them as pleasant to be in as our finances will allow, and I don’t mean major refits, either. But just keeping them clean and tidy, adding some pretty things, pictures to the walls and flowers to the windowsills, really helps, I think.

  4. What is a hob and an extractor? Your kitchen is very nice, I think. And very tidy as well. I like that lamp lending a bit of ambiance to the corner. I need to do some major clearing in my kitchen. It is so easy to let too many things find a home on the counter, at least I seem to have issues with that!

    • Margaret Powling

      The hob is the top of an oven (you might call it a stove) where you have gas or electric ‘rings’ on which to cook food. Some are part and parcel of an oven, but I have a wall-mounted oven, so that I don’t have to bend down to take heavy dishes out of it. Our oven is a double oven, a large one and a smaller one above it. The ‘hob’ is a little distance away, with four gas ‘burners’ where I cook the veggies, heat milk, etc. I hope that makes sense to you now? I wonder what you call a ‘hob’? I love these differences in our common language!
      Yes, I have far too many things on the worktop (counter) at the other side of the kitchen. Next to the hob, a little tray where I keep rape seed oil for cooking, wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sale, pepper, etc; the bread bin, the knife box, bowls for tomatoes and bananas, two items that don’t go into the fridge; the toaster and a chopping board. All these thins are too large for any of the cupboards so stay on the worktop.
      An “extractor” is the electrical device that you switch on that is above a hob to extract steam and smells, sometimes called an “extractor fan”.
      (PS We tend to say “worktop” as a “counter” is what you see in a shop. Similarly, I was reading my new book on interiors and the cushions on a sofa were referred to as “pillows”. We call the items on beds “pillows” but if they are on a sofa they become “cushions”.)

  5. Thank you for a peek inside your lovely kitchen Margaret, your home is beautiful and seems to hold a lifetime of lovingly collected pieces, you must be so proud and happy to live there.
    I am also another total ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ advocate and would rather do without for a while whilst I save up for a quality item.
    Your post provoked me into looking around my own home and deciding on my favourite corners, have whittled down to three. One in the lounge where I keep all family photos, some on the wall and some standing on an oak blanket box that I use to store our games and puzzles, one in our dining room in which stands a book case with a pretty lamp on top and finally one in the kitchen that holds my favourite cookbooks with a wooden shelf above holding some precious mementos from my darling Mum’s kitchen.

  6. We had our kitchen extended about twelve or thirteen years ago so we had a new kitchen put in then. We chose white (Mick’s choice really) but I definitely wouldn’t have gone for white had I known that a dog was in our future. It’s not so bad in the summer months but in winter when he comes in from his walks and decides to shake before I can get him towel dried, well, you can imagine that the white units don’t stay white for long.

    • Margaret Powling

      How lovely to have a large kitchen, Jo. But what I’d love more than a larger kitchen are two separate small rooms, one as a laundry room (a dedicated laundry room, for the white foods and ironing board, cupboards and so forth), and a dedicated walk-in larder, oh, and perhaps a utility room too! I don’t want much, do I?
      Oh dear, white cupboard doors and a dog don’t for a happy marriage make, do they? I can imagine all the splashes of mud. Again, what you need is a dog shower room, ha ha, so that the pooch can come in, shower, dry and then enter the kitchen. Wouldn’t that be great?

  7. What a beautiful corner in your kitchen alas we have three doors into our kitchen plus the cupboard under the stairs,which doesn’t give me much space for kitchen worktops! I love the idea of having wallpaper rather than plain walls.I have taken on board your love of magazines and was offered House and Garden for £19 a year! How could I resist,I wonder?!Beautiful day in Sussex hope the sun is shining for you.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Margaret, for your kind comments re the kitchen corner. As to the wallpaper, it was an expensive Coles & Son wallpaper about a dozen years ago. We chose it because it was the only one we could find that had similar shades in it to the tiles, which had been up for several years previously. Now I would like to have plain walls again, but what I do like is to treat the kitchen as a living room, so that it has pictures and proper dining chairs. I once visited a house (one that had formerly been a small bank!) and the tiny kitchen had been decorated with such style – a cream Aga (the chap who owned the place said that Agas should only ever be cream, their original colour! and a dining table around which were Pugin-designed chairs. It looked so smart, I thought, “this is the way to decorate a kitchen, because it has to be functional doesn’t mean it can’t look smart as well!”
      How lovely to have the House & Garden sub for £19. I’ve been searching for that offer and can’t see it anywhere, the cheapest I’ve seen is £29.
      Yes, it’s sunny here in South Devon, it’s a beautiful day. Wish all autumn and winter days were as lovely as this!

  8. Eloise. (thisissixty.blog)

    I like the border tiles. We gave up on tiles altogether when we re-vamped a few years ago and chose backboard which comes in sheets that look like the work tops but is much thinner. I have map,e units with black work tops and backboard. All the ‘bits and pieces’ are lime green. Although the units are 20 years old, I like my kitchen. Like you I have lamps in my kitchen. I prefer them to main lights but when preparing food I need the extra brightness.
    My daughter has a red aga which looks really nice but there’s a lot of cleaning to it!

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, having a backboard would be a good alternative to tiles, Eloise, and one thing – if and when we do a re-vamp of the kitchen – we will consider. Your kitchen sounds lovely, and I like the idea of lime green bits and pieces. Ooh, a red Aga sounds gorgeous to me! And so cosy, regardless of whether it’s on or not!

  9. Snap – our kitchen is now 35 years old. Most people in the houses in our cul de sac all built in the early 1980’s are on their 3rd and 4th changes of kitchen. I would love a new one. We got close to buying one in 2008 and then I wasn’t well and we decided to cancel the kitchen. In the scheme of things it didn’t seem important. We are redecorating our house from top to bottom now so the new kitchen is back on the list.
    I think your kitchen like ours has a very homely look and I agree those washing up bits are not very pretty. I decant my washing up liquid into a dispenser and keep the other bits under the sink too. When I think back to my gran’s kitchen mine is very streamlined despite its age!!

    • Margaret Powling

      Hello, Viv. When I think of our brand new kitchen when we married in 1964 (as we were able to buy a brand new bungalow as newly weds, not something many young couples can manage today) and how basic it was I think our present 32-year-old kitchen is a dream kitchen in comparison, with fridge/freezer, dishwasher, etc, and oak cupboards, so we will keep it, I think, rather than ripping out good cupboards. I do hope your health has been restored now, and that you are enjoying refurbishing your home.

  10. It’s funny how every kitchen has one corner where everyone wants to be at the same time and/or everything important ends op being located just there ! I’ve lived in three houses in the past 20 years – the first kitchen was designed by me, the second kitchen was designed by the previous owners and was fantastic and my current kitchen (about 20 years old) is small and well built but lacks a pantry. All three kitchens have a corner such as I’ve described.

    As much as I love clear, tidy benches I’ve never been able to achieve or maintain ha ha. The daily needs of life always dominate – kettle, blender (for my regular healthy breakfast smoothies), fruit bowls, phone with associated notepad and writing implements, daily vitamins left in obvious sight so we remember to take them. First world problem, really 🙂

    Many Australian homes are open plan and the kitchen is very much a part of day to day life so the design and decorations etc are important. Our kitchen is cream – called French white back in the 80s and 90s – with plain doors, handles which we replaced about nine years ago to refresh and light green benchtops. Our house is very well lit and the kitchen has a large window which I leave open all day, which is great for ventilation. Benchspace is precious so I gave away my collection of African violets which were beautiful but grew like wildfire and took over so gave them to my mum. I like brightly coloured and patterned teatowels to inject colour and have a gorgeous large orange/red chasseur pot which sits proudly on the stovetop, a housewarming gift from a friend. It is used at least once a week and is so heavy that it’s easier to leave out.

    In Australia we call extractors ‘rangehoods’. I love learning names for household items in other countries. When in the USA some years ago I was taken with their microwaves with inbuilt extractors/rangehoods which sit OVER the stovetop / hob. The microwaves were slightly shorter in height than our in Australia, so as to fit safely above the stovetop and under any overhead cupboards. A great space saving idea but not so good if you have shoulder or arm restrictions and can’t reach high. As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have washing machine in our kitchens here – laundries are usually a separate room or sometimes combined with the bathroom if in an apartment or small house.

    I swoon over Aga stoves on television but living in sub-tropical Australia – where I can only use our oven for less than half the year as it heats our whole house to the point where it’s unbearable in warmer months – an Aga would be a waste. Oh but I do love the sound of the kitchen you visited with the cream Aga. Swoon !

    Thank you for hosting us in your kitchen xx

    • Margaret Powling

      Oh, Lara, what lovely descriptions of Australian kitchens and your own. How I would love a laundry room, but our homes are so much smaller (lack of space for building, land being so expensive) but perhaps new homes are being built so that the laundry goods can go, at least, into a utility room. And I love learning the words, as you do, for the same thing: our extractor fans for your range hoods. Your orange/red chasseur pot sounds lovely, but as you say, too heavy to put away each time you use it!

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