This post is in collaboration with
Eight years I've been cooking in this kitchen. I started The Forest Cantina in it, cooked for two cookbooks within these walls and made many humble family dinners - all with some very basic equipment. Now, I do a double-take each time I walk into this room...I can't believe it's ours! After living here for so long, and seeing the kitchen as it was - it's a completely different space, a kitchen I have always dreamed of.
Many people have said, "Oh, but we love your old kitchen". And it was definitely cute and had some real Kiwi kitchen charm - but it didn't function to it's full potential. It lacked bench space, had no storage (no pantry and only four small drawers), the wall cupboards had weird divisions on the inside so you couldn't store anything taller than a tin can, and any painted surfaces; the window, skirtings and inside cupboards were all chipped and worn. Now every single part of the kitchen has been laid out to maximise each precious millimetre. Our main goals for the living areas, because our house is small, is to make these rooms feel bigger and open, improve storage and make the house warm - it only had roof insulation before we started!
My husband Aaron not only owns a building and property maintenance company, Right On Building, but he's also what he calls a "multi-trader". Basically a human version of a swiss army knife ;) Meaning he can do many other trades like painting, plastering, metal fabrication and tiling too. I've always admired his self-taught skills and knowledge mixed with a "never complains, just get's things done" attitude. Watching him work on our home and seeing all the things he can do - it's attractive! And ya'll know I love styling and anything creative, so we felt were the perfect pair to take on the renovations ourselves, to utilise our skills and save as much money as we can on labour costs. I've shared all our 'behind the scene' videos and the process of this renovation on my Instagram Stories. If you've missed them, look for the house symbol in my bio for all saved renovation highlights.
Also, if you live in Wellington and would like my husband to quote you for a renovation job on your home (yes, this is a shameless plug happening haha), you can email him direct HERE. You may have heard me say before that he calls me his 'toughest client', so that being said, from his toughest client, he comes very highly recommended. I absolutely LOOOOVE (with drool face/heart-eyed emojis) this kitchen he's built for me. I feel so lucky!
For this first room reveal, I am so excited to have collaborated with Breville, a brand that I love and have been using for many years. I am looking forward to sharing with you some of the products I have selected that have given us function and a little luxury to our new space.
Right, let's get into it...
BAR stools | Cintesi
Where this breakfast bar is once was a wall and an archway entrance to the kitchen. By removing this wall it has not only opened this space up but has connected the kitchen to the dining area and has also created a more social environment, which I love. The rimu slats underneath the breakfast bar were inspired by Customs Cafe's here in Wellington. The black bar stools from Cintesi, $179 each, link HERE.
KITCHEN WINDOW | The window was once so tired looking, with layers and layers of paint that had peeled and chipped.
I decided to strip it back to the original rimu and it took roughly 1 1/2 weeks to do so. Some of the framings split because it
was porous, so Aaron replaced it with rimu framing taken from the door frame of the removed/unused hallway door in the lounge.
He also replaced and made a new sill using repurposed rimu and added new brass-look hardware from Mitre 10.
DRAWerS & handles | Mitre 10.
We knew we wanted to order as much of the basic stuff as we could from Mitre 10 as Aary gets such a good trade discount here, but we didn't want it to look too generic, so did custom benchtops and modified handles. We booked an appointment with a kitchen consultant at Mega and gave him the measurements of the kitchen so that he could do some 3D mockups for us. I had done a plan/drawing before I went in of everything I had and if I wanted it in a drawer or cupboard - so everything had its place. For example, I knew I wanted a 150mm pull-out drawer next to the oven for oils, salt & pepper etc so that they could be off the bench but with easy access to when cooking. We chose 'flat-pack' carcases with a satin white finish, and the handles I chose were from the hardware department of Mitre 10 (not the kitchen area) for $23 each. I love how clean and minimal they are.
SINK | Cabro.
I think I possibly looked at every single online version of granite sinks available in New Zealand before choosing the one I did. The sink I bought is 80% granite and 20% composite so it's extremely hard-wearing and highly resistant to scratching. But granite
is a porous material, which means it can absorb colour - so this is why I chose black as opposed to a white granite (I use a lot of turmeric!). I decided to buy from Cabro, a New Plymouth based business (who do free overnight shipping), as their sinks have simple, and beautifully clean shapes. I definitely wanted a sink with a drainer (and every day I am happy about this decision!) because although we now have a dishwasher, I handwash pots/anything wooden and it is such a good area to have these drip dry. It's also a handy place to put products to drain off after a vinegar rinse etc. The bowl on the sink is larger than the standard sink - so much so I can lay all my baking trays & roasting dishes completely flat in the bottom. A link to the sink I bought is HERE. I also want to mention how amazing
the Cabro customer service is - they were absolutely incredible to communicate with! Thank you Lesa x
TAP | The Kitchen Hub.
The tap I chose was a bit of a splash out (the only kitchen pun, I promise!), and is from The Kitchen Hub. The brass tap I bought has a square finish and I love how it mirrors the square tiles but not in an obvious way. I also have a few other brass features in the home, so it was a nice to have this colour and texture tie into the kitchen.A direct link to the tap we brought HERE.
TILES | Tile Space
I decided on a square/mosaic tiled bench, and from the outset, Aary knew that this part of the renovation was going
to be the hardest. He custom built the frame for it which had to be perfectly calculated down to the millimetre! We tiled this almost
five-meter bench (including the breakfast bar and waterfall drop off) ourselves and I reckon we did a pretty mint job, considering
we're not tilers. It's not perfect but hey,
I'd rather it have a little 'character' than
to have a massive tilers bill instead haha.
We chose a light grey epoxy grout for the mosaics and although epoxy is a little trickier to work with, it's worth it for it's
long-wearing, waterproof and stain resistant qualities. A great option for kitchen surfaces and bathrooms.For the walls, I chose a large concrete look tile (which are actually porcelain, and floor tiles) to give a nice balance of textures, colour and size proportions. Aaron used Hardies villaboard to line the walls first as this product is designed to withhold weight and is stronger than standard GIB. I chose
a black (aluminium) tile bar to give a clean division between the two tiles after being inspired by this Instagram image HERE. All tiles, grout and tile bar are from Tile Space. The 58x58mm white mosaics were $9.50
a sheet, the large grey 600x600mm tiles (MT1403 Aged Stone L/Grey) are $59.50 per Sqr Mtr and the black divider was $27 for a 3-meter piece.
A big thank you Francesca at Tile Space Wellington, for your amazing customer service everytime I'd come in.
FLOOR paint | Resene
A huge shout out first of all to my three girlfriends, AKA my floor muses, Erena, Shelley and Gemma! I can not even remember the number of messages we've sent about whitening out a floor (and extra reno chats too). Aary and I truly appreciated the first-hand advice from their experiences doing the same thing. We decided to go Resene Gloss white as our walls are Black White and this is the exact same combo Gemma had done - and we loved her result. Aary hired commercial sanders, then primed the floors using Resene Sureseal followed by two coats of Resene Enamacryl in straight gloss white (no tint added). This is a water-based product so this means it dries quickly and has fewer fumes than oil-based paint. Yes, they are high maintenance in a 'wearing a white T-shirt and eating a chocolate ice cream' kinda way, but that's overruled by the fact that I absolutely love the finished result. It has totally transformed the look of the house!
SHELFIE (left) | Top-shelf / Large bowls - Kmart, Jug + front planter - by my very talented friend Felicity AKA - Wundaire, Plants - California Garden Center in Lower Hutt, Brass vases - thrived, brass hand - brought in Bali at the Ubud Markets.
Middle shelf / Berry bowl - Wundaire, stone-carved Hippopotamus - thrifted, small tumbler - Paige Jarman Ceramics, pink cups and saucers - thrifted. Bottom Shelf / Planter made by me at one of Wundaire's ceramic workshops, the fake string of pearl plant - Freedom Furniture, gold liquor measure - thrifted, dinner plates - Wundaire. On the knife block (block thrifted) / Bread knife - Tessuti, Japanese chef knife + cleaver - Chubo, Pallares solsona kitchen knife - Father Rabbit, 3 x La Fourmi pairing knives - Tessuti,
RIMU BENCH TOPS/FLOATING SHELVES | After sanding the repurposed rimu benchtops & floating shelves, I wanted a product that would protect the wood against food stains but something that had a soft, natural finish. After some research, I found Osmo, a German product that is food safe and is also used on babies cots and for wooden toys (and they also have a window product that has UV protection in it). I had five samples sent to me and I tested them all on a sanded offcut. The one I liked the most was the Osmo Polyx (Hardwax) Oil in Matt 3062. I did two coats on the benches as I wanted to protect it, but at the same time, I didn't want to do too many coats to darken the rimu too much. We brought a 750ml can and this was enough to do the benches, shelves and the wooden slats under the breakfast bar - and we still have some left. A little goes a long way with this product. You can get in touch with the NZ supplier for Osmo HERE.
BREVILLE BAKERY BOSS | I was so thankful to get a new mixer as I accidentally broke my last one, and have been using a hand mixer for the last wee while. I have done so much baking since I've had this new addition, and am loving how easy it is to whip up cakes and bread doughs. You can actually see the 1,200-watt torque motor and 100% metal gears take charge of even the heaviest doughs and batters, through the glass bowl. I also love the matte black finish on the machine and how it's perfectly cohesive
with my granite sink. A machine I love to see sitting on my bench. More about the Bakery Boss HERE.
BREVILLE BARISTA TOUCH | Ok, so this is that little bit of luxury in the kitchen that we have been absolutely loving! Our new Barista Touch machine not only makes delicious coffees but also, it's so easy to use...even for me who's a 'pull the plug outta the wall when it's not working' type of person. I've had a few friends over in the new kitchen, and they sit at the breakfast bar while I serve them coffees and food. I feel like I'm playing shops haha. It takes only three seconds to heat up and I have now programmed my own coffee, saving it under my name on the touchscreen. I've set it to how much coffee I want it to extract, how hot I want the milk (75 degrees C for me!) and how I want the texture of the milk to be (ie how much froth). The machine features automatic micro-foam milk texturising - so thousands of tiny bubbles of textured milk entrap the oils of the espresso and create a sweet, balanced espresso flavour. And it all sits in one compact unit - the hopper and integrated grinder is all in the one machine meaning, less 'things' on the bench! YAY! If you want to find out more about this product, hit the link HERE.
SHELFIE (below) | Top-shelf / Rocket pot + cake stand - Wundaire, bunt cake tin - thrifted, fake hanging plant from Adairs. Middle shelf/ Brass cat and jugs - thrifted, pink, peach and blue stacking bowls - Citta, large potluck sharing bowl - Wundaire. Bottom shelf / 'Everything bowls' - Wundaire, brass misting watering can - Blackbird Goods, jug + tumbler - Thea Ceramics, terrazzo bowl - Wundaire. On the bench / Easy to grab utensils - the glass jug thrifted.
PANTRY | The pantry was once the wardrobe from the bedroom behind this wall and now it has been transformed into some much-needed kitchen storage. Aaron sourced the laminated ply for the shelving from Laminex New Zealand in Seaview, Wellington which was a reasonable $80 per sheet. He added a 'pull out tray' for the toaster to sit on so that the heat doesn't warp or burn the shelf above it - an idea I found on Pinterest. A cavity slider was installed to save space and one was added to the back of the kitchen also. The pantry door handle and towel rack are from the hardware department at Mitre 10 which came in silver but I primed and painted black. I bought this hardware after being inspired by the cavity slider door handles in the Douglas & Bec home, which you can see in this article HERE. The 'Harrow Grafito' black and white tiles are from Tile Space at $74 per sqr meter and I am seriously considering adding these to our ensuite because I love the pattern so much! The black wire baskets, grass baskets, clip lid jars, and large 'Straight Glass' jars are all from KMart. I swapped out the bright orange seals that came on the clip lid jars for white ones which I bought from Arthur Holmes - just so they look better..yes OCD I know. I love the large straight glass jars because the opening is wide enough to easily scoop out rice, flour etc with measuring cups - AND they were only $8 each! The spice jars with gold lids are from Arthur Holmes also, and to save space - we screwed the lids of the smaller spice jars to the shelf above - just screw the jar off the attached lid for easy spice access. For the labels on the jars, I write onto brown craft paper, then cut out and stick them on with just a standard glue stick like this one HERE.
ART | I loved that this artwork reminds me of summer and being on holiday, and I just love the colours and tones in it. This print is by Isabelle Feliu and this is the second piece of her's I have, the other is in the lounge. You can check out her Society6 pager where I brought this form, HERE. (Previous art featured here was by Amber Vittoria) TIP: Sign up for the Society6 emails as they regularly
(almost weekly) have sales/specials with up to 40% off.
FRAMING | I had done by Sam Broad in Morea, Lower Hutt. This is the sixth art print he has framed for me and I just love the job
he does and the service he provides. Sam works from home in his super-cool studio (such amazing collections and furniture I wish I had!)
out the back of his house. Because he is not paying for a shop lease in town, this makes his prices very reasonable. For this piece, I chose a non-reflective glass as it is straight opposite the large kitchen window - I wanted to see the print in the frame during the day, and I had chosen a frame that was a similar dimension as our pantry handle which it sat close to. If you are needing framing done, I can not recommend him enough. His contact page is HERE.
LIGHTING (below) | I wanted the lighting to be a feature and something a little different - so I bought vintage. Yes, vintage...these are from the 1960's - a pair of Blaagaard pendants designed by Karen & Ebbe Clemmensen and Jorgen Bo for Fog Morup. I bought them from Denmark (Via Etsy), so they weren't cheap, and on top of that I had to pay import tax, the fittings had to be changed and the light bulbs were $50 each. Aary said they were a pain in the butt (with a few other adjectives not suitable for here haha), but it's one of my favourite features of the kitchen, so I reckon they were worth it!HERE. Link to the shop I bought from, who sells vintage lighting specifically is
before & after | And that is our kitchen! I think it's incredible that Aary completed it so quickly considering he was only working on it on the weekends and after work. We couldn't be more proud of the finished results after all the long hours that have gone into it.
thank you | A huge thank you to my parents for having the kids on the weekends we worked, to Jamie for all the time he gave us building with Aary, our mate Kev for coming to do the plumbing and Aary's friend Rich the Sparkie who did all the electrical work for us. Never been more grateful to know a bunch of tradies!