It's safe to say the Victorian-built kitchen ('dilapidated, old-fashioned and poorly laid-out') was in sore need of some thoroughly 21st century attention. A chance encounter with Nicholas Anthony - walking past their window-front in Ascot and being drawn in by the 'clean lines and efficient use of space' - introduced Tessa to the designer who would help her transform the cook-space.
Tessa's plan was simple: she wanted to open up her kitchen and turn it into a 'vibrant' space, perfect for cooking and entertaining alike. Equally key was adding a modern feel to the space, whilst retaining a sympathetic acknowledgement of the property's Victorian pedigree; built in the 1890s, it features an assortment of period features that Tessa was keen to enhance rather than eradicate. The project in a nutshell
The property: A Victorian-built home in Ascot, Berkshire Who lives here? Tessa Shreeve, Managing Director at The Luxury Restaurant Guide The designer: Adelise Morgan-Scully, Senior Designer at Nicholas Anthony, Ascot
Budget: £35,000, with an additional £20k spent on building
Tessa didn't really work with a budget in mind: "I just wanted the end-result to be a kitchen I actually liked," she tells KBB Ark. "There was considerable building work involved, including knocking down walls to open the space up, as well as making room for French doors. It was important that I found a brilliant team of professionals: a good reliable builder, floor fitters, plumbers and an electrician to work hand in hand with kitchen delivery times and to get set costs. I made a mistake on my use of electrician initially, not getting a cost from the outset, just a day by day charge when he turned up. I learnt that unless you have endless pockets firm up your quotes and use timeline spreadsheets.
Designer Adelise Morgan-Scully from Nicholas Anthony was essential to the process; "I loved all her designs," admits Tessa. The Nicholas Anthony team were also able to recommend an architect, too; "Ascot Design did a great job," Tessa adds.
With hindsight, Tessa wishes she'd hired a build manager to oversee the project; "work was really busy and co-ordinating tradesmen was a little tricky," she confesses. "The kitchen was all on-time but the tradesmen... Well, I had to get them to pull quite a few late nights to keep on schedule – time slips by even if you initially feel like you have plenty of it!"
An out-building provided a precious sanctuary when the dust and noise became too much for Tessa to handle; with the build going on for around three months, 'microwave dinners, take-outs and any excuse to dine with friends became d’riguer'.
Tessa's advice for anyone else who's planning a kitchen redesign is very sensible: "have a plan of where you'll cook in the meantime," she advises. "Keep on top of timelines and suppliers in order to make the project as painless as possible. Also, prepare yourself for the unexpected: pipes bursting, delays with planning permission... Keeping zen can be tricky and there will be a point where it feels like it's never going to come to an end. But it will!"
Her final piece of advice? "Choose the best-quality fittings you can afford," she recommends. "It really does pay dividends."
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