Saturday 3 November 2012

The Yank's House - The Kitchen

Most of us have a select few people in our lives that we truly call friends – people that we can talk to about anything and trust with our deepest secrets. In my case I am lucky to have any left. I never stopped talking about the house from the time we bought it. It took over my life like a drug addiction and my friends had to put up with a bombardment of photos through their e-mail and Facebook and constant updates every time we met. I have to say they were great. They made all the right noises while listening to my stories and always listened for an appropriate period of time so I was able to off load when I needed to.

One such friend that deserves special mention is Geraldine. We have worked together for a long time. For many years we were slimming friends, joining several slimming clubs, a real sign of close friendship in my books. However when I became obsessed with the Yank’s house Geraldine won her battle with weight and I put mine on the long finger. 

Geraldine and her husband Dave bought a house in need of love and attention around the same time we did so we had endless discussions over salads, low fat lunches and skinny latt├ęs. Her house was to have a major overhaul including an extension that would double it in size and make for comfortable modern family living. Geraldine’s house boasted a lovely hand-made wooden kitchen, complete with butlers sink. I had expressed an interested in it as soon as she had told me of her plans to extend. It would be ideal for our kitchen in the Yank’s house if she was replacing it.

On one of our weekly salad binges she mentioned that the diggers were in and her foundations were being dug out. ‘What about my kitchen?’ I asked. She had forgotten, but the kitchen was still there. She would have to run it past Dave when she got home. Later I got a text saying if we wanted the kitchen to call and take it away. It was ours. We met Dave at the house to see what was involved in removing it and Pat made arrangements to take it away the following week. I was so excited. I felt like a small child, Christmas morning, after discovering Santa had come. The kitchen was exactly the look I wanted for the house and would save us a small fortune.

The evening we went to collect the kitchen, Geraldine’s house was full of men. Work was progressing very fast. The builders had ripped out the kitchen and moved some of it to an out-house but the sink unit, with granite top and butlers sink was heavy so they had abandoned it in the middle of the floor. They were knocking the ceilings and floors from upstairs down on top of it and several walls had also vanished into dust and rubble around it.  We were just in time. It took several men to move it from the building onto our trailer. We had to do two trips in all but later that evening I had a kitchen stacked high in the middle of my front room.

It took me a few weeks to make a start but gradually I moved the kitchen one piece at a time into my own kitchen where I wash and sanded each piece down. My plan was to paint the kitchen. The granite worktop was marked with lime from a dripping tap. I used white vinegar to remove this. I am a great believer in the use of vinegar for cleaning and for lime stains I don’t think there is anything better. I picked the colour cooking apple green from the Farrow and Ball catalogue for the kitchen cupboards. I had seen a photo in a magazine where a kitchen had been painted this colour and I liked it.

I have tried many different methods of painting furniture over the years and I now prefer to paint with mat emulsion paint. This is the type of paint recommended for painting internal walls. I cleaned all the timber down with white spirits before I started. Then I gave the kitchen 3 coats of paint letting the paint dry well between each application. I then finished off each piece with two coats of acrylic mat varnish.

I didn’t have a lot of pieces to paint. There was the sink unit and a wall unit, same size which hang one over the other. Two separate wall units had hung either side of Geraldine’s Aga cooker. There was one floor unit and some pieces that had housed a small fridge. 

Kitchen in place in Yank's House
Ready for tea-time
I decided to join the two wall cupboards to make one double unit and to extend the one floor cupboard we had using the extra bits from the fridge unit. Pat and I used these pieces to add two shelves. We ordered a piece of black granite for the work surface. 
At first I planned to hang the wall cupboard over the floor cupboard, but later I decided the floor cupboard would make a nice island unit. I had a photo from a magazine of a cupboard with a painting of a jug of flowers on the door I had kept it because I liked it. One afternoon I decided I’d have a go doing something similar on the door of the island unit. It turned out great. I painted it using acrylic paints and varnish over the picture to seal and protect it. 

Island Unit
While I worked on the kitchen and afterwards while I waiting for the Yank’s house to be ready, the cupboards took up the dining area of my kitchen. A small inconvenience, but every day I admired how well they all looked and how pleased I was with my hard work.  

Then the day came to move the kitchen to the Yank’s House. Again we needed help to move the sink unit with the granite top as it was very heavy. But we got it in place and plumbed in. For the first time ever there was running water in the Yank’s house. We hung one of the wall units over the sink unit. It looked great.

We had one more double door wall unit but no floor unit to go under it so I asked Jason back (our stone/brick mason) to build walls with reclaimed bricks so I could have a worktop and shelves under it. I am still waiting on the shelves and worktop but I will organize to get them soon.

The kitchen looks great now. And last summer we had our first visitors for lunch at the Yank’s house. It was a lovely occasion.

Friend for lunch at Yank's House


  1. Have just read the blog from start to finish. You have worked wonders on the house. Your love for it shines through and your enthusiasm for the whole project is just so 'uplifting' - it makes you feel that anything is possible. Fair play to you both - you are some team! I cant help but feel that most of the hard physical work is done and that the next phase just can't possibly be so difficult. The day when you are in Laura Ashley picking fabrics etc is all the nearer. What a lucky house to have found ye :-), Ger Xx