Building, Design, DIY, Home, Interiors, kitchen design, Project, Property, Property Development, Renovation
comments 33

Before and After – The Open Plan Kitchen

When you’re buying a new house, you have to take into account many things. Location. Price. Chain, no chain. Outdoor space. Opportunities to extend. Local facilities. Area. The neighbours. Schools and Ofsted. You have to prioritise and make sacrifices. We were moving when I was pregnant, in my third trimester so buying a complete renovation project wasn’t an option, although financially it would have been a much better decision at the time. But we also couldn’t afford the finished article either. The house we fell for was a compromise. A compromise with so much potential.

Dining Room Before

The Dining Room – Before – Estate Agent Photo

It was a traditional, post-war, 3 bed semi. Some rooms had been done. Not to my taste, but they were beautifully presented and you could see the owners had done a fair amount of work. Oak flooring throughout the hallway and dining room, newly plastered walls and skirting boards throughout most rooms. This was one pretty big job we didn’t have to sort.

Unlike the kitchen:

Kitchen Before

The Kitchen – Before – Estate Agent Photo

We referred to the kitchen as the hovel. Black tiles. Black floor. Black worktop. The cheapest kitchen units in town. The cooker hood didn’t work. There was a UPVC false ceiling to accommodate some really poorly wired and quite unsafe down-lights. The fact we lost about a foot in ceiling height made it feel even smaller than it actually was. The boiler was broken, although we didn’t know it at the time. There were pipes of all shapes and sizes running all over the walls. The woodwork hadn’t been sanded since the house was built by the looks of it. It was tiny. I officially hated it. But we knew it was going. So we got on with the offer, it was accepted and eventually we got the keys to our new home about 6 weeks later.

Before Floor Plan

So we lived with this floor plan for about 14 months. I had my son just two months after we moved in. So for the first year we did the smaller jobs like decorating, fitting carpets and lighting, sorting bits in the garden and sorting some of the shoddy woodwork. But we just couldn’t take on a building project where walls were coming down and gas meters were getting moved. Not with a newborn. I’m pretty hardcore, but not that hardcore….. We did however rip out the bathroom when my son was about six months old. That was another space that was bloomin awful.

Bathroom before

The Bathroom – Before – Estate Agent Photo

It’s a small bathroom with a separate loo, which we preferred actually so there was no knocking down required for this refit. It doesn’t look that bad in the photo above, but the tiling was just horrendous. Some of the tile “cuts” looked like they’d been gnawed off by a set of teeth with large areas of the wall filled in with grout. Lovely.

Here’s the bathroom now.

The family bathroom

Clean and simple concrete effect wall and floor tiles from Villeroy and Boch. The Lepus tile was pretty pricey but we only tiled half of the bathroom and plastered the other side and painted it white. There was no room for free standing storage but we ripped out the old storage cupboard and replaced it with a slimmer more useful built in cupboard that was accessed by a mirrored door. This door was from the Pax wardrobe system at Ikea. We were just about to fork out a load for a bespoke sized mirrored door when I had a quick squizz on Ikea and BINGO! The VIKEDAL door was an exact match size wise, came with hinges and had a grey reverse which matched our tiles. And the best bit, it was £40. Aces!

bathroom after

The bathroom refit kept me sweet for a few months but after a while I started getting itchy fingers to get moving with the kitchen. After being there about a year, I don’t think a day went by where I didn’t lob a spoon at the sink whilst screaming “I HATE THIS KITCHEN”. This didn’t really help matters, but I needed this room to know it was not wanted around this joint. I’d already planned and designed the entire space in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted, which style units, worktop and flooring and how to alter the downstairs layout to make the most out of the space. Keeping my mouth shut any longer just wasn’t an option. My other half would be quick to jump in here and tell you that that’s never really been an option.

Open Plan Kitchen Floorplan Layout

W slowly started ripping stuff out of the kitchen and stripping back. I remember my other half saying “I’m just off to make a cup of tea…” Two minutes later, half of the ceiling was on the floor. I was so pleased. The whole process was very cathartic. It felt like we were giving the house what it deserved. And after finding an amazing builder who came highly recommended to us by my electrician, we finally booked in the main event. Whoop! (By this time, my son was one and toddling around which was probably the worst time to do it. Hindsight n’ all that jazz.)

A year after we moved in, our kitchen was now in this state:

(Please excuse the next few photos. I didn’t know I would be writing all about it at the time, so my photos are pretty poor. But you get the gist.)

Kitchen Before


Kitchen before

Kitchen Before

Kitchen before

Nice isn’t it?

And here’s the ripping out gallery. I get a real kick out of seeing these.

Pantry reconfiguration

The pantry being reconfigured.

We boarded up the old entry from the kitchen and reopened into the space from the hallway. This meant moving all the meters, the alarm and fitting a new fuse box. The boiler was being moved to that space too along with the washing machine. It was officially going to be the smallest utility space ever.

The new window was going here to overlook the rear garden.

Making a new window

I see daylight!

New window

And the window was in.

Goodbye wall

Time for the dividing wall to come down. The most exciting bit.

Wall down

Can you see the old kitchen door and window has been bricked up here too? I think you can start to see the new layout forming now.


I remember the DUST. It was impossible to keep the house clean. I think I carried the Pledge and my duster around the house for most of this week just to try and keep up my anal obsession with cleanliness and order. Oh and I carried my son too. He was with me for most of this… poor sausage. We co-ordinated the noisy jobs around his nap times. Bloody bonkers.

During wall down

And this was the view from the kitchen into the dining room. Adios wall! We were officially open plan. I had a temporary central island cooking unit and was surrounded by acrow props for a couple of days. This was the evening I cooked tea and a bit of joist fell in my pan of pasta. That was nice.


The space as a whole, in daylight with most of the crap taken out.


And this is the final photo before the big reveal. Just boarded out ready for plastering with the plumbing and wiring first fix all done.

We were all exhausted by this point and just wanted it done. We’d had no running water downstairs for about a week, our bathroom became a part time kitchen. We only had a microwave and toaster for meals (you can totally toast pizza – ish) and our lovely neighbours passed some home cooked meals over the wall (remember what I said earlier about neighbours being on the list of reasons for choosing a house?!) We were all dirty, tired and were counting down the days until we got our house back.

Was it worth it?


Kitchen BeforeAfter:

Kitchen After white gloss handleless units quartz worktop

Kitchen After family wall with planner and children's art

Kitchen After

Kitchen After open plan living


Dining Room Before

Dining Room After distressed wall flaking paint


Ingatorp dining table Ikea




open plan kitchen dining room

It sounds a bit over the top, but this kitchen completely changed our lives as a family. The previous lay out was so difficult to work with. It was anti-social, took all the fun away from cooking and dining and made cooking, washing and childcare really difficult. This project changed the way we used the house. We spend more time in the garden and now I actually enjoy gardening. We barely use our living room, except for when we want to cosy up with the log burner on cold nights. Having the back of the house all looking into the garden means I can let my son (who is now 2.5) run around outside whilst I get the dinner on (and have a glass of wine).

Thinking of knocking your kitchen wall down and going open plan?

Here’s a brief run down of some of the bits in our kitchen incase anyone is currently thinking of doing the same project.

  • Luca Gloss White units from DIY Kitchens
  • Silestone Unsui quartz worktop
  • Ikea INGATORP Dining Table
  • Habitat Harrison dining chairs
  • Heal’s Contrast Stone Pendant Light
  • Quickstep Natural Varnished Oak Flooring
  • AEG appliances
  • Gorenje Retro fridge freezer
  • White glass splashbacks from GKS

Thanks for reading peeps. I love a good Before and After don’t you. Are you thinking of going open plan this year, but needed convincing? I hope this has helped a little. Would love to hear your thoughts.

** 2018 update – see how we re-vamped our kitchen this spring by clicking this link. **




  1. Hayley says

    Hi! Your house looks fab, I’m investigating costs for a similar project – opening up the kitchen and dining room and needing to put in an RSJ. Out of interest are you willing to share the costs for your project? Thanks 🙂

    • Karen Knox says

      Difficult to answer Hayley as we had to do a lot of work to the outside of the house in order to accommodate the kitchen window (knock down brick house, rebuild patio, move gas meter, moved the boiler). I think all in, for everything and I mean everything, down to the new kitchen blind, we paid £12.5k for all of the work, new kitchen, worktop, appliances, lighting, heating, flooring, and it took about 4 weeks from start to finish. Hope that helps!

  2. OMG, this brings back memories of three months of cooking in a toaster over (I had no microwave) and doing dishes in the bathroom while straddling the cat box. Dust everywhere. Every night I came home and vacuumed the house top to bottom with no noticeable difference.

    And when it was done I had a BEAUTIFUL kitchen/family room. Which, of course, is in the house I sold 5 years later. I would do it all again, though, because having a kitchen EXACTLY as you want it is heaven. You lucky duck!

    • Karen Knox says

      Ha. Isn’t that always the way? I don’t think we’ll ever move from here (unless we won the lottery), we’ve made so many changes to the house now it’s pretty much exactly what we wanted. Minus an extension that i’m now allowed to talk about 🙂

  3. dad says

    I particularly like those shelves each side of the unfinished chimney breast.

    • Karen Knox says

      Shame the holes weren’t countersunk the same depth, but yeah we like em 😉

  4. Sophie Therouanne says

    I love the chimney breast! What is on it? Wall paper?

  5. That’s a lovely space! We’ll be going through knocking down a wall for more open plan living, which I wanted to do since moving into our hose 5 years ago. But I’m actually glad that we’ve waited till kids get bigger. I can only imagine how hard it was 🙂

    • Karen Knox says

      It certainly wasn’t easy with a baby in tow, but I was so impatient, I couldn’t bare it any more. Good luck with your build Anne Marie!

  6. Gina Anderson says

    How did you get on with DIY kitchens? contemplating using them for my new kitchen…

    • Karen Knox says

      Absolutely fine. We visited their showroom as we’re only 40 mins drive away. Quality is good and delivery is when they said it would be. We had an issue with one of the cupboards and it was sorted quickly. I’d certainly use them again.

  7. Kate says

    What a fantastic transformation, I absolutely love that wallpaper!

  8. Eulalia says

    Hello, I really like your kitchen and is very similar to the ideas we have for our own kitchen, I was just wondering how the entrance to the kitchen works for you? ie no entrance from the hallway. We are thinking to start the kitchen from where your toaster is and so have an entrance on that wall but then again this would leave less work surface. Be good to know if you have any thoughts here? thanks,

    • Karen Knox says

      We’re so glad we blocked off that door to the old kitchen as it gave us a much better shaped kitchen, with more storage and worktop space. The entrance works really well for us as people can leave the room without getting in the way of those cooking in the kitchen.

  9. Neil says

    Hello! Kitchen looks great. We are looking to do something similar in our 1930s semi detached. Knock through kitchen wall to dining room, close off kitchen door (so enter through dining room) and block up side door and window (we already have a window above the sink like yours but it is small so we will put a larger one in).

    My biggest concern is the lack of light if we block up the side window and door. Our kitchen and dining room are north-west facing. The side window looks onto our shared drive so we don’t want to keep it.

    What is the light like in your kitchen throughout the day now with less windows? Which way does your kitchen window face?


  10. John Wardle says

    Hi looking at doing exact same project. Your house is same plan as mine. What was you rsj dimensions thanks

    • Karen Knox says

      Hi John, I have no idea, the builder sorted all of that i’m afraid!

  11. John Wardle says

    Was it a load bearing wall that was knocked out. An did your steel go straight into the wall . Have similar house wanting to do same

  12. John Wardle says

    Can I ask did you get cracking to walls upstairs. As people have mentioned this happens.

  13. MARY FLYNN says


    I love this renovation. It is what I am thinking of myself in my new house. Please can I see a picture of your utility ? Is it basically the size of the washing machine ? Do you have a tumble dryer in there too ?


  14. Trevor Whittock says

    Hi, just found this blog. I have a very similar situation which I am trying to solve. I saw your blog and thought it could have solved my problems. Unfortunately I am now arguing about whether it is a good idea in our case as you, now, cannot see through the house from the front door as the old kitchen door is now a wall. Did you have any similar thoughts before you did this? If so has the reality qwelled your doubts?

  15. Vincent Bo says

    Thank you for your article and well done, the final result is amazing.
    There is a great deal of similarities with our current renovation project and we are finding your blog is a great source of inspiration.
    We are looking at building a kitchen in the same style. Do you know the brand/type/model of lightings fitted under top cabinets? We are looking for a similar clear design with no trim to hide the lights and I find these ones look very appropriate as they are very discrete.

    Best wishes, Vincent

    • Karen Knox says

      Hi Vincent, really glad the blog is providing inspiration 🙂
      It was a long time since we bought those lights so i’m afraid I can’t remember where we got them from.
      Just google “LED under cabinet lights” and that should give you some options!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.