What is the Little Pink Kitchen?

The Little Pink Kitchen is this website, where you can order lunch to be delivered to your desk.

The Little Pink Kitchen is a pop-up restaurant, in my house, where you can come and meet like-minded people over some delicious food and buck’s fizz (tickets here, it is a LOT of fun).

The Little Pink Kitchen is a stall, mostly often found at the Inns (details here), but soon to be appearing elsewhere.

The Little Pink Kitchen is a place you can come to for all of your party catering, celebration dinners and canapés (drop me a line here).

But much more than all of that, the Little Pink Kitchen is a room in our house.

The kitchen is our house has always been pink, you see. Mr P is quite an agreeable chap on that front.

Although thanks to having a pink kitchen, there is pink NOWHERE ELSE in the whole house.

Nowhere.

I bought pink hand soap the other day and there were words about appropriate colours for bathroom accessories.

I just shouted SPECIAL OFFER and he got over himself and we all lived happily ever after.

Anyway.

The kitchen.

Pink.

In the first house we bought together I decided a pink kitchen would be a great idea to match all my pink plates and pink cups and pink trays and pink things.

Given that we were renovating the whole place, it turned out to be quite a straightforward process.

And the end result was really lovely and everybody oooooohhhhed and ahhhhhheeed about just how pretty it was.

The Little Pink Breakfast Club started up and I actually registered as a business and everything was just marvellous.

So, erm.

We sold it.

10600376_10154496634380057_8114049930935320122_n.jpg

And in it’s place we bought a beautiful house in a beautiful area but that needed a LOT of TLC.

We shivered through one winter and improvised with the pop-up, and made thing OK, but it soon because very apparent that we really, really needed to sort out the kitchen.

That kitchen looks easy enough to change, right?

10409444_10154941585690075_4917561761976640035_n.jpg

Right.

Which is why we decided to move things around and make A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ROOM our kitchen, knocking between two rooms to create the room of DREAMS.

IMG_20150607_132829.jpg

‘How hard can it be to do this?’ we asked ourselves.

We called in a surveyor to make sure the house wouldn’t crumble down around our ears and got plotting.

I spent a while on Pinterest, looking up American kitchens of great beauty but approximately the size of our entire house. I fell in love with white kitchens, and clean lines and the most beautiful tiles in the world.

Honestly, these tiles were the most beautiful tiles in the world.

And then they were the most beautiful tiles in the world and on actual sale.

And I couldn’t get the most beautiful tiles in the world out of my head, so one day I ordered them.

Just like that.

Structural work to complete.

No idea when the work would be done.

No idea what the kitchen would look like.

But the most beautiful tiles in the world.

We started to take the room apart, stripping the plaster from the walls, sorting out the brickwork, all the while planning the Little Pink Kitchen that was to be.

What did I want?

What did I need?

What could I fit in?

Could it all be pink?

I drove myself a leetle bit insane at this point to be completely honest, reading forums about pans drawers and pop-up plugs and one type of solid stone versus a different type of solid stone worktop, before realising that the melamine kitchen in our old house hadn’t really stood up to be used semi-professionally.

Mr P bought me a really romantic gift.

I sent off for some samples of solid wood kitchens, kept stroking the most beautiful tiles in the world, and started to dream big about the Little Pink Kitchen.

9811_10155132073735075_8555590517991439947_n.jpg

I researched flooring, and found what I was after at a bargainous price.

So I ordered that too.

No kitchen plans, but the most beautiful tiles in the world and very practical flooring in my possession.  

Then, one day, I stumbled across an Ikea range of cabinets that had a wood veneer.

And wood meant it could be sanded and painted.

And Ikea meant that the doors could be changed.

And I went off and dreamed of the kitchen with the most beautiful tiles in the world and had some free coffee and veggie balls and thought about how marvellous life in the new Little Pink Kitchen was going to be.

It was only on the way out I noticed the ‘discontinued sign’.

And so, rather than the days an months of planning kitchen layouts I thought were on the horizon, I made a large pot of coffee and planned out what I needed for actual serious.

The next day we discovered that an Alfa Romeo 147 is QUITE the workhorse, and we bought all of the doors we could. On a whim, and in the bargain corner, we bought a coffee machine, imagining the kitchen of our future.

And then we went back a few days later and bought some more doors.

Just in case.

We got all of the plaster off the walls.

We boarded up the chimney.

IMG_1407.JPG

At this point we started to think about insulation and damp, and realised the best thing to do would be to bring the solid floor back to the earth.

We tried to break it up using a sledgehammer, then we got a grip and rented 30kg of jackhammer to rip that floor up.

30kg of jackhammer is HEAVY, and we took it in turns to move around the room in 15 minute bursts, collapsing with exhaustion at the end of each day.

We couldn’t get a skip onto the driveway so we used my mother’s old wheelbarrow to trot all that rubble down the path. We played a complicated game of tetris with the rock to make sure we didn’t have to pay for too many skips.

We admired our arm muscles.

A lot.

We dreamt about the most beautiful tiles in the world.

Then, all of a sudden, Mr P told me it was time for the electrical ‘first fix’ (one of these crazy builders terms that basically just means making sure when the walls are all nice and pretty you don’t have to drill into them again just to plug in the toaster). 

IMG_1599.JPG

And it was time to batten out the walls, to get them ready for insulation, and plaster and, eventually, the most beautiful tiles in the world.

11947956_10156028474355057_5690565103285772373_o (1).jpg

At this point, we called in one of just a handful of tradesmen we used, to create a structurally sound archway between the two rooms.

IMG_20151003_115243.jpg

They called us mad for doing what we had done all by ourselves.

One of the websites I had used to research things sent me panicking about the lead times on appliances, so I ordered those to make sure they would be there on time.

Of course by going to a local supplier they had everything in stock already, but were more than happy to keep it for us.

IMG_1388.JPG

I decided all extractor fans were really ugly, and looked into getting something made.

They were all going to be too noisy so I just ignored that issue for a while.

We kept going with the most hateful job of all, the rewire (Mr P is an electrical engineer, we aren’t complete cowboys).

IMG_1584.JPG

I made lots of jokes about grommets and tried really hard to imagine ovens and coffee machines and things actually in situ.

We fitted plasterboard and insulation.

Then we fitted some more insulation, giving a perverse sort of a thanks for surviving one freezing cold winter in this house, which forced us to get the most heat we could in.

IMG_1433.JPG

We ripped out some external doors.

In November.

And then we set about building up the gap to make space for a window.

Our builder was due to come back and do this for us but impatience had set in at this point.

So we decided to do it ourselves.

We found bricks in a salvage yard that matched the bricks already there, loaded them into aforementioned Alfa Romeo 147, and pleaded with the guy at the salvage yard to stay open five minutes later than he would on a usual Saturday, just so we could do two runs.

IMG_20151121_121957.jpg

We figured out the best consistency for mortar (WAY drier than you think) and Mr P set about mixing it all.

I put the first course brick in very, very slowly, with constant checks of spirit levels and spacing.

IMG_20151122_161137.jpg

The second course was a bit quicker, and over a few evenings, the way got finished.

I still can’t quite believe I did that.

There is a wall, in our house, that I built.

But together, we built a wall to be proud of.

IMG_20151204_191012.jpg

We found a cill that fitted and hauled it into place on a damp, freezing November evening.

IMG_1740.JPG

Sid got a wonky tail because the house was so cold.

We decided maybe November isn’t the best time of year to have a massive hole in the side of your house.

Top tip.

We went to a wedding the day after we fitted the cill, and I had mortar in my hair. 

Oops.

IMG_1754.JPG

With a lot of swearing, lots of red packers, and more expanding foam than you could shake a stick at, we fitted a window.

IMG_20151217_122300.jpg

The hole in the side of our house was no more.

Sid was pleased.

We started to pull the wires and cables through for electricity.

IMG_20151109_225243.jpg

I eventually found an extractor fan than pleased me and thanks to Black Friday, got it at a bargain price (ordered online, not by fighting in a queue).

I promise it wasn’t JUST because of the wiring, but at this point I buggered off to India for a month (other top tip: this will take you twice as long as expected, don’t plan any international travel for a while. Or do. It had some advantages.)

The plasterer stepped in (the second of a handful of trades we called in).

PANO_20160105_184701.jpg

While I was away, Mr P set to work on the floor.

We had decided on underfloor heating, and while negotiating with suppliers, he realised that it would be cheaper in the long run to do both the kitchen and the dinning room.

It was time to rip out the old kitchen.

Back came the skip, back came the destruction.

IMG_20160123_161452.jpg

Then came the making sure it was all level, which takes approximately 75937 times longer than you would imagine.

IMG_20160126_180429.jpg

The day the screed was due to be delivered, Mr P and his Dad managed to get all the pipes down for the heating, and the manifold fitted, literally finishing as the lorry pulled up.

IMG_20160129_135534.jpg

I came back from India to a very, very empty room.

IMG_20160130_161642.jpg

But it was a room.

Full of possibilites.

I woke up the next morning like a kid at Christmas, stroking my sample of the most beautiful tiles in the world and imagining how magnificent this was all going to be. I was ready to make a cup of tea and some toast and admire the beautiful, empty room.

When it struck me. 

The kettle was balanced on a stool in the hallway.

The mugs were in the bathroom.

The milk was downstairs.

I had literally no idea where a knife capable of slicing bread was.

My marmite had vanished.

The house was chaos.

The room full of possibilities actually needed to be filled with, well, kitchen.

And, so full of jet lag (if not full of marmite on toast), I held the most beautiful tiles in the world up to a wall, squinted a bit and decided it was time to get cracking.

IKEA.

Sure, how hard could picking up some kitchen carcasses be?

Well, if you are on your own, and have jetlag, the answer is very.

I huffed and I puffed and I tried to ignore all the people in the carpark laughing at me, but aside from one very long end piece, I managed to get it all in a wee van.

IMG_2202.JPG

My hands were shredded, my arm muscles were sorer than they had been during a month of intense ashtanga practice.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

The next day I thought it would be good to get a good base layer of paint on.

12631366_10156485651995057_336259871158795143_n.jpg

Painting a ceiling two days after international travel is interesting, let me tell you.

I accidentally painted the dog.

IMG_2207.JPG

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

The next day, I started to build the cabinets.

IMG_2208.JPG

I had to go back to Ikea to pick up some forgotten pieces.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

The next day, more building.

IMG_2209.JPG

My mother took me out for lunch, mostly so I could drink wine out of an actual glass.

The next day, yet more building.

IMG_2218.JPG

I had to go back to Ikea to pick up some forgotten pieces.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

I was getting up at 7.30am, managing to make a cup of tea, and starting to work. I was going to bed in the early hours of the morning.

In my head, I had thought about doing an instagram series on snazzy lunches I could make in a microwave.

But in reality, all I wanted was to have the most beautiful tiles in the world on the wall of a functioning kitchen, so I ate toast, and just kept building.

Mr P would get home from work, we would eat quickly at his parents (I honestly will never be able to thank them enough for this), and we would keep going, me building cabinets and him working on wires and plumbing and lighting, often until the birds started their dawn chorus.

It was three weeks after my return from India that I actually went to bed before 2am.

Most nights it was 3 or 4.

Every night ended with me in the bath, drinking wine out of a tumbler, and pretending it was all going to be OK.

I started on the most beautiful tiles in the world, and the first few went on a dream and I thought about what a great tiler I was.

IMG_2232.JPG

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

The next day, I decided that Ikea cabinet fronts were going to be a very specific shade of Ikea white, and it would probably be better to paint them all now so I could touch up when the going got tough and the curry splattered.

It was sort of therapeutic and a bit creative.

IMG_2224.JPG

The worktop fitters came out to have a look at it all, suck air between their teeth and ask us if we should think about getting some help.

They needed to measure the sink, so after they had left, we tried to position it, to give us an idea of how it would fit in.

This happened.

IMG_2250.JPG

We both stared at it.

And at each other.

And blinked back tears.

And wondered if maybe the worktop fitters were right.

Maybe we should think about getting some kind of help.

Mr P took me to the pub to drink gin out of an actual glass.

I looked into making a broken sink a feature.

Sort of like a hipster pub, or using golden fillers like they do in Japan, or only ever buying REALLY big bottles of walking up liquid.

Then, we discovered that the Ikea family card might offer some kind of insurance. Looking up the terms and conditions, we realised it was only on assembly, not installation.

We gave them a call and decided to risk it.

Back to Ikea, where SAINT POPPY OF HOLLYWOOD EXCHANGE gave us a whole, shiny, new sink.

I didn’t even bother blinking back the tears this time, I wept with relief.

Poppy in Ikea is a SAINT and I LOVE HER.

IMG_2260.JPG

The kitchen started to look like, you know, it might, very soon, function as a kitchen.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

I spent half a day researching knobs.

Of the door variety, you understand.

Eventually I managed to find knobs that would work, and I realised I had no idea where to position them.

IMG_20160218_162315.jpg

I realised that Ikea sold a drilling guide to fit the knobs.

I had to go back to Ikea.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

I realised the screws for the knobs (LOLZ) were too long, and Mr P actually let me use some of the tools in the manly mcman shed of manliness that I have literally been in about twice.

IMG_2277.JPG

I butchered some cabinets to make things fit.

And, all of a sudden, the worktop was ready to be fitted.

Which basically meant realising NOT ONE SINGLE UNIT in the whole kitchen was perfectly straight, and we spent until 4am one morning straightening and tightening and realising just what difference a few millimetres can make.

IMG_2278.JPG

The next day, we had a worktop.

It was a magnificent day.

IMG_2282.JPG

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

I imagined the rest of the most beautiful tiles in the world, and set about making the wall of my dreams a reality that very evening.

Except the most beautiful tiles in the world were also little bastards, their curved edges making it really extremely difficult to space properly.

I realised the gaps weren’t right, and took them off the wall, individually washing the grout off each one and ripping my hands to shreds in the process.

IMG_2291.JPG

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

The next morning I was up with the larks, ready to get those beautiful, bastarding tiles on.

But they kept slipping.

The pre-mixed tile adhesive I’d gone for was too runny.

It had no grip.

I had to take the tiles off the wall, and wash all that grout off again.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

The next day I discovered that the wood I was using as a marker wasn’t screwed in properly, and started to slip.

I had to take the tiles off the wall, and wash all that grout off again.

At this point my hands were so painful I couldn’t bend my fingers.

I cried, secretly, scared to admit to Mr P that I had made a huge mistake choosing the most beautiful tiles in the world, and started to google to find out if I could find replacements in B&Q that had straight edges, that would be easy for an amateur to fit.

As a result of my searching, I found a forum of tilers online and I explained all.

Together they concluded that it was a quite difficult job for an amateur.

I cried some more.

One of them offered to come over and fix them for me, before realising I was the wrong side of the Irish sea.

I cried some more.

So, the group of tilers online decided to help me through my misery.

This group of professionals coached me through making the most beautiful tiles in the world, well, beautiful.

And, eventually, the most beautiful tiles in the world were fitted.

I cried, this time with happiness, and put this picture on Instagram, realising there was no way to describe the depth of emotion I genuinely felt at that precise moment.

IMG_2299.JPG

The forum whooped and cheered and offered me an apprenticeship.

I declined.

That evening, I drank wine out of a tumbler in the bath and pretended it was all going to be OK.

We fitted a funky corner unit.

IMG_2310.JPG

We reviled in the fact that, aside from a gas connection and a few filler pieces, we had an actual kitchen.

IMG_20160312_134311 (1).jpg

The gasman came to do the gas connection (we aren’t insane) and when I overheard him talk to his colleague about how we had done all of this ourselves and how good Mr P’s plumbing was and how beautiful the tiles were and how we had done it all ourselves and how ‘cracker’ it was, I waved them off and started to cry once again.

Happy, joyous proud tears that it was worth it.

All of the work, the sleepless nights, the bending of pipes,the ikea visits, the grab adhesive, the fact my hands were so mangled I could barely bend my fingers, the hauling of cills, the levelling of floors, the filling of skips, the spirit levels, the expanding foam, the blood, the sweat, the tears, was worth it.

That it has produced an end result that is ‘cracker’.

Sarah_kitchen_pr_011.jpg

And, as we have put the finishing pieces into place, I keep thinking back to that moment.

Somebody who sees umpteen kitchen installations every day calling it ‘cracker’.

That Mr P and I have created a space that is ‘cracker’.

That we CAN build walls.

That we CAN lay pipes.

That we CAN fit windows.

That we CAN plan how many units we need, and what goes where.

That we CAN fit manifolds.

That we CAN build kitchen units.

That we CAN tile.

Sarah_kitchen_pr_010.jpg

What it the Little Pink Kitchen?

It was, and is, and shall forever be, the room that Team P built.