Kitchen Dining Room Before and After

Before and After

Phew, it’s done. The very long, very hard slog of restoring our Victorian Kitchen Dining room is over.

At our last house, when we put in a new kitchen, it took two weeks to rip out the old and put in the new. It was annoying having no sink or cooker for a few days, and storing all the kitchen in another room but was quickly forgotten. This project was different. Restoring this Victorian Kitchen Dining Room was the equivalent of reconstructive surgery.

The gas meter needed to be moved, the water meter needed to be moved, the boiler needed to be moved, the electrics needed to be moved (but you read all about that before in Kitchen Destruction Part 2 and knocking through the wall) . We created/uncovered a whole new room (the housemaids pantry). It would probably be quicker to say what didn’t need moving. It took five months of hard work and only in the last 10 days could you see things getting any better. We had to keep stripping away ugly old layer after layer until we got back to the bare bones of the space.

The good news is that:

  • We love it
  • If we ever don’t love it, the changes will only have to be cosmetic as all the hard work of moving services has been done.

I have said before we nearly didn’t buy the house because of the kitchen, it wasn’t that it was ugly (which it was) and falling apart (which it also was) but because it was not in proportion to the rest of the house. It was an apology of a kitchen, an after thought.

Kitchen before

The Design Process – how to make Victorian Kitchen Dining Scullery work now

Our Kitchen Dining Room is what would have been the original, very typical Victorian kitchen, pantry, scullery layout. The house had been an office for the past 50 years so the kitchen had been squeezed into the small back room and only been used as a staff room, somewhere to make a cup of tea. The other rooms were used as meeting rooms and storage.

We came up with a “broken plan” design for the spaces . A “broken plan” is a new take on “open plan” where the light is able to flood through, but the spaces retain their individuality and clearly show their original Victorian footprint.  The boundaries between the original rooms also help to define the space by making clear delineations in function and guide choices on wall texture (brick vs plaster) and floor finish (tiles vs floorboards). To help us visualise this, and to reassure us we knew what we were doing, we created our own 3d designs .

Here are some of the 3d drawings – showing great optimism that we would finish cleaning all the quarry tiles.

kitchen 3d

kitchen 3 3d


We use Pinterest to collate our ideas.
Looking back you can see on our Pinterest board what we focused on at each stage (it starts quite general and then gets into more detail – looking for stools was quite late in the decision making). We wanted the kitchen to feel like  a classic English Kitchen, the kitchen at the Worsley’s Home in the Harry Potter film Chamber of Secrets, the epitome of eccentric English country kitchen. A kitchen to cook and live in.

The Worsley’s Kitchen in Harry Potter

The general idea was open shelves, restored tiled floor, teak, brass, copper ,handmade ceramics, natural materials, craft – all things made by human hand. Below is an excerpt from the board click on the link to see the whole thing. It is definitely not minimal and sleek. We bought a black stone sink for £30 and a loads of old lab tables. A freestanding kitchen with range cooker, tiled splashback, exposed services, wood worktops, and rstored quarry tiles. So that was the design decisions made.


Can’t help but show you a few horror shots. Now we have finished we have no idea how we kept the faith. Fortunately we are massive believers in the Zen approach to house renovation which does keep us sane.

If you want to know more about the process then look at Kitchen destruction, opening the fireplace, kitchen destruction part 2, housemaids pantry, new back door, restoring quarry tiles, knocking down the wall.


Carpet over original tiles, tiles over original tiles, fitted kitchen over original doors, boilers in our faces, no fireplace, bars at the window, boxed in pipes across walls, rusty wonky radiators, giant gas meter, ancient water meter, lead pipes, artex on the ceiling and woodchip everywhere.


So here it is…after peeling off the layers and layers of bodging, compromises and bygone interior fashions and quick fixes. The quarry tiles have been restored, the plumbing moved, rooms created, walls knocked through, surfaces scraped, filled & painted, furniture salvaged & created, lighting found & installed, ingredients at hand and artwork in a new home.

So….now a little break before our final big restoration task – the Bathrooms.

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatarsays: Ally

    Love it! Those tiles are fantastic and the whole thing just feels so spacious and welcoming. You’ve done a really great job keeping the faith during it all. It was worth it.

    Ally xx

  2. Avatarsays: Charlotte

    Hi. I’ve got red and black quarries under new ceramic tiles. I’ve found removed the tiles ok but the tile adhesive is an absolute pain in the proverbial. Any clues on how to remove this detestable stuff?
    Many thanks

    1. Happenuponsays: Happenupon

      Yes we had this problem,read the post on restoring quarry tiles, it shows it in all it’s gruesome detail.

      In essence this is what we did. Our tile adhesive (mixture of cement and grout) was in one room laid on old lino too (three different layers of floor) here we just used a breaker to break through. But in the downstairs loo it was just ceramic tiles laid directly onto tiles. Now this will sound brutal but the only way we found (tried all the toxic chemicals did nothing but made tidy up hell) was a hammer and chisel. The Quarry tiles are very strong and resistant. So angle the chisel and using a mallet just tap away. I liked to pretend I was Michelangelo revealing the Venus Di Milo underneath, anything that gets you through. Wear knee pads and goggles and you will soon get the big lumps off.
      second stage once you have got all the big lumps off then water is your friend. Give it all a good mop down then get a wallpaper stripper (steam things) and put this on the floor. The tile adhesive will in some places balloon up and you then scrape it off using a filling knife (this sort of thing Screwfix knife) or my trusted friend a wallpaper stripper 6 inch blade.
      Third stage once you can do no more and have removed the tile adhesive your tiles will have tile residue still on them – like blooms of salts left by the cement. Then use the chemicals – use a cement off product. You pour this on and watch it fizz, leave it for an hour then rinse off. No Pets small, humans allowed near when doing this it is horrible burning stuff. You then have to rinse it off with loads of water again and again. Also open the windows it is quite noxious.
      Finally you get to seal the tiles (not done this as we are still doing work on the rooms) and use a breathable sealant
      Good Luck

  3. Avatarsays: Charlotte

    Thanks Thea. There are so many products and methods on the market promising an easy solution but I suspected it would be elbow grease and persistence that was the answer.
    How old is your house?

  4. Avatarsays: Risha

    I admire the patience you must have had during the whole journey, however definitely worth it as the results are truly wonderful! You have excellent taste and I love that you have kept much of the original features. I am working my way through your site and wallowing in delight, knowing that my great uncle Arthur once lived there makes it even more lovely. Best wishes!

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