When we moved into our house, one of the first renovations we wanted to undertake was to do a kitchen diner knock through.
Why Knock Through Our Kitchen Diner?
By knocking through the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, we wanted to create a more open plan kitchen / dining and family space. I have always longed for a kitchen diner which was the hub of our home, where we could cook and eat and socialise all together.
Specifically, we wanted to create a more social space for cooking in. In the original kitchen, there was nowhere to perch and chat while someone was cooking. I would usually end up having drag one of the dining room chairs in and sitting next to the bin! So a breakfast bar / seating area was a must.
Second and thirdly, we wanted to have a relaxed, but well defined dining area and a comfortable seating area, so that the whole family could be in the kitchen, whatever is happening.
Finally, we wanted to connect the kitchen directly to the garden.
Our Starting Point: Our Rooms Before the Kitchen Diner Knock Through
The kitchen was a good size (about 16ft by 8ft), but had just one small window at the skinny end of the room. This meant that it was always pretty dark in there, and not somewhere we particularly wanted to hang out. We like to barbecue, but to get outside you had to walk past the kitchen through the utility room and right along the back of the house to the patio area.
The dining room by contrast, was a lovely light bright room. It had a big bay window, so gets light through most of the day. If we put patio doors into the middle of the bay, that would give us the perfect exit out directly on to the patio. Joining the kitchen door and dining room door is a dingy bit of hallway. So by knocking through the walls between the dining room, kitchen and hallway, we would have a lovely bright open (and pretty large) space.
How Much Does a Kitchen Diner Knock Through Cost?
Lets get straight to the nitty gritty stuff. When you see all those fabulous kitchen diner transformations on Instagram, nobody ever talks about the cost of it. If you are like me though and literally have never done anything like this before, getting an idea of the cost of the building work for your new kitchen diner knock through is kind of important. I didn’t want to get all excited about choosing a swish new kitchen, only to discover I couldn’t afford it if the building work cost much more than we thought!
To start with, as we roughly knew what we wanted, I rang up a couple of builders and asked them to come and have a look. Several builders duly turned up, only for them all to ask ‘do you have a kitchen plan for the knocked through space?’ and ‘have you had some structural calculations done?’ because the wall between the kitchen and dining room is apparently structural. I realise now, that without these things, I was probably asking the builders to stick a finger in the air and guess a price. However I did say to them I just wanted ball park figures at this stage.
From the 4 builders I rang up, 3 actually turned up and I got one (guess)timate back. I realised we needed to get some plans.
The New Kitchen-Diner Layout Plans
It was clear we needed a basic plan and we could always change it and re-work the details later. So off we went to the local Wren Kitchens showroom. They sent out somebody to measure up and then we went in for our appointment. They had a huge amount of choice in the showroom, and also a Virtual Reality room where you could see your kitchen ‘made real’. This was great and really helpful for helping us to decide what we wanted. What wasn’t so great though was they wouldn’t give you the kitchen plan unless you paid a deposit up front. Whilst the price wasn’t outrageous, we just didn’t want to commit to anything at this stage.
Fortunately for us, my father-in-law has an account at Howden’s, the trade only kitchen supplier. They also offer a kitchen design service, and happily supply the plans up front. So that part was nailed.
Planning Permission and Building Regulations
Although I was quickly able to establish that we didn’t need Planning Permission as we weren’t extending the space, we suspected that the wall we wanted to remove was structural. We therefore needed to get a Structural Engineer to come and take a look. Before visiting, the Structural Engineer asked us to make a couple of holes in the ceiling, so that he could see the joists. We duly did this, but then when he arrived he said we needed to make some more. So we now had several large holes in our dining room, kitchen and hallway ceilings. No going back from here!
It turns out that for us, knocking through the kitchen diner wall was probably more complicated than we hoped it would be. Unfortunately the wall doesn’t run across between the 2 rooms in a completely straight line. Instead the supporting wall has a ‘dog leg’ in it. This makes putting in a supporting beam a bit more challenging. However, we now had comprehensive plans for this from the Structural Engineer.
Finding a Builder
Next task, was to find a builder. As only 1 of the builders had previously come back to me, I was a bit reluctant to go back to them. I didn’t think I should be having to chase them just for an estimate!
Having scoured personal recommendations, Checkatrade and various other review websites, I approached a few builders. Again, from the 3 builders approached, I had 1 estimate. Is it always this hard?! It seemed that our kitchen diner knock through fell into an awkward category. The ‘one man band’ type of builder didn’t want to touch it because of the additional structural complexity of the wall knock through, but the job was a bit small for bigger building companies. The 1 estimate that we did receive was eye-wateringly, toe-curlingly expensive…I could have cried…I did cry. We just couldn’t justify the cost.
Lateral Thinking And A Change of Direction
After several months of frustration and inaction, we were on the verge of just getting the holes in the ceiling plastered up and forgetting all about knocking through the blasted kitchen diner! But then I had a bit of a brainwave, which enabled us to move forwards again.
When the structural engineer drew up the original plans for the steel beam, he mentioned that the wall at the back of the kitchen, between the kitchen and study, was a stud wall, i.e. not structural. This got me thinking…We could do a kitchen diner knock through in a different way! If we knocked the wall down into the study, we could create a room that had light coming in from the front and back of the house. In addition, there is a room adjacent to the kitchen and the study that is pretty small and narrow, and not really much good for anything. If we could knock the whole lot through though, it would be a huge, light filled space. In addition, there was scope, in the ‘nothingy’ room, to put in a bifold door that would open into the side-garden of the house. So the floorplan for that section of the house would go from looking like this:
Not only would this allow us to create the light and airy kitchen diner family room we were longing for, but if we put in the bi-fold doors it would allow direct access to a neglected area of the garden and give it a new use. The best part was, we would be saving ourselves about £20k in the process as none of the work (except the bifold door) required a builder or Building Regulations. It’s safe to say I was excited!
Kitchen Diner Knock Through: Demolition Phase
After a bit of discussion and thought, Mr G started to come round to my way of thinking. So we called the Structural Engineer again and got him to come and take another look and confirm that the walls were indeed stud and easily removable. Once it was all signed off, we ordered a skip and the kitchen diner knock though was a go!
We took the walls down ourselves one Sunday afternoon. Lots of people might be a bit scared to do this, but Mr G is no stranger to knocking walls down; his dad loves a bit of extreme DIY so he has been doing this kind of thing his whole life!
Our New Kitchen Diner Knock Through Space
Once the demolition finished, (it is difficult to get it all in one picture), the space looked like this:
So the next phase, was putting it all back together again. The pillar in the room was staying as it is structural, so the first thing we did was pull our dining table in to check it fits. Thankfully it fits really well! So now it was on to sorting out the electrics and plastering, and getting quotes for the bifold door. We also needed to plan our kitchen diner lighting and the layout for our new kitchen area.
Our New Kitchen Diner Design Plans
I’ve never had a new kitchen before in all the houses we’ve lived in. We have always had to make do and mend with what was already there. So I have re-painted, replaced, re-tiled etc., but I have never just completely ripped a kitchen out and started again. The choices are endless! We wanted to make it feel modern, but we don’t plan to replace this kitchen anytime soon, so we didn’t want to choose anything that will go out of fashion quickly either! Once we’d picked the kitchen, we needed to think about splashbacks, worktops, flooring, taps, – the list goes on and on!
Kitchen Area Layout Plans
In terms of practicality for cooking, the old kitchen actually worked fairly well. Lots of people talk about the traditional kitchen ‘work triangle’ , but I’m never too sure what the significance of this is really. As long as you can reach the cooker, sink and fridge without having to walk too far in either direction or around obstacles, I think you can make any layout work really.
You can never have too much worktop space in a kitchen in my view. This is particularly the case around the hob / cooker top area. Having lived in a couple of houses where this wasn’t the case, it was a definite must. We therefore decided to swap the double oven to the other side of the kitchen, so that there was a clear run of worktops either side of the hob. This also opened up a sight line right across the kitchen to the new seating area. The extra space that we now had in the kitchen diner meant that we were able to fit a breakfast bar by bringing the run of worktop space out into the room a little further to form a peninsular, giving us the social cooking space we were after. It also helps to subtly separate the cooking area from the rest of the kitchen diner.
As were were losing a bit of cupboard space by removing the back wall of the kitchen to knock-through, we tried to make sure that we made maximum use of the remaining cupboard space in the kitchen. We chose deep pan draws and a cutlery draw beneath the hob to enable easy access to pans and cooking equipment:
We also chose to have slightly larger wall cupboards than were there previously either side of the hob, so that we could easily store our crockery and also cooking herbs / spices etc. in grabbing distance. We have installed a pullout larder cupboard on the opposite wall immediately behind the hob, so that you can pivot round on the spot and pull this out to get food out.
As we now have a corner cupboard at the end of the kitchen to accommodate the seating peninsular, we chose to have some pull out units to help maximise the usefulness of these cupboards (excuse the scruffy contents!):
Design Considerations For The Kitchen Diner
When we first started to think about changing the kitchen, we were going to go for a cashmere gloss kitchen with a kitchen island and white sparkly worktops. I felt the existing kitchen was really dark, so I wanted to make the new space as light and bright as possible! This new space though feels a bit more edgy. It has light coming in from 3 sides, so I thought we could afford to go for something a bit darker in the kitchen area.
Having looked at several options, we decided to go with Howdens for our kitchen units. Mr G’s dad used to fit kitchens and bathrooms for a living and always highly recommends them. Howdens have a kitchen design service, and we were helped by Sean, who was very patient with us and our evolving plans!
Initially, we were thinking of going for the Howden’s ‘Camberwell Slate Grey Super-matt’ doors. But having seen them in the showroom, we decided that actually we loved the darker ‘graphite’ door. I love the look of shaker doors and see so many beautiful kitchens with these doors, but I know that we are just generally quite messy people and these doors tend to catch all the dirt. A smooth fronted door that can be simply wiped down is a much more practical option for us. I also like the super-sleek finish the handless door gives.
We went with white sparkly quartz worktops – to stop it being too dark. Also, quartz is extremely hard wearing – again, we are a clumsy, messy lot, so we probably need this! We also went for a white granite sink, for much the same reasons.
We are so delighted with how it has come together, see here for a look at our finished kitchen diner!