Half Built House Eastbourne – Planning a large open plan kitchen / diner

Very retro!

So, two houses down, two to go and Team HBH travelled down to the south coast and the genteel resort of Eastbourne for our 3rd Half Built House. The boys didn’t have that far to go, just down the road from Crawley but Mr M and I couldn’t exactly pop back to Manchester to feed the cat, it was going to be a two week hard slog away from home.


Ben and Stacey’s home was in a bit of a state, with only one bedroom finished and Jacob’s nursery half done. “Like a bull in a china shop” was how Ben’s brave attempt to renovate such a large house had been described with the main DIY mistakes here being:

  1. Working full time and doing up a whole house
  2. Having a young family and taking on such a big project
  3. Underestimating the cost of work & length of time to do each job

The boys massively panicked when they saw the size of the kitchen / dining space at the rear of the house and refused point blank to more than that room. They knew by now the sort of standard I expected and also knew what overall budget we were left with after the first two houses. I would have to really work on them to get the front room and hall done too….

The existing kitchen was a mish-mash of 1950’s style half broken cabinets serving as work surface and individual appliances. Ben had bricked up windows and doors to create the basic shape of the room, as well as taking down the dividing wall and installing a UB to take the load from upstairs. There were holes in the floor which Jacob regularly fell down and I got the distinct impression that life was much tougher on Stacey than Ben. When he went out to work all day, she was faced with life on a building site looking after a young child and even worse (though it should be better!) she was three months pregnant. A true DIY Disaster.

So, where do you start with such a massive and actually quite boring room? It was just a box with double doors to a garden, waiting to have some personality stamped on it.

Lovers of minimalist design would probably have kept the room as simple as possible with clean lines, the same floor throughout and white, white, white, but this isn’t the stuff our couple’s dreams were made of. Their brief was fairly fixed – country cream, classic and elegant:

But you know me, I fancied mixing it up a little….  zoning the areas a little, creating some interest, adding a splash of colour. There wasn’t an awful lots of mucky stuff to be done in Eastbourne, mainly plastering, so after I’d done the kitchen, electrical and plumbing layouts, I figured I’d have time to have a play with some upcycling and have some fun. Little did I know the traumas which lay ahead!!

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