My Happy Place


I always smile when I see those quizzes about where and when you were happiest.

I’m a big believer that happiness isn’t a destination – it’s not a place you go, or something that arrives in a rush as soon as you’ve got the right car, or the big house, or the perfect man.

Happiness for me is moments. It’s rounding a particular corner on the school run every morning and appreciating the way the sun lands on the green fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s sinking into your seat in the cinema, totally absorbed in an imaginary story of someone else’s creation. It’s feeling someone’s warm feet against mine in bed at night.

Obviously, though, I’m not so spiritual that I don’t get a happy buzz every morning when I walk into my shiny new kitchen. So when Jen asked me to describe my happy place, I thought I’d share it with you.

I’ve written before about the DIY disaster that was my kitchen for many years after we bought this house. I wanted to fix it up as soon as we moved in but there were so many things that felt more important – the roof, the loft conversion, a new boiler, the damp proofing, new drains… you’ve got to love period houses.

This was our kitchen before. It felt dark, the floor was ridiculously uneven, the worktop was falling to bits, and the cupboards were badly fitted, with wonky doors and a weird design that made the room feel small – not to mention the fact I couldn’t reach the top shelf of half the cupboards.

On top of that, a leak in the pipes behind the plaster was causing damp behind the sink and worktop across one side of the kitchen, causing the worktops to swell and warp.


This Spring, though, we finally had the money set aside for a new kitchen. Hurrah!

We found the most amazing kitchen fitter who took my £10k budget and worked wonders with it. We chose gloss white units and bright white tiles to maximise the light, with solid oak worktops and window sills to add warmth. In some ways, it’s quite a thrifty makeover – we’ve re-used some elements of the old kitchen, and using independent local tradesmen and suppliers (all sourced via the quite brilliant kept costs reasonable – overall, we came in around £1,500 under budget.

kitchen before

Once we got started, things moved fast – the kitchen fitter took two days to strip out the old kitchen and lay a new floor, then two days to fit the new kitchen. They spent one more day fitting appliances and then popped back over the weekend to do some little bits of snagging. After that came the tiler (we chose some brilliant bevelled subway tiles from Topps Tiles that came in at under £250 for the lot), the flooring, and the decorator, who repainted all the walls, ceiling and woodwork.

A few more finishing touches and voila, a completed kitchen! I think it achieves what I wanted it to – making the room feel lighter and bigger, without looking too clinical.

kitchen 1

The “New Day” wall decal (below) is from a US company called Movie Cutouts – kindly shipped to us by some American friends. The ceiling lights were a bit of a bargain – after scoping out some almost identical vintage lighting on Etsy, I just happened to spot these tucked away in B&Q at under £60 each. The hanging rails are from Ikea, and the oak shelf above the sink was made to measure by a local joiner.

kitchen 2

We kept our existing stove, extractor fan and fridge/freezer which helped keep costs down – so I didn’t feel bad for splashing out on a fancy tap that converts from a single jet to a shower spray, and entertains me endlessly. The wooden worktop savers/chopping boards (below) were a brilliant £7 each from Ikea, and the step-stool is another Ikea find – it’s perfect for helping Flea reach the coffee maker in the mornings (What? I’m building her independence. That’s GOOD parenting).

kitchen 1

In the utility area, we tidied up with an oak counter and matching window sills, along with an oak shelf, again made by the joiner. We had space for a spare freezer back here, which is brilliant as being a two person household, we often have a lot of leftovers to freeze!

I love the light in this part of the kitchen, from the two windows and the glazed ceiling. Note the split in the downstairs w/c door – it’s from when I accidentally locked it, and had to break down the door with a sledgehammer. Oops.

kitchen 5


So there you have it. My happy place. I love sitting on the counter in a morning, chatting to Flea, and enjoying a coffee before we head off to school.

What’s your happy place?

This is a meme so I’m tagging Laura, Merry, Sarah, Jacinta and Katie.



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 22nd May 2014 / 8:30 am

    What a transformation. It’s always depressing looking at interiors magazines with their unlimited budgets when the really smart thing to create something beautiful at an affordable price.
    Victoria Wildman recently posted..Saturday PlotlinesMy Profile

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:30 pm

      Thanks Victoria – I agree, I would always rather save a little by reusing things and then spending the money where it makes a difference – like the solid oak counters, which were expensive but I think make the kitchen 🙂

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:30 pm

      Thanks Abby – I am also a big fan of a squishy sofa 🙂

  2. 22nd May 2014 / 10:32 am

    It’s beautiful. I love it. I have recently moved, and whilst my kitchen is very pretty I have the same problem as I’m short and can’t reach half the cupboards, perhaps one day I’ll be able to do my perfect kitchen too!
    My happy place is the beach, I love sitting on the sand, bodyboarding in the sea and (if the kids are busy) curling into a sun lounger with a good book.
    Purplemum recently posted..Why I’m giving up reading parenting adviceMy Profile

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:31 pm

      Thanks – I’m so short that when I had those silly corner cabinets there was no way I could reach – at least now I have a fighting chance of reaching all the shelves (even if it’s not all the way to the back)

  3. ghostwritermummy
    22nd May 2014 / 11:26 am

    Wow! What an awesome re-vamp! Love it!

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:31 pm

      Thanks! I’m a little bit in love with it myself…

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:32 pm

      Thanks Anya, I’m really pleased too – hopefully in a month or two the garden will be a happy place – the builders arrive in two weeks to start work on it!

  4. 22nd May 2014 / 12:40 pm

    Looks amazing. Really bright and love the work surfaces.

    The kitchen is the one place I’d like to rip out at ours. The OH chose it when the house was built, he spent a fair amount but it’s not well built, not well planned out (not helped by having no workspace because we have an Aga and cooker, plus 2 window aspects and an open plan area to the dining room. Mind you, the whole of the house needs decorating/completing after me having been there 12 years and him not having done anything other than the living room before that.
    Emma T recently posted..Enjoying the evening sun on the farmMy Profile

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:32 pm

      It’s amazing the difference it’s made to the light – it’s the thing I most wanted to achieve, so as you can imagine I’m pleased. I lived with a wonky kitchen for a long, long time so you have my sympathy!

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:33 pm

      Absoutely – it’s a journey not a destination, as some old hippy probably said at some point.

    • Sally
      22nd May 2014 / 11:33 pm

      Thanks Katie, I think if your kitchen works – which mine did – then it does end up way down the list, doesn’t it?

  5. 23rd May 2014 / 8:13 am

    Looks fabulous. Hope all the mugs are well organised inside those cupboards …
    Rosie Scribble recently posted..Waiting …My Profile

    • Sally
      25th May 2014 / 11:36 am

      Naturally, but I’m saving that for another blog post.

  6. 23rd May 2014 / 12:38 pm

    I love your new kitchen. Of course, like in my own kitchen, the whole thing only works because of the little steppy thing that allows you to reach the top shelves. Wishing you years of joy in your happy kitchen. xxx
    Midlife Singlemum recently posted..Tidbits 19My Profile

  7. 24th May 2014 / 10:34 am

    GORGEOUS remodel! And I’m with Jean. I’m not jealous at all.

    My happy place is definitely not the horrifically ugly kitchen in my current house (a rental). And I agree with you that happy places are those little moments throughout life that catch you off guard or that sometimes you have to be disciplined to notice. BUT I think I can safely say that my next happy place is going to be far, far away from my kitchen, on a beach!! {See you there! ;)} XO
    Alison Chino recently posted..In The PipelineMy Profile

    • Sally
      25th May 2014 / 11:38 am


  8. Samantha
    28th May 2014 / 8:57 am

    I completely feel your pain, we moved into our ‘dream’ house in November, but our kitchen is still with 1950’s princess unit….we are so retro…and a hard cold floor. Had the building work planned to start yesterday, but due to unforseen circumstances it has been postponed! Argh, how will I cope now not knowing when it will all change?! Your post has given me some hope though, so thank you very much! I will have to post some photo’s on my blog later and hopefully somebody will get the violins out, because I am certainly feeling sorry for myself!! Love your blog and great job of the works done!