The kitchen has always been the heart of Jameswood. Long before we had a roof on the house, or windows in - our outdoor kitchen had become the hub of activity here on site. Feasts were prepared for and by guests from all over the world, under a leaky tin roof, atop our two-burner camping stove. Our fridge became a white board, with messages from friends, and lists we would slowly cross off as, bit by bit, we turned our derelict house into a home.
Around the old beat-up table we rescued from a Guy Fawkes bonfire pile, we shared food, drinks and memories - I soon realised that we had already created a home here in Dunoon - though that didn’t take away any determination to build a much more comfortable and conventional one, metres away from the tiny touring caravan and scaffolding kitchen we had already built for ourselves.
When I imagined finally moving into Jameswood, I have always imagined sharing this home with our friends and family - making meals together, sharing them round a big table, after a day of exploring the beautiful hills in our Scottish seaside town.
This kitchen build would be one of the most special moments in building our home - an exciting moment not unlike finishing our roof, or getting our first (& last) window in!
To limit costs, and come up with a bespoke, high-quality kitchen for ourselves, we decided to take advantage of Cal’s skills as a carpenter. We chose to make a plywood kitchen, which would be robust enough to last a long time, while still being cost effective. Luckily, we had found a supply of plywood offcuts on eBay, which we could use to make our kitchen carcasses - and we bought beautiful Birch plywood for the external faces and doors of our kitchen.
We were lucky enough to have been offered to reclaim a good quality kitchen that was being taken out of a home, and would otherwise have ended up in the tip. We were able to salvage the Blum drawers, and reuse the appliances, which included an integrated fridge, dishwasher, as well as an oven and warming drawer! We then found a great gas hob, which had been heavily discounted for having a tiny dent in the metal.
Our kitchen was coming together quickly - after about two weeks, Cal had finished fitting his cabinets - and they were stunning! He had managed to match the grain through the doors, and I loved the unimposing soft warmth of the Birch.
Now, all that was left to do was get worktops!
We chose to work with Gemini Worktops for our kitchen. They have sponsored our worktops. It’s important to me that I remain transparent with our online community when working with brands, I do, however, only ever agree to a certain number of “deliverables” with any contract - be it a blog post, or Instagram posts. I never promise a brand to leave a specific review, and as such, you can go forward knowing the following review is my fully honest take on Gemini’s products and services.
The process started with a trip to Gemini’s website to choose some free samples from their beautiful collection of Gemini Quartz colour options. A few days later, our samples had arrived. I loved the large format, which gave you a good idea of what the pattern of the Quartz would look like. The back includes a sticker with a photo of the full format slab, for a better sense of what it might look like in your kitchen. It didn’t, however, make our choice easy, because all three samples we had ordered were stunning.
We chose to take a look at the Calacatta Gold, Timberwolf and a Concrete effect Quartz, and managed to narrow our choice to the first two, but were having a very hard time deciding between them. You can order your three free samples by clicking this link.
Next, we decided to take a trip to Gemini’s showroom, for a design consultation, and to see the full-format Quartz in-person, in an attempt to pick between our remaining Quartz colour choices.
Cal and I hadn’t used professionals when designing and building our kitchen - instead, we had built the cabinets as we went, and as a result, we didn’t have any electronic sketch-ups of the kitchen. That wasn’t a problem at all. Before the consultation, we took some rough measurements of the kitchen, and brought some hand-drawn layouts, which was all that was needed for the design team to help us with our worktops.
While in the consultation, we thought we would just choose the thickness of the Quartz, decide on whether we wanted upstands and pick an edging profile - but it was so much more helpful than I ever could have imagined. We had a nook behind our stove, which had once been a fireplace, and now housed our extractor fan. What was supposed to be a lovely period detail had started to look like an awkward, extra deep hole that didn’t really make sense in the workspace. We sheepishly skirted around the issue - it was done now, we thought - and it just wasn’t turning out how we had imagined. But then our design consultant offered a brilliant idea for the space! They recommended a raised shelf, which would break up the space, and create easier access to items sat at the back of the nook. Clad in the same material as the rest of the countertop, it would tie the space in, and make it feel like a beautifully designed, purposefully built feature of the kitchen, while making it easy to clean, which was important near the stove-top. Now that it has all come together, this is the first feature people notice when they enter our kitchen - always exclaiming that they love the shelf behind the cooker. They also gave us the idea of cladding the shelves in our wall press in the same Quartz material - to both elevate the design of the kitchen, and tie the press into the space. We also love that this provides an easy-to-clean surface that we can tuck away appliances in, like our George Forman. When we saw the showroom, we absolutely loved the Axis 1810, Quartz cladded sink, and chose this in a two-basin design for our space. We think it gives the space a seamless, clean look - and the drainage groove are a beautiful feature to add function and complete this look. The designer knew how we could creatviely use the Quartz to really make our kitchen special. We came away from our design consult with a kitchen that looked professionally designed, with added beauty and function for the space.
You can book a free design consultation here - and if you don’t stay in the Yorkshire area, the whole consultation can be done over a virtual meeting, with the same excellent results.
At the showroom, we also had a chance to look at the full format Quartz slabs, to help us make our final colour choice. Though we loved the dramatic and warm veining of the Calacatta Gold , we decided to go with Timberwolf. The warm, earthy tones of the Quartz, and the soft pattern creates a relaxed finish in the space. This is something the space was craving, as the blended kitchen-living room, which is often filled with guests and dinner parties, can otherwise feel a bit chaotic! Now that we have it in the kitchen, I am so pleased with our choice. It suits our kitchen to a tee.
Soonafter our design consult, it was time for templating day! Before the Quartz is cut, Gemini sends a member of their team out to take all the measurements needed for a perfectly fit worktop. They use a machine that takes incredibly accurate measurements of your space, and sends the electronic measurements straight to Gemini - this eliminates human-error, and ensures the best possible fit for your space. The process is incredibly quick, only taking an hour or so from start to finish. Worktops are an investment for your home - a piece you would like to have for years to come - and once they are cut, it’s not easy to make a fix if they’ve been cut too small! It gave us such great peace of mind knowing that the kitchen had been professionally measured before any cuts were made to the lovely Quartz we would be incorporating in the space!
You can expect your Quartz to arrive about 2 weeks after templating. We went to Gemini’s factory to take a look at the process, and it was amazing! At the workshop, a huge arm sweeps over the factory floor and delivers quartz to the CNC machines, which precisely cuts your kitchen worktop design into the material. The worktops are checked over by stone masons, who then polish the edges and buff the worktop for a beautiful, professional finish.
On delivery day, a team of installers showed up at our house on-time, and fit our worktops professionally and quickly. I couldn’t believe how beautifully all the pieces fit in the space. The fitters had an eye for detail, even ensuring that the caulking was neatly finished. They gave the worktop a clean before leaving, and you wouldn’t have known they had been working in our space, if not for the gorgeous worktops they had left in our kitchen!
I have honestly been blown away by this whole process. Cal and I have built our whole house on our own, with no help from professionals, aside from an electrician who checked over our work, and a certified plumber, to connect our gas. We are not used to letting go of the reigns, and allowing someone else to come in, and finish a space for us - but we are so glad we did, in this instance! We could not have achieved the same level of finish, or thought of the gorgeous design details that elevated this space, and made our kitchen so special. Gemini put our minds at ease on every step of our journey, with their timely and clear communication and their friendly and professional service. We are so glad to have come across a family-owned business, who puts as much love and care into their worktops, as we have for our home.
Click here, to start your journey towards getting the kitchen of your dreams, with Gemini.