At her seaside wreck, Sam Taylor counts the cost of installing a kitchen
Monday, 30 November -0001

‘There is a cold tap, and an ancient 1940s electric oven with a missing burner…’

At her seaside wreck, Sam Taylor counts the cost of installing a kitchen

According to all the experts, and many armchair observers, the biggest selling point of a house is the kitchen. ‘It’s the heart of the home,’ they all claim. But there are some who buck the trend.

My friend Robin has never had a kitchen. In his small flat in London he has a room where the kitchen should be, but he hasn’t got a cooker or a fridge or a cupboard where he is hiding his cooking skills.

He rarely stays home for supper and if he does, he drinks a half bottle of red with a wedge of cheese for what he calls ‘ballast’. Most of the men I know envy him. My husband Mark is one of them.

When we first looked around our new holiday home, Mark didn’t start planning how to fill in the space where the range would go, he just didn’t notice it was missing. In fact, he still doesn’t really seem to have grasped that there is no kitchen. A drain on financesA drain on finances

There is a cold tap, and an ancient 1940s electric oven with a missing burner, which signals an attempt at early civilisation, but nothing that functions. Nothing to boil an egg on.

For him, it’s the building’s only saving grace. As far as he’s concerned, having spent all of our savings, the least I can do is let him get out of the washing up.

Sadly, like most husbands, he won’t get what he wants. Besides, how does he know what he wants?

He’s never been to John Lewis’s fitted kitchen department. He’s never stroked the smooth edges of the slate worktops and marvelled at the ingenuity of the ‘integrated’ appliances. My friend Alastair Hendy, owner and renovator of two old properties in Hastings, has never been there either. At Hendy’s Home Store, the word ‘fitted’ is banned. A customer asking for anything that might even hint at the term is photographed and pinned to the Not Wanted board.

An early attempt at civilisationAn early attempt at civilisation

However, the builders, Nick and Terry, are complete fitted-kitchen devotees. Nick once drove to Scotland to buy a discontinued door handle to complete his own state-of-the-art installation. But as he explained to me this morning, he won’t be doing that for me. Well, not before he has orchestrated the digging of a 10ft deep trench through the house to the sewage pipe at the bottom of the road.

Yes, it appears that I am the woman who wants to install a kitchen in a place where there is no proper drainage. The expense is so crippling that I have decided not to tell Mark.

After all, it’s only a massive hole in the basement. I suspect he won’t even notice.

Next week: More kitchen sink drama...

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