Self-build diary: kitchen designs

Written by Charlie and Helen – Plot 1 (Church Cottage) homeowners


I (Charlie) wouldn’t be surprised if we have spent at least 60 hours on the layout of our kitchen! Our wish list included a larder cupboard, a range cooker and an island, but when it came down to making it work with the workings of our cottage, this list had to be tweaked.

We knew we wanted a Shaker-style kitchen but balancing the right level of quality with the cost was key. We eventually chose Handmade Kitchens of Christchurch who ticked all our boxes. Our kitchen arrived unpainted, which gave us the opportunity to pick the exact colours we wanted to achieve a hand painted finish. We opted for a dark navy island and painted the rest of our kitchen in an off-white. I think these are probably the ‘go-to’ colours at the moment: not very original!

Larder tops have got to be the heroes of our set up! They give us the flexibility to store and hide away so many things including coffee machines etc. behind the doors which is amazing. We ran out of room for a full larder cupboard, so these tops were part of a compromise we made.

Our self-build journey has been an amazing experience and we were so lucky to have had the opportunity to do it. It was an extremely intense and tested us as a couple to the max. but we have come out the other side stronger, with an oak frame cottage we built ourselves!

Both couples opted for Shaker-style kitchens for their oak frame cottages: here is Charlie and Helen's

Written by Craig and LB – Plot 2 (Manuka Cottage) homeowners


One of the most exciting purchases of our build was our kitchen. From the outset, we were pretty set on the look and feel and knew we wanted a Shaker-style kitchen, as we had a timeless design in mind and liked how the Shaker style was both simple and elegant.

We were keen to shop locally and struck gold when we stumbled on Minerva Kitchens. This bespoke kitchen company is run by two young, entrepreneurial chaps (Matt and Josh) and we instantly hit it off. Their knowledge, passion and willingness was so refreshing, and we came away from every meeting even more excited! Matt was fantastic at getting us to think about how we wanted to use the space, where we should splash out on materials and where we could save. We wanted a kitchen that would complement and sit beautifully within our oak frame.

Our final design and product goes above and beyond what we could have come up with ourselves; the quality is amazing and it works exactly as we need it to! We also sourced our worktops and appliances: a favourite for us both is our American-style fridge freezer with an integrated wine fridge.

Our whole build process has been surreal! We regularly pinch ourselves at how much we achieved in such a short amount of time, while holding down full-time jobs! We still have lots on our to-do list in terms of dressing our cottage and landscaping the garden but we couldn’t be happier, and, I was finally allowed a dog (see the gallery images below!)


Are you looking for inspiration for a future project? Would like to reflect on the couples’ self-build experiences while discovering more about their oak frame country-style cottage designs? Please click here to view Charlie and Helen’s journey and here to read about Craig and LB’s!

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