Our side return extension update (and kitchen chalkboard walls)

March 21, 2018

I can’t remember how much of this I’ve mentioned on here (vs over on Instagram Stories, where I’ve talked about it a lot, sorry) but last year we had our kitchen extended into the side return and now have a whole new set of kitchen chalkboard walls. It happened accidentally, almost…

Our side return kitchen extension - exposed beam and glass roof

…I saw a picture of a similar extension in a book and then found an exact copy of an extended version of our house on Pinterest, tentatively asked our builder what he thought and suddenly it was *booked in* and we were knee-deep in dust. Just like that. Kind of.

Magnetic chalkboard walls - side return extension in Victorian terrace in London

Side return kitchne extension - disco ball and chalkboard walls

(Actually, what appealed the most wasn’t the promise of loads of conversations with the builder during the day, but the thought it would only take five weeks. Five weeks, we thought! Easy; especially compared to our loft which took at least half a year).

That was in July, and we’re still not 100% there.

I will go into all of this when it’s properly finished, which should be soon! Fingers crossed.

But basically, the side return is the gap of space at the back of terrace houses, where the rear section of the house is usually about 3/4 as wide as the main house. Ours was only ever used to get to the garden, so the idea was to extend the kitchen so we could fit a table in there.

We ended up having two of the external walls demolished and needed a supporting beam added, which we left exposed. We were going to leave the surrounding walls white to match most of the downstairs, but in the end we decided to use magnetic chalkboard paint instead, to match the dark beam

Which has ended up being everyone’s favourite thing, so in advance of a finished kitchen I thought I’d talk about the kitchen chalkboard walls instead.

Magnetic chalkboard walls in kitchens, with exposed brick

We did discuss how much it would be used but it turns out the answer is *a lot* – for notes and messages and random drawings, and for a height chart.

Unlike with Eliza’s bedroom chalkboard wall, we used a different brand of paint (this one) which seems to work a lot better as most magnets actually stick.

Victorian side return terrace house - kitchen chalkboard walls and height chart

Chalkboard walls in kitchens - side return extension

I think painting things with chalkboard paint is probably so five years ago in interior trends, but if you like something, go for it. You’re the one living with it. And it turns out it is a lot of fun, for everyone in the family.

More posts…what Kirstie and Phil don’t tell you about building work and our portable Lego table


  • Sarah Rooftops

    March 22, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Yeah… but kids don’t remember trends from five years ago, do they? It’s a TOTALLY new and fresh idea.

    Do you find the floor ends up covered in chalk dust? This is the main thing which puts me off. (I have no fear of being behind the times – I still arrange the kids’ books in rainbow colours all twenty million times a day that I have to put them back on the shelves)

    1. gillian

      April 1, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      THIS IS VERY TRUE! We also have the rainbow shelves (I’ll always love them!). And yes re: the dust but the skirting catches lots of it so it’s not terrible, and it goes on the kitchen floor so gets swept away often* (* more regularly than the others floors *side eye*) xx

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