We absolutely love being tagged in a Blake & Bull community picture, and when Helen tagged us in a photo of her stunning kitchen, we jumped at the opportunity to ask her to be featured in one of our blogs. We wanted to know all about her experience owning an Aga Range Cooker, any top tips or tricks she would be happy to share and the process of re-enamelling with Blake & Bull.
We first saw Helen and her beautiful barn conversion in 2018, when we re-enamelled her 4 oven post 1974 royal blue Aga Range Cooker to the pristine white Aga Range Cooker she has in her incredible kitchen today.
Helen is a talented interior designer (Helen Harry Interiors) with a keen eye for detail and a passion for all things design. She may be the queen of before and after transformations, shown with the incredible home improvements she has made in the barn conversion based in South Wales.
We asked Helen some questions about her approach to owning a range cooker, what her top tips are, and of course, how she keeps her immaculate white cooker so clean!
Q:Did you own an Aga Range Cooker before you moved into your house?
‘No - I’d never had experience of an Aga but I found the transition pretty straightforward to be honest and now I’d hate to be without one!’
Q: What was the main reason for re-enamelling your Aga Range Cooker?
‘I just wasn’t a fan of the original royal blue colour and felt designing a kitchen around that was a waste of money as I knew I’d never be happy with it! I wanted to put my stamp on the kitchen and I definitely think I’ve done that. I literally love this space now. It feels bright and really welcoming.’
Q: How did you come to the decision about the colour?
‘I wanted to pick something timeless as I knew I wouldn’t change this one’s colour again so it was either white or black. I went for white to ensure it went with every kitchen cupboard colour imaginable as I am more likely to switch that up every few years as my tastes change!’
Neil Mansfield Photography
Q: How was the re-enamelling process?
‘Quick easy and very efficient. We were having loads of work done at the Barn at the time and it was a very stressful time- however, the service from Blake & Bull was very refreshing!! The fact the old parts were recycled also helped me feel that despite my insistence on changing colour for aesthetic reasons the process wasn’t going to be wasteful. I haven’t regretted it for one second.’
Q: What's your favourite thing to cook or bake on your Aga Range Cooker? Can you offer a sneak peek of one of your favourite recipes?
‘I tend to cook more savoury than sweet things. I’m not much of a baker! Roasts are always a big hit in the Aga and Christmas dinner is a doddle - Anything that needs to be slow cooked tends to turn out really well too. We don’t have one favourite recipe but we do love a roast chicken, slow roasted lamb shanks, a rare fillet of beef or a honey roast ham - they all turn out amazingly every time. As you can tell we aren’t vegetarians in this house!
Traybakes, where every ingredient gets put into one roasting tray, are also super easy, quick and always popular here!!! One I do quite often includes skinless chicken thighs, potatoes, chorizo, tomatoes, onions and loads of fresh basil and a bit of feta chucked on top at the end… easy and delicious.
It also turns out amazing roasties, cauliflower cheese and a mean garlic bread!’
Q:What are your best hints and tips for getting the most out of your Aga Range Cooker?
‘As it’s on constantly here I try to cook the meals for that day as well as using the energy to prep ahead making soups and one-pot meals like a chilli or a spag bol that I can use later in the week. I also dry the majority of our washing on it which is amazing.’
Q: What do you love about your Aga Range Cooker?
‘Everything - the fact it heats the room, dries the clothes and cooks our food beautifully is amazing I love the way it looks in its setting and it feels like company in a strange way… I’ve named her Agatha as she really is part of the family. Nuts I know!’
Q: How often do you clean your ovens?
‘Not often enough probably but I am assured by my Aga engineer he has seen much much worse than mine so that’ll do me!’
Q: Do you have any cleaning tips for a white Aga Range Cooker? What do you use to clean your Aga Range Cooker?
‘I have it professionally cleaned once a year when it’s turned off and serviced. As the top is black and does show dust and any grease my best friend for that is actually just a soft sponge and washing up liquid!
I also use anti-bac products to wipe it down on a daily basis - usually done whilst the kettle boils away on it. I never want the freshly laundered clothes to become marked in any way as they dry.’
Q: Finally, what are your best interior design tips/accessories for your Aga Range Cooker?
‘I don’t really accessorise her too much although the mantle above gets dressed! I tend to have my chopping boards, condiments, and utensils close by as well as the all important oven mitts. Aga’s get very hot!’
As the images are owned by Neil Mansfield we have not removed the trademarked logo from the images.