Looking for some kitchen design inspiration for your home? Here’s how one family took a previously rented bachelor pad in East Sheen and transformed it into a stylish, designer award-winning home
When Robert and Eve Thornhill bought their new build property in East Sheen three years ago, they had to look past the dated interiors and inefficient, environmentally unfriendly technology. The property had previously been rented out for over a decade, and had not been well maintained. Despite its former design as a ‘bachelor pad’, the Thornhills, who have two young children, could see its potential.
‘The original house built in 2000 had a bit of a 90s feel to the interior with lots of high-gloss finishes, glass walls and a curved stainless steel staircase,’ says Robert. ‘The interior had not aged well and looked incredibly dated. We loved the property itself though, it is an amazing, modern space filled with light. We felt, given the lateral space and general layout, that with a few tweaks we could turn it into an incredible family home. The challenge was to find someone who could design and build quite a lot of disparate elements and fit them into the existing structure.’
Having had ‘less than perfect experiences with some builders in the past’ and having found co-ordinating different teams of specialist tradesmen tricky, Robert and Eve decided they wanted just one company to undertake as much of the project as possible.
Enter Holloways of Ludlow, bespoke kitchens and furniture specialists, which has a showroom close to Mortlake station. ‘One day I was walking past and decided to pop in and see if they might be interested in the project,’ says Robert. ‘In a piece of spectacular luck on my part, the person I marched up to in their office was Martin Smith, the soon to be award-winning designer! Within an hour he was at our house running his keen eye over the place. We knew right away that we wanted this guy to help us.’
Robin and Eve’s impressive kitchen that Smith designed, picked up the coveted ‘Ultimate Kitchen Design of Year’ accolade at the 2015 Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Awards. ‘We wanted a striking kitchen with adjoining bar that integrated seamlessly into our open-plan home, bespoke joinery and a new staircase on the ground floor,’ says Robert.
‘The kitchen design itself blurred the lines between furniture and kitchen design, and integrated seamlessly into the open-plan home,’ says Smith. ‘After taking references for orientation from existing structural pillars in the space, I designed an angled island and cabinetry to improve the flow and light circulation.’ Smith used LCDA Concrete for the large format tiles and worktops in both the kitchen and bar. ‘To create contrast, I designed matt oiled stave oak with exposed ply edges for the cabinetry, which was also mirrored on the near-by stairs,’ says the designer.
Work on the property began in June 2014 and was completed by December 2014. The Thornhills rented a house nearby during the renovations as the project involved work to most key areas and facilities of the house. ‘We’ve done the living in a dusty building site thing in the past, and if you can possibly avoid it I would recommend it!’ says Robert.
On the second floor, the team at Holloways of Ludlow designed a new corridor to include a new master bathroom, dressing room and children’s bedroom. They also advised Robert and Eve on ‘the more mundane areas of a build, such as the underfloor heating.’
‘It was so nice to be able to trust Martin’s eye for space and layout, as well has his technical knowledge and understanding of detail,’ says Robert. ‘How may people are there out there that can advise you on the possibility of using trench heaters to deal with a very specific heating problem and at the same time help you to pick out uber cool concrete lamp shades for your kitchen? Not many.’
It certainly is a stylish family home and Robert credits wife Eve and Smith for taking care of the contemporary interior décor. ‘Martin was very engaged in term of colours, finishes and so on, but Eve had the final word on everything. It was quite a collaborative process in the end.’
‘Robert and Eve already had some lovely furniture and art, says Smith. ‘So the remaining furnishing feature to add in was the lighting. Our Holloways of Ludlow shops are a fantastic resource for any designer. I just picked out some options that I would choose for my own home and Robert and Eve loved them also. In fact I have the Copper Evergreen Pendant over my own dining table at home!
The colourful art that adorns the walls of the East Sheen abode includes paintings from Canadian-born, Wales-based artist William Brown. ‘Eve and I saw a piece of his work hanging in a restaurant in Monmouthshire some years ago and were able to find the local gallery that dealt in his work,’ says Robert. ‘The room needs some big and colourful pieces of art, to take the edge off of the cooler more subtle tones of the concrete tiles and polished plaster wall.’
The Thornhills couldn’t be happier with the end result: ‘I look round the house literally every day and am blown away that I live there, says Robert. ‘We all adore the place. That includes the kids of course, one of whom currently spends quite a lot of the time hurtling round the ground floor in his roller skates! Holloways turned it into the house we felt it had the potential to be.
‘Everyone at Holloways was great, especially Vlad and Alex who were in charge of the build itself. Vlad took pride in making sure everything was done to a high standard. He’s also the only man I’ve seen pick up a tumble dryer and carry it single handed across a room! Respect.’