From cramped and dark to bright and airy, how one East Sheen family’s problematic kitchen was transformed into the heart of the home through a bespoke new design.

Words: Vicky Smith

When Jo Abare and family moved into their new semi-detached Edwardian home in East Sheen, the kitchen presented an immediate problem — it was far too dark and far too small. It ended up being such an issue that she questioned whether they’d done the right thing moving into the property at all. Enter Andrew Hall from Woodstock Furniture, who worked with Jo to create a space much more suited to the household’s needs. Here, she tells us more:

The Resident: The family wanted a timeless design for their own homeThe family wanted a timeless design for their own home

What was the kitchen like before?
Very old-fashioned and tired — I would say at least 20 years old — and there wasn’t nearly enough storage space. The room was very dark so we always had to have the light on even in the day. After a few weeks of being in the house, we were actually concerned that we may have made a mistake moving into such a dark property. We are not fans of really bright lights but we don’t like living in the dark either. The shape of the room also presented a problem — it was long and narrow so didn’t work at all well. The configuration and layout did not make it an easy space to cook or hang out in, especially as there was not enough room for a proper dining table for us to sit around.

What’s it like now?
Open plan, airy and light! By knocking two rooms into one, we created a space that was much more suited to the kind of kitchen we were after. We now have plenty of room to store all our kitchen stuff — we probably have a lot more than most people. We always get lots of compliments from visitors seeing the kitchen for the first time and it seems to appeal to all tastes.

What inspired the new design?
We wanted something that was simple and contemporary yet at the same time in keeping with a period house. Even though we like modern kitchens, we decided we didn’t want anything too modern so that the kitchen had longevity and wouldn’t date too soon. But at the same time we didn’t want anything too traditional or boring. Having considered the various options by looking at magazines, websites and showrooms, we decided on an overall look and feel we wanted to go for. In terms of inspiration, a mix of styles came into play including industrial and New York loft looks. We also had an idea about colour schemes, tiles and flooring but still needed to decide on the specifics with the help of the designers.


What key requirements did the room need to meet?
To be functional as a kitchen with plenty of cupboard space and adequate space for living and entertaining.

The Resident: The new kitchen has plenty of storage spaceThe new kitchen has plenty of storage space

How do you use the space now?
We basically live in the space! When we are at home we spend most of our time there whether it is cooking, eating, watching TV, reading or just hanging out. It is also a great entertaining space.

What’s your favourite thing about your new kitchen?
We are really pleased with it and love everything about it. There is nothing we would change, which is saying something as I am quite particular. We also like the fact that it works in all seasons — it is both light and airy in summer, and warm and cosy in winter.

What challenges did you face?
The project was extremely smooth thanks to both the designers and the builders. It helped that they had worked together before. There were no major delays or surprises. I think one of the biggest challenges was signing off on the design as we wanted to ensure that it was exactly what we wanted — once a decision is made and the building work starts it is hard (and costly) to go back. The designers were very patient as went through various design ideas to get to the final version that we were happy with. They were also very helpful in coming up with suggestions at various stages.

The Resident: Two rooms were knocked in to one so as to suit the family’s needsTwo rooms were knocked in to one so as to suit the family’s needs

Kitchen Confidential

Jo isn’t the only one delighted with the results — designer Andrew has his say too:

What makes this project stand out?
We wanted to create a kitchen with a limited colour palate; sharp and clean lined but still with interest. We created a double-stepped door design, which added interest and was more interesting than a Shaker door. Stainless steel knobs, rather than bar handles, created a more classic feel. By using a light grey colour that matched the quartz worktops, a beautiful clean line formed, contrasting with a dark central island. I very much like the partial symmetry around the range and the industrial feel that the kitchen creates.

How did you combat challenges?
Woodstock Furniture recommended the builders create the space for the kitchen. We work very closely with them and they always deliver the perfect space with electrical supplies and water to our precise specifications.

What’s great about the kitchen?
The whole ambience and comfortable feel to the space. There is character and movement within the oak floor, and the simple flat planes and colour contrast beautifully with this.

020 8876 0131;