design stories : project -1970s townhouse, cheshire
The kitchen in this townhouse property was located on the first floor. It wasn't huge and felt very disconnected from the garden which was accessed via the ground floor play room at the back of the house. My client had become frustrated with carrying food shopping up a flight of stairs and the play room was no longer really being used now that her daughter was getting older.
The clients home office was on the 2rd floor in the box room and with more time spent working at home she wanted a bigger, brighter space to work from. Living through the first lockdown, the outside space became much more important. Having a large open plan space directly connecting to the garden became the priority. The obvious solution was to knock the internal garage wall through and open this up the the old play room to create one large kitchen/dining/entertaining space that linked directly to the garden.
This option not only fulfilled the clients desire for open plan living on the ground floor but created an opportunity to turn the old kitchen/diner on the first floor into a home office while keeping the adjoining first floor living room a private sanctuary for my client.
The project has been split into two phases. Phase 1 being the priority, turning the ground floor into the new kitchen/dining room. Phase 2, turning the old first floor kitchen/diner into a home office and revamping the living room which will hopefully be completed early in May.
Design File - Phase 1
1970s townhouse, Sale, Cheshire
Kitchen/Dining room Budget: £20,000
To convert the ground floor play room and separate integrated garage into one open plan kitchen and dining room. Essential to the brief was the idea of feeling a connection to the garden. The original kitchen/dining located on the first floor felt very isolated and disconnected to the outdoor space.
A breakfast bar for informal dining, which would also create a sizeable work space as the client enjoys making pasta.
Glass bricks - the client has always wanted them in her home.
Light - To bring in as much natural light as possible to the hallway. Capture the evening light at front of the building into the kitchen, yet provide privacy from passing pedestrian traffic where the old garage door had been located.
Limited waste - the client wanted to reuse as many of the old kitchen carcases as possible to create the new kitchen as they were in such good condition .
Create new storage - without the garage or wall units in the kitchen, new storage was essential.
The Design Concept
Inspiration and the clients biophilic core
The client not only wanted to feel connected to nature through the space but to find a way to weave in references to Sardinia ( where her fathers family originate from) and her love of the bold colours found in her art deco ceramic collection. All the while being mindful of the property age and her preference for decorative details to pop against the clean feel of a white backdrop.
The client felt at her happiest & calmest in Sardinia. Traditional Sardinian building colours and street art favour the same palette of colours as the ceramics, colourful Sardinian baskets as well as the mid century age of the property. For the client these bold colours are evocative of Sardinia and having them in her home visually transports her back there.
I took my inspiration from this using green, orange, yellow and black as an accent colour palette through the scheme.
The initial inspiration mood boards below
Avoiding waste and reusing as many of the old kitchen carcases as possible was a big part of the client brief. The old kitchen, fitted in 2014 was good quality and in perfect condition. The large deep drawers were kept and new cupboard doors were brought in to match the drawer unit.
An additional tall cabinet was added when existed pipework and electrical boxes were discovered in the corner by the old garage door. Although we had both originally wanted a clean U shape line of base units, the expense to move these pipes and electrics would have taken a big chunk of the budget. The new tall cupboard has create additional useful storage.
Using as many natural materials as possible for anything new brought into the property was also a priority for my client. We opted for solid oak countertops to add warmth to the white walls, then light reflecting bottle green glazed porcelain tiles.
Left over worktop was cut to size to make a shelf with all remaining worktop cut to chopping board size which the client then gifted to family and friends, meaning no waste at all.
TIP: Check local trade auction sites for materials, my client placed a winning bid of £230 (+auction fee) for her solid oak countertops , a fraction of the price buying at retail.
High on the client wish list was a breakfast bar for informal meals and a deep workspace for making pasta. We made a double width counter, taking the solid oak countertop down as a side panel with the overhang creating a space for stools. Rattan and metal bar stools were chosen for their natural materials, adding warm natural texture. (Nivara stools £105 each from Dunelm)
The client has always dreamed of having glass bricks in her home, so where the original internal garage door was located we filled the space with glass bricks helping to bring more light into the hallway. The glass bricks were laid vertically to echo the shape of the green wall tiles.
The old garage door faces west and the golden afternoon/evening light was something we wanted to stream into the end of the kitchen. The front door is positioned to the right of the old garage door, so creating privacy from passing pedestrians was essential.
The solution was a letterbox shaped window, positioned high enough to create privacy from the front door/road, yet still allowing natural light into this part of the kitchen. The result is a living artwork, a seasonally changing framed view of the trees facing the house.
The original design specified the inner recess of the window be framed in oak but as budgets tightened through the build this design feature was cut.
The Dining Room
The new dining space
We brought in the clients current dining furniture, stealing the sideboard from the upstairs sitting room to provide extra storage. Having the sideboard located in the dining are meant dining accessories like table mats, occasional crockery and cookware could be stored here keeping the kitchen base units free for day to day cooking essentials.
We chose vertical radiators to save space, making them a feature by choosing a black finish. Then added the orange and yellow accents colours with the lighting and area rug.
The client has decided against any curtains as she isn't really overlooked. Instead once spring arrives she will be adding a new collection of hanging plants along the window.
The entrance hall to the property was quite dark during the day despite having a full height west facing window.
To bring natural light into the hallway and to create a long view through to the garden we swapped the solid timber door for a glazed one. Now the first thing you see when you enter the property is the long view through to the garden in the distance helping to fill the hallway with natural light during the day.
The open area under the stairs was used for coats and shoes but it is inevitable, with busy family life, that such spaces often look untidy. With the garage going, every inch of the hallway needed to work hard to cater for the clients storage needs. To make the best use of the space we enlisted Under Stairs Storage who design and install the most efficient storage solutions for awkward spaces. The under stairs area now houses a pull out coat rack, shoe storage, vacuum cleaner and additional pantry space. The look is kept sleek with push catch openings on the cupboards and drawers.
The downstairs WC is the last job on the ground floor which will be completed during phase 2 of this project which begins at the end of February. Next comes the revamping of the old first floor kitchen/diner and sitting room, more of that to follow.
Hoxton Bottle Green Tile - Mandarin Stone
Kitchen Units - Howdens
Wall Paint - Wevet, Farrow & Ball
Black Glazed Wall Cabinet - Maison du Monde
Black Radiators - Best Heating
Bar Stools - Dunelm
Retro Yellow Ceiling Shades - John Lewis
Saffron Flatweave Rug - Living Room
Metal & Rattan Plant Stands - La Redoute
Pluto Starburst Wall Clock - Newgate
Black Raven Lamp - John Lewis
Black Kitchen Appliances - AO
Stair Storage - Under Stairs Storage