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Kitchen Tour: A Calm Extension for a Busy Young Family

This London couple wanted a brighter kitchen-diner, with a serene yet warm finish and great views of the garden

Houzz UK and Ireland Editorial Staff. My background is in creative lifestyle publishing… More

Previously tired, cramped and lacking in light, this southeast London kitchen was given a five-month renovation and restructure that included fitting new skylights and opening out the back wall to the garden with bifold doors. The young family went for a breezy, coastal feel, with a mix of smoked oak and palest blue cabinets to add warmth and avoid anything too clinical-looking.

“The kitchen is the hub of this family’s home, and a space where they eat, entertain and relax,” says Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors, who also put in a bespoke seating area with a hidden element the kids love.

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Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here A young professional family with two small children
Location Southeast London
Size 5.4m x 4.4m at its widest point; part of an Edwardian terrace house
Designer Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors
Photographer Chris Snook

Designer Beth Dadswell was asked to create a larger kitchen with a proper dining area for this young family to enjoy together. They wanted the space to be more efficient and have better views out to the garden.

“Part of making this kitchen work better was utilising the cupboards in the island for storage,” says Dadswell. “We also added a wine cooler, built in extra storage under the seating area and beside it, and designed a large bank of cupboards that neatly conceal the fridge, ovens and mops.”

A building firm was employed to extend the space into the side return; it caused some initial problems over boundaries, but these were eventually ironed out. The result was worth the effort, giving Dadswell more room, and more light, to work with.

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“The owners had already chosen a local kitchen supplier and a firm of builders who specialise in side-return extensions,” explains Dadswell. “So my job was to tie these disparate elements together and make the space work for them.

“We carefully selected colours for the units and walls, and materials for the worktops and splashback, and then designed a bespoke seating area that would become the focal point of the room.”

Polished Bianco Arabescato worktops, Jetstone.

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The main design principle was to keep the room feeling as light and calm as possible, as the owners lead very busy lives. They wanted to be able to enjoy every minute of their spare time with the kids, so getting the layout and design of the space right was paramount.

“The owners didn’t want anything too shiny or white, which I was thrilled about,” says Dadswell. “They wanted to incorporate some wood, so we chose a smoked oak, and they were both really keen on blue.”

Conscious that a blue could overpower the room and risk things looking dated in a few years time, Dadswell asked the kitchen company to spray several different shades on sample joinery to find exactly the right colour. “It needed to have just the right amount of subtlety and grey in it,” says Dadswell. “The room still feels very light, as we went with a very pale grey on the walls, but it doesn’t feel cold or bland.”

Bespoke handleless units, Bells. Units spray-painted in Borrowed Light, Farrow & Ball. Regal Matt Vanilla porcelain floor tiles, Topps Tiles.

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Dadswell designed bespoke seating and storage in the new dining area so the space was used efficiently, making for a snug entertaining spot. She also added a feature the kids love. “I included a hidden cat entrance in the banquette seating, so the family pet can get in and out of the garden through the cat flap and also have a cosy spot where he can snooze,” says Dadswell.

It’s cosy for the humans, too, as the homeowners installed underfloor heating. The panelling also adds visual warmth to the project. “I always try to add character,” says Dadswell. “Because the house is Edwardian, I wanted to continue this feeling in the kitchen. Modern kitchens can feel very hard and cold, so I often use panelling to soften the edges and break up expanses of wall. It makes the dining area feel cosy, acts as a backrest for the cushions, and is also a way of avoiding sticky fingerprints on a newly painted wall!”

Lighting, Fritz Fryer.

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“I suggested we build a cupboard onto the end of the seating area,” says Dadswell. “From experience, I know it’s useful to have somewhere the children’s pencils, colouring books and games can be stored when the table’s being cleared for dinner. It’s also somewhere to display personal items, as well as a spot to put a lamp.”

Walls painted in
Lead 1, Paint & Paper Library.

Read 10 expert design tips for planning a family kitchen

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Dadswell specialises in mixing midcentury and modern pieces for an eclectic look to the interiors she designs and, with a background in fashion and styling, she’s well-placed to source special items that work together harmoniously, making a room feel finished.

Two framed Barbara Hepworth prints add colour and personality to the dining area, as do the mix of cushions on the bench. “I used a wipeable fabric for the bench cushion that looks and feels like a nubuck leather, but comes in a really great range of colours,” says Dadswell.

Furniture, Neptune Harrogate. Extendable table and vintage Ercol chairs, eBay. Chairs spray-painted in Mist, Neptune. Seating and cushions, Angel Upholstery.

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“I also sourced several lovely pieces of midcentury pottery, some art and a few styling items from an antiques fair, which add colour and individuality to the space,” says Dadswell.

Check out these five essential pieces for a midcentury mood

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Dadswell and her clients thought long and hard about the style and design of the splashback tiles, as they wanted them to add a softness to the room rather than a clinical edge.

“We chose these tiles as they have an imperfect, light-reflective surface,” the designer says. “We had them laid in a graphic, midcentury style. We also used a very pale grey grout, which won’t turn yellow, and used this on the floor tiles, too.

Carnival Ramon tiles, Fired Earth.

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“This project exceeded my expectations,” says Dadswell. “It has a really lovely light, airy feel in the daytime, and the three different lighting circuits mean it feels very cosy in the evenings, too.”

What do you think of this cool yet cosy kitchen space? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

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