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Kitchen Tour: A Modern Kitchen Extension Transforms a Period Home

Plenty of space and statement features mean this kitchen is super sociable and big on style

Houzz UK contributor. Freelance interiors journalist with over 20 years’ experience… More

When the owners of this Hertfordshire property decided to extend to get a big open-plan living area, they needed an expert on board to ensure they achieved their dream space. “This was originally a separate kitchen, utility area and dining room,” says Sue Murphy of Sue Murphy Interiors, who was recommended for the job by a friend of the owners. Not only were all three spaces knocked into one but, as Murphy points out, “The project also involved a three-metre ground-floor extension that doubled the depth of the old space.” Bifold doors were also added to connect the new kitchen/living area to the garden.

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Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here A professional couple and their two teenage sons
Location Hertfordshire
Property A detached house built in the 1900s
Size 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a cloakroom
Kitchen dimensions 8.3m x 6m
Designer Sue Murphy of Sue Murphy Interiors
Kitchen Brynmôr Interiors

Photos by Peter Landers Photography

“The family are very sociable so they wanted the space to work for entertaining, but they also wanted it to be cosy and welcoming when it’s just the four of them,” explains Murphy. By zoning the new open-plan space, Murphy has met her clients’ brief. And a very clever feature helped Murphy with her task – a wood-burning stove built into a large structural pillar (see above), which acts as a divider between the kitchen, living and dining areas.

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It’s hard to believe that the original kitchen was a compact galley design. Because the old kitchen was so dark, the owners wanted their new space to be bright – hence the white units, which enhance the brightness of the space. “The client had a wonderfully bold and open approach to the interior design generally, and to the finishes used, which has resulted in a fantastically interesting kitchen,” says Murphy.

PAM bar stools, Ligne Roset.

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To break up all the white in the space – and to add a slight industrial feel – the tall units at the back were finished with a concrete composite material. These units conceal the fridge and freezer and provide plenty of extra storage. “The units are bespoke and are from Zeyko,’ says Murphy. “They give the sleek finish we were looking for.”

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The large island houses the sink and dishwasher as well as even more storage, which is essential to keep things neat in an open-plan living space. The white worktop is offset by the breakfast bar’s wooden surface.

Caesarstone white worktop, Brynmôr Interiors.

Fit a breakfast bar or island into your kitchen

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Another smart call for an open-plan kitchen is choosing handle-free units, as they look more like furniture than cabinetry. “And the mirrored splashback adds a really warm feel to the space,” says Murphy.

Induction hob, Miele.

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However, it’s the striking corner fire that’s Murphy’s favourite feature. “I wanted to embrace and use the structural pillar as a key part of the design rather than trying to work around it. From there, during the first set of layout sketches, the idea of the wood-burning stove was born. It became a central element in the design and it looks fantastic!”

Nordpeis stove, MW Forsyth Fireplaces.

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The pillar also anchors the open-plan room and helps differentiate the kitchen, dining and living zones, while grey porcelain tiles unify all the spaces.

“The tiles have a rugged pattern, which complements the industrial look of the concrete composite cupboard doors and adds character to the space,” says Murphy. “We tried to keep the furniture simple and let the finishes speak for themselves.”

Riverstone Grey porcelain tiles, Butterfields.

A beginner’s guide to kitchen extensions

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The two-tier island unit helps to shield from view any mess in the preparation area. This is a boon in an open-plan space, where cooking and socialising happen side by side.

“The picnic hamper next to the sofa was the temporary kitchen island during the work. It has seen the project through from start to finish!” Murphy adds. “And the dining table has recently been replaced with a fantastic glass-topped design.”

Sofa and footstool, Camerich.

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To one side of the sofa in the living area, Murphy designed an integrated sideboard to match the kitchen units. “We purchased extra breakfast bar wood so it could be used for the top,” she says.

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Lighting was another key element of the project. “I designed a comprehensive lighting scheme for the space and it creates layers of light that can be adjusted for different uses,” explains Murphy. “So there are recessed downlights throughout that can be used when a ‘daytime’ light level is required, but there are also wall and ceiling pendants that can be used for more intimate and relaxing occasions.

“We also brought the kitchen to life with recessed LED lighting within the breakfast bar and beneath the kitchen units, as well as under wall cabinet lights.”

How to light your kitchen for maximum impact

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Rich, bronze accents throughout the kitchen add warmth to the minimalist scheme.

Decode vessel pendants, Twentytwentyone.

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Natural light floods into the extension thanks to the roof lights and wall of bifold doors.

What do you think of this open-plan kitchen-cum-living space? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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