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Kitchen Tour: Polished Concrete and Reclaimed Finds in a London Kitchen

East London’s industrial heritage is referenced in the metal window frames, concrete surfaces and reclaimed fittings in this handsome space

Houzz UK Contributor. I have been an interiors journalist since 1995, writing several… More

A statue in a local park was one of the early inspirations behind this newly extended kitchen in a home in east London. It was the memorial’s polished concrete, rather than what it portrayed, that appealed to the house’s owner, and that material now forms the worktops and flooring in this stylish space.

Exposed brickwork, texture-rich oak and reclaimed factory fittings complete the look, giving this kitchen-diner bold good looks that reference the industrial past of this part of the capital.

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Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here A professional couple
Location East London
Property A late Victorian, end-of-terrace house with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms
Size The kitchen-diner is 27 sq m
Architect James Davies of Paper House Project

Photos by Simon Maxwell

The rear of this house originally featured a dilapidated lean-to and a kitchen with a tiny dining area squeezed in. “It had one small window and was a weird arrangement,” says architect James Davies. “None of the rooms on the ground floor connected. There was a bathroom where the dining room would have been, in the centre of the house, then the living room at the front. It was all very disconnected.”

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Davies and the owners had originally planned to build a full-width rear extension. “The house is in a conservation area, and the design officer had issues with the mass of this proposed design in relation to the existing property,” the architect explains. “As the property is only two storeys, it was felt this would be adding too much.”

Instead, Davies created a design that extended out to the party wall at the side to create a large square footprint, then also pushed out at the rear by about 3m. “We doubled the size,” he says. “The existing kitchen was 12 sq m, and we increased it to 27 sq m.” The width at the widest point increased from 2.8m to 4.85m. The internal depth at the room’s deepest point increased from 4.3m to 6.5m.

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“In some respects,” says Davies, “the planning restrictions took the project in a direction that works better for the owners.” Often, the temptation is to add as much space as possible, he says, but then it’s sometimes not clear how to use it. “The thing we always try to do is create defined spaces that are visually connected. You can have almost too much space, and then it’s more difficult to make it work.”

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The L-shape of the extension features a square space at its heart, which contains the kitchen and dining area, and a smaller area extending out at the rear, which opens onto the garden. “It’s a perfect spot for sitting and reading,” says Davies.

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The handsome kitchen features precast worktops with a cast-in sink and drainer grooves. One section of worktop was cantilevered from the wall to create a breakfast bar, using a bracket fitted behind a false wall and a steel plate that adjoins the worktop. “There’s quite a bit of engineering to support that,” says Davies. “It took four guys to carry it in.”

The structural piers beneath the worktops are made of strong ply and MDF, which has been painted. The drawers are sawn British oak, which was worked in situ and treated here. “It’s very thick, about 25-30mm,” says Davies. “It’s heavy and solid.”

The reclaimed radiator was cleaned and then serviced to make sure it wouldn’t leak.

Polished concrete in Basalt with a satin finish, Lazenby. Bar stool, Bluesuntree. Ceiling lights, Mr Resistor.

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All the flooring, both internal and external, is also polished concrete. “Every day, the owner walked past a memorial made of polished concrete in a local park,” says Davies. “At our first meeting, he showed us an iPhone pic of that and also explained that he had a bunch of fittings he’d purchased about a year before at a reclamation yard.”

These ingredients became the foundations of the industrial aesthetic. “It all fits really nicely with this area,” says Davies. “There are lots of wartime factories around here, including a Spitfire components factory, and they all form part of the story of this area and this design.”

The double-glazed, steel-framed windows support this industrial look and the polished concrete floor extends outside. “We wanted to achieve that inside-outside aesthetic,” says Davies. “It all flows really well.”

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Old factory fittings, including work lamps, radiators and switches, picked up in a reclamation yard are dotted around the space. “The electrician wasn’t too chuffed when he saw we wanted to fit these!” laughs Davies.

These pieces are not only beautiful, they also feed into the budget-conscious drive of this project. “The owners got a lot for a little,” he says.

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“One of the planning conditions was we had to use London Stock brick on the outer wall,” says Davies. “We thought it would be good to continue that inside. The exposed brick is a really nice feature and works well with the concrete.” It also helps to emphasise that inside-outside connection and makes the garden wall seem to come into the house.

What do you like about this kitchen? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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