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Kitchen Tour: Rich Colour Adds Depth to a Minimal White Cook Space

An aubergine unit and walnut shelves give this pale, pared-down kitchen a shot of warmth and drama

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

The owners of this 1970s semi-detached London home have totally transformed their property with an impeccable design eye and cool 1980s finds – and that includes their new slick and streamlined kitchen.

“It’s quite an unusual house, but they’ve made it beautiful,” says Helen Munro, director of Finch London, who was brought on board to transform the kitchen. “The couple were pretty clear about what they wanted from their kitchen and that was clean lines and superb functionality.”

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Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here A couple and their cat, Babs
Location Islington, London
Size The kitchen-diner is 3.5m x 3.7m; part of a 1970s semi-detached house
Designer Helen Munro of Finch London

Photos by Polly Tootal

This cool and contemporary kitchen is a far cry from what stood in its place originally. The previous space consisted of a mishmash of white gloss units, blue tiles, fake stone ceramic tiles and an old built-in cupboard.

The owners knew it was time for a change and called on the expertise of Helen Munro to create a hybrid of modern white lines next to a darker living space. Banks of pure white on one side are offset by a cosy dark purple wall and shelving unit on the other.

“Only minor changes were required structurally,” says Munro, “such as opening up a doorway, laying new flooring, reworking the staircase and fitting new French windows to the outside.”

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To keep things simple, the flat-fronted, matt-lacquered MDF doors are handle-free, enhancing the pared-down look.

“The owners wanted handleless units; it’s the most popular choice for our clients at the moment,” says Munro. “The white doors have been colour-matched to the Glacier White Corian worktop, but open up to reveal an aubergine MFC [melamine faced chipboard] interior that echoes the wall of darker units.”

Kitchen table, Ikea. Eames DSR plastic side chairs, Vitra. Cayos vertical radiator, Milano.

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The row of tall, purple units offers a striking punctuation to the all-white room.

“The clients didn’t like the popular choice of grey, but wanted to introduce another colour to the scheme,” says Munro. “I love the contrast of materials with bold flashes of colour – the commitment of an all-white kitchen on one side and then the more sumptuous mix of aubergine and walnut on the other.”

Units painted in Pelt, Farrow & Ball. Oven, Siemens.

Browse more cool and contemporary white kitchen schemes

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The tall aubergine storage wall is a multi-tasking wonder. It has a mix of open and closed storage, including a larder cabinet with drawers and spice rack, an oven with shelving above and below, a built-in fridge and freezer, and a second larder/broom cabinet at the end.

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American black walnut has been used to line the open shelving at one end and adds a feeling of quality to the kitchen.

“The shelving holds a collection of the clients’ bits and bobs,” says Munro. “They like to display a few things rather than have everything hidden away.”

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The crisp silhouette of the all-white zone is enhanced by the shark nose edging on the Corian worktop and the matching splashback.

“The extractor fan housing is also made from Corian,” says Munro. “It’s a bespoke piece, but it worked out really well.” A neat induction hob adds to the uninterrupted lines.

“I suggested Siemens appliances as I like their look and functionality,” the designer adds.

Hob, Siemens. Extractor fan, Elica.

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A seamless flow of 20mm-thick Corian with a moulded sink and drainer, plus full-height splashbacks, creates a chic and practical wet zone.

A matching white tap with pull-out rinse adds to the functionality.

Linus-S tap, Blanco.

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The shark nose detail on the worktop has a 45 degree bevel edging. “It gives the illusion of a thin worktop and it feels nice to handle, too,” Munro says.

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The designer came across a few challenges during the course of the project. “The patio doors arrived in different finishes and needed a lot of work on site,” she says.

Matching the new solid maple kitchen floor to the existing one in the living room was also tricky, but the end result creates an effortless flow that’s easy on the eye.

Maple flooring, The Natural Wood Floor Co.

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The pendant light in lacquered aluminium with matching coloured flex is a great contrast to the white backdrop.

“The clients opted for a cluster of pendants rather than spots as the room gets a lot of light from the back doors anyway,” Munro says. “We also used strip lights under the wall cabinets.”

Silo pendant light by Note Design Studio, Zero Lighting.

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A smattering of primary hues on the small appliances ensures the white side of the kitchen doesn’t lack character.

“The clients have very good taste and choose lovely things for their home,” Munro says. “They collect pieces from the 1980s, as well as Danish designs and new items.”

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The pale maple staircase ties in with the wood tones on the ground floor. “The staircase was much more closed off before we opened it up to create more space and light,” says the designer.

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Munro also helped design a small room, or reading nook, next to the kitchen. She used matt lacquer shelving and base cabinets topped with Carrara marble.

It’s an eclectic space filled with rows of books, a wall of artwork and a leopard-print armchair.

“I suggested yellow in here because they have a yellow feature wall at the top of the stairs, plus a few pieces of furniture and appliances in yellow, too,” Munro says.

Yellow paint, Dulux.

Check out these photos of cosy reading nooks

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The yellow feature wall at the top of the maple staircase links the kitchen, with its yellow accessories, to the rest of the home.

What do you think of this modern kitchen with a warm aubergine accent? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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