Before & After: A Dark and Dated Kitchen Gets Open and Airy

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Claire’s kitchen was dark and dated, with an office-style ceiling and a tiny little rodent problem. Claire set about repurposing the kitchen and rebuilding an extension to create a kitchen and living area, perfect for hosting. Now the kitchen is bright and dance party-ready.

From Claire: We bought our house in 2012 after falling in love with its large Edwardian proportions and central location. Saying it was a doer-upper is a bit of an understatement, as we have spent much of our time since renovating. The previous owners told us they hated the dark, dingy kitchen space. They couldn’t see the potential; but we could!

The kitchen had dark wood cupboards that, whilst good quality, were well past their best and falling apart. There was a suspended ceiling with office-style strip lighting and a dark wood and exposed brick arch. The adjoining extension was very badly built — originally for a pool table — with too many windows and no insulation. No light could get in the kitchen and it was home to a family of mice!

I dreamed of having a bright white, light-filled, open-plan kitchen and living space where we could relax after a long day at work and entertain friends and family on the weekend. We started by designing the kitchen whilst working with an architect to knock down and rebuild the extension.

We designed it to be a social space. We were lucky to be able to include a large island that is the focus of the room. I like to cook, so it was important for me to have the hob in the island so my husband and I can chat when I’m cooking our meals without me having my back to him. I wanted a lot of storage, so we planned in a lot of cupboards. We also included a wine fridge, a window seat, built-in speakers that link up to a Sonos system and seating at the island to make it the perfect entertaining space. We have had more than a few late nights with friends and family dancing around the kitchen!

I knew I wanted a painted kitchen with bespoke options, such as an oak-lined larder cupboard. We found a local cabinetry maker that could do it within our budget (and much less than the big kitchen brands) and worked with him to design every detail, including the bespoke beading on the doors. To keep it light, we painted the main cupboards Little Greene Tusk and the island Dash of Soot – I’d really recommend Little Greene for kitchens as it hasn’t chipped or marked at all. The worktop is Silestone and it is brilliant – I can chop directly on it, put hot pans straight on to it and wipe up staining foods like turmeric with ease.

For the dining area of the room we knew we wanted a stand-out dining table. We found the perfect one while on holiday in Bali. Basically, we just picked out a large hunk of wood in a shed-like ‘factory’ and they created a table and bench out of it and shipped it to the UK. It is such a talking piece in the room.

The thing we love so much is how much it complements our lives, and not to mention it is a great party kitchen! I can’t believe how light the space is, especially after how dark it was to begin with. We have a few things to finish off, I would still like to get new sofas for the living area of the room. I am also tempted to inject some color in by painting the island. I was originally nervous to because I thought it would still be a dark space, but now I know it can take it.

Claire’s words of wisdom: My advice for others is to go for it but to be ready for months of dust, eating micro meals and late-night decision making. People will keep telling you, ‘it will be worth it’ which it is, but it gets a bit frustrating to hear it so often!

I also recommend finding a local cabinetry maker to get a high-end product at a more affordable price point. And I can’t recommend Silestone and Little Greene paint kitchen paint enough — I am not being paid to say so but those two items have meant my kitchen still looks new after many years of hard wear!


Thank you, Claire! You can see more on Claire’s blog The Green Eyed Girl.