Name: Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of 2LG Studio
Location: Forest Hill — London, England
Years Lived In: Owned 3 and a half years, but we have lived in Forest Hill together for almost 12 years.
Every now and then you come across a remodel that just sings right to your soul, even surprising yourself. The before photos of this house in England—the home of interior designing duo Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead of 2LG Studio—are positively packed with old English manor house charm like dreamy architectural elements and faded traditional wallpaper, just the sort of look I drool over. But the couple's super modern remodel of this old Victorian is utterly stunning to me, even more impressive knowing that the actual condition of the structure was pretty rough when they bought it: "When we took on this property is was in a bad state of disrepair having been left vacant for over a year. It had holes in the roof, the windows were not double glazed and were all rotten, there was not central heating and the whole house needed a full rewire and re-plumb."
As they've renovated their old Victorian, they've shared updates of the remodel, room-by-room. But as the couple explains, though they started dreaming of the kitchen's renovation as soon as they moved in, they didn't have the budget to tackle such a big project in the beginning (you can see from their Instagram just how big of a project it's been.)
"We began planning for the kitchen from the day we moved in (three and a half year ago) but we knew we didn't have the funds to begin the work at that time as it was more important to get the roof fixed, the chimneys re-stacked and the windows replaced."
"The kitchen itself was the smallest room in the house (it would have perhaps been the pantry originally with the kitchen in the central room with the main stove/fireplace and the dining room another separate space off the hallway.) We had been using the central room, we think the original kitchen, as our makeshift studio space for the past three and a half years as we saved for the renovation work. The kitchen was in the other tiny space with 1950s cabinetry that was falling to pieces, old vinyl on the floor, and polystyrene tiles on the ceiling. It was grim and oppressive and out of proportion with the house, a four-bedroom detached Victorian property."
Jordan and Russell worked with John Lewis of Hungerford to complete their awesome modern kitchen makeover. Curved cabinetry, a pink and green color palette, a sleek minimal vibe and even light fixtures the couple designed themselves (with Cameron Design House) characterize the kitchen's stunning finished project, which might be my favorite modern kitchen I've ever seen in my life?
"The first winter in the house was the coldest we have ever been in our lives with no central heating and leaking roof and drafty windows. We had ice inside the windows and wore thermals at all times for quite a while before we could afford to get the work done to make it warm and watertight. All very romantic. We look back on that fondly now, but we are glad we have got through it. So the kitchen planning had plenty of time to evolve. We spent a lot of time trying out different configurations of the space and eventually decided to open it all up. At one point we were only going to open up two of the three spaces, but we are so glad we decided to open them all up to make a big kitchen/studio space where we can work and entertain. We still have a separate sitting room at the front of the house for cosy relaxing nights."
"Our space is our living space. That means work, play, create, entertain, cook. All of the above. It is going to be a hardworking space and we love to have friends and family and clients over. So it will host all of that. Home is so important to us."
"We have lived here for three and a half years now and we still love the high ceilings and the bay window big enough for a Christmas tree is major selling point for us, and the large garden. We have a dog, who would love to be in the garden all the time if he could. We love to cook and entertain so this will be a new phase in our lives in the house as we haven't had the opportunity to cook properly here, until now. It is so nice that we have been able to plant up a vegetable patch and herb garden outside of the kitchen door. We have already had a bumper crop of aubergines and heritage tomatoes."
If you're in love with what you're seeing, you can actually purchase this kitchen collaboration through John Lewis of Hungerford (prices start from £35K/$46K and freestanding units are £6,750/$8,856). The company can deliver worldwide. But even if this is a bit out of your budget, this project definitely delivers on super modern design inspiration, for anyone looking for an incredibly minimal, modern, and fun kitchen style.
Our Style: Instead of describing our style, we let the images speak for themselves. We like to remain flexible and adaptable. Our style is complex, just like any human. Perhaps we are drawn to clean lines and strong color statements with limited materials and objects, precisely because we are seeking some sort of calm or clarity in the chaos of the human experience. Spaces that have clean lines and strong statements make us feel good because they offer something stable and you know where you are with them. See, I should let the images talk. Fluid, evolving, bold, colorful, happy, open, proud. These are words we aspire to as humans, not just in our style.
Inspiration: Visually we wanted the space to reflect us and we took inspiration from film and theatre and from our trips to Milan Design Fair and New York Design Festival. We love to travel so we wanted the space to have global vibes, taking inspiration from lots of different places.
We also love to disrupt the norm and here we wanted to specifically disrupt the period setting of the architecture. The arches of the kitchen, the colors, the retro futuristic strip lighting—all of these elements help to disrupt the setting and make it home for us. It has a tension and a fun about it. It is serious craftsmanship with a playful edge.
Texture is key too. So often ignored in an interior. So we designed elements that give a softness to the strong colors and lines, like the Moroccan-tiled fireplace, making an iconic architectural statement of the original fireplace where the stove would have been in 1870 when the house was built. The flooring adds softness with a washed oak in wide boards and the fluted glass in the doors of the freestanding larder units in the green dining area add another layer of texture and interest.
Favorite Element: We have a dishwasher at last! Need we say more. Oh, and a hot water tap, goodbye kettle! Hello future. But on a more sensible note, we do love the arches. They almost make no sense for a storage scenario, but they are so much more than that. They play with the space and give amazing negative space around them that adds flair and luxury. But inside they give a wonderful opportunity to display special pieces. We have lots of vases, we collect them unknowingly, and a gorgeous giant soup tureen that comes out once or twice a year for pumpkin soup day or at Christmas. So now these beauties have a home.
Biggest Challenge: The space needs to work very hard for our lives so the function of everything was so important. As it is in all of our design projects. But perhaps the biggest challenge on this one was to step outside of ourselves and see ourselves as the clients and try to bring out the best of us as people and designers. We always try to bring the positive in life and it was important that this space represents that. It needed to refuel us and charge us up and make us smile.
We had to take out two structural walls and put in four large structural steels to hold the house up. We then rewired, re-plumbed, re-plastered and re-floored the space before the kitchen arrived. Oh and we also changed the doors and window for a more modern look with triple glazing. We will finally have a warm house this winter!
Proudest DIY: We painted pink scallop motifs around our original door frames. A moment of considered madness that never fails to make us smile. It stops the room from taking itself too seriously and adds to that disruption of the period details. They are hand-painted so they also add to the texture and life of the space.
Biggest Indulgence: The hot water tap! It is a dream. It does filtered, sparkling, and boiling water. We can't imagine life without one now. Well of course we can, but we wouldn't want to be without it.
Best Advice: Plan, plan, plan. Give it enough time in the planning stage and then you will have a much better result. We planned for a while, but the actual work took just eight weeks. Okay maybe 10.
All cabinetry — John Lewis of Hungerford
Flooring — Havwoods
Lighting — Cameron Design House (Designed in collaboration with 2LG, the Capsule collection)
Paint — Mylands
Color-matched radiators — Bisque
Dining chairs — Menu
Counters and backsplash — Caesarstone
Dinnerware — Ist London
Artwork above dining table — Kris Knight