Combining rooms to create an open-plan kitchen

Natalie Paddick has combined several small rooms in her 19th century cottage to create an open-plan kitchen perfect for entertaining. The light-filled space now boasts high-gloss units, white oak flooring and a central island unit with granite worktop

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‘I had often passed a derelict old cottage called Pear Tree House quite close to where I live, when one day I spotted a For Sale board. I was intrigued enough to arrange a viewing,’ says Natalie.

‘I immediately saw its potential, despite the current occupants – a family of rats who poked their heads up through the floorboards when I walked in,’ she adds.

It was obvious to Natalie that it could be transformed into an attractive home, despite the jumbled assortment of rooms at the rear of the house. There was a compact kitchen-diner (with an Aga), a lean-to conservatory and some small utility rooms, which would all need reconfiguring if the cottage were to become the modern home Natalie envisaged.

Fact file

The owner: Natalie Paddick who runs her own jewellery and design business, NP/ME (07970 470444,

Natalie had plans drawn up to remodel the property when she bought it in 2011, and hired Oatley Construction Ltd to do the building work. She decided against moving into the cottage until the extensive renovations were finished.

‘The house, which dates from the early 1800s, needed a huge amount of work, including rewiring, replastering and replumbing. I had to arrange for a gas mains pipe to be laid too,’ says Natalie. ‘I believe the cottage was improved in the 1970s but had been empty for a number of years. Luckily, it wasn’t listed so there were no restrictions on renovation work.’

One of the main objectives of the redesign was to create a large, open-plan kitchen and a garden room. Natalie had consulted Winrush Projects for structural advice and, fortunately, planning permission was quickly granted to demolish the lean-to conservatory and rebuild it on a larger footprint, extending the space by 1.2 metres.

This meant that the entire rear of the cottage had to be demolished, and several RSJs were needed to provide structural support. ‘It was completely boarded up to prevent access and remained that way for eight weeks,’ says Natalie.

‘The kitchen project took 10 weeks, and involved knocking through some of the internal walls to the original kitchen, utility room, hallway and the long passage storeroom which projected into the garden. We also removed a wall blocking off the staircase in the hallway,’ she adds.

The reconfigured space now features a large, open-plan kitchen leading directly into the newly extended garden room, with its full-length bi-folding glazed doors. There is also a separate utility room.

‘I decided to keep the Aga and the hallway staircase, both of which have been refurbished,’ says Natalie. ‘The old flooring has been replaced with engineered white oak, running throughout the open-plan space to unify the different areas.’

Natalie has chosen practical yet stylish units, plus a modern double oven to complement the Aga for flexible cooking. ‘I had to take into account the bold green enamel of the Aga, so I opted for subtle grey and cream units to work with the overall look – though in a certain light they have a hint of soft green,’ she says.

To add a splash of colour to the room scheme, Natalie chose bright red bar stools as a contrast to the green Aga. ‘They bring a retro look to what is a very contemporary kitchen,’ she says.

Now that the revamped kitchen is complete, Natalie is thrilled that she took a chance on the cottage. ‘I’m delighted it all went remarkably smoothly,’ she says. ‘It’s the perfect space for entertaining.’

The costs

Kitchen units, including fitting£6,200
Bi-folding doors£5,220
Sink and tap£670
Island walnut panels£180
Wall tiles£40