Kitchen case study: a light-filled open-plan kitchen diner and living space

Lindsey and Chris Reed knocked three rooms together and extended to create an open-plan kitchen diner and living room that maximises garden views

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Designing an open plan kitchen, living space and diner? Be inspired by this kitchen makeover – and check out all our kitchen transformations to get ideas for your new room.

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Aluminium-framed sliding doors from Sunparadise open up the rear of the house, linking the new space to the garden and maximising views

'Having taken our time searching north London for our next family home, we knew instantly that this house was perfect for us,’ says Lindsey of the Edwardian semi she shares with husband Chris and their two children. ‘It has woodland at the end of the garden and isn’t overlooked — features that are very difficult to find in London. We couldn’t believe our luck.’

The rear of the house left a lot to be desired, however, with a small, outdated 1980s kitchen, a dark breakfast room with no view of the garden, and a living room with old French doors to the patio. ‘We bought the house from an elderly couple who had lived here for more than 25 years and had done little to modernise it,’ says Lindsey.

Key facts

  • The owners: Lindsey Reed, a freelance research planner and strategist, and husband Chris, a PR and digital communications consultant, live here with their two sons, aged 12 and 10
  • The property: A four-bedroom Edwardian semi-detached house
  • The location: Crouch End, north London
  • What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £140,000

‘We didn’t want lots of small rooms as we’re a sociable family and like to spend time together. We were used to an open-plan basement with a kitchen/dining/living space in our old house and wanted to re-create that feel here — only this time, with an amazing view to enjoy.

‘We wanted a light-filled, family-friendly space that would allow as much of the view to be enjoyed as possible. The living room was lovely, but we didn’t use it and it had become a dumping ground, so it made perfect sense to turn all of the rooms at the rear into one big space.’

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The space is kept warm by a Clearview woodburning stove, from Amazing Grates, and is furnished with pieces from the couple’s previous home. A blackboard hides a large store cupboard — perfect for hiding away items that don’t need to be on view

Knocking down the internal walls that separated these three rooms, along with building onto the existing patio, provided the large, open-plan space that Lindsey and Chris wanted. A rooflight introduces as much light into the room as possible. The couple also added a loo and utility cupboard.

‘We had a lot of good furniture from our old house so, apart from the kitchen units and appliances, we only needed to buy a wood burning stove for the interior, which is located in a corner of the living area,’ says Lindsey. ‘We also decided to update the kitchen flooring with a more hardwearing option. We’re unfussy people and like modern but classic lines, so we chose beautiful parquet blocks.’

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The new kitchen is a simple modern design with white matt doors and discreet pull handles. Warm wooden worktops and shelves prevent the scheme from looking clinical. A central kitchen island houses the sink, with a boiling water tap, and a breakfast bar on the opposite side, which allows the couple to chat to guests while preparing food. The island is topped with a durable composite work surface, which has practical drainage grooves.

New aluminium-framed sliding doors open the space onto the garden and allow for glorious views. ‘Buying the doors required a lot of research as there is so much choice. There were more expensive, frameless options, but we couldn’t justify the cost,’ says Lindsey. ‘We had our agreed budget and recorded everything on a simple spreadsheet; frameless doors would have blown the budget. In the end, we spent a little more than planned, but that was due to adding in things as we went, rather than any major issues.’

The finished space has changed the way the family use the whole house. ‘We love it, and as we have a lot of our old furniture in here, it felt like home instantly. There is nothing we would change,’ says Lindsey. ‘The light is amazing early in the morning, when the sun catches the trees.

‘In the summer, the room comes into its own, when we throw open the doors and simply lift out the table to enjoy dining alfresco. In the winter, the wood burning stove heats the whole room and makes our “cosy corner” truly comfortable,’ she adds. ‘This is the room that we all choose to spend our time in, whether for social occasions, doing homework at the table, or simply relaxing together.’

Project notes

Follow Lindsey Reed’s advice for redesigning your kitchen

What I’ve learnt

‘Being available for the architect and the contractor was really important to us, as decisions need to be taken all the time and, if you’re not around, things do tend to slow down. Also, keep your neighbours in the loop. There tends to be a lot of dust and noise for a long time, and it really does pay to keep them on side.’

My top tip

‘Find a builder who you get on with and with whom you can discuss options without feeling pressured to make a decision instantly.’

My best buy

‘We’re really pleased with the woodburning stove — it fits in perfectly with our style and provides a cosy feel in an otherwise big room. We also love the built-in shelves, which we designed. It’s so great to have somewhere for all those bits and pieces we’ve collected.’

My favourite store

‘Abacus, the kitchen supplier, was brilliant. Its designer was so helpful and made the experience a lot less stressful than it could have been.’

I couldn’t live without…

‘…the boiling water tap from Quooker. It speeds up everything, from making a cuppa to steaming vegetables, as well as being more energy-efficient than a kettle.’

My inspirations

‘Pinterest is an amazing website and has been a huge source of ideas for our project — we’d have been lost without it. We love light, Scandinavian-style interiors, and found so many ideas online.’

My favourite spot

‘Sitting at the kitchen table: whether during breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s always a view that changes by the hour and day.’

The costs

Main contractor£80,000
Kitchen£18,000
Architect’s fees£16,000
Sliding doors£13,000
Glass roof£4,000
Flooring£2,500
Wood-burning stove and installation£2,500
Party wall surveyor£2,000
Structural surveyor£1,000
Lighting£800
TOTAL£139,800

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