Open-plan kitchen diner redesign

With an under-utilised dining room, Kate and John Parkin decided to redesign their ground floor for a new kitchen diner

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Kate and husband John had viewed nearly 40 houses before they came across a row of period cottages in Ryton, one of which seemed to offer all the space and character they were looking for. Plus, as it had three bedrooms, John could use one as his art studio.

However, the décor was ‘a 1980s disaster,’ says Kate. ‘There were regal red carpets everywhere, pine dado rails and dated curtains. A previous owner had clearly been a smoker as there were yellow stains on the walls and ceiling, which made the house feel like a pub!’ The kitchen, squashed into a small extension off the dining room at the rear, featured quarry floor tiles and dark wood units, with very little storage space.

Undeterred, the couple saw the property’s potential, and decided to buy. ‘We tackled the bedrooms first when we moved in, then the living room and hall, leaving the trickiest job – the kitchen – until last,’ says Kate.

They decided that it made sense to create a new kitchen diner incorporating the two rooms, and turn the former kitchen into a utility room. There was also scope to steal space from the old kitchen for a cloakroom/WC and a large cupboard for a tumble dryer and storage.

With only a small budget for the project, Kate and John knew it would be a massive challenge to radically alter the layout. However, as John used to be an electrician and his dad had retired from a construction and drainage business, they were able to tackle the plumbing and electrics between them. John also fitted the kitchen, laid the oak veneer flooring and tiled the splashbacks.

Fact file

The owners: Kate Parkin, a relationship manager for Arts Council England, and her husband John, an artist, live here with their son Benjamin, three

The property: A three-bedroom, mid-terraced house built around 1865

The location: Ryton, Tyne and Wear

What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £3,800

‘We spend most of our time in the kitchen now,’ Kate, homeowner


The old kitchen was crammed into an extension off the dining room at the back of the house.


White Abstrakt units from Ikea (see Ringhult units for similar) and replica Charles Eames chairs contrast with oak worktops from Wood & Beyond, solid oak flooring from Doors & Floors Direct and slate mosaic tiles from The Tile Shed. An Agnes flat-weave rug from Habitat adds colour, alongside other bright accessories.


The side of the peninsular is coated in chalkboard paint, providing a place for Benjamin to get creative while Kate prepares meals. The couple shopped around for oak worktops, which cost a fifth of the price of granite.


The chimney breast is painted in Blizzard from B&Q’s Colours range, with walls in Crown Breatheasy Snowfall. The Make Art Not War limited-edition print, by Bob & Roberta Smith from Baltic Shop, is one of many pieces of art in the couple’s home.


‘I love the retro G-Plan sideboard, which cost £40 in a house clearance. It’s great for storing crockery and cutlery, plus it’s an ideal display space for some of my favourite things,’ explains Kate.


‘I love Habitat for its quality design and colours – it is both retro and contemporary at the same time. I also love Barker & Stonehouse, RE in Corbridge, and Tynemouth market, which is great for picking up teapots, jugs and vases,’ says Kate.


For a better sense of flow, the new utility space has no door. John made the charcoal grey unit from part of the old pantry door. ‘We sketched out the layout we wanted first,’ says Kate. ‘Working around the original fireplace, the best option was a U shape, with the sink in the middle in front of the window. We wanted something simple that wouldn’t date, so we opted for modern white units that would contrast well with the period house.’