Renovating the kitchen in a Victorian apartment

Gill Manwood renovated her Victorian apartment’s awkward layout into a stylish open-plan living area with a stunning contemporary kitchen design that's perfect for cooking, relaxing or socialising

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‘When I bought my Victorian apartment I could see that it offered plenty of potential, so I had to ensure that my budget was sufficient enough to pay for a complete overhaul, which it desperately needed,’ says Gill.

‘As I wasn’t planning on staying here for more than a few years, I wanted to make the apartment look as smart as possible within my budget so I could sell it on later. My priority was to remodel the kitchen and living areas.’

With this aim in mind, Gill planned to transform the kitchen, which was dark and dingy, into a space with a modern but classic style – a theme she would continue in the rest of her scheme.

Fact file

The owner: Gill Manwood, who runs her own recording studio, lives here

‘A three-storey renovation project was a mammoth task,’ Gill remembers, ‘and the only way to tackle it properly was with expert help, so I brought in interior designer Alison Papworth of Camhall Interiors ( Alison came highly recommended and I could see why when I saw some of her previous projects – I really loved her work.’

The original kitchen consisted of an L-shaped worktop with a few rather tatty floor cupboards and a 50-year-old chipped butler sink. Like the rest of the floors in the flat, it was an awkward crescent-shaped room measuring around 400 square feet.

‘I wanted a stylish fitted kitchen, which would include a living area for relaxing, socialising and watching TV,’ says Gill.

Alison suggested demolishing a partition wall to create a large open-plan space for a kitchen and living area, which ticked all the boxes on Gill’s wish-list. Gill was also keen on incorporating an island unit in the kitchen, which worked out perfectly for the new space. There was plenty of room for it, plus it created an ideal divider for separating the kitchen from the living area.

‘I had set my heart on an ultra-stylish scheme, so I chose black gloss units for a dramatic look, contrasting them with white Corian worktops and stainless steel appliances,’ Gill explains.

While the builders were knocking down the partition wall between the kitchen and living area, they discovered an old fireplace and chimney behind a blocked up wall.

‘I was thrilled, so was Alison, as it created the ideal secondary focal point,’ Gill explains. ‘I just had to find a contemporary replacement fireplace for the space.’

Alison, meanwhile, had come up with the idea of choosing a compact sofa for the living area where Gill could relax and watch TV without compromising the space.

‘We didn’t want it to feel at all cramped,’ says Gill. ‘I also wanted to maintain the flow between the two spaces with the same style of flooring,’ she adds. ‘After looking at several different finishes, I settled on American walnut timber flooring, which works perfectly with the black units.’

Smart plantation shutters complete the look and create a lovely dappled light effect.

‘I didn’t want anything too fussy at the windows, but I needed something that would let in plenty of light and provide privacy, as my apartment is in a central location in London,’ says Gill.

The renovation work took around three months, with no major problems, and Gill was relieved that the project remained within budget.

‘I love the space – it’s great to come home from work, cook a meal and settle into my sofa,’ says Gill. ‘I’m hoping the flat’s classic style will appeal to future buyers too.’


Labour (including building, plumbing and interior design)£9,000
Fixtures, fittings and appliances£8,751
Walls and flooring£3,059
Furniture and accessories£5,455