Design inspiration for kitchens and dining rooms

Kitchen designer Simon Bray offers his advice on choosing the right kitchen layout and interior designer Joanna Wood offers her advice on planning a dining room makeover, including making preparations for Christmas entertaining.

TODO alt text

Kitchen designer Simon Bray offers his advice on choosing the right kitchen layout and interior designer Joanna Wood offers her advice on planning a dining room makeover, including making preparations for Christmas entertaining.

‘Visually soft curves help create a flowing, friendly space’

Award-winning kitchen designer Simon Bray (simon-bray.co.uk) works from his showroom on a Bedfordshire farm. He heads a team of designers dedicated to creating luxury bespoke kitchens. He says:

‘The sooner a designer gets involved, the better, if you want to maximise a room’s potential. Simple changes such as moving a door or window can make a big difference. Don’t try to fit too much in – while your goal might be one open kitchen/ dining/living space, there might not be room. The priority is the kitchen, next is a place to eat and third the living space. If there’s no space for a sofa, opt for comfortable chairs around a table, so you have an area where you can sit and interact.

‘I try to avoid too many hard lines – visually soft curves help create a flowing, friendly space. A kitchen with a straight-edged peninsula can almost divide a room in two. A curved island allows rooms to integrate more fully and looks and feels bigger.

‘Keep a sense of light and space in a small kitchen. It’s better to abandon tall cupboards and wall cupboards in favour of under-counter units – the more you put into a small kitchen, the darker it will become. When designing a space, my aim is to achieve warmth by mixing materials, with freestanding furniture breaking up the lines. I don’t believe in a black granite worktop taking centre stage – everything should work together.’

Joanna Wood

‘Never skimp on lights when decorating your tree’

Joanna Wood (joannawood.com) is a leading interior designer who heads a group of four companies working on worldwide projects. She is a member of BIDA (British Interior Design Association). She says:

‘If you’re giving a room a makeover, draw up a floor plan with a template made from card so you can visualise how the main furniture will look. If you’re working to a budget, invest in a few key pieces. I would buy the best cabinetry – a good dining table or bookcase could last a hundred years, whereas a sofa never would. If you get the ‘bones’ of a room right, you can mix in cheap and cheerful pieces – if you have a beautiful table, create a display of shells and pebbles to look like modern art.

‘Rooms need focal points. While fireplaces and windows are the obvious ones, they’re not the only options. I love mirrors – I often use mirrors in alcoves, each side of a fireplace or over an entire end wall. A mirror opposite a window picks up light and gives the room a sense of space.

‘Don’t be afraid of colour. It is amazing just how different a room can look all for the cost of a couple of pots of paint. Key colours to consider are red, orange, pistachio green and mulberry pink which will update a neutral backdrop.

‘With Christmas coming, my top tips for decorating a tree are never skimp on lights and use clusters of baubles tied together, rather than hanging singly on the end of a branch. Large baubles should be placed towards the middle of the branches, with droplets at the end. When topping a tree with a star or angel, place a cluster of ribbons to accentuate it.’

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing