A colourful kitchen redesign

As part of a whole house project, John Beaven and partner Barbara have transformed their kitchen space into a modern, open-plan cooking and dining area with vibrant shades. The couple have used a whole spectrum of colours and extended to create a more spacious kitchen-diner.

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John Beaven and partner Barbara have extended upwards and relocated their bathroom to create a spacious kitchen and dining area decorated in a spectrum of shades with coloured kitchen units.

John Beaven

Fact file

The owners: John Beaven, who is a purchasing manager, lives here with his partner Barbara, a local government officer
The property: A two-bedroom Victorian terraced cottage
The location: Twickenham, Middlesex
What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £17,000

‘We’d put up with the unsatisfactory layout of our cottage since 1995 when we moved in, so 15 years later we were desperate for a change,’ says John. ‘The small galley kitchen had no room for a dining area as, like many houses built in the Victorian era, the bathroom was downstairs, directly behind the kitchen.’

The impractical layout meant that the view of the garden was blocked by the bathroom, and the only access to the outdoor area was via a side door in the kitchen. ‘The space was very dark, but the lack of somewhere to eat and relax was the main problem for us,’ says John.

The dark slate flooring and dated units only added to the kitchen’s gloomy atmosphere, but the couple were keen to remedy this and create a welcoming space. ‘It wasn’t particularly pleasant for guests to use the bathroom, especially if we were cooking in the next room,’ says John.

As the couple had no second bathroom in the house that they could use during a renovation project, they soon realised that making changes to the exisiting layout would be complex and expensive, and started to think about a range of options. ‘During the initial stages of the project we consulted a structural engineer,’ says John. ‘He suggested relocating the bathroom to the right of the kitchen in a sort of lobby, which wouldn’t have worked for us at all. Ideas started to flow when we got architect Nick O’Brien involved, who came up with some great solutions.’

Nick suggested building an extension on top of the flat roof of the kitchen, where John and Barbara could then relocate the bathroom. By removing the downstairs bathroom, space was freed up to create a dining area without having to extend the ground floor. ‘It meant building upwards rather than outwards, which suited us as we then didn’t have to lose any garden space,’ says John.

However, the planned redesign didn’t stop at the kitchen. ‘Nick also showed us how we could open up the ground floor by moving the stairs from the middle of the house to the side in order to to give us more of a rectangular space rather than two small spaces divided by the stairs,’ says John. In addition, the couple agreed with Nick that a loft conversion would be a fairly simple process and would make even better use of their existing space.

John and Barbara’s enthusiasm for the whole project grew thanks to Nick’s inspiring ideas. ‘From wanting to create a space where we could sit and eat, we were suddenly plunged into an £80,000 major rebuild of the house, but we could see that it would make sense to do the whole renovation at once,’ recalls John.

Planning consent was finally granted on appeal at the end of 2010, following issues about the design of the loft dormer window. The builders, who had been recommended by friends, started work in May 2011. ‘The house was gutted, the wall between the kitchen and bathroom knocked down, and the whole roof was taken off to allow for the steel support beams for the extension,’ explains John.

Although the project was supposed to take between six and eight weeks, various problems, including the need for extensive re-plastering and rewiring, meant the build was extended to four months. At one stage the kitchen was completely open to the sky, making the house uninhabitable, so the couple rented a nearby flat while work was underway.

The original side door, which led from the kitchen to the garden, was blocked in to create additional space for storage, and the couple opted for glazed French doors at the end of the room to link with the garden and allow natural light through.

‘As we were only taking down a wall in the kitchen rather than extending, we always knew we’d have a rectangular space for the new layout. This meant we had the measurements way ahead of completion, so we could start to look for kitchens early on in the project,’ says John.

As fans of vibrant colour, John and Barbara were never going to choose a plain white or neutral kitchen. When they visited kitchen design showroom Azco Interiors, they were impressed by the range of units and especially the designs of Oktawia Pabianczyk. ‘We wanted a bold shade and originally thought of bright orange, but as soon as we saw the purple and pink units, we knew that was the right combination for us,’ says John.

‘The contemporary kitchens were reasonable value, and while we couldn’t veer away from the basic galley layout, Oktawia really listened to what we wanted and came up with plenty of suggestions,’ he adds. This involved urging the couple to go for a balance of colours, as well as customising storage to fit the space rather than the other way round. For example, a shallow cupboard in front of the extractor fan has been created to store spice jars.

With a limited amount of space to play with and a large budget at stake, it was particularly important for John and Barbara to get the look and feel of the new kitchen exactly right. ‘We considered having purple units on both sides of the galley, but felt it might be overwhelming, so we decided to go for purple units on one side and white on the other to strike a balanced colour scheme. We then teamed the purple units with a stunning pink glass splashback,’ explains John. To maintain the clean lines of the units, the couple opted for eye-level double ovens from Neff, a gas hob and an integrated washing machine to create a stylish, streamlined finish.

With a glass table and vibrant dining chairs in place, the couple finally have the kitchen-diner they always wanted. ‘We’re thrilled with the way it’s turned out,’ says John. ‘It’s become a favourite spot. We love to sit in here and chat over a coffee.’

The costs

Fixtures, fittings and appliances£10,202
Furniture and accessories£2,224
Doors and window£1,500
Walls and flooring£390