A kitchen redesign for clutter-free living

Jennifer and Stephen Layburn gave their small kitchen space a fresh new look by opening it up to create a free-flowing layout with stylish units. The redesigned kitchen is less cluttered than the old space and makes the perfect family-friendly space.

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Jennifer and Stephen Layburn redesigned their kitchen, opening it up to create more space and light. The previously cluttered room now has a flowing layout that includes Shaker-style kitchen units and an archway leading through to the breakfast room.

Jennifer LayburnFact file

The owners: Jennifer Layburn, a management consultant, and her husband Stephen, a company director, live here with their children, Josh, 20, and Philippa,16 The property: A six-bedroom detached property dating from the 1930s The location: South London What they spent: The couple’s kitchen project cost around £49,000

‘Although our old kitchen was small, it was a practical and cosy space – it just needed updating, because it had started to fall apart,’ says Jennifer.

When Jennifer and her husband Stephen moved into their home in 2001, they spent the next 10 years renovating the property in stages. The last room on their to-do list was the kitchen, which was linked to a small breakfast room via a low, rounded archway. The kitchen featured a range of dark limed oak units and an 18-year-old gas Aga, plus there were dated wall and floor tiles. There was also a sliding patio door leading from the breakfast room out into the garden.

The couple decided to hire a kitchen designer to manage the entire project, from redesigning the space to installing the new kitchen. They chose Kitchens by Mike Taylor for the job. He suggested raising the arch in the dividing wall and squaring it off to create a larger walkway between the kitchen and breakfast room. This would transform the layout into a free-flowing but not entirely open-plan space and would save the expense of demolishing the wall.

‘Mike also suggested replacing the end wall of the breakfast room with a run of glazed, aluminium-framed folding sliding doors to bring more light into the space,’ says Jennifer. ‘That was a great idea as it was very dark down there. Stephen and I then chose the style of doors, and Mike’s team installed them.’

The original kitchen was stripped out, the entire space was rewired and the walls were replastered. The couple also had new LED lighting installed in the ceiling.

‘We had been happy with the Aga, as it warmed up the room, so we upgraded the model with a new Aga Intelligent Management System (AIMS),’ Jennifer explains. ‘This means the cooker can be programmed to different settings and thermostatically controlled.’

The couple worked closely with kitchen designer Mike on the new layout. They decided to keep a galley-style kitchen but create a dining area in the breakfast room return as it would make the most of the available space.

‘We chose a Shaker-style kitchen, handmade in poplar wood with rounded corners,’ says Jennifer. ‘The units were painted on site in a light green shade to complement our Aga.’

Jennifer and Stephen wanted plenty of built-in storage so they opted for practical units, such as a tall larder cupboard and a pan drawer fitted with moveable pegs to hold the pans in place. They visited Mike’s granite showroom to see the worktops before they committed themselves to buying them.

‘It was important to us, as natural stone can vary in colour and look quite different when it is viewed as a large slab rather than a small sample,’ Jennifer explains. ‘We chose white granite worktops and upstands for a fresh, contemporary feel in the kitchen.’

The old terracotta floor tiles were replaced with stylish porcelain flooring, and the walls were painted white to brighten and lift the space.

Jennifer and Stephen decided to invest in stainless steel appliances for a contemporary finish, such as a Liebherr fridge-freezer with an integrated wine cooler, plus a Bosch microwave to match the style of their existing dishwasher.

‘We spent hours researching the internet for furniture and appliances, but we eventually found what we wanted,’ says Jennifer. ‘Stephen loves the wine cooler, and the integrated fridge-freezer is a great space-saving solution.’

The entire project, from planning to fitting, took six weeks. In the meantime, the couple used a kitchenette in their utility room while the work was ongoing.

‘It had a working sink and taps, a two-plate hob and our old microwave, so it was perfectly useable,’ says Jennifer.

‘We love our new kitchen layout as it brings in a lot more natural light,’ she adds. ‘Opening up the arch has really made the space feel much bigger. Now that there is storage room for everything, we’ve said goodbye to clutter.’

The costs

Fixtures, fittings and appliances£28,779
Walls and flooring£6,198
Furniture and accessories£4,100