Updating and extending a kitchen

Cristina and Andrea Rosini updated their small, dark kitchen, turning it into a large, light-filled contemporary space. The original kitchen was cramped and lacking natural light, but the new kitchen is light and spacious with folding sliding doors leading out to the garden.

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Cristina and Andrea Rosini updated their small, dark kitchen, turning it into a large, light-filled contemporary space.

Fact file

The owners: Cristina and Andrea Rosini, who both work in catering, live here with their children, Rachele, eight, and five-year-old AlessandroThe property: A Victorian terraced house with four bedroomsThe location: Cheltenham, GloucestershireWhat they spent: Just over £91,000 for a large extension and designer kitchen

The problem

‘Being Italian, both myself and my husband Andrea consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home. When we moved to our terraced house five years ago, however, there was just a tiny kitchen with dated brown units and a faux-marble floor, and very little light.

‘There was a back door out to the garden with a small window next to it, and another window with a view of our next-door neighbour’s brick wall. It was obvious we’d need to do a lot of work to make the space work for us as a family.’

What we did

‘Luckily, we have an architect friend at VJM Design House and he sat down with Andrea to discuss how we could improve the kitchen. Together, they came up with a plan to extend the ground floor, by about 1.5m into the side return, and 3m into the back garden. Initially, we had hopes of building a two-storey extension, to increase the upstairs space as well, but planning permission was refused. So, the extension design was reduced to a single storey and permission was granted within a couple of months.

‘We love the character of our Victorian house, but we wanted to show a clear distinction between the old architecture and the new. So, the extension, where the side return used to be, was designed with an angled glass roof to let in as much light as possible, while the end wall leading into the back garden is made up of four, folding-sliding glass doors in a grey-anthracite aluminium frame.

‘Work began in July 2007, with a local builder who we’re also good friends with. The extension took six months to build, including laying underfloor heating. We moved the cooker and fridge into the living room at the front of the house, to create a temporary kitchen during the work, so we could live in throughout. Things did get messy, but we coped.

‘While the building work was in progress, we approached fellow Italian Gian Luigi Moretti of Abitalia, a design studio in Cheltenham, to create our kitchen. We wanted it to be a really sociable space for our family and also for entertaining friends. With that in mind, Gian created three dining zones – an area for the main dining table, which can seat eight people, with views over the garden, a breakfast bar attached to the island unit and a separate bar built against the side wall.

‘The island unit was key to the design, as it’s not only a place to sit and eat, but it houses the hob. So, when I’m cooking, I can still chat to friends or the children without having my back to everyone. It provides a lot of storage inside, too.

‘With the layout of the kitchen decided, we looked at units. We chose Monia from kitchen manufacturer Lube in three different shades: the base units are in high-gloss ivory, topped with a quartz-based composite; the wall units above are in brown glass; and the tall units on the opposite wall are in stained grey oak, to add interest and texture.

‘I love to cook, so I wanted high-spec appliances. I chose a Siemens combioven and steam oven, which are both fantastic as they’re self-cleaning, and a Teppan Yaki griddle. The dishwasher, washing machine and fridge-freezer are all integrated into the units, which creates a clean finish. With all the decisions made and the building work completed, the kitchen was then fitted in five days.

‘When it came to the finishing touches, we went for matching brown and cream for the walls, floor and splashbacks. The worktops are white and all the appliances are stainless steel; I chose a sink to match and this ties in well with the hobs and the ceiling-mounted extractor above, too. Finally, we went for classic design pieces to finish the room, including a Knoll Saarinen marble dining table and Eames dining chairs.

‘The space works so well for us; we all spend a lot of time in here and, because of the different seating zones, everyone can use it as they wish. It’s the sociable kitchen I had envisaged.’


Fixtures, fittings and appliances£32,800
Furniture and accessories£9,070
Walls and floor£5,950