Real home: a striking green Shaker kitchen that was worth the wait

Rhiannon Southwell’s beautiful green kitchen was the final part of the project to update her family’s Victorian home

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home
(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Whether having breakfast with the kids or working on her laptop, there is nowhere in her home that Rhiannon Southwell would rather sit to enjoy the view than at her kitchen table. From here she looks out not just on her gorgeous hand-built Shaker kitchen, but also on garden greenery and sky, seen through the enormous picture window that sits flush with the worktop. It brings the outside in, flooding the kitchen with light and introducing the calm of nature – a theme continued in the green kitchen cabinetry and reclaimed oak herringbone floor. The finished room is the icing on the cake of a renovation project that began in 2013 when Rhiannon, husband Patrick and their two sons, Macsen and Dylan, moved into their Victorian terrace in Bristol after relocating from London.

Keen to tackle your own top to bottom makeover, just like Rhiannon and Patrick, we have lots of ideas and helpful advice on what to do and where to start in our feature on house renovation. For more completed projects, head to our hub page.

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

The original dresser is where Rhiannon displays her collection of vintage homewares and blue and white china. She started collecting Cornishware after inheriting some from her grandmother.

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)
Profile

The owners Rhiannon Southwell, textile designer and founder of window film company Blossom & Brush (blossomandbrush.com), lives here with her husband, Patrick, a PR managing partner, and their two sons, Macsen, and Dylan
The property A four-bedroom Victorian terraced house in Bristol
Project cost £51,000

‘While all the boring stuff like plumbing and electrics and re-rendering the back of the house was done when we moved in, we only did the kitchen last year,’ says Rhiannon. ‘We didn’t want to do a quick update, we wanted our dream kitchen, so it was a question of holding off until we had enough money.’

The house, on a quiet residential street in north Bristol, was around the 30th property she looked at when she blitzed viewings during a series of day trips from her in-laws’ home in Frome, Somerset, back in 2013. ‘I actually cried when I came in, I was so relieved,’ she recalls. ‘I just got a really nice feeling from it, so homely and right for us. We put in an offer straight away.’

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

Rhiannon knew she wanted a green kitchen and mixed the colour herself. This was colour-matched and the cabinets were spray-painted before being installed. She also mixed the pale pink used on the walls. The huge picture window at the back looks out over gardens and fills the north-facing kitchen with light.  Kitchen cabinets, made to measure by Jona Warbey. Worktops and built-in sink, Corian. Reclaimed oak engineered herringbone floor, Ted Todd. Range cooker, Lacanche. Dining table, Multiyork. Vintage Ercol dining chairs, flea market and reclamation yard. Rug, Solva Woollen Mill. Black pendant vintage lampshades, bought in Copenhagen

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

When the family got the survey back, there was more to do than they had bargained for, but they decided to press on. Essentials including a new roof at the back, replacing the boiler and restoring the sash windows were done immediately. The house was decorated and they settled in, willing to put up with the dated and unsatisfactory kitchen until they were ready to tackle it. It was during this period that Rhiannon hit on the idea for her business. The large bay window in the sitting room had been a major selling point, but they soon discovered the downside of being on the walking route to the local primary school.

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

The bright and sunny living room was one of the first things that appealed to Rhiannon about the house. She painted the design on the windows to give the family privacy without blocking out light. Folk window film and pendant lampshades, Blossom & Brush. Rug and Birds drum shade, both John Lewis & Partners. Black and white Welsh blanket cushions, Melin Tregwynt. Woodburner, Clearview. Walls painted in French Grey Pale, Little Greene

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

‘We realised that it wasn’t very nice having loads of people from school looking through our front window every day,’ says Rhiannon. ‘I searched for something attractive to put up at the window that wouldn’t block out any light. Net curtains and shutters weren’t very satisfactory, so in the end I hand-painted a design onto the glass.’ This got so many compliments, that Rhiannon now sells her hand-drawn designs, digitally printed onto window film, through her business, Blossom & Brush.

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

The rear sitting room provides extra seating space and opens directly on to the garden. It also houses Rhiannon’s collection of vintage china, which she keeps in an antique glass-fronted cabinet inherited from her husband’s grandmother. ‘We’ve kept a few special things from her, such as the red and white spotty tea set,’ says Rhiannon. ‘That’s our Christmas breakfast set that we always use on Christmas Day.’ Rug, Ikea. Vintage Ercol chairs, inherited from Patrick’s grandmother. Pendant shade, Blossom & Brush. Peacock art print on mantelpiece, Rosie Webb. China, all vintage

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

In January last year, work began on the kitchen. The old orange units and laminate worktops and flooring were ripped out, a chimney breast was removed and a small, low window, which hardly let in any light, was replaced with the enormous picture window. As for the kitchen itself, the one thing Rhiannon was certain of was the colour ‘I’d been gathering ideas for ages from Pinterest and magazines – they were all green! We went for the Shaker style, which I think sits beautifully with the character and original features of our Victorian house.’

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

Rhiannon picked up this dresser in a junk shop and painted it with Annie Sloan paint. It provides the perfect backdrop for some of her collection of blue and white plates

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

They got a quote from Bristol carpenter and friend Jona Warbey, who was able to build them a bespoke kitchen for less than the price of the high-street option. ‘He advised on what layout would work, then we told him how we wanted it to look,’ says Rhiannon. ‘My husband and I are both quite tall, so he made the whole kitchen five centimetres higher than a standard kitchen.’

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

As a textile designer, Rhiannon has a strong instinct for colour schemes and has mixed several of the paint colours herself, such as in the master bedroom where she wanted a warmer grey than elsewhere. She upholstered the sofa herself. ‘You can easily buy pink sofas now, but when I wanted one, there weren’t any out there. I bought this one for £50 and reupholstered it. It looks nice from the front, but I haven’t done the back or bottom – it’s just bare!’ Wardrobe and chests of drawers, Loaf. Grey lamp, John Lewis & Partners. Throw and cushion, Anokhi. Bedlinen, Secret Linen Store. Lamp over bed, Ikea. Curtain fabric, William Morris. Lace window film, Blossom & Brush

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

The work took nine weeks, during which time the family managed with a makeshift kitchen set up in their dining room. When it was finished, Patrick took a week off work to repaint the house from top to bottom. Rhiannon is still taken by the kitchen, which makes all the difference for the family’s day-to-day lives. ‘It’s amazing,’ she says. ‘It really is tailor-made for us.’

Rhiannon Southwell’s green Shaker kitchen was the final part of the project to update a Victorian home

‘The bathroom was horrible, but we lived with it for a few years before we did it,’ says Rhiannon. ‘Like the kitchen, I wanted a more traditional style to go with the house, and as we don’t have a very big window in here, we’ve gone for white to keep it as light as possible.’ Bathroom suite, Burlington. Floor tiles, Encaustic Tiles. Mirrors, vintage

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Subscribe to Real Homes magazine Want even more great ideas for your home from the expert team at Real Homes magazine? Subscribe to Real Homes magazine and get great content delivered straight to your door. From inspiring completed projects to the latest decorating trends and expert advice, you'll find everything you need to create your dream home inside each issue.View Deal

More reading: