'We thought OUTSIDE THE BOX'
Style at Home|February 2022
Jane and Guy have added bespoke doors and industrial touches to give their budget kitchen a designer look
VICTORIA JENKINS/KAREN WILSON

COST CUTTER ‘Buying ready-made carcases and having bespoke doors and shelves made by a joiner saved a lot of money’

COME ON IN!

ABOUT ME I’m Jane Neil, a graphic designer, and I live here with my husband Guy, a town planner, and our daughter Ellen, nine, in an extended five-bedroom semi-detached 1900 house in Beckenham, southeast London.

MY CHALLENGE Although it was in good condition, our ’90s kitchen was dated and felt dark. We never really used the garden properly as it was a dead area, so we wanted a bigger, sunnier kitchen-diner that linked to the outside space.

MY WISH LIST I wanted a sociable kitchen with a contemporary style and industrial touches. A long island where I could cook and chat to people sitting at stools was a must.

TAKE A SEAT ‘Keeping one end of the island open allows for a sociable arrangement of two stools on either side’

With a brown wooden kitchen, little light coming through the west-facing window and an unused side garden, our house needed a major rethink,’ says Jane. ‘When we asked architect Simon Skeffington for ideas, we expected him to square off the back to give us a bigger kitchen. Instead he surprised us with his creative ideas – literally sketched on the back of an envelope – which made use of the unusual wedge-shaped plot that’s narrower at the rear.

We loved his suggestion for an internal courtyard of frameless glass with a Corten steel and glass extension wrapped around, which cleverly brought in the south light. The 50sq m extension gave us four extra rooms – a kitchen-diner, utility, guest bedroom and shower room – and finally made use of the side garden.

The build

To transform our existing kitchen and dining room, Simon’s team from Architectural (architecturall.co.uk) gutted the single-story kitchen, removed the dividing wall between the kitchen and dining room and added a glass roof. Over four months a new, bigger window was fitted, then they rewired, replastered, put in a new ceiling and laid a new tiled floor with underfloor heating throughout both spaces. The old oak kitchen flooring was cleaned and re-used in the new bedroom so it wasn’t wasted and they reclaimed the York stone from the house and re-laid it to create the garden terrace which is accessed by new sliding doors. I’ve worked with Simon in the past and his attention to detail is fantastic. It all came in on budget too.

Contemporary look

After initially getting a quote of £35,000 for a new kitchen, we had to think outside the box to achieve the look we wanted for less. Thankfully Simon managed to build us a similar contemporary design for around £8,000 using Howdens carcases with bespoke shelving and doors made by his joiners.

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