Looking to redesign your kitchen? Want to create a space to spend time cooking, eating, entertaining and unwinding? Read on to peruse our favourite kitchens and hear about the stories that inspired them.

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The vibrant kitchen

Chef and cookbook author, John Gregory -Smith, invites us into his colourful, light-filled west London kitchen.

I’m a chef, TV presenter, content creator and author who specialises in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. My kitchen is built within one massive room that works as a living space, dining area and kitchen. It’s where I film everything for my social media channels, TV appearances and shoots. The space is designed first and foremost to entertain, with maximum room to sit down and eat, and then have a full-on kitchen disco late into the night; and secondly so I can film. There is a hob on the kitchen island and loads of natural light. It’s very clean lines, with plenty of storage and a vibrant blue splashback.

The space was designed to let in as much natural light in as possible for filming, so we have huge floor-to-ceiling glass doors that frame the garden beautifully and a skylight just above the kitchen island. The rest was built around this. My mum and my sister designed the space to make it their dream entertaining hub for the family. There are up to 30 of us so they wanted something we could all squeeze into.

John Gregory-Smith's light filled kitchen with grey island and white bar stools

I need loads of storage for all my props. I collect Moroccan plates, small pinch pot bowls and random tiles from all over the world. And then I have all my work appliances – everything from an air fryer to a blender. This kitchen has huge, deep draws on both sides of the island, each one a treasure trove of tableware and appliances. And we have massive pull-out cupboards that turn into a vast pantry for spices, herbs and pasta. Everything is very durable. The surfaces are made of composite, meaning no chips, cracks or stains. You can hurl rose harissa on anything and wipe it off, spill turmeric and it vanishes, or bump into a corner with a Le Creuset pan and nothing will chip.

My favourite time spent in the kitchen is sitting at the table, food everywhere, rosé on tap and my family all around me. That’s the best and, thankfully, my partner and I are very lucky that we get to do this lots.

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John Gregory-Smith's drawers and sink area with cupboards filled with glasses

The urban jungle kitchen

Rukmini Iyer, author of the bestselling Roasting Tin cookbook series, invites us into her period London home, and shares exactly how she transformed the kitchen into her dream space

I’m Rukmini Iyer, and I’m a food writer, stylist and author. I live in London with my partner, Tim, our baby daughter, Alba, and our border collie, Pepper. The kitchen is my favourite room in the house and it was the major selling point when we bought it, even before the refit. It’s a large, airy space in an extension off the original Victorian building. I love that there’s room for a long island unit, a dining area and a living space (which is now home to Alba’s playpen). One of the nicest features is the glass door at the end of the kitchen, which folds into the wall, so in summer the room seamlessly flows into the garden. I’d describe the style as warm and classic, with pops of bright colour and an urban jungle vibe.

When we redesigned the kitchen, the key thing for me was to bring warmth and colour into the space. The kitchen had large white tiles on the floor, white units, a white island and white countertops, and it just wasn’t our style – it felt a little clinical and cold (though luckily there is killer underfloor heating, so it wasn’t cold in reality). I do all my recipe testing and writing in the kitchen, so it’s really important for me to be in an inviting space that fosters creativity.

Rukmini Iyer's bright kitchen with pops of vibrant colours

I was actually partly inspired by photographs of food writer Georgina Hayden’s kitchen, who you recently featured, and by Tim’s mum’s kitchen – after a visit to her home in Cornwall, I realised that the cosiness of wooden floors and painted wooden units was what I wanted, too. We got the parquet floor done first by FloorWorks, who were so knowledgable. And, for the kitchen, I went to Wren Kitchens, as I thought it was great value and quality (and picked out the same units as before, as I missed my last kitchen). Tim had the very good idea of upgrading the drawer and cupboard handles to lovely curved brushed brass ones, and sourced them from Dowsing & Reynolds, with the brushed brass hot and filtered water tap from Lusso Stone.

Pinterest boards are so helpful in pinning down the style of kitchen that you want as a starting point. Then, practical things: it’s easier and cheaper if you position a new gas oven in the same place as the old one, and place a sink or washing machine where there’s existing piping. Our only disaster was that we wanted a complicated chevron tile pattern behind the units, and the tiler did a dreadful job. Don’t look too closely at the photos – the edges are so uneven! My favourite things about this kitchen include having a ‘station’ for Pepper’s bowls, built into the island; I love that Wren incorporated nooks for pets. And I love having a small wine fridge, keeping the main fridge free for food.

Rukmini Iyer's putting a bunch of flowers into a vase

The Scandi-influenced kitchen

Cookbook author James Rich talks us through the inspiration behind his country house kitchen in his period home in Somerset

I’m James Rich, home cook and author. I live in Somerset with my husband, Pip, dogs Henry and Ted, and cat Kiki. My rectangular kitchen has two large windows looking out over an orchard, and the dining room, utility, hallway and snug all come off it, so it’s really the heart of the home.

Our house is an 1840s ‘gentleman’s house’ built in bath stone, and we’re fortunate to have spacious, Georgian-style rooms with tall ceilings. We love the period style of the house but wanted it to feel fresh and light, too. Our kitchen has original flagstone flooring and an Aga, which give it a country house feel, but we’ve created a Scandi-inspired space to balance the traditional with the modern.

James Rich preparing food in his kitchen

The only thing we kept from the original kitchen was the much-loved (but slightly battered) Aga. It had been the heart of the home, and something we couldn’t bring ourselves to take out. The only other element we kept was the flagstone floor, which had been covered in concrete and 70s lino.

We worked with local craftsmen Heartwood (heartwood.co.uk) to create a bespoke space. My husband is in interior design and I write recipes, so we needed something that was aesthetically pleasing but also practical and useful. We wanted natural materials, and opted for English oak for the cupboards and drawers. We needed a worksurface that looked great but was hardy and durable, so we opted for granite from a local supplier. The idea was to balance the stone floor and granite surface with softer materials and wood tones. We painted some of the units in a terracotta colour (Hari by Atelier Ellis) to warm up the room, and kept the walls simple, in an off-white, to emphasise the light flooding the room from the big south-facing windows. Key elements to include were plenty of space to work – a large kitchen island with seating – and storage space for the utensils, pots and pans we’ve accumulated over the years. We also wanted everything integrated, so none of the white goods were on show.

A large wooden spice cupboard and marble kitchen top with serving boards

The practical kitchen

Food writer and stylist Georgina Hayden’s personalised kitchen space is ideally designed for cooking, eating, working – and dancing

I’m a food writer and stylist from north London, with Cypriot roots. I write, shoot and develop books in my kitchen, as well as filming both pre-recorded and live TV here. It’s the centre of the home for me, my husband Peter and our young daughters Persephone and Elektra. The kitchen is large and open plan; it makes up half of the ground floor of our house and is also our dining room, plus a small lounge/play area for the girls. It’s airy and bright, with lots of windows. Unlike all the other rooms in the house, we have kept the walls white so that all the objects in the room really sing.

We had quite a few requirements for the kitchen, the basics being that there was a good area for me to work and develop recipes, a dining space and plenty of storage and shelving. The extras were things like it needing to be a suitable shooting space and that the flow of it worked on camera. I would seriously consider not having cupboards if you can. Having all my items in drawers (including my food processor, cake tins, saucepans and frying pans) makes the kitchen much more user- friendly. Think about surfaces seriously, too – we have two different surfaces, as I wanted marble for shooting but knew all too well how much of a nightmare it is day-to-day. Do you want your main surface to be something so temperamental? Having said that, I wouldn’t change the back unit for the world. Our main island is topped with pietra cardosa, a beautiful stone that is heat-resistant and striking.

Georgina preparing food inside her light-filled kitchen

The island is a dream – it has shelves on one side for cookbooks and deep drawers on the other for saucepans, plus a five-ring hob with a ton of prep space around it. I love my freestanding larder – it’s the only tall unit in the kitchen, and houses the microwave, plus all my dry goods. I always have so much going on, so a large double butler sink is needed (it’s also great for washing my kids in!). I cannot live without my wall-mounted knife magnet. It’s wooden, looks good and keeps the knives out of reach of the girls.

We love a kitchen disco, any day or time. We often just turn the lights out and put our disco lights and music on, and have a kitchen disco. It’s the perfect space for a little party and dance.

Georgina Hayden's kitchen and living room space

The natural kitchen which mirrors its surroundings

Registered nutritionist and writer Kerry Torrens talks us through the transformation of her Devonshire kitchen to create a space to spend time in

I’m a registered nutritionist and food writer living in a Georgian rectory in Dartmoor National Park with my husband and two dogs. When we moved to the house, we were determined to relocate the kitchen, the room we spend most of our time in, from its dark interior room to the beautiful, bright conservatory that had been installed by previous owners. The wall-to-ceiling glass on almost three sides of this room envelopes you in the landscape and provides great levels of natural light. The rectangular shape allows for far-reaching views across the garden to the moorland beyond.

We wanted to echo the landscape with the materials we used so we decided on wooden cabinetry made from Dartmoor oak, and to tie in with the history of the house, the design offers a nod to the Arts and Crafts movement – renovations elsewhere were completed during this period. We used mirrored tiles behind the Aga to further reflect the natural surroundings and to complement the glass chandeliers that we also inherited from previous owners.

A kitchen in a conservatory, featuring a large wooden island, wooden shelves and a chandelier

Siting our kitchen in a conservatory meant we had to totally rethink what a fitted kitchen could be, given our room has no complete walls. This made us question what storage we needed and, of course, what work surface would be appropriate given the high level of reflected light. We also had to incorporate many different functions within the essential island unit, such as providing adequate work space, room for a sink, clever storage such as our glassware cupboards and crockery drawer, an eating area as well as the all-important electric points. I was keen to ensure tidy, clear work surfaces – this meant we needed clever in-built storage with retractable shelves so we could use appliances without constant lifting out and putting away.

This is my perfect kitchen, from the storage and natural elements mirroring our surroundings to repurposed materials, including the church lectern I use for my recipe books, and the stained glass over the interior doors.

A dining room featuring a large wooden table and chairs, a large candle holder and a glass chandelier

The farmhouse-style kitchen

Gardening and cookbook author and teacher, Sarah Raven, shows us round her open-plan, contemporary farmhouse-style home kitchen in East Sussex

I am a teacher, writer and podcaster. I run my own gardening and cookery school at Perch Hill in East Sussex, and am the author of many books. My kitchen is an open-plan living, kitchen and family hang-out room, with a wood burner at one end and an amazing view over a small wildflower meadow, and then to the woods and countryside beyond. It also has French windows all along the southern side with a kind of contemporary farmhouse kitchen feel.

Sarah Raven's kitchen/living room at Perch Hill

We designed it with the cooker/hob facing out into the room for easy chatting when I’m cooking, rather than having my back to the room. That was an idea copied from my middle stepson’s kitchen in his London flat and I love it. I also copied the drawers without handles from friends in Stoke Newington. I am anything but a minimalist (every shelf in my kitchen is jam-packed) but I like this minimalist design look.

My husband Adam designed it with our builders – and the whole design and build was quite straightforward with some lovely local cabinet makers who constructed it. With hindsight, I would get a hob with at least one strong burner so I could do really good crispy stir-fries. I also wish we had a dishwasher right there rather than in our mini back-kitchen, as there’s a lot of carrying to and fro.

Sarah browsing seed catalogues and in her kitchen living room at Perch Hill

The modern and monochromatic kitchen

Renowned chef Judy Joo, owner of the Seoul Bird Korean street food restaurants, shows us around her stunning modern home kitchen

I am a French-trained Korean-American, and I’ve been living in Marylebone for 17 years, working as a chef, restaurateur and writer. My kitchen is modern, spacious and designed around a massive stove. It is rather monochromatic (silver and white) with clean lines, and minimalist, yet still warm and reflective of my personality and style of cooking. I knew that I wanted to put in a Molteni stove, and then we designed the kitchen around this epic centrepiece. I wanted it to be a gorgeous space that was highly functional and durable as well. All the cabinets go up to the ceiling and there is storage in every void. Deep drawers, large cabinets, a huge walk-in pantry, two full refrigerators and lots of shelving make the kitchen very practical.

A grey and silver kitchen with modern fittings and vibrant flowers on the island

I also wanted a front-facing hob on the island to use for filming, but I didn’t want to break up the clean flat countertop. So I installed an induction hob and inlaid it to make it completely level with the countertop. This way I could easily cover it up with a chopping board or even a placemat if necessary. I also wanted an eat-in bar area for informal dining. This front bar area of the countertop has three stools and has become the most popular place to perch in the kitchen. The stove was made bespoke – it has four burners, a four-zone solid top, briquette grill and wok station. Two mammoth ovens complete the unit and a stove tap makes it easy to fill pots as well. I have a commercial hood that sucks out
all the smoke. I also recently added a HotSpot Titanium instant boiling water tap, which I absolutely love and use all the time.

I love the look and the functionality – a balance that is sometimes hard to achieve. It really is a completely unique kitchen.

Jars of spices, bowls and pots stored in a silver metal cupboard

The eclectic kitchen where old meets new

Chef and cookbook author Ben Tish shows us round his eclectic kitchen in east London

I’m the author of cookbooks Grill, Smoke, BBQ; Moorish; and, my latest, Sicilia; and chef and director at Cubitt House – a group of food-led central London dining pubs. I live in Limehouse, east London, with my wife Nykeeta and our two dogs, Piglet and Peanut. We have an odd-shaped galley kitchen with a dining area, which leads out to the garden. The kitchen is in an old fashioned, early Victorian style, which fits our old house – built in 1882 – with some contemporary touches. It’s the heart of the house and we spend the most of our time there.

I wanted a kitchen that was sympathetic to the house’s age while having a contemporary feel. Design inspirations included the kitchens in [furniture manufacturer] deVOL, the Cotswolds, Georgian and Victorian houses, and Farrow & Ball.

A collage of Ben Tish's kitchen, showing the large metal table, dark blue cabinets and marble counter top

We had an idea, got a designer to look at the cabinets and galley area, and then we added all the extra touches ourselves – old artwork, paint, furniture and shelves. Our advice to anyone thinking of renovating their kitchen is to plan, plan and plan again. Ensure you get a great builder who can manage the project, too – you only want to speak to one person when you are stressed out.

There are many things that make this my perfect kitchen: access to the garden – it’s great for photographing food; it’s a place I happily sit and work or relax in, as well as cook; it’s on a different floor to the living room, so I can play music without interrupting the rest of the house; and the oven is perfect for heavy cooking. My happiest memories of my time spent in this kitchen are enjoying weekend dinners with Nykeeta and the dogs.

A collage of Ben Tish's kitchen, showing the marble top, wooden shelves and a metal cabinet containing mugs, pans and bowls

The spacious, light-filled kitchen

Food photographer David Cotsworth shows us round his spacious, light-filled family kitchen in the heart of Surrey

I’m a food, portrait and lifestyle photographer. I live with my wife Becky, our two boys Charlie and Edward, dog Ziggy and cat Max in Englefield Green in Surrey. We’ve lived in the village for 14 years and absolutely love it here. Our open-plan kitchen is bright and modern, about 35 square meters, with a breakfast bar, dining and living areas and bifold doors that open out to the patio and garden – it’s the place we spend most of our time together as a family.

When we bought this house in 2016, it had a small kitchen with separate dining room. We wanted a bigger kitchen that looked out to our garden and for it to be open plan, so we knocked the dining room through to the kitchen and extended to the side, giving us a much bigger living space. We worked with an architect to help us make the most of the space and incorporated a utility room to hide away appliances. The bifold doors, along with large roof windows, help bring in natural light – when we open them, it feels like we’re bringing the outside in.

David Cotsworth - A Kitchen to Covet

I love how much natural light the kitchen gets, thanks to the seamless extension to the patio when opening the bifold doors. The underfloor heating is also great, as it allows you to maximise wall space without the need of radiators. The kitchen island is great for preparing food and being able to sit and socialise with friends and eat with the family. There’s also plenty of storage space, plus room to sit on the sofa looking out to the garden while the doors are open in summer.

I always remember when we were determined to host Christmas for the first time during the renovation. The kitchen fitter left on 23 December and we were still painting the skirting on Christmas Eve, an hour before everyone arrived. It would be the last Christmas we’d spend with my dad, so it was a special time.

David Cotsworth - A Kitchen to Covet

The rural family kitchen

Georgie Pearman, co-owner of Country Creatures, a collection of boutique hotels and pubs in the Cotswolds, shows us around her elegant rural family kitchen

“My husband Sam and I live near Stroud in the Cotswolds. We own and run Country Creatures, which operates properties in the area including The Chequers in Churchill, The Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood and The Double Red Duke in Oxfordshire. We are also directors of Cubitt House in London, which operates six central London pubs, some with rooms.

A collage showing a large light filled rural kitchen with hanging art and plants and a woman cutting bread on a large wooden table

It’s a busy family kitchen with dogs, cats and teenagers. At the moment it’s pretty simple and one day we’ll redecorate properly but it’s very functional, so it suits us perfectly for now. It has an AGA, which we love to use as a giant radiator and obviously for cooking roasts. Because the kitchen is so simple, we’ve tried to incorporate lots of art and plants.

The kitchen is south-facing so we’re lucky that the table and chairs overlook the garden, and there’s lots of natural light. It was important that we could bring some of the outside into the kitchen and obviously it had to be spacious enough to allow us to host our friends.

We inherited the kitchen from the previous owners and we didn’t need to do much to it except paint the walls and put up some artwork. We like having a separate area where you can put all the washing-up when we have friends over, so you don’t see it. We would also love to have a proper cold room with marble shelves rather than a fridge.

My favourite memories in the kitchen are always at Christmas, when everyone arrives and we all sit around the table. On a weekly basis it’s the Sunday lunches – we’re a big fan of a long lunch."

A collage showing Georgia Pearman standing in her kitchen with a dog and a large black Aga

The sleek, functional kitchen

Chef and author Saiphin Moore shows us around her sleek, supremely functional kitchen in east London, where an abundance of space to store ingredients and get creative is king

“I am a chef and author, and live in Wapping, east London. I opened the first Rosa’s Thai Café with my husband Alex in 2008 after serving my family recipes on a market stall in Brick Lane in 2007.Our home kitchen is large and in the centre of our flat. It’s a square room with lots of light. There’s an industrial-style cupboard around the oven with shelving to store my ingredients, which I have quite a few of! There’s also a large island that the room is centred around, which is the perfect set-up for cooking. The kitchen is very airy, with windows overlooking the terrace and the river so we can catch the natural light from all angles – it’s a very peaceful room.

A light filled silver kitchen with a large kitchen island, wooden stools and floor to ceiling windows

I have five fridges, which is a lot, but they’re necessary to store everything I need. I require lots of space to keep herbs, for example, which are key in Thai cooking. I needed a kitchen that was designed for the way I wanted to use it and makes sense for how I cook. For me, that means large work surfaces, lots of storage and space for people to sit without getting in the way.

The space was previously used as a living room, so everything in the renovation had to be brand new. Look at other people’s kitchens and spend time in them, if you can. This is the best way to learn what you want and need. You can have the most beautiful kitchen but it might not be functional at all. When I cook and people are standing in the kitchen, I’m so happy – it’s like a chef’s table for my friends and family. When I have a party, I’m always thinking of the next one."

A light filled kitchen with a large wooden table and bench, wood panelled floors and a floor to ceiling balcony doors

The elegant Spanish kitchen

Chef, restaurateur and cookbook author José Pizarro’s lets us look around his home kitchen, combining Georgian elegance with a subtly classic Spanish style

José Pizarro’s home kitchen, featuring an elegant grey island, a dark wooden table and regal chandelier

“I’m a chef, restaurateur and cookbook author hailing from a beautiful village, Talaván, in Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain. I’m very lucky to live in a beautiful Georgian house in Kennington, south-east London, with my partner Dr Peter Meades and our two dogs, Conchi and Pie.

Ours is a basement kitchen with original Georgian features; it’s the beating heart of our home. We love to entertain, so it’s a good size for that, and it also backs onto our patio and garden, which is one of my favourite features.

The kitchen is a space for us to gather our guests, but it can also be used as a sanctuary for us to unwind in (the wine cellar helps there, too). One aspect that’s important to me in particular is having a gas hob. Whereas all of my restaurants are electric, at home I love cooking with gas – there’s something about the heat it creates and the look of the flames that somehow makes the experience of cooking earthy and primal.

The happiest memories I have of time spent in this kitchen happen whenever my mum comes to visit and I get to cook meals for her. After all the food she prepared for me growing up, it brings me great joy to be able to repay the favour."

A shelf holding decorative glassware and Jose's wine cellar

The ergonomic kitchen

David Carter, the chef behind London barbecue restaurant, Smokestak, and Italian, Manteca, shows us round his minimalist, ergonomic home kitchen

David's airy kitchen with dark blue kitchen tops and cupboards

“I think you’ve always got to look at the blank canvas, what the infrastructure is like and what is going to work within the space. Where we live, just off Columbia Road, all the houses are the same – two up, two down terraces, and so locating the kitchen at the rear made most sense for the natural light, and so it leads into the garden.

We definitely thought a lot about the ergonomics of the space. As a chef, the less walking you have to do in a kitchen, the better, so the fridge, sink, range and dishwasher were all fitted with this in mind. We also wanted to make it timeless. We looked at all these amazing appliances and induction hobs but actually settled on quite straightforward, classic pieces, such as the Lacanche range cooker, as we were really keen to make sure we acknowledged the building’s age, while also making it suitable for modern life. I think you have to really celebrate the small victories when working on a renovation like this, as they are few and far between, but always worth it in the end."

David cutting veg on the kitchen island

The light-filled kitchen

Hollie Newton’s airy, light-filled Dorset kitchen brings the outdoors in, combining whitewashed Scandi simplicity with pops of colour for added warmth and character

Hollie's airy, light-filled kitchen featuring a smart white Island and blue door

“I’m a screenwriter, creative director, gardener and cook. I wrote a bestselling gardening book a few years back, How to Grow: A Guide for Gardeners Who Can’t Garden Yet (£20, Orion Spring). I live down by the sea in Poole, Dorset, with my husband Tim, toddler Bertie and our doodle, Lettuce. This is our home – a dilapidated 1920s bungalow that we bought four years ago, completely renovating it from top to bottom.

We have a light, bright, L-shaped kitchen/living room – about 40 square metres – with an enormous peaked floor-to-ceiling window extension that makes it look far bigger than it is. The entire back wall is glass, so even on the dreariest of days it’s impossible for the kitchen to feel gloomy or cramped.

We kept the room L-shaped, retaining a square of terrace, so the doors open onto it. It’s gated, so it’s a natural toddler play pen. The link between the garden and kitchen is important, as I grow a lot of food in the raised beds and greenhouse. There’s nothing nicer than picking ingredients for dinner. Bespoke bookshelves house cookbooks, but my design master stroke was to hide the larder and utilities behind a sliding door – it’s disguised easily.

The units are Howdens, but we got marble-like composite for the tops and brass fixtures. We went to a timber yard to find wood for the shelves – uneven-edged, so you get a sense of the trees. The tiles in our splashback are a commission from my friend, and we splashed out on a new sofa and wood-burning stove for the snug. I used white-grey Scandi tones as a backdrop for the view, with pops of colour – the pink sofa, rescued pub sign whale, Farrow & Ball blue sliding door – and natural textures for warmth."

Hollie's airy and light-filled kitchen including floor to ceiling windows and smart grey kitchen cupboards

The glam and earthy kitchen

Acclaimed interior designer Abigail Ahern has created a kitchen rich in natural tones and textures, with leafy garden views.

Abigal's open-plan kitchen with glam furnishings and rich, earthy tones

“I’m a retailer, designer, author and teacher. The kitchen is approximately 30 square metres and I joined forces with Herringbone Kitchens to design a range of modular kitchen cabinets. The kitchen is timeless and chic: slabs of natural quartz are on the island, work benches and black splash, and the cabinets are painted out in my infamous inky saturated palette.

I wanted a kitchen that was practical but at the same time super glam, as it’s an open-plan arrangement in our house, so I wanted it to blend with the other zones, like the den and dining area. I also wanted to have a view of the garden while cooking and for it to be somewhere that I loved to hang out in and entertain.

The five things that make this my perfect kitchen are: the NEFF appliances – I love them all, from the oven to the fridge, the warming drawer to the steam oven; the lighting – it adds so much atmosphere, from my beautiful chandelier to the little table lamps on the counter; the open-plan shelving – it’s so much nicer than looking at a lot of closed doors, and it’s made the kitchen feel super chic; the pantry – housing all my dry and tinned goods, plus other appliances – has been a big game changer as it’s a beautiful piece of cabinetry and hides all the stuff that isn’t that great to look at; and little details, such as the aged brass hardware on all the cabinetry have elevated it to a whole other level."

Abigal's glam outdoor space adjoining the kitchen and dark open plan shelving

The sleek kitchen

Mark Joy’s less-is-more approach to his kitchen involves rearranging the space to make it the heart of the home, as well as a pleasure to cook in.

A sleek white kitchen with a wooden island, counters and kitchen table

“I’m a marketing consultant who worked for agencies for 25 years before becoming a freelancer six years ago. I currently work as head of marketing for the luxury retailer Chesneys. I live in St Margarets, London, with my wife, a director of a PR firm, and our 21-month-old son Henry. Our kitchen is a compact rectangle contained in a rear extension, with bi-fold doors that open on to the garden. The kitchen is a Beckermann with NEFF appliances, white Corian surfaces and an island that houses the hob. It’s well loaded with tech, including three ovens (conventional, steam and microwave), an induction hob, a large fridge with filtered water and ice-maker, and a small wine fridge. It’s even got a NEFF warming/proving drawer. Just outside the back doors is our heater BBQ, another essential for us all year round.

We didn’t design this kitchen ourselves, though we have made alterations. It’s not the biggest in the world but, with the amount of storage, useful tech and great light, it’s lovely to use, and its connection to the south-facing garden is so good. From April to October the doors are often fully open from first thing in the morning to bedtime. I’m a keen cook (and a very disappointing 2013 participant in MasterChef) and do the majority of the cooking, and I need a space that is easy to use but also enables me to do more advanced things, when the inspiration strikes."

A sleek white counter space with kitchen appliances and a purple splash back

The homely kitchen

Chetna Makan’s light-filled kitchen merges a sleek, practical cooking space with an inviting dining area, perfectly suited to her love of family get-togethers.

Two images of Chetna's kitchen

“I’m a food writer and author living in Broadstairs, a small seaside town in Kent. I’m very lucky to have a south-facing kitchen, which means I have light from the minute the sun comes out until the time it goes down. It’s a very modern kitchen with clean lines, but full of things that we use all the time as a family. We moved into this house 11 years ago with two small babies, and one of the things that we fell in love with was the spacious kitchen. It was my dream to have the kitchen-dining area extended into a big rectangular room – finally, last year, I decided that it was time to update it and make the whole space feel like one.

Browsing Instagram, I found a London-based company called Sheraton Interiors. I visited the showroom, and as soon as I saw this particular kitchen, I knew it was the one. I like deep, dark and warm colours, so I chose anthracite units and white surfaces, and I added a couple of wooden shelves just to break up the design and add more warmth. I particularly love my spice drawer as it’s made the whole cooking process so much easier. I also love the appliances I use, all of which are from NEFF – I have been using them for few years, so it all feels very comfortable. I use the open shelving to store all of the cookbooks I own and the main kitchen bits and pieces that I use every day, but also for shooting my YouTube videos. There are so many happy memories from my time in this kitchen. Many gatherings, celebrations and get-togethers. One of the most special has to be when my mum, dad and sister’s family all visited us one summer, and we cooked many meals together. That had to be the best summer in our home."

Chetna Makan's dining room table

The "seaside chic" kitchen

April Preston’s Devon kitchen is a unique hideaway designed to bring in the outdoors, where home and work life pretty much merge into one.

April's kitchen island

“I live in a beautiful seaside town, Budleigh Salterton in Devon. I wanted my kitchen to be a big enough space for us all to hang out there together, and there are several places to sit, from the small settee to the stools, and the banquette and chairs around the table. The kitchen looks out over our beautiful garden (which was originally designed by Mr Bostick, the glue man!) – I wanted to ensure that we made the most of the views with bi-fold doors and, as they lead onto a terrace, it pretty much feels like I’m outside when the doors are open.

I had to have a kitchen that could take an Aga. I grew up on a farm with an Aga, and have yearned to have my own ever since. I not only love the way it cooks, but it has a very strong emotional and nostalgic pull that has made our house feel like a real home. I wanted a little bit of glamour in the kitchen, and the copper sink and three glass pendant lights have definitely brought that. But my absolute favourite bits of the kitchen are the wooden shelves and the larder. I hate cupboards, particularly eye-level ones, and have always had kitchens with open shelves. But, unfortunately, that can mean lots of clutter – hence the larder. Plenty of seating options means the whole family can all be in the same space without annoying one another. I love light, and am an avid Instagrammer, so I need it for photographs. Pretty much every element of the design and makeup of the kitchen maximises that."

April's pantry and cookbooks

The rustic Italian kitchen

Emiko Davies' kitchen is a much-loved place to work, cook and eat, that pays tribute to the traditional designs, textures and colours of her adopted homeland.

Emiko's oven, fridge and dining table

“I’m a cookbook author and, although I’m originally from Australia, I’ve been in Florence for more than 15 years. We’ve just bought and renovated our first home – an apartment that dates back to 1800 – in San Miniato. After living in the tiniest apartment in Florence, we feel spoiled in this space with its high ceilings and huge, two-metre high windows that look out over the valley. We wanted to make the most of the room so we could put in a large Smeg multi-zone induction cooktop and wide sink by the window, while also having plenty of counter space. Very Simple Kitchen in Bologna makes functional, versatile, custom kitchen modules inspired by vintage industrial workbenches. This meant everything would be durable and practical, but as it can all be made using any material or colour you can imagine, it would also be less ‘professional kitchen’ and more ‘home’. The cabinets are powder-coated in a chameleon-like colour that changes according to the light – sometimes it’s a dark, smoky blue, other times it’s a deep teal hue.

I fell in love with the terrazzo top as soon as I saw it – it’s an ancient Italian technique that recycles stone and marble off-cuts, so it’s pretty and practical. We decided to not do shelves or kitchen cabinets – I love how open the kitchen feels with its tall ceilings – but we do need to put things somewhere! We pulled out an old table from my mother-in- law’s attic that had been forgotten about for almost 40 years. When it was cleaned it up, we discovered it had a marble top. The kitchen is the heart of our home, and it is the first time we’ve actually had space to have a dining table."

Emiko's kitchen table and dresser

The minimalist kitchen

Richard Makin has fulfilled his dream of having two kitchens – a test space for his work as a cook, and the other as a minimalist yet welcoming family hub.

Richard Makin's high chairs at the table

“It’s been my dream for as long as I can remember to have two kitchens and recently that dream came true. I’m a food writer and vegan recipe developer based in Hastings with my husband, Peter, and our rescue dog Ripley. We’ve converted the existing basement kitchen of our Edwardian house into a functional test kitchen, and installed a separate casual kitchen/living room on the ground floor. We call my test kitchen the ‘plant dungeon’ since it’s down in the basement and is always full of vegetables. It’s a decent-sized space with a view out into the garden, but my favourite feature is the en-suite pantry, which is my most used room in the whole house. The space is lit by industrial-style bulkhead lights from a local homeware store named Dyke & Dean. Most of the counters are on casters, which means I can rearrange the layout to suit my needs. If I’m shooting food photography, I can push the counters right up to the window to make the most of the natural light.

The ground-floor kitchen is much more casual. This space was intended for making coffee, eating breakfast and entertaining guests, so it looks very different to downstairs. The space was crafted by local workshop, Johnson Bespoke, which made everything, from the Japanese-inspired floating cabinets to the minimal metalwork dining island. We chose grey, polished plaster for the walls, which is beautifully imperfect and contrasts nicely with the warm parquet floor. It’s a lovely, uncomplicated space to sit and work with an early morning coffee while the sun comes up. But it’s equally suited to enjoying a glass of wine with some friends, or curling up on the couch with a good book and the log burner roaring."

Richard Makin's sink and tea tray

The vintage chic kitchen

Rosie Birkett's characterful north London kitchen cleverly combines bespoke fittings with quirky upcycled accessories.

Rosie Birkett's kitchen cupboards with a pink dresser on rug

“As a cookbook author, food writer and recipe developer, I need a kitchen that can double up as a workspace and studio. Ours does just that. I live here with my husband Jamie and our whippet. We moved from a tiny basement flat and were blown away by the soaring ceilings and natural light from the glass atrium. The downstairs revolves around the kitchen. I love to cook for family and friends but I definitely get a fear of missing out if I’m shut away in a separate room – thankfully that isn’t an issue with this space. I considered replacing the units but Kiri’s Spray Shop, a brilliant man in Wood Green, persuaded me to spray the existing ones instead.

Because the space is so white and modern, I wanted to introduce more rustic textures and colour through tiling. There are Moroccan zellige tiles in pearly pink for a splashback behind the sink and under the units – I love how the tiles are slightly different shapes and thicknesses. Carrara marble worktops were non-negotiable. I love the feel and heft of marble, and its coolness means it’s so good for prepping pastry. With the help of Ben Wheeler (@deringrestoration), we converted the small utility room into my dream pantry. It uses the full ceiling height for bespoke, limed oak shelves, and has sturdy handmade shaker units. Carefully chosen light fittings have the power to finish a space. I found a modernist Sputnik-esque design with multiple lamps for the kitchen. My happiest times in my kitchen are raucous dinner parties around the long ercol table when the wine doesn’t stop flowing.”

Rosie's pantry and long wooden table with chairs

The industrial warehouse kitchen

Alastair Hendy’s double-height warehouse kitchen combines functional repurposed catering equipment with outsized, durable utilities to create his ideal workspace.

Birds eye shot of Alistair's kitchen

“I’m a food and travel writer, photographer, and retailer living in Shoreditch, London, with my partner, John Clinch, in a split-level warehouse apartment that we converted from scratch in 1996. Our L-shaped kitchen, on the lower level, covers 25 square metres and has an adjoining scullery and pantry, making it the core of the home. The look is industrial, steel and concrete, almost brutalist, and very much unfitted. The equipment is all commercial, restaurant- grade – much of it bought from an auction in Battersea – and chosen for its no-nonsense good looks and efficiency. Industrial kitchen equipment was chosen for its efficiency, with open storage on trolleys for fluidity and their ergonomic possibilities.

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Being a food photographer, shop owner, designer and hoarder of all things beautiful, I have lots of props stashed away. Being a full-on cook, too, I need an efficient workspace and everything here is not only my aesthetic, but also fit for purpose. The materials can take a bit of a hammering and improve beautifully with age. The central worktable came from a school (for £100), which I customised with stainless steel to cover its crumbling melamine top, and I painted the wood with off-white eggshell. Three wall-mounted Anglepoise lamps are ex-hospital, and cost £2.50 each, in the days when no one valued industrial. I’ve upcycled and re-purposed all my life, and getting a bargain is in my DNA. I trawl boot fairs, auctions and international antique fairs. I love the old canteen trolley in the scullery (£95) – it holds so much. The new cooker and fridge are where the serious cash was spent: heavy-duty Zanussi gear."

Alistair's sink and light

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