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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
The vintage chic kitchen
Rosie Birkett’s characterful north London kitchen cleverly combines bespoke fittings with quirky upcycled accessories.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.”