Kitchen makeover: ‘I made the kitchen the heart of the house’

Lily Coles completely redesigned the kitchen in her Victorian terrace to emulate the feel of her restaurateur parents’ home

Kitchen makeover - Black modern kitchen with skylights

Lily Coles almost didn’t buy this house because of its original kitchen. It was a dark, narrow galley with no space for a table. Having grown up in a family ‘big on food’, she wanted her kitchen to be the centre of her house.

Advertisement
Kitchen makeover - bifold doors in the kitchen looking out onto a garden
With a bright living space in mind, Lily planned the entire extension around having a generous kitchen table and bifold doors to bring the outside in

The solution was an extension, with skylights and bifold doors leading out to the garden.

The new design would give her a room she could spend time in all year long, with space to entertain and cook with the produce she grows at home.

Kitchen makeover - kitchen dresser with Pinterest storage jars
Lily’s builder constructed this dresser for her. It’s an important piece as she’s not keen on having too much clutter in the preparation area of the kitchen

‘It was so difficult to know where to start as I like so many different interior styles,’ says Lily.

Welcome to my home 

Who lives here? Lily Coles, a renewable engineer, has lived alone in her two-bedroom Victorian terrace in east Reading since 2012.

What’s your favourite thing about this room? ‘The most concerning thing for me about the original room was that there was no space for a kitchen table, which was my only must. I come from a foodie family and love to cook.’

Kitchen makeover - Lily Coles

‘I started to see a pattern emerge in my references for dark grey and black units, with modern, bright Scandi touches.

‘I also reasoned that this look goes with everything so it meant I had a bit more freedom with the rest of the kitchen.’

Kitchen makeover - kitchen wall art and storage jars
Good idea! Use glass jars filled with sweets or utensils to add a pop of colour into the room

Lily approached several local builders for quotes and eventually chose David Bressington Building Services.

‘They were a bit more expensive,’ she says. ‘But I knew they would care about the project and pay a lot of attention to the details. Because it was my first big decoration project, and I’d never had a reason to think about details such as what colour windows and skirting boards should be, or where the light switches should go, they were a great support.’

More about the makeover

What did you learn during the process? ‘Be brave and do your research. As I grew in confidence, I realised there was more I could have asked for at the beginning. The builders I chose to work with were very accommodating to my small, last-minute requests, such as moving a stud wall to make more space for a utility area.’

Kitchen makeover - Lily Coles

The renovation took four months, lasting from January to May 2015, and Lily moved out while the work was underway. It took around four weeks longer than the builders originally estimated because of some issues with party wall extractor fans.

It meant Lily couldn’t build as high as she’d originally planned, but the builders switched the position of the kitchen to solve the problem.

Kitchen makeover - Black modern kitchen with skylights
To reduce cost, Lily kept the support walls for the bathroom upstairs, which marks the original external wall of the kitchen. A space-saving clothes pulley tucks away overhead

‘I actually prefer it this way,’ says Lily. ‘I hardly use the rest of the house anymore,’ she enthuses. ‘The light in here is amazing – it’s bright and airy in the summer and cosy in the winter. I now feel claustrophobic in other kitchens with only a window!’

Kitchen makeover - wooden utensils in a bright ceramic jug
Good idea! Display wooden utensils in a bright ceramic jug to create a colourful feature

‘I love gardening and growing my own veg now, as the garden feels like it’s part of the house. Getting home, opening the doors and picking fresh veg and herbs from the garden for supper never gets boring!

Advertisement

‘My whole life is in this kitchen now and I wouldn’t change a thing.’

Shop the look

Laxarby unit, £210 for a 600mm unit; Ekbacken concrete effect worktop, £40 for 186 x 2.8cm; Fagleboda handles, £6 for a pack of two; Domsjo sink and Ringskar tap, £205; Fiskbo frames, £5 each, all IKEA. Range, £618, Kenwood. Cumbrian Stone floor tiles, ST14, Knight Tile Collection, £18.99 per sq m, Karndean. Pendant light, £225, from Original BTC. Kitchen tiles (mismatched leftovers), £200 in total, Marlborough Tiles. Bespoke shelves, £300 by David Bressington. Kitchen walls painted in Strong White, £49.95 per 2.5l; skirting boards painted in Cornforth white, £49.95 per 2.5l, both Farrow & Ball. Kitchen table: for similar, try Farmhouse dining table, from £355, Made in the Cellar. Kitchen chairs: for similar, try Windsor Fern dining chair in natural, £89 each, Cult Furniture. Yellow chair: for similar, try French school chair with wood finish in yellow, £47, Cult Furniture. Clothes pulley, £60, Garden Trading. Beko CFG1582DS Fridge Freezer in silver, Currys. £269.99. Typewriter: for similar try Smith Corona Courier Typewriter, £82.43, SoYesterdaySoCool on Etsy. Bench: for similar, try Alpen Home Bearpaw Wood Kitchen Bench, £159.99, Wayfair. Mallorcan pottery: for similar, try the serveware and sideplates, starting at £8, Anthropologie. Vintage utensil holder: for similar, try Ceramic Jug, £15, Mudness Ceramics on Etsy. Antique glass sweet jars: for similar try the Vardagen range, from £1.50, IKEA. Total cost: £4,483.99

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?