Moving into their three-bedroom house in Tring, Hertfordshire, in 2017, interior design consultant Claire Kitchener and her husband, Tom, both 45, knew it was a huge renovation project waiting to happen.
Adding a light-filled extension gave Claire the perfect opportunity to create a wonderfully fresh and vibrant kitchen space to complement her vintage treasures. The minty green units from IKEA tie in with the rich green wall colour, while the oak island worktop mirrors the dark flooring, creating a balanced effect
Their vision was to extend the back of the house and knock through the small existing kitchen and dining room to create a wonderful family living space where they could spend more quality time with their two young children, Hugh, nine, and Rose, seven. ‘When we bought the house, we were looking for a project, somewhere we could add value, so we looked past the dated décor and awkward layout, and saw the potential,’ says Claire.
Claire’s vintage crockery collection takes pride of place in her 1950s glass cabinet, while her embroidered swans make a quirky display on the green statement wall. The compact sofa from Made.com is positioned away from the kitchen to give the living area an intimate feel
Eager to mix in her collection of old finds with the new kitchen scheme, Claire wanted to give the space a unique vintage touch. ‘Initially, we wanted an old haberdashery unit that we could adapt to create an island,’ she says. ‘However, the real thing was out of our budget, so I set myself the challenge of creating a similar feel with modern kitchen units.’
The before: Claire and her husband Tom knew the kitchen was a huge renovation project waiting to happen
Having worked with builder Colin Welling from Outlook Windows on a previous project, they approached him again for help with planning the new extension and the best way to use the space.
‘Colin was brilliant at suggesting clever design solutions and came up with the idea for adding full-length windows around the corner of the new extension to create an orangery feel and a better connection with the garden,’ says Claire. Plans for the new space were then drawn up by an architect and submitted for approval.
Keen to encourage plenty of calming natural light and create a connection with the pretty garden, the full-height windows were extended around the corner for a striking effect
While the couple waited for the plans to be approved, they used the time wisely to ‘gather ideas for the interior look and map the layout of the open-plan room,’ says Claire.
By dividing up the space into separate eating, seating and cooking zones, Claire and Tom were able to come up with a layout for the electric sockets, light fittings and plumbing aspects they knew would work well for them.
‘A renovation project can start to feel overwhelming when you’re faced with lots of last-minute decisions, so getting ahead of the game can help you stay on top of these decisions.’
Claire’s scheme was inspired by the gorgeously rich colours, textures and patterns created by her vibrant vintage crockery and beautiful marble plant stand. She used Pinterest to create moodboards and bring her look together, so she had a clear vision of the overall scheme right from the start
With the building work underway and footings being dug, Claire got on with sourcing the kitchen and, as she was determined to combine her collection of vintage crockery and furniture, she searched for units that would complement her collectables.
‘As most of our budget was being spent on the new extension and large windows, IKEA seemed the most cost-effective route, so I booked an appointment with the in-house designer,’ she recalls.
Good idea! Give your off-the-shelf kitchen units a bespoke feel with interesting handles from a different company.
With the floor plans to hand, the designer was able to help with technical aspects, space-saving options and 3D visuals to help fine-tune the overall look.
‘Although I had to make several trips to the store, IKEA’s product range was very good. I chose the minty green units for a vintage touch and teamed them with bright white laminate worktops for a fresh finish.’
In the meantime, the external walls of the extension were speedily erected, and the new space began to take shape. Claire decamped the family into the front room with a make-shift kitchen, while the builders knocked through the back of the house. Once the roof and windows were in, the extension was finally sealed and ready for the internal work to begin.
Steal Claire’s style
With the electrics, gas and plumbing in place, and the walls and ceiling plastered, the kitchen was installed. Drawing inspiration from vintage haberdashery units, the island features a bank of IKEA drawers with a stained oak worktop to conjure the look and feel of an old butcher’s block. ‘We love the island’s bespoke feel and the contrast it creates against the white laminate worktops around the rest of the units,’ says Claire.
If you love the luxurious look of stone or marble surfaces but your budget won’t stretch to the real thing, then opt for marble-effect tiles instead to add a high-end look to the scheme.
‘The colour combination also ties in perfectly with the strong teal paint colour we chose for the statement wall.’ To complete the vintage vibe, Claire added a striking mix of old and new light fittings. ‘Mixing the new elements of the kitchen with my much-loved vintage pieces has given it a unique, individual look that’s full of quirky character,’ says Claire. ‘And what’s even more pleasing is that we stayed within our budget.’
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?