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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.’
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.
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.
‘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?