Kitchen makeover: ‘Mustard colour pops set the tone’

Wanting to create a lighter, brighter and more colourful space, Jemma Watts pulled out the old beige cupboards to bring a lively, sunny energy to her new kitchen

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Before renovating her house, Jemma Watts had no decorating experience, other than painting walls. When she moved in to her home, she spent many evenings planning new layouts and designs. Here she recalls her kitchen renovating experience….

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A bit about me…

I’m Jemma Watts, a food and interiors photographer. I live with my boyfriend, Martin, and our dog, Tiggy. Our two-bedroom cottage is in Woodbridge, Suffolk.  

Jemma Watts

My renovating experience…

The house originally belonged to my grandparents, and the kitchen was the first room I wanted to modernise. As well as all the units being old-fashioned and beige, the layout just didn’t work. There were too many cabinets, which left only a small space for a two-seater table.

Kitchen makeover: Mustard colour pops set the tone
Style idea: Jemma made a feature of the hob by moving it from the right-hand wall to the back

I took out the wall-hung cabinets, double oven unit and fridge and installed a new oven below the hob and an under-counter fridge. This was to economise on space and keep the room light.

Next, I sprayed the cabinet doors and changed the handles, and then replaced the worktops and retiled the space. Finally, the builders did the flooring and installed underfloor heating and new floor tiles.

Kitchen makeover: Mustard colour pops set the tone
‘It’s lovely having special pieces around my kitchen that remind me of my mum and granny’

There were, of course, challenges. The house is very old and when we placed the new worktop into position it wouldn’t sit flush with the walls because they weren’t straight. I also discovered that the floor was not level either, so the tiler had quite a difficult time laying the tiles – I guess this is why my granny had put down the lino! This space is now one of my favourites in the house. It feels bright and calm; a little home haven for me.

Kitchen makeover: Mustard colour pops set the tone
Concrete-look worktops bring an understated edge to this kitchen, while Jemma’s natural wooden accessories add warmth and a lived-in feel

After lots of different ideas, I’m really pleased with how I’ve managed to reduce the cabinets but still have enough space for everything I need. Having space to seat more than two of us at the dinner table is my favourite part of our new kitchen! The table was my grandmother’s originally, so it’s really special.

My style advice

Three simple tricks to try in your own home

Work with what you’ve got 

Kitchen makeover: Mustard colour pops set the tone
‘This space is now one of my favourites in the house. It feels bright and calm; a little home haven for me’ says Jemma

‘To change your kitchen completely, you don’t always need to buy new cabinets. Mine are simply resprayed with new handles. We used Farrow & Ball colours but didn’t use the paint, which kept costs down.’

Give old accessories new lease of life

Kitchen makeover: Mustard colour pops set the tone
A firm believer in mixing old and new to create a balance, Jemma has incorporated her grandmother’s dining room table into the design of the improved space

‘Mix old and new furniture for a unique, personal style. After my mother passed away, I kept many of her pots and special pieces that she loved using in her kitchen. I love having these precious items around the space and using them for all sorts, such as sugar or tea bags and as plant pots.’

Hunt for bargains

Kitchen makeover: Mustard colour pops set the tone
Jemma proves that you don’t have to redo your whole kitchen to make a statement. By reducing and reusing existing cabinets and adding open shelves, she has managed to create a modern atmosphere with vintage charm that feels stylish, warm and inviting

‘Make time to search online for what you want but at a good price. I would see designer pieces that were way out of my budget and look high and low until I found something similar. For example, all the designer sinks had square corners, not round. So, after much searching, I found a small company that made sinks with square edges that were affordable.’

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