Kitchen makeover: ‘Our new open-plan room has the wow factor’

Ally Cluer reconfigured a cramped layout to create a bright, bold and sociable kitchen-diner that’s perfect for busy family life

Thanks to their new open-plan layout, the family can now spend many happy hours cooking, eating and socialising together

When Ally Cluer and her husband, Adam, moved into their four-bedroom Victorian semi in Kent with their two children, Max and Mia, it hadn’t been touched for over 40 years.

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Although large, the existing kitchen-diner simply didn’t work for a busy family of four. ‘Thanks to a huge peninsula and bulky, ceiling-hung units, we were left with a tiny area for cooking, and the rest of the room felt totally disconnected,’ says Ally.

Good idea! For a glamorous kitchen, choose sleek handleless cabinetry with dramatic contrast trims – they come in a range of metallic finishes
Good idea! For a glamorous kitchen, choose sleek handleless cabinetry with dramatic contrast trims – they come in a range of metallic finishes

The couple liked the idea of creating one big, open-plan space, so the solution was to rip everything out and start again. A lover of dramatic décor, Ally was keen for the new room to not only be functional and family-friendly, but also bold.

She set her heart on a deep blue scheme and then began working out how to open up the existing space.

Thanks to their new open-plan layout, the family can now spend many happy hours cooking, eating and socialising together
Thanks to their new open-plan layout, the family can now spend many happy hours cooking, eating and socialising together

‘We’d already had a rotten window replaced and removed some strange boarding, so we weren’t expecting any issues,’ says Ally.

It only took an hour to remove the peninsula, but what the couple hadn’t bargained for was the ceiling coming down with the cupboards. ‘It was a bit of shock,’ laughs Ally. ‘But we absolutely loved the space it created.’

Previously positioned on the peninsula, a new sleek undermount sink, with boiling water tap, now sits in front of the main window, so when using it the couple can take advantage of the garden views
Previously positioned on the peninsula, a new sleek undermount sink, with boiling water tap, now sits in front of the main window, so when using it the couple can take advantage of the garden views

To stay on budget, Ally turned to the high street for units and was delighted to discover that matching up bold blue walls and cabinetry was surprisingly straightforward. ‘As soon as I spotted the smart, handleless blue units with their gold trim, I knew I’d found the kitchen for me,’ she says.

As the couple are lucky enough to have a pantry, they decided to keep the look airy and open by ditching wall units in favour of a L-shaped arrangement of base cabinets.

Ally turned a discrepancy in height between the worktop and the window into a feature, by simply adding two troughs. She planted on-trend cacti and succulents, but herbs would work equally well
Ally turned a discrepancy in height between the worktop and the window into a feature, by simply adding two troughs. She planted on-trend cacti and succulents, but herbs would work equally well

‘We also added a generous but slim larder cupboard and, apart from our existing range cooker, opted for integrated appliances,’ says Ally. Pale yet practical wood-effect laminate was then laid throughout to contrast the blue hues and new radiators fitted to ensure the room remains warm in winter.

Working with a period property meant the couple had to deal with some architectural restraints, including a chimney breast. But rather than inset her treasured range cooker, Ally opted to pull it forward in line with the units.

Good idea! Rather than block up a redundant chimney breast, the couple used the extra depth behind the cooker to create a handy storage area for everyday culinary essentials
Good idea! Rather than block up a redundant chimney breast, the couple used the extra depth behind the cooker to create a handy storage area for everyday culinary essentials

‘I wanted to maintain a modern continuous run, but did make a feature of the cooker and resulting void by tiling and carrying through our white quartz worktops,’ says Ally.

She’s also proud of a problematic low windowsill that’s been cleverly disguised with an upstand and planters from a local store.

The generous but shallow larder cupboard ensures contents can be seen at a glance – no more rummaging around in the back of cabinets!
The generous but shallow larder cupboard ensures contents can be seen at a glance – no more rummaging around in the back of cabinets!

When it came to the dining area, the couple again chose to save money by working with furniture and fittings from their previous home.

And while existing gold pendants proved a perfect match to the cabinet trims, it was a decision largely dictated by their higher-than-average dining table.

When it came to the dining area, the couple chose to save money by working with furniture and fittings from their previous home. Existing gold pendants proved a perfect match to the cabinet trims
When it came to the dining area, the couple chose to save money by working with furniture and fittings from their previous home. Existing gold pendants proved a perfect match to the cabinet trims

‘We originally had it made to stop our dog, Stanley, from trying to steal food, but it also acts as an extra preparation area when I’m baking or cooking for larger gatherings,’ says Ally, who is understandably delighted with the finished result.

‘In just 12 weeks, this once restrictive and unappealing space has become the hub of our home, and I can’t wait to share it with family and friends.’

Shop the look

Walls in Royal Navy intelligent matt emulsion, from £51.50 per 2.5l; woodwork in Shirting intelligent eggshell, from £32 per litre, both Little Greene. Infinity Plus Milano Contour Ermine kitchen units in Sapphire Matt with Gold, from £2,900 for eight standard units; Xena Quartz worktops and upstands in Ultra White, £2394; 400 x 450cm Ecuador stainless-steel undermount sink, £169; Insinkerator 3N1 hot water tap, £799; Bosch integrated fridge, £799; Neff integrated dishwasher, £519, all Wren Kitchens. White ceramic wall tiles, £5.75 per sq m, Wickes. Impressive Soft Oak Light laminate flooring, £23.99 per sq m, Quick-Step. 2-column Anthracite radiators, £119.99 each, eBay. Bells preserving jars, from £15.99 for six; wooden chopping board, £28.99; KitchenAid food processor, £69.99; Classic Check e-cloth tea towel, £4.99; Rushbrookes Butcher’s Stripe double oven glove, £14.99; beech wooden spoon, £2.99, all Lakeland. Bread bin with bamboo lid, £50, Joseph Joseph. Grey plates, £4 each; Ipanema blue water glasses, £4 each; Ipanema yellow napkins, £6 per pair, all Sainsbury’s Home. Night Sky gold foiled wall art, £59.50, Oliver Bonas. For similar cooker, try Stoves Richmond 1000 range in Anthracite, £1,559, AO.com. For similar bar stools, try Wilson Faux Leather bar stool, £119, Cult Furniture. For similar lights, try Tala LED brass pendant, £55, John Lewis & Partners. 

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