A 1970s upside-down house totally reconfigured
I’ve just had the photos back from one of my latest renovation projects, a large open-plan kitchen, dining and living room design. I can’t wait to share them with you!
I hadn’t worked with the clients before this project, but I had already designed for a family member of theirs, who recommended my services and put us in touch. I’ve since designed six more rooms in their home! But before I get to those, let me talk you through this project.
A total renovation project
Before using my interior design and project management services, the clients had enlisted an architect to make plans for some big structural changes to their new home. With plans in place, we set about bringing it all together and turning drawings into reality.
We knocked down three of the inner structural walls so that the second floor was left entirely open plan, and repositioned the internal staircase from the centre of the house to the edge of the [now] one room. We also added some character and charm to the property by installing solid oak trusses and beams to complement the vaulted ceiling and angled windows, giving it a rustic, and yet contemporary feel.
As with any project management and space planning commission, I worked with the tradesmen, surveying and measuring, and dealing with problems that arose to keep the project on track (and as stress-free as possible) for my clients.
Before pictures and during the renovation works
Why choose open-plan living?
Ellie & Henry wanted this newly open-plan floor to feature the kitchen and dining area, as well as a chillout sofa space to enjoy with their daughters. Open-plan living is unsurprisingly popular. It’s great for versatility, entertaining and family togetherness, and these were all the reasons Ellie and Henry had opted for this style. Dad could be cooking dinner, whilst mum reads a magazine, and the girls are playing at the table... Feeling connected and sharing moments, whilst still doing their own thing. And I love this reason for choosing an open floor plan design.
The challenges of open-plan living design
Whilst open plan living has many advantages, if it’s not planned well, the space can end up feeling disjointed, cold and sparse, or even chaotic. There are many factors to consider at the design stage: ensuring flow of movement, layout, zoning, lighting, colours, storage, not too many or too few materials, textures, and finishes, cohesive but not too samey styles, furniture choice and placement, sound travel, privacy, mess… I won’t go on. But, you get the idea. These were all important factors that needed consideration when designing Ellie and Henry’s large open-plan living space.
Understanding the clients’ wants and needs
First thing's first: taking the time to understand what my clients wanted and needed from their new home. For me, this is the key to a successful project. And this one was a real collaboration with the clients. On initial consultations with Ellie, Henry & the girls, we explored their lifestyles and day-to-day activities, and by sharing ideas on a Pinterest board I could really get a feel for their personal style and what they liked and disliked on an aesthetic level. From here we could begin planning the fundamentals and layout, before moving on to the dressing, colours and materials.
Pinterest ideas and mood boards
Open plan living starts in the kitchen
Being the focal point, we began this project with the kitchen. After a decade of working in interiors, I’m confident when I tell you that from a design and build perspective, kitchens are more complicated than any other room in the house. So careful planning and smart decision-making are crucial to avoid costly design mistakes and ensure the finer details are all considered. Thankfully, I’ve done this all many times before!
Beautiful bespoke kitchen cabinetry
With its unusual footprint, a bespoke kitchen was really the only option to make the most of this large open space. Dresser cupboards were chosen to create storage and help keep the kitchen clutter-free and taking the cabinets up to window level, allowed the room as much light as possible, whilst creating height and drama too.
A central island was a must for practicality as the family love to cook and bake together, but with such a large space, and therefore a large island, it could easily have felt clunky and overbearing, so I designed it with the open rack on the backside. By adding this feature, it feels more like a piece of furniture, softer, and allowing the area to still feel spacious.
All of the cabinetry was built by Paul of Handley Bespoke who literally will build anything and everything to the most beautiful standard. He’s a master carpenter of the highest level! And no, I know what you’re thinking; I’m not just saying that because he’s my life partner too, he really is the crème'!
Bespoke cabinetry designed by yours truly and built by Handley Bespoke
Contemporary yet traditional design
The Lacanche cooker was the kitchen showpiece, and made to order. I sourced the splashback tiles for inside the chimney from Bert & May, a Spanish company with sustainability at their core and who specialises in beautiful flat matte cement. The clients fell in love with the dusty pink colour, matched with the herringbone pattern. And voilà! The basis for the project’s colours and style was decided.
Mirroring the tiles, I used Farrow and Ball’s Setting Plaster for both the walls and the ceiling, and we balanced the softness with Obsidian Green by Little Greene Paint Co, a classic off-black-green on the cabinets. I then added lots of gorgeous natural textures and patterns, not only creating visual interest but also striking a harmony between the modern industrial and traditional styles that the family favoured.
Lacanche cooker with Bert & May tiles + Little Greene Paint Co with Farrow & Ball
Bespoke solutions with banquette seating
With the family’s kitchen designed, we moved onto the dining area. The space was too big for a free-standing table and chairs of any normal size, and the family needed seats for at least ten, with the possibility of seating more, so bespoke banquette seating was the perfect solution. Defining the space with booth seating makes dining feel far less exposed, and much more warm and cosy. And, by adding the shaker panel at the back, we could further define this zone.
Whilst it’s important to define open-plan zones and give them their own identity, you still need them to talk to each other. So, the materials used give a nod to the kitchen and we opted for this gorgeous dusty pink colour called Ashes of Roses by Little Greene Paint Co, which links back to the kitchen tiles and picks up the snippets of the pink in the floor accents between the zones.
Bespoke banquette seating with built-in storage, designed by me and built by Handley Bespoke
The relaxing zone in this open-plan living design
Giving the family another zone within the open plan space, was to be the snug area. This one’s a bit of a working progress, but the log burner was a must for the brief, and the mural tiles they found stored away were as if they were meant to be a part of the design all along.
The clients had hoped to incorporate a triangle of colour which they’d seen during the early mood board stage and when we came to the snug, dropping in this feature just made sense, giving the hidden alcove some extra warmth and energy.
Tropical tiles and open pipe log burner in the chill-out area
A little more adventurous guest bathroom
Just to the right of the triangle sat the little bathroom, so we linked in the yellow, and being a guest bathroom, it could afford to be a little more adventurous. The vanity unit sourced via Marketplace was combined with the client’s existing sink bowl for a cost effective but beautiful mix of old and new. The Moroccan style of the sink was linked into the flooring and the pink back tiles from the floor to the basin tied in all the yellow and pink undertones, and the feature lighting added more warmth and drama.
Yellow walls, pink tiles, and a Moroccan bespoke sink
The final result of this large open-plan kitchen, dining and living room design
I hope you love this gorgeous open-plan living space as much as me! The clients were so happy with the end result, that I went on to design six more rooms for them. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some photos soon!
Leisha is truly remarkable. Her energy, enthusiasm, adaptability, vision...she can take on an ambiguous brief and make it look it look incredible. My only regret is that we didn't get Leisha on board earlier - she made changes to the architect plans which have honestly transformed the way we use and enjoy our house. I have nothing but positive words to say about Leisha. Professionalism aside, she's also an absolute joy to work with.
Are you looking for a designer to help you create the perfect kitchen and living space? Whether you’ve not a clue what you want yet, or you’ve lots of ideas but don’t know how to bring them all together, I can design as independently or as collaboratively as you need/want me to be. Feel free to get in touch for a chat about how I can help you realise your interior design goals.