Kitchens are social spaces about far more than just cooking. They’re where you share everything from dinner parties with friends to pancakes with the family. Here, we explore four amazing spaces that have been arranged for maximum enjoyment.
FIONA GINNETT, designer and Hølte Studio founder
Fiona, who collaborated with All Design Studio’s Amanda Lyon to create the kitchen for this flat in London’s Forest Hill, shares her tips for a bold look
The existing kitchen was bland and the space was cluttered. The freestanding appliances didn’t work together and there was a lack of storage. From speaking with the owners, it became clear that the open shelving didn’t suit how they wanted to use the space. They were keen to reintroduce the original French doors to create an open flow between this and the adjoining dining room.
The clients have a love for bold colours and modernist design. Amanda wanted to use the two-toned blue theme to colour block between the wall and base units. An early idea included our ‘LAM’ fronts in ‘Formica Navy Blue’ and ‘Spectrum Blue’, as they provide the vibrancy and boldness she was after, but are durable as the laminate surface is hardwearing and easy to clean.
Using Ikea carcasses and interior fittings, we configured a bank of tall cabinets along one wall with one of our hidden breakfast pantry cupboards to maximise storage and hide away small appliances.
We decided on a quartz worktop from Caesarstone, as we wanted it to blend with the background and have a more muted stance. The quartz is also a low maintenance option; the clients didn’t want to have to put coasters down for a glass of wine or be precious with what they put on it.
The bespoke brass cooker hood and brass ‘Hobson’ knobs from Swarf punctuate the room with playful bright accents. Texture and warmth are provided by the engineered timber herringbone floor; its pattern relates to the triangle ‘Rombini’ tiles from Domus on the back wall and the angled shelves of the wine rack built into the island.
The latter became a centrepiece, showing off the owners’ collection of wine and Champagne, as well as a base for cooking in a more social way. The French windows create an atmospheric play of light on the brass elements and across the textured tiles of the splashback. Dinner parties here are sure to be extraordinary and, as the weather improves, access to the garden will be perfect. holte.studio; alldesignstudio.co.uk
LISA STICKLEY, author and illustrator
Lisa lives in south-east London with her husband Richard, their two daughters and a goldfish called Ginger. She talks about the joy of eBay finds…
We’d longed for a new kitchen for a while, and it’s only been possible with money left to us by my lovely mum who sadly lost her life to pancreatic cancer in 2020.
I had the idea to open up the wall to the lounge with a large internal window. We couldn’t afford Crittall ones, but our brilliant kitchen chap made us a wooden alternative. We used Eleven Eleven Kitchens; I loved the contrast of the plywood and Formica they used within the original 1890s space.
Richard left me to the design, with one piece as a starting point: a cast-iron pestle and mortar. It informed the calming palette of the matte Formica worktops and cupboard doors: black/brown ‘Graphite’ and ‘Sno White’ to balance and brighten it up a bit.
I’d always wanted a utilitarian school-canteen-meets-modern-vintage aesthetic. I chose 10cm squared plain white tiles with black grout, which I found on eBay. I pined after an industrial-looking copper tap, and Bow Street Craft Co made one for me. For the sink surround, I went for ‘Compac Venecia’, which is a tutti-fruiti, terrazzo-style quartz, harking back to a design I’d created for Tate 10 years ago.
The original floorboards were insulated and re-laid with reclaimed boards, then painted in Little Greene’s ‘Slaked Lime’. I found antique cast-iron table-ends from Rugged London to support the tabletop, which was made from 150-year-old floorboards arranged in a parquet design.
We have to pinch ourselves every day. Not only can we see the views across London from the large internal window, but with a tap on the glass, we can take orders from those in the lounge for popcorn or cups of tea! lisastickleystudio.com
ANNA JONES, food writer and stylist
Anna shares Narroway Studio with Emily Ezekiel and Issy Croker. They worked with Plykea to design a space to test recipes and host supper clubs
We wanted a simple kitchen: beautiful but functional with enough personality, texture and depth that feels special, but neutral enough to suit different shoots.
Plykea did the kitchen and a gorgeous run of integrated units in birch ply, so we were able to store all of our props, photography and equipment! That’s allowed it to be a very clean, open space. We did away with deep cupboards and instead went with drawers– you can see exactly what’s in there.
We didn’t want to spend crazy amounts of money. The floor is a concrete-effect linoleum; it’s hard-wearing, so if someone drops something on it, it’s not the end of the world. We would have loved a Belfast sink, but we bought a sustainable composite one and more affordable bronze-effect taps.
For the surfaces, we wanted something that was durable because it’s a working kitchen, so we chose a quartz composite by Biopol. It can take any heat, sharp stuff, lemon, turmeric, and it’s got a lovely matte dapple. It’s a place where we love to shoot.
For the walls, we went with Bauwerk limewash paint, selecting ‘Apple Blossom’ (a deep, fleshy pink) behind the kitchen and ‘Mykonos’ (a neutral, oat colour) on the back wall. All the lights are Tala, which give off a warm gentle glow. We’re even able to leave them on when we’re doing photography, which you can’t with a stronger light.
Our space overlooks St John at Hackney Churchyard Gardens and get lots of light flooding in. It’s so nice to be in this haven and have all the original windows looking out onto the garden. Everyone says when they walk in it feels like a very calm space, and that’s the feeling we wanted to create. narrowaystudio.com; plykea.com
KATHARINE ROBERTSON, business development manager
A Victorian house in New Brighton on the Wirral is home to Katharine, her husband and their three sons. She discusses creating a family-friendly kitchen
Our old galley style kitchen was a nightmare with the boys, especially when they were little. We couldn’t cook as a social activity– somebody went in and food came out! Cooking is something to do in a shared way and that informed aspects of the design, like having the island with the hob facing outwards.
We worked with Howard and Hugh of H Miller Bros on the design and they’re an amazing pair. They’re trained architects, so they’ve got a good feel for how something’s going to work in real life. It’s a south-facing room, and it was important to make the most of that lovely seaside light with tall, fully glazed doors.
The big, light-stained oak drawers look like they’re floating because the kickboards are quite far back; it makes it feel more spacious. The run of cabinets is finished in Farrow & Ball’s ‘School House White’ – it’s a nice, chalky finish. The round handles are hand-turned and stained a dark brown, almost black – they’re based on the volume knob on a vintage amplifier.
For the floor, we went with ‘China Blue’ vinyl from The Colour Flooring Company. The shade reminds me of the sea because it’s got that blue-green feel to it. They did the drawers in the same lino – it’s nice to have that little bit of colour. The lights are Muuto’s ‘Ambit’; there was a bit of playfulness in having the blue and pink together.
The splashback is actually quite distinctive because it’s cork. It’s nice to be able to pin things up on it, especially when the kids bring home their latest artistic creation! Howard and Hugh had this idea of having an ‘appliance garage’ for the toaster and the kettle. It’s a drawer that comes out and you slide it away, leaving the countertop clear.
Howard had done some really good renderings, so we had a pretty good idea of what it was going to look like but, up close and personal, it’s just so beautiful. It has turned out even better than I thought. hmillerbros.co.uk