Architecture, Design, DIY, Interior Design, kitchen design, Project, Property, Renovation
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The Industrial Shaker Kitchen

Industrial Shaker Kitchen

When the lovely Ally of Digital Diva fame, booked me for a day’s consultation last August at their new home, I walked into a house I wasn’t quite expecting. A stunning, Grade II listed, late Georgian, early Victorian stone built property, just three or so miles away from my own home in North Leeds.

This isn’t what it looked like, don’t worry. This is a photo from 2015 before it was bought by a developer. The whole place had been refurbed to a pretty good standard and whilst the developers retained the beautiful period features, some of the fixtures and fittings were not quite cutting it for the new owners, Ally and James.

This was their kitchen back in August 2016, with shaker style units, range cooker, large island unit, solid oak worktop, open shelving, original Yorkshire stone floor and built in pantry by the side of the restored fireplace. So all in all, the makings of a wonderful kitchen.

The layout was great. No issues with that. But these guys weren’t feeling the space and weren’t sure how to achieve the look they really wanted. Between the pair of them, they were going around in circles, so Ally contacted me for some help.

Within the initial two hour consultation, I’d made these suggestions:

  • Cabinets and hardware – They weren’t the right colour for these guys. In order to make that oak worktop sing, the cabinets needed to be darker. Black in fact. Black with brass hardware. That was a no brainer. And they were both completely on board.
  • Chimney breast – The enormous chimney breast was opposite the window so was itching for a large mirror to bounce the light back around the place. But something extra large and in keeping with the rest of the kitchen.
  • Splashback – James is a mega keen cook so a range without a splashback was a bit like having a knife without a fork. Next on the list was to incorporate a full height splash-back to exentuate the 3m high ceilings. Anything that was raised half mast was going to look weird. But I didn’t want shiny, I wanted a piece of rusted metal. Because who doesn’t like rust?
  • Shelving – Those piddly oak shelves looked ridiculous on a 3m high wall, but then having shelving any higher would be pointless unless you’re learning to walk on stilts. We needed something bespoke. We needed something industrial. This room needed metal!

Now, because I wasn’t project managing this one, only consulting (which means telling people what to do and getting paid for it), it took them a little while to get things moving. I very kindly sent a few emails virtually prodded them from time to time asking how things were going.  The changes were slowly made over about six months or so and the difference is pretty awesome. Want to see what this room looks like now?

Kitchen After

Doesn’t it look stunning?

Industrial Shaker Kitchen

I love the large rusted panel behind the range cooker. That warm, rich patina is like a HUGE piece of art on the wall.

Rusted Steel Splashback

This was a DIY by James, who had a piece of mild steel cut to size for about £40. Then he preceded to “rust it up” with a mix of chemicals (vinegar, bleach….). There are several articles showing you how to do this online. This is one you might find useful. Once the rusting process was completed, it was clear sealed with water based varnish. Boom.

Industrial Kitchen Shelving

My suggestion for full height metal and wooden shelving was ran with so I measured and drew up the design. I wanted it in raw steel, running parallel with that full height splash-back. Oak block was used again for the shelves to soften the overall look and tie in with the worktop.

Black Shaker Kitchen

And the best bit about the shelving is, they re-used the original oak block shelves. Not only that, but James built and fitted the shelving himself. How cool is that? When having it priced up, it was coming in at just over £1k. So James set himself the task of learning to weld.

I’m not gonna lie, I thought he was insane. But turns out, I was wrong. There’s a very fine line between insanity and genius (so they say) and the whole thing turned out way better than I could have imagined.

Industrial Kitchen Shelving

I get such a massive kick out of seeing ideas in my head come to life. I’ve already told James he needs to start selling these shelves at Dowsing & Reynolds, the company he runs, which is where their lighting is from by the way.

Dowsing & Reynolds Cage Pendants

Dowsing & Reynolds Cage Lights

Upon my first visit, I remember Ally being unsure about the lighting and James not really feeling the oak worktop. But these weren’t the problems I was seeing. Sometimes, changing the easy things are what we focus on, but deep down, if you don’t change/update the more difficult fundamental aspects of a space, those peripheral items will never be right. Always focus on the real issue in any room.

Even if it’s a real pain in the arse to sort….

Rusted Steel Splashback

….Like changing the colour of your kitchen cabinets.

It cost about £500 to get these cabinet doors and panels re-sprayed black. Which is probably less than 1/10th the cost of a new kitchen. And the brass handles were of course from Dowsing & Reynolds too.

Industrial Kitchen Design

Along with the paint for the back wall, which is in Dowsing & Reynolds’, ‘Might Rain Not Sure.’

Industrial Kitchen Design

I sourced a large (120cm diameter), Crittall style mirror from Rocket St George for the chimney breast to help bounce the light around whilst adding some industrial detailing to this side of the room. The vertical lines echoing the full height, shelving.

Crittall Mirror

So then, what do you think of the changes? It’s made quite a difference hasn’t it? This really does go to prove that small changes and creative design, can make a huge impact. Get the bones of the room right and everything else will fall into place. Here be the proof:

I’d love to hear what you guys think. I’ll no doubt be sharing more of this place in the not too distant future, as i’m just about to start working on their living room. Yup yup.


  1. Trish Mahon says

    I love it! what a difference the correct scale makes. Those shelves are amazing and having bought lighting from Dowsing and Reynolds, they should put those shelves into production.

  2. Oh my god I love the changes! It’s amazing how this isn’t a ‘totally rip out and replace’ job, just getting the accents right which lifts the whole entire space. I adore the large rusted splashback and the clever shelving. And of course, I love the black cabinets with gold hardware but I may just be biased there 😉 xx

  3. Jenny says

    The black cabinets and brass fittings are stunning. Why anyone would choose that blue initially is beyond me. I also love the shelves. It looks fabulous.

    • Karen Knox says

      Thanks Jenny. They were actually grey before, but looked blue because of the cool light coming in. Colour is bonkers sometimes!

  4. Fantastic job Karen. I’m in awe. Not surprised you’re now doing another room for them. They must be thrilled, and it didn’t cost them too much money either. x

  5. Jill says

    I love Dowsing & Reynolds and now I love their kitchen! The Vita feather light for our bedroom was the first thing I bought from them when we moved house and since then I’ve got 2 of their porcelain lights for the bathroom. I love that relatively small changes made so much difference and that you sussed out the problems in the first 2 hours. Are there any styles of house that you would turn down because of your own particular personal style or do you think that you can adapt to anything?

    • Karen Knox says

      Oh i’m not sure, Jill. There are obviously styles i’m much more drawn to and find easier to work with. I reckon i’m mainly turned off my anything that’s a bit “meh”. Not sure if that really answers your question…?

  6. Jill says

    I love Dowsing & Reynolds and now I love their kitchen! The Vita feather light for our bedroom was the first thing I bought from them when we moved house and since then I’ve got 2 of their porcelain lights for the bathroom. I love that relatively small changes made so much difference and that you sussed out the problems in the first 2 hours. Are there any styles of house that you would turn down because of your own particular personal style or do you think that you can adapt to anything?

  7. Great job, Karen! I don’t even like black cabinets with brass hardware, but it looks gorgeous! I love wooden worktops, and to really shine they always need a bit of contrast. And the shelves are so beautiful! I am happy for those lovely people that they didn’t have to rip everything out. 🙂

    • Karen Knox says

      Yes me too! That was never going to be an option. And thank you, really glad you like it!

  8. L. E. Bruce says

    OK I get it now. This is why you hire a design consultant. To turn a “nice” space into a SPECTACULAR space. I bow down to your creativity.

  9. HomeAdventures says

    This is fabulous! I had been thinking of using a design consultant for our living room/dining room and now you have me convinced… don’t suppose you cover London?

    In the meantime though, In love with this kitchen especially the splashback and shelving, and the black cabinets make the rest of the room Sing. Similarly to others I’ve been very impressed by Dowsing & Reynolds – have used them for sockets and doorbell so far… but that’s pretty much as far as we’ve got. Top marks all round!x

    • Karen Knox says

      Thank you! Glad you’ve had a good experience with D&R’s products. Same here! And yes I cover the UK, although remote design isn’t right for some spaces/people. All depends on the project!

  10. You, my lady, are a flippin’ genius. It must be so wonderful to be able to look at a room and know how to transform it like that. Those shelves are amazing and that back splash!!! Running them up to the ceiling was such a great idea. I love that James got so involved and even taught himself to weld. He should definitely sell the shelves! This is such a wonderful job!

  11. Marie Mutricy says

    So good ! It totally convinced me on doing black cabinets in my next kitchen – the pros of doing an extension in the house we are buyin’ ! Also loving the wall color since all the black kitchens around Insta /Pinterest are painted white. And the rusted panel ? Sooooo many good ideas in this post ! Thank you !

  12. Choice Furniture Superstore says

    This kitchen looks gorgeous. I just love it. Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

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