Decorating, Final Reveal, kitchen design, Project, Renovation
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The Victorian Kitchen Dining Room – the one with the yellow ceiling

The Victorian Kitchen and Dining Room - the one with the yellow ceiling

Jumping back onto the blog today to share a recently completed project. I’ve been working on this one since the beginning of the year, the final piece of the puzzle going in just last week. With a last minute visit earlier this week to see it all finished and capture some photos, it’s time for a new project reveal! Welcome to the Victorian kitchen and dining room… the one with the yellow ceiling.

Before

Before

Here’s the kitchen side of the room as it looked when the homeowners had moved in. The cabinets were actually good quality solid timber and were in good nick, but this kitchen needed some TLC . Namely:

  • a new cooker
  • extractor
  • worktop over the island (as it was rotting around the sink)

The lighting needed addressing too, these 3.3m high ceilings were not happy with this naff Ikea paper shade nearly 2m above the bloomin’ worktop. The room’s overall colour scheme also needed a good talking to.

The brief (which i’ve edited to make a nice paragraph):

“We’d like a room that’s calm but fun, with a design that highlights all of the period features that made us fall in love with this house. We want it to feel like a Victorian kitchen, but not formal or boring. We enjoy cooking and entertaining whilst listening to music (sometimes there’s the odd kitchen disco). Even though we have a living room, this will be where we will probably spend most of our time as a family. Oh and we have loads of art we’d love to hang but don’t know where to put it.”

As you may already know, I work collaboratively with all of my clients and this project was no exception. My inspiration comes from:

  1. my clients themselves – the things they say (and stuff they don’t), the kind of stuff they wear and their belongings (especially artwork)
  2. the property i’m working in. I see the house as an additional client and I listen to the room as much as I do the people that live in it #housewhisperer

On my very first visit to meet Mr and Mrs C about a year ago, I went to consult on their living room on the ground floor which quickly turned into a consult about the guest bedroom and two home offices on the second floor. Whilst we were sat having a cup of tea (decaf, milk, one sugar) in the kitchen, as a throw away comment I said, ‘this room would look amazing with a yellow ceiling’. Mrs C latched onto the this idea instantly and several months later when we actually began the design process for this room the initial excitement of a yellow ceiling remained.

We worked through several (loads) of colour variations for this room. Some iterations with a dado rail added, others without. I was kind of set on the lightest, soft pink on the walls to allow the yellow ceiling to do its thing. Then green cabinets. Sounds simple no?

Sure.

Ample time was needed getting the right combination of these three colours, all with the right tones so they played nicely with one another. Mr C  is naturally drawn to autumnal tones (same as me – colours with a moodier, muddy undertone) whilst Mrs C prefers her bright, spring tones (think daffodils). All pretty normal for there to be different tastes between couples.

We had a repeat of the classic Goldilocks storyline all over again but this time with paint testers. There was a lot of:

“Oooh no, that’s too blue, that’s too lemon, too sludgy, too bright….”

After lots uhming and ahhing we finally found the combination that was “just right”… and we all lived happily ever after.

The ‘Just Right’ paint combo:

Speaking of cornice, it’s the first time i’ve had a cornice replicated for a project and the difference it made was immense. I was very excited.

Before - Old cornice

Before – very sad affair

Whilst the dining room had its stunning original cornice, the kitchen (which would have originally been a separate room back int olden days) looked to have had a bit of B&Q new-build coving. Certainly not something befitting of a Victorian property with 3.3m high ceilings.

During

During – bye bye B&Q

As part of the project, a section of the dining room cornice design was replicated, the B&Q coving removed and the newly moulded “original” cornice profile fitted into this room.

During

It was absolutely amazing to watch CSJ Bespoke do their thing. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for someone to restore your own period mouldings.

Moulding detail – so pretty

During – decorative details being carefully placed into the replica cornice

New ‘old’ cornice

Three mini ceiling roses and three lighting points were fitted above the island for the  reclaimed French frilled lights that now hang over the new copper worktop. Yes, they look old fashioned, yes they look like they’re from your nan’s house, but that’s the look we were going for.  The three pendants help focus the light down and across the island whilst the translucent glass shades gently allow light to diffuse around the rest of the room too. Nobody is going to enjoy cooking under interrogation room lighting – lighting is all about creating “ambiance”. Of course all helped with dimmable switches so you can go for high energy Speed Garage chopping with the lights ramped up to 11 or fade them down slowly for some sultry wine decanting followed by a delicious selection of low sodium nibbles.

Before

Before

The kitchen itself had a mini update with new brass hinges and handles, sockets and switches (dimmable) and of course its new coat of paint. There was nothing wrong with the original oak worktop along the perimeter run apart from the colour, so I suggested a good sanding back and a lovely dark stain and varnish to contrast the colourful green.

Same kitchen, new sexy outfit

There’s something a bit spesh about a hand-painted kitchen isn’t there? Thanks to Clark’s Decor for the sterling work in this room.

As we were having a lovely new copper worktop on the island it gave us the option to add a proper overhang to create a little sitting area. A lovely spot to perch and look out of the new Crittall style doors that overlook the small courtyard. I foolishly did not get a proper shot of the doors in all my excitement, but you can just about see them in the in progress pic below.

During

Mat from Clark’s Decor hard at work

Before

Before

The kitchen was a little lacking in storage either side of the cooker, so this alcove was kitted out with a new cabinet and shelving to tie in with the rest of the room’s joinery.

Can’t stop looking at that yellow ceiling and cornice

Am so pleased with this natty built-in addition, lovingly hand crafted by my fave joiners at Bare Joinery. Mr and Mrs C love to cook so having all of their pans and utensils at hand has made a big difference. As did the new cooker and green tiled splashback which continues the room’s strong colour blocking theme.

Swinging around to face the opposite direction, you get a glimpse into the dining space and how they start to connect. See how the new joinery (cabinet and mantel) in the kitchen echoes that of the dining space?

Before

This is such a beautiful space to sit in. I was sat at that table with my laptop checking images were coming out ok, and this room just feels good; cosy and full of life, but not cluttered or oppressive. The two words i’d use are “calm but fun” which is good as that was the brief.

The fireplace and alcoves pretty much remained as was, however the shelving units were lined with an antique mirror and back lit with some warm LED strip lighting. These cabinets now display their ample supply of booze and pretty selection of glassware to perfection.

Close up of the antique mirror and fab framed David Hockney

Before

Before

You can just about see a small stash of artwork on the floor to the right of the old radiator. This wall was calling out for artwork, and lots of it….

After

There’s still plenty of room for more, so as their collection grows so will their art wall. This particular gallery wall was hung by a local company, not me. I’ve hung many in my time however, and here are some of the questions people have asked me about how to go about hanging a gallery wall:

  1. Do the mediums all have to be the same (all paintings, prints, photography)?  No
  2. Do the frames need to match and if a picture is mounted, do they all need to be mounted? No, not if you are going for a casual eclectic look, yes if you are going for a uniform more formal look.
  3. How do you start? Personally, I place the largest piece just left of centre and work outwards, sometimes I plot out the pictures on the floor in front of me or quickly draw the shapes up on my computer first. You’re basically tessellating shapes and making sure the negative spaces between the frames are the same-ish throughout.
  4. Can I add more stuff to a gallery wall? Yes, if you have space and find something you like, grow your gallery wall outwards from the central picture.

And loads more questions that I can’t think of now…

The 2m long dining table was made from reclaimed timber and all of the dining chairs were picked up from eBay or the local auction house. All mismatched on purpose to add to the informal vibe.

The beautiful bay with original sash windows was the perfect nook for a sofa. Something with a low back preferably so as not to block the view or the light. This is the East facing end of the kitchen, so whilst getting a beautiful, rich morning light, after midday the last thing this area needed was a hunk of sofa blocking out the Yorkshire sun. The classic Chesterfield was the obvious choice.

Am still yet to master taking photos into direct light (am still yet to master a lot of things about this job tbh) but you get the gist.

The light above the dining table is the design classic, 11DM Verpan ‘Fun’ Chandelier. It’s so pretty and you can hear the small pieces of Capiz shell rustling when the breeze passes through. An investment piece for sure, but with a room like this, those 3m+ ceilings deserved something special.

So that’s your lot for today. I’ve written way more than I was meant to, but in reality this is two rooms and they are really tall, so it’s almost nearly three in terms of cubic metres (yes I know it isn’t). I took over 60 photos of this room, so I feel like i’ve been really restrained by only posting 16.

Before I go for today though, I wanted to share this email and a photo that landed in my inbox from my client Mr C last week. I read it after two days with a migraine and insomnia, so of course as soon as I’d read it I burst into tears:

“I’m sitting on the sofa in our incredible dining room/kitchen, the design of which magically emerged from your brain. It’s the first night that it’s technically, finally, ALL done, and I have to say…it’s the absolute f’ing best!! The lighting, the colors, the mirrors, the table, the radiator, the tile, the mantle shelf, the YELLOW CEILING?!…every last detail is so brilliant and amazing that I just wanted to let you know and to thank you for all the sweat and tears (hopefully not blood) that you put into the design. 

Mr C Night time photo

Pic from Mr C from the comfort of his new sofa

It is truly a spectacular room and just fills us with such great vibes — in the morning when the sun plays off the sofa and in the evening when the lights are dim and it feels like we’ve stepped into a really fancy yet cozy restaurant that just happens to be our home. The child has gone to sleep and the wife’s in London and I have this glorious room all to myself! I’m now going to fix myself a cocktail, and continue to enjoy the splendours of your design in silence.”

We interior designers never get to experience the room the same way as our clients do. Yes you see it all finished, might have a cup of tea there and make it look nice for some photos, but the true success of a room design can only really be determined by the client when all of the works are done and they begin living in the space again. Emails like the one above that make this job so very special. Filling people with “good vibes” is priceless and proves that this job is way more than choosing paint colours and cushions.

17

Thank you to Mr and Mrs C for trusting me. This room truly is an amalgamation of every email, meeting, FaceTime, phone call, ‘Pin’, and paint tester. May your room with the yellow ceiling continue to bring joy and good vibes to all that sail in her. I’ll look forward to my invite to the next kitchen disco.

40 Comments

  1. Bárbarella says

    Well Mrs…you’ve only gone n done it again. Absolutely fabulous. I can’t wait to find my next home in North Yorkshire……( it’s been a year of looking) but if I ever do, I might get some decaf in specially for you so you can come n sort me out! You are amazing at your job. I love everything you’ve shared.x

    • Karen Knox says

      Ah, thank you very much for your kind words! And good luck with your property search!!

  2. Gill Fowler says

    Absolutely stunning Karen, that yellow ceiling though…..just gorgeous, well done x

  3. Suja says

    I love your work and with every project I think ‘This – this one is definitely my favourite’ until I see the next one! But honestly this time – wow. Beautiful, unique and so liveable. I’m amazed at your talent.

  4. Elaine says

    This is absolutely beautiful. I’m not actually very fond of yellow as a colour to live with, but this particular shade of yellow ceiling, with the pink and the green, just works. And you know, I think these two rooms have made me finally decide that yes, I AM going to contact you properly for our Edinburgh flat. Don’t care how long it takes before you can squeeze us in; we need you. You’re something special.

    • Karen Knox says

      Ah shucks. Elaine, that’s so kind of you. Thank you. And yes I know what you mean about yellow. I love looking at it but have never chosen it for myself. Not yet anyway!

  5. Katie D says

    Wonderful rooms! That email has brought a tear or two to my eye as well. Congrats – it looks totally splendid and I hope the clients have many good vibes in there for years to come. Such lovely, warm, inviting spaces. Totally nailed it.

    • Karen Knox says

      Ah, i’m glad it wasn’t just me who’s a big softie then! And thank you – so glad you like it!

  6. Katie D says

    Oh and I LOVE that David Shrigley print. That would make me have an internal chuckle on a daily basis!

  7. Kiara King says

    Such a wonderful space, beautiful colours and great to see how these big rooms can be adapted to have a kitchen put in them in a way that works with the ‘original’ features and enhances the space.

  8. Mairik says

    This is gorgeous and extra pleasing since we’ve
    just settled on yellow, plaster pink and green for a bathroom reno (with a coral sink!) Love a bit of colour and darker wood and your combos are gorgeous. Lovely also to see so much reused and refreshed X

  9. Lesley says

    This is amazing – thanks to you and your lovely clients for all allowing you to share it with us. Your design is so much fun – I have a similar house and would never have the courage to use these colours together. Either your clients are very brave or you are very persuasive and inspiring! 😁

  10. Anonymous says

    Genius again. The soft pink walls and that light above the table. Genius!

  11. Jenny says

    So much to love here. The cornicing! The yellow ceiling! The sofa in the nook! The joinery! I want to attend a party in this house.

  12. Karen Griggs says

    Congratulations Karen, huge congratulations. Gob-smackingly stunning. Watch everyone paint a ceiling yellow now! Classy, modern, fun. This actually is the perfect post lockdown space! So cheerful and happy.

  13. Anonymous says

    What a beautiful kitchen Karen. I find the detail in your blog fascinating.

    • Karen Knox says

      Ah well that’s lovely to read, thank you. I’m sure most people just scroll through and look at the pics, great to know that some of you read it too! 🙂

  14. Anonymous says

    Hooked on Hopper (whose moody paintings drew me in) , so reading through your blog to learn you are working in Yorkshire (my birth county), offers ideas for a completely different property than the Edwardian I left – for a remote “longhouse” in green surrounds. Food for thought! Shall follow your blog with interest, Karen – it speaks to me in down-to-earth tones!

  15. Debra Crush says

    The transformation is amazing. I’m very much into rugs at the moment and the one in the dining room is gorgeous- where did you source this one from?

  16. Penny says

    What a knockout. I don’t wonder your clients are thrilled. What really makes it for me is that it’s such a fabulou scheme yet doesn’t look overly “designed”, just a great, colourful, livable space. Congratulations.

    • Karen Knox says

      Ah that’s lovely – I love that you don’t see it as over designed, thank you Penny.

  17. Gemma Tucker says

    So beautiful and considered, how talented you are lovely Karen. G x

  18. Rhian Thomas says

    Such vision! Well done. Loved how you tied the copper worktop into the scheme. Is there somewhere in particular this can be sourced? Looking for one for my future kitchen .

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