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.
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
- 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:
- my clients themselves – the things they say (and stuff they don’t), the kind of stuff they wear and their belongings (especially artwork)
- 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?
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:
- Little Greene Hopper on all of the woodwork and kitchen cabinets
- Little Greene Light Beauvais on the walls
- Paint and Paper Library Parasol on the ceiling and cornice
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 – 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 – 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.
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.
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.
Mat from Clark’s Decor hard at work
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?
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
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….
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:
- Do the mediums all have to be the same (all paintings, prints, photography)? No
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.