Kitchen/Diner Dreaming: My Makeover Plans

Foxgrove Road Kitchen

High time I popped back over now my Christmas shoot bonanza has (I think!) drawn to a close (July-Sep are usually completely swamped with festive image production, leaving me very confused at this time of year as in my head it feels like approximately February). Between that and focusing attention on enjoying (and maintaining) the garden throughout the last of the warm weather, we’ve been neglecting the interior of our house for quite some time now.

Line Kay Kitchen

Now, like many interiors folk on the Interweb, I must confess to finding myself presenting a somewhat curated version of my home – I definitely think it’s good to share a few comedy look-how-disgusting-my-living-room-is-right-now shots when things get REALLY bad (usually directly after a busy shoot which involved crafting) and I also think it can be a bit soulless to only show perfectly styled vignettes without a bit of real life sneaking in around the edges sometimes, but on the whole I do tend to avoid snapping the rooms I’m not so keen on (i.e. half the house still).

Alison Allen Kitchen

However, as the nights are drawing in and hanging out in the garden becomes distinctly less appealing, my nesting instinct has been reawakened and I’m determined to finally finish off the half-done bathroom, study and bedroom this side of Christmas, so that in January we can fully focus on the biggie: our proposed kitchen/dining room side return extension! When we moved into this house, I had anticipated it being something of a stop-gap before moving on to something bigger and better, and was planning on doing a Home-for-Now-style makeover on the two rooms – paint the dining room, change the handles on the kitchen cupboards, remove all the top cupboard doors to give a more open look, make a curtain to cover the washing machine – you get the gist. However, as property prices in our area have gone up by over a third since we bought in 2012 (!) it soon became apparent we weren’t going to be heading further up that ladder anytime soon. And the current kitchen just doesn’t work for us. At all. No, not these gorgeous ones above (they were just to lure you in) – this is mine, plus the dining room:

Dining Room Before Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Kitchen Before Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

You might not think it looks too bad in these pics (and I appreciate things could be much worse and I am incredibly lucky to have a functioning kitchen in a home of my own at all) but trust me, in Real Life, it leaves a lot to be desired. Apart from the lengthy list of things wrong with it (rising damp, leaking door, bodge-job window, every appliance not working properly, stupidly configured cupboards, a crumbly bit of wall currently held together with some gaffa tape and a paper plate, etc etc) it’s just too goddam small for our needs (we’re big fans of cooking – and eating – and unsurprisingly I have a rather hefty collection of food tins, kilner jars and general kitchenalia) and we’ve already given over half the dining room to additional kitchen supplies. I’m totally an advocate of making do where you can, but the time has come to move onwards and outwards in this space. So I very much hope to be back with you in the new year with posts showing building progress (scheduled to start early Spring depending on the weather).

Kitchen Dining Moodboard Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

1. Blue Bird fabric by Mark Hearld at The Natural Curtain Company. 2. Stellar Blue fabric by St Jude’s at The Natural Curtain Company. 3. British Army lights, Trainspotters. 4. Kitchen in the New York townhouse of Ali Cayne (lust!) as seen at My Design Chic. 5. The living room of Holly Tucker, CEO of, as featured in LivingEtc magazine, February 2013 (I’m hoping my dining room chimneybreast will scrub up like this!) 6. Arcadian brick tile in Porcelain, Winchester Tiles. 7. Epoque Old London tile (for floor), Original Style. 8. Traditional copper mixer tap, Taps UK

We’re currently waiting for proper plans to be finalised before we can go and actually start designing the space properly, so above is a mini inspiration board of vaguely what I want to achieve. I’m keeping my current eBay score dining table and chairs, and the 1950’s kitchen unit in the corner (to be given some sort of makeover) but pretty much everything else is out. The plan is to make the space semi-open plan, turning the dining room window into a second open walkway into the new kitchen space, install some grey units (going for a mix of solid, glass-fronted and simple shelving), remove the plaster from the chimneybreast in the dining room and open it up, add some industrial-style lighting, then decorate throughout to tie the two rooms together. Cannot. Wait!

Epoque Old London floor tiles

As we’re still not at unit-choosing stage, my initial thoughts have turned to floor tiles and fabrics. I recently fell in love with these gorgeous encaustic-style tiles from Original Style, called – appropriately – Old London, and am using these as my initial starting point for the space. The encaustic-style tiles I installed in my bathroom are still pretty much my favourite thing in the house, and I find that by adding pattern to floors whilst keeping the walls neutral, I’m free to fill up shelving with a whole range of trinkets and accessories without fear of a clash.

Fabrics by The Natural Curtain Company by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

I’m also keen to introduce some patterned window blinds and curtains (to go across the new door) – it might seem like I’m getting somewhat ahead of myself here, but I think it’s important to hone in on any main patterns you want to introduce to a space first, then decide on any plain elements to tie it all together. In a rather timely manner, The Natural Curtain Company got in touch to ask me to check out their made to measure curtains range (I can actually sew myself but as it took me almost two years to finish off my bedroom blinds I might outsource this time!) I was aware that they stock a range of stylish, simple linens which I’m quite tempted by, but was also pleasantly surprised to see them stocking fabrics from Emily Burningham, Ian Mankin and – one of my favourite design labels – St Jude’s, too. Looking at everything together, I’m tempted to include the two designs shown in my moodboard (perhaps one in ready-made curtains plus a blind for the door/window, then the second design by-the-metre to create a curtain over the washing machine?)

Anyway, expect to hear from me again A LOT about all of this – and if I’ve not FINALLY posted up finished pics of the upstairs rooms by New Year’s Eve, come and give me a poke, OK?!

{Images: Top image – the kitchen of photographer Malcolm Menzies, as seen at Light Locations. Second image – the kitchen of photographer Line Kays, as seen at What Kenny Hearts. Third image – the kitchen of Alison Allen, as seen at Design*Sponge. Tiled flooring lifestyle shot via Original Style. All other images taken by me. This post was produced in collaboration with The Natural Curtain Company, but everything shown/mentioned and all my general witterings were entirely my choice}


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About Joanna Thornhill

Freelance Interior Stylist, Author, Writer and Crafter working for a range of magazine titles and commercial clients. Author of Home for Now (CICO Books 2014)

6 responses to “Kitchen/Diner Dreaming: My Makeover Plans”

  1. Design Chic says :

    I’m so happy to find and follow your blog and can’t wait to see your kitchen makeover! Ali Cayne’s kitchen is amazing!!

  2. BHS says :

    I can’t wait your kitchen remodel too! Love your blog!

  3. secretgardenhome says :

    Good luck with your project! Go for it Jo! I’m sure you’ll make it look amazing. Best wishes Monx

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