A can-do attitude, and confidence gained from achieving success in smaller DIY projects over the years, led the Smith family to do away with an outdated galley kitchen in order to create a more interactive space. They knew they wanted quality craftsmanship from their cabinetry in order to give longevity, and the ability to reinvent colour schemes in the future. So, they turned to an inspired concept by British Standard by Plain English, because the design, collection and implementation are completed by the homeowner. Victoria Smith speaks highly of the concept: ‘We saw an interiors article about British Standard, and it seemed ideal for us - it was tailor-made, but we had control over it.’

Having spent time re-establishing some of the period features that were removed over the previous decades and ownerships, the Smith family were keen to ensure the kitchen felt right for their home. ‘Built in 1926, it’s a pretty, white semi with paned windows. We’ve put some original features back in, such as a reclaimed 1930s front door, appropriate door handles and used some pieces from that era that suit the house but are modern enough to be practical for today’s living. The kitchen echoes this,’ she says. Built to last a lifetime, the cabinets can be revamped whenever the mood takes you. ‘I did paint the bank dark blue initially to match the island, but I felt it was too dark and overpowering in the room, so I repainted them to lift the light.’



The whole space feels redolent of the personalities of Victoria and partner Ross, and their two daughters Olivia, 12, and Florence, nine, not forgetting Margot the Cockerpoo. This homely feel was achieved through the finishing touches rigorously sourced and chosen by the family. ‘We ordered surfaces from a stone quarry company, and I found all the cabinetry handles in both kitchen and dining room on Etsy.’

A further display of design derring-do is Victoria’s lack of fear in customising judiciously bought items to make them fit her vision. ‘I bought our display cabinet from Achica. It was white and I painted it in Off Black by Farrow & Ball to match one I’d seen elsewhere, but that was a fraction of the price. The chairs I found on eBay from an old office. For the window area, I found a Victorian sofa that fitted the bay just as we wanted on eBay, and we had it re-upholstered by a local Guildford school of upholstery run by MIND, which trains people with mental health issues in the craft. Lastly, the 1960s larder was another online buy, which went from its original yellow to Pigeon, also by Farrow & Ball, to match our front door.’



Victoria makes creating an eclectic, individual room sound easy, but she believes it’s all about trusting your instincts. ‘I really liked finding things that spoke to us, and tried not to worry too much about whether things go together because we unified them with colour. I love people’s homes when they’re a mish-mash of things – it’s much more interesting when they have a story. If you choose things you like, then they’ll always look right in a room because they’re what you really love.’

Average-sized kitchen from British Standard costs from £7,000.

Photos by: Cathy Pyle

Article by: Kate Rowe