Falling for the Edwardian house with plenty of period features and a large garden was one thing, making it into a home suited to modern family life was entirely another. So says Vanessa Contreras-Negretti of the East London house she bought in 2012 with husband, Edwin Borrini, to share with their children Sofia, now 10, and Liam, eight, plus Emi their dog, who is a Shiba Inu. ‘The house had been empty for three years when we first saw it and, as well as needing to be completely modernised, it had a series of small, inter-connected rooms which just didn’t suit how we wanted to live,’ recalls Vanessa. ‘On the plus side, the garden was perfect for the children to play, and Ed has been watching ‘Grand Designs’ on TV for years and was dying to take on a project.’



And ‘a project’ it certainly turned out to be. The family initially rented a property nearby while they began the urgent work on the house to make it habitable, then moved in for two years to save up and apply for planning permission for the final push. After moving out again, they were able to add an extension across the full width of the rear of the property to make a super-size living-diningkitchen, with bi-fold doors opening on to the garden. ‘The kitchen before was dark and cramped, so the extension was about creating a big family space, somewhere for the children to do homework or watch TV, while we cook or relax,’ explains Vanessa.



Psychologist Vanessa and lawyer Edwin together developed a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve. ‘The room had to be in keeping with the traditional feel of the rest of the house, and definitely not a kind of ultra-modern spaceship stuck on to the rear,’ laughs Vanessa. When a neighbour recommended the classic elegance of Humphrey Munson, the couple went to visit the company’s showroom. ‘We liked the look of the furniture, and were able to have a good dialogue with them about ideas,’ says Vanessa. The focus of the design is the large island with spacious work surface, and powerful Lacanche cooker framed by a bespoke overmantel to add more traditional character. Painted in light and dark grey, the furniture is a clean-lined take on classic styling.



‘To me, the kitchen looks beautiful, but also functions incredibly well,’ says Vanessa. ‘We love cooking, and the kids do too, so this is very much a shared kitchen – and the centre of our home.’

Kitchens start from £35,000, excluding appliances at humphreymunson.co.uk


Photos by Paul Craig


Article by: Amelia Thorpe