A pretty Victorian terrace in South London was just ideal for Ciara Dalton and her husband in 2010, but increasingly less-than-perfect as they started a family. ‘We were actually running out of space, especially in the kitchen, which was small and narrow,’ explains Ciara. With their two boys, ages five and three, in mind, the couple decided to extend over the side return and across the rear of the house to create a much larger kitchen, with room to include a family dining area as well. ‘We ended up doing a full refurbishment of the house including new windows, roof, wiring and plumbing at the same time, so that we could get everything done in one go,’ says Ciara. The family moved out to a rented house nearby, such was the extent of the building work, which gave full-time mum Ciara time to consider the options for a new kitchen. 


‘I went to see five kitchen companies, including Brayer Design following up a friend’s recommendation,’ she says. After meeting director and designer, Barry Sawyer, Ciara says she quickly made her choice about who she wanted to work with. ‘I liked Barry’s approach to design, and felt that the whole process would be more interactive and the furniture genuinely bespoke and made to fit our space,’ she explains. Top of Ciara’s wish list was a pared-back take on classic Shaker style. ‘Nothing too ornate or fussy, just very simple, clean lines and a dark colour to add a modern edge,’ she says. To contrast with the dark charcoal colour of the cabinets, Ciara chose accents of oak and burnished brass, and vintage lab stools and a dining table made of salvaged floor planks. ‘They bring in warmth, while the worktops echo the light feel of the room, and I love the way that the green of the pendant lights contrast with everything else,’ she adds. 

Although Ciara painted plenty of small pieces of wood, holding them up in different lights, to check her colour choice for the kitchen cabinetry, she says she was unprepared for her first visit to see the actual finished kitchen. ‘I was nervous that such a dark colour might look gloomy,’ she says. ‘But the moment I opened the door, I was delighted – the colour adds real definition and interest in a room that now feels so spacious and filled with natural light.’

Kitchens from Brayer Design cost from £25,000.

Photos by: Nick Smith

Article by: Amelia Thorpe