‘We always relish a challenge, but this one took four years to materialise,’ laughs Susy Jones as she tells the story of creating her dream kitchen space in the Chelsea home she shares with her husband Piero, two sons Lorenzo, 14, and Max, 11, and two cats, Bubbles and Titan.
‘We had always loved this road and as soon as we stepped through the door in 2015, we had an instant feeling that this was our forever home.’
The property – a four-bedroom, five-floor Victorian terrace – needed reworking and modernising, and the couple’s vision was to create a contemporary family home, that was flooded with light. They called on Kensington architects De Rosse Sa to help, with the building work required to add an extension on to the back of the house taking nine months to complete.
‘We originally had the kitchen positioned at the front of the house and the kids’ den at the back, but we quickly realised we had made a mistake as it was just too dark,’ explains Susy, a jeweller by profession. ‘After all the building work and upheaval, we decided to live with it, but after four years, we plucked up the courage to do the swap.’
The existing kitchen was from Mowlem & Co and it was a case of perfect kitchen, wrong location. Susy had first met the company’s designer Jane Stewart 15 years earlier when she had designed their first kitchen in a previous house, and it was back to Jane she went for the revamp. ‘I gave her quite a task,’ Susy explains, ‘as I insisted on using everything from the old kitchen as I loved it all, including the appliances.
It just all had to be moved to a different room!’ Amazingly, everything was reused, with new cabinetry designed to match. ‘One of our main concerns was fitting in the American-style fridge freezer under the stairs as it was too high. Luckily our builders came up with the solution of moving the staircase slightly to accommodate it.’
On the wish list was a centrepiece island for food preparation and relaxed dining, plus lots of cupboard space, hidden shelving and pull-out drawers for all of Susy’s essentials. Having the new kitchen and dining space leading through to the stunning outdoor space inspired the earthy colour scheme, drawing on the natural beauty of wood to bring warmth, while gold accents add a touch of luxury.
The finished space is everything Susy wanted and more. ‘It’s an absolute pleasure being in here and it ticks all the boxes for style, family living and practicality. Whether we’re cooking, having friends over or just relaxing and enjoying the views of the garden, the kitchen is now the hub of the home. We’re so delighted that we took the plunge.’
Q&A with Jane Stewart, Design Director, Mowlem & Co
Did the client have a clear vision of what they wanted for the space? There was an existing Mowlem kitchen in place, but the client’s family had grown and the space needed to be re-planned. We could have started from scratch, but it seemed wrong to throw the kitchen away, even though getting it to fit in the new area was challenging.
How did you work together? This is our third project together, so it was a smooth process. Susy has a fabulous sense of design and decisions were made thoughtfully but swiftly as we had some time pressure.
Were there any challenges along the way? The biggest challenge turned out to be the fridge freezer. We were trying to get the existing fridge to fit under the stairs, but it seemed impossible. It was the contractor who came up with the genius idea of just moving the whole staircase two treads forward and the problem was solved.
How did you plan the storage features? We used every millimetre available to create a streamlined appearance. Devising a secret panelled store under the stairs maximised every inch of space.
How would you describe the style of the kitchen? The new location of the kitchen totally changed its feel and sense of style. The positioning close to the garden evokes an earthy, natural ambience.
What are you most proud of? The sense that nothing in this project was wasted or thrown away.
Words by Helen James. Photos by Jake Fitzjones. Styling by Shani Zion.