On discovering what would be their future home, Yvonne and Stuart Denyer were confronted with a property that needed a lot of restoration. ‘We bought the house about 10 years ago,’ explains Yvonne. ‘It was completely derelict and used to be a nursing home in a former life.’
However, it didn’t take much imagination to envision what could become of the space. Although in need of repair, its lofty proportions and original features made sufficient impression for the couple to take up the task of bringing this Victorian villa in Hove back to life.
After renovating the kitchen once, some five or six years later they decided to re-design the space, now better aware of its limitations having lived with it and with the addition of daughter Taryn, now nine, in tow.
‘We came to the conclusion that we could better it by reconfiguring the layout of the kitchen,’ says Yvonne. ‘We decided to flip the rooms by putting the kitchen where the dining room once was, while also opening up the space to the hallway beyond.’
However, the couple struggled when it came to finding a kitchen designer who shared their vision for the space. ‘We started to work with a few designers, but with every drawing that came back, we didn’t feel anyone was really getting what we wanted.’
Many were reluctant to block up an original door from the kitchen. It was interior designer Lee Shingles of Isola Designs who answered the call with the layout that now works so well for the couple in their new space.
When it came to the style of the kitchen, however, there was no question that they would keep to a more traditional style to honour the Victorian property and the beautifully ornate coving that they painstakingly restored during the renovation.
‘We were always going to go for a Shaker style,’ says Yvonne, ‘but decided on something more decorative with nice cornicing that would complement the coving.’
With the room’s deceptively high ceilings requiring taller-than-average cabinetry, it’s a space that now fully caters to their storage needs and permits the odd useful luxury. ‘We decided to put in two dishwashers. They make a huge difference when you’re hosting a dinner party.’
Their kitchen is now a place to which the family actively gravitates. There’s no better evidence of the couple’s love for the space than the fact that it’s totally changed their outlook on cooking, as Yvonne confirms. ‘The kitchen has completely re-invigorated our love of food. We love spending time in here cooking and socialising.’
Q&A with Lee Shingles, Founder, Isola Designs
What was the brief for the project? The space didn’t flow from the front door to the kitchen as it should in a house of this calibre, while the kitchen felt small and dark in relation to the light-filled, bay-window dining area, which was where the new kitchen is now. It had to be a fabulous entertaining kitchen as the clients love cooking and entertaining. They also wanted to make the space, including the kitchen, ‘luminous’. And no grey!
How did you make the most of the space? My principal aim from the outset was to move the whole kitchen to the dining area and block up the two doors to allow a large L-shape design for the kitchen. After continually examining the floor plan, it was the only way to create more space and meet the brief. This meant moving the gas and plumping from one side of the house to the other, freeing up the main wall to allow the original kitchen to open up and adding full-height, room-dividing doors to create the flow and connect the space from the hall. The doors also flood the hall with natural light.
What was the space’s biggest challenge? While the footprint is large, a significant amount of the walls is taken up by windows or doors and a chimney, so trying to squeeze everything in was a challenge. The appliance wish list was quite comprehensive – full-height fridge, full-height freezer, full-height wine fridge, two ovens, two dishwashers, large sinks, large hob and a double larder!
How did you pick the cabinetry to complement the space? The cabinetry is in-frame with an inner moulding to a Shaker-style door and bead detail to the frame. It was important not to try to compete with the architectural detailing in the room, but to also add enough detail to complement it.
Photos by Nick Smith.