Symmetrical design and space making for a small kitchen

We have a browse of designer Andy Barwell's latest renovation and ask about the process behind his transformation of a small space into a kitchen for four

Kitchen extension for a family of four with a double oven

Cramped kitchens are the bane of any home, especially for families with kids like the MacDonalds.

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Industrial luxe kitchen with pendant lights

Their goal was to transform their home with its cramped and dated kitchen into a spacious hub for all the family. With the help of designer Andy Barwell, they’ve managed to create just the country kitchen they wanted.

Here’s how they did it.

The project in a nutshell:

Who lives here? Holly MacDonald (HR Manager), Richard MacDonald (Senior Client Manager in Sales), and their two children.

Location: Waterlooville Hampshire

Property style: 1980’s

Designer: Andy Barwell, Designer, Kutchenhaus Chichester

Decade property was originally built: 1980

Budget: £50,000 for the entire project including extension

This wasn’t the first time the MacDonalds had renovated a building, they had been through this all before with their first home. It went well and they felt optimistic to take on another project.

Family kitchen with a breakfast bar, strip lighting and a warm brick feature wall

The home they bought was what they describe as a ‘typical 80’s house’: “I had left behind a brand-new kitchen in my first home and so coming back to a very dated kitchen was a struggle, but I always knew that one day we would have a kitchen to be proud of,” says Holly.

She adds, “I had painted and put vinyl round the kitchen up to make it liveable, but it was a very small space with very poor design so I could barely move if there were more than 2 people in there at once!”

As most of us now do, Holly sourced her inspiration from the modern treasure-troves that are Instagram and Pinterest, leaning towards more shaker style themed posts as they felt it looked “modern yet classic.”

Understandably the couple didn’t like having a dining table in the living room, so central to the update was relocation of the kitchen diner into a utility room that flowed off the main room. But having never done an extension before they were cautious, especially wanting to keep an eye on the money side of things.

“I wasn’t prepared to cut corners to save pennies when it came to bigger decisions such as bi folds over reusing our existing French doors and having a feature brick wall over just paint,” says Holly.

“We really wanted this to be the kitchen of our dreams,” she adds, “so I closely monitored every change and kept a hard copy of the plans and quotes nearby to ensure things weren’t going off plan.”

Holly also recommends keeping a diary throughout the project to have a better grasp of what’s happening.

Wall mounted kitchen decoration shelves

After hearing promising things, and visiting a showroom, the MacDonald’s decided on Kutchenhaus. Specifically the York kitchen captured their imagination. Pinterest mood boards helped further to fan the artistic flame.

The best part of the finished project? “How much it has changed our lives. Literally I smile every time I enter my kitchen.

“I love how it gives me the freedom to entertain larger parties and with the bi folds I can bring the outside in also in summer months.

“The space just works,” Holly says.

She adds: “I love how I can get the kids breakfast and set up whilst I am making lunch boxes and sorting dinners out, I have so much more storage too, so I find myself being so much more adventurous with my cooking and baking now which I was unable to do in my old space as it was so small!

“I always felt so closed off in my little kitchen before.

“Unable to communicate to everyone whilst I was cooking.

“And now, I can have everyone in the kitchen whilst I am cooking and it just creates such a lovely atmosphere.”

Brick kitchen feature wall with glass splashback

We speak to designer Andy Barwell about the process.

What was the biggest challenge in terms of making everything fit, how did you achieve that feeling of spaciousness?

Kitchen space making midi units

On the oven wall I opened up the top using midi units, so your eye was drawn to the back and not the front of the units.  Everything is unique from the wall shelves to the breakfast bar shape.

Andy also revealed that ensuring doors lined up and were symmetrical was important to making the space as streamlined as possible.

How did you make it feel homely?

We fitted brick slips on the full wall to give the warmth and pre-lit shelves the same colour as the breakfast bar. Finished with a 20mm marble effect quartz.

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What’s your one piece of advice for people looking to renovate?

If you’re looking at greys or white in a kitchen, make sure you add some earth with either the flooring or the walls to make it feel more homely.