Having previously lived in a Victorian conversion flat just off Battersea Park in South London, Clara and William Townsend knew that their next home would need to have more space.
They especially wanted a larger kitchen that would lead out to an outdoor area, one which wouldn’t be shared with other flats.
When they first visited their future three-bed home in nearby Earlsfield, they saw the potential to create something that could work for their lifestyle.
However, the kitchen left a lot to be desired and required a complete refresh. ‘It wasn’t very spacious,’ explains Clara. ‘It was half the size of what we have now, and was very old and dark. The house had been rented out for the last ten years.’
The couple both enjoy cooking and entertaining, so establishing a space that would easily accommodate this was crucial. Clara and William worked over a two-year period to update the property, extending out into the garden on the ground floor to create a larger, more open-plan living space.
The rooflights helped to lift the space by flooding it with natural light, while adding bi-folding doors, says Clara, ‘really helped to bring the garden in’.
For the kitchen design, they chose Higham Furniture, who came recommended by a friend.
‘Right from the outset, we were blown away by their level of flexibility and choice,’ says William, ‘as well as the clear advice which focused not only on style but also functionality. Other designers we approached seemed to focus on one or the other.’
The couple had already been inspired by Pinterest and had an idea of what they wanted, but they were pleasantly surprised to find that Higham had images and ideas on what could realistically work in the space that they had.
‘They gave us good direction on layout and how a kitchen would flow best,’ confirms William.
The work has completely transformed the Townsends’ kitchen, where they now spend most of their time cooking, baking and hosting dinner parties.
And what are Clara’s favourite elements of the design?
‘I love the two-tone colours, the space on the island and how each and every cupboard was carefully designed and laid out to our exact wants and needs.’
Q&A with Tim Higham, Head Designer and owner, Higham Furniture
How did you go about fulfilling the brief for the clients? Clara was aiming for more ornate and traditional elements, such as cockbeading on the frames, but after a meeting, we compromised on a plain framework, with added moulding within the shaker panels. We also moved the cockbeading to drawers only. We decided to keep the wall units only around the hob and opted for the freestanding shelf above the sink to leave the skylight unobstructed.
Were there any particularly challenging aspects you encountered with the project? Keeping the island sink-free has meant less space around the hob between the tall cabinets, so there’s less worktop space either side of the hob. Another challenge involved creating symmetry around the hob. Because the elevation goes into a corner, we couldn’t put another tall unit here. Instead, we solved this with a bi-folding dresser sitting on the worktop, which is used for housing appliances.
Did you suggest anything the owners hadn’t thought of? Rather than having one large larder next to the fridge freezer, we split this into two separate tall units to sit at either end of the elevation, with glass units directly next to the fridge. At first, we were afraid this would be visually complicated, but it worked well and kept this elevation symmetrical, which was very important to the clients. They use the two larders to store different items, so the layout works from the practical side of things too.
Photos by Dowling Jones Photography