Interior designers rarely get free rein on a project (or an unlimited budget). Or maybe they do in London, but not in Cumbria. If we did I’d have a lot more competition that’s for sure.
Most of my clients fall into 1 of 3 camps. I’ve worked with some that don’t know what they want only what they don’t want. At the opposite end of the scale I’ve worked with clients that know exactly what they want but value a second opinion or a fresh pair of eyes. And with some clients it has been a very collaborative process. Typically these clients have an interest in interior design, and want to get into the details of how things would look or work. As I’m an
annoying extrovert that gets their energy from interacting with other people I love working with clients like this because they want to bounce around ideas and look at options together. Not everyone wants to talk about skirting board profiles and tile laying patterns apparently….
Interior Design Collaboration
Last year I collaborated with one client to re-design her open plan kitchen dining space. Earlier in the year I had worked with her on her shower room which you can read about here Finishing touches and lack of good natural light have delayed photographs but we’re ready now with some seriously good before and afters.
The Client & The Brief
Sarah Kekus, aka The Health Architect, is a yoga teacher and nutritionist so the kitchen is a very important room in her home. It was food that brought us together actually as we met at Taste Cockermouth in 2016. I was helping out at Cockermouth Kitchen Co at the launch event for their new showroom, which I had designed, and Sarah was running sessions on nutrition at the food festival.
She got in touch shortly after to talk about her open plan kitchen dining space as she had a clear idea of the storage and preparation space she needed, but wanted help to get the layout and style right. As it is open plan she knew she wanted a clean fresh uncluttered looking space, but wanted to somehow incorporate items she had collected on her travels. Another goal of hers was to keep the rustic features in her home that she liked but add contemporary elements that would work with, not against, them. My designs are often a fusion of different styles as this is how you create unique personalised spaces that don’t just mirror the pages of a retailers catalogue. So pulling this together style wise was something I knew I could also help Sarah with.
Open Plan Kitchen Dining Space – Before
Look familiar? These dark wood kitchens were all the rage at one time. I’ve ripped out a few since I started this job.
When Sarah and her husband moved in they painted everything magnolia thinking it would make it lighter. It didn’t, it just looked grey. So they re-painted it lime green.
Being a yoga teacher that promotes calm and relaxation I was amazed Sarah liked the lime green (and still does). But this just highlights how colours affect people differently She found it vibrant. It literally made me twitch I found it so unrelaxing.
But when I looked past the lime green walls and saw the space I could see the huge potential, even with my twitching eyes…
Open Plan Kitchen Dining Space – Final Reveal
When we started working together I set up an ideabook in Houzz so we could share images and ideas. This process showed me that Sarah liked the simple clean lines and use of natural wood associated with Scandinavian style interiors, but preferred a warmer colour palette, and was drawn to Moorish and Middle Eastern style shapes and patterns.
I used this insight to help Sarah choose her colour scheme and to find pieces that I thought she would like, such as these Batik Moroccan inspired wall tiles from Topps Tiles
The handleless kitchen provides the simple clean lines Sarah likes. The range is called Remo by Second Nature/PWS and was supplied and fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co.
The walls are painted in Brown Bunny by Valspar. Valspar has this colour in its ‘welcoming warms’ category which is exactly how it feels. The ground floor of my own house is painted almost entirely in the same colour.
The worktops are a coffee coloured composite stone, and the floor tiles are from the Bruno Des Alpes range and were supplied by Horizon Tile & Bathroom Centre.
The beautiful breakfast bar, wall shelves and dining table were custom made by The Tree on the Hill based at Brigham, Cockermouth.
Technically this space is all brown and beige, which on paper sounds drab and boring, but this space is anything but. There are layers of colour, and different textures, materials and patterns. And although it is far from cluttered it doesn’t feel stark or bare because of this.
The funny thing is if I’d never been to Sarah’s home and you’d asked me to imagine what it looked like I would have said like this. Light, fresh, uncluttered, lots of natural elements and a few unusual decorative pieces.
I literally can’t stop showing you pictures its so beautiful. One of my favourite pieces is this Iris floor lamp by MacMaster Design. I met these guys at an interiors show a few years ago and have been waiting for the right client to come along.
The pieces of wood are curved to look like the petals of the flower it’s named after, and looks just as beautiful in bright or low light. It’s a piece of art in itself.
And this is Sarah’s bit of bling – the mosaic tiling in what was once a boring coat cupboard.
When you look at the finished space you can clearly see the different Scandinavian, Rustic, Moorish and Contemporary elements, but the fusion is seamless creating one beautiful flowing space.
So I don’t know about you but I have some serious house envy. And we’ve just started discussing the living room so watch this space.