Vintage pieces add character to this modern kitchen, which was converted from a garage
Turning part of a barely used garage into
a spacious kitchen-diner that cleverly combines old and new has been a project
close to Lynn Hewitt’s heart
Lynn Hewitt, 42, a marketing manager, husband Anthony, 45, a theatre development director, and sons Tom, 11, and Greg, eight, live in a four-bedroom 1960s townhouse in Hampton, London
What was the old kitchen like? Small and cramped. It was part of a wider problem with the layout of the house, which is spread over three storeys. The kitchen was on the first floor at the back, next to the living room, but as it was separate from the living room, anyone in the kitchen felt isolated in there. The large space on the ground floor, which was mainly garage with a utility room and playroom at the end, wasn’t being used very much at all. As we have off-street parking, we didn’t need the garage, and this created an obvious opportunity for us.
Tell us about your solution As the boys got bigger, we decided they needed a good-sized room each and one of the three bedrooms on the top floor was smaller than the other two. We didn’t have a spare room for guests either, so we decided to turn the old kitchen into our bedroom and use the smallest bedroom as a guest and office space. Completely changing the ground floor would give us a large kitchen-diner with access to the garden, which was ideal for our dog, Crumble.
How did you progress? We talked it through with a structural engineer, and realised we could take a big chunk off the garage and extend out to make one big room with a kitchen-diner and an area to relax, which was just what we wanted. We chose a builder we knew and trusted, Marcin at Refurb and Extend, and were all set to go in September 2016.
Did it go smoothly from there? No! We thought it would be straightforward as we were only going out 2.4 metres, so there was no need for planning permission. However, after the work had started, we discovered the terrace was subject to restrictive covenants and that meant we had to get permission to extend. After a bit of detective work, we managed to track down the great nephew of the original developer and he gave us permission to go ahead, but it caused a six-week delay.
How long did the whole project take? Around four months for the basic build. At Christmas that year we had a huge, dark space with boarded-up windows, but the builders rigged us up with a temporary kitchen. Since then we’ve taken our time with the decor and finishing touches.
How did you deal with the light issues? As it’s a long space with no windows at the side, it was important to get as much light in as possible. We’ve got bifold doors across the back and a large rooflight, plus spotlights and wall lights.
Were you tempted to go for a white kitchen? It was a consideration, but I was keen on grey units and we found a lovely pale shade that was reflective. I was also always planning to mix retro pieces with the contemporary kitchen and grey just works so much better for that than stark white.
How did you decide on the colour scheme in the living area? I wanted a vibrant shade to set off the units and found the teal blue paint and matching wallpaper at Farrow & Ball. The wallpaper’s called Enigma, and is inspired by Alan Turing’s machine, so the geometric pattern appealed and I love the colour. I then started searching for accessories in the same shade, such as placemats and tea towels.
WALLS Picking a paint colour that is almost identical to the units has given the whole space a unified feel
TOP TABLE The G Plan dining table, spotted in a local antiques shop, has a personal link for Lynn. She tracked down teal placemats and crockery to coordinate with the walls
SIDEBOARD Lynn chose retro furniture from a similar era in the same colour wood so they don’t clash CHAIRS Opting for offwhite has kept everything light and bright. These are wipe-clean, too