Room of the Week: A Chic Grey and White Kitchen and Living Space

Cheryl Freedman, April 2016

The classic Victorian terrace is much loved by British homeowners, but its proportions can still present something of a conundrum. Creating a liveable space that runs seamlessly, design-wise, from front to back can be harder than it looks. Strip out too many walls or features and a property can lose its character; leave them in, and it risks feeling poky, dark and impractical.

However, with this super-chic ground-floor space in southwest London, the team at Grand Design London have pulled off the tricky task brilliantly, incorporating modernity, character, space, light and well-defined functional areas. The relaxed, mid-grey living space flows into an airy, minimal kitchen-diner without missing a beat.

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At a Glance
Who lives here A professional married couple
Location Between Clapham and Brixton in southwest London
Property A Victorian terraced house
Size The house in total is 1,300 sq ft, including 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms
Designer Mariyan Stoykov led a team from Grand Design London

Design and build company Grand Design London got involved right from the planning stage with this elegant makeover of a Victorian home. Key to the project was expanding and modernising the overall downstairs living space. ‘We built a rear extension to accommodate an expanded kitchen-diner,’ says Mariyan Stoykov, who led the project.‘We also laid underfloor heating throughout the entire ground floor.’

In all, the building work took a relatively speedy three months.

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When it came to the design brief, the owners had a strong vision. ‘They wanted to combine contemporary and traditional styles,’ says Stoykov. The living room has been painted a middling-dark shade of grey that lends a strong, sophisticated air. It’s further grounded by charcoal structured sofas. However, the space is softened with touches of brown in the cowhide rug and barrel side table.

‘The look is definitely edgy, combining modern and rustic elements in perfect monochrome harmony,’ says Stoykov. ‘The living room has an overall darker feel compared to the kitchen, but instead of wearing you down, this actually helps you relax.’

It’s assisted nicely by the large bay window, which lets the light flood in, while the elegant plantation shutters add to the grown-up styling.

The glass bricks were already in the property, and they add a twinkly point of light that works surprisingly well. ‘They were there when the house was bought, but as they matched the style the owners were going for, they were left as they were,’ says Stoykov.

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Lighter flooring helps to lift the living room, along with a white ceiling, shelves and woodwork. ‘The flooring is the restored original planks with a whitewashed finish,’ says Stoykov.

The alcove bookshelves and cabinets were built bespoke. A section of exposed brickwork in the original chimney breast adds a dash of rustic charm, while the metallic, film studio-style lamp adds some industrial cool.

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The owners of the property are big readers, hence the generous number of shelves accommodating everything from art books to reference tomes. ‘The reading area was a really important part of the design,’ says Stoykov.

This room also shows how, sometimes, one large conversation piece, such as this oversized clock, is more powerful and stylish than lots of smaller ones.

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A run of high-up shelves, built by Grand Design London’s carpenters, is nestled where the coving might once have been for sneaky extra storage – a great idea for anyone finding it hard to accommodate a big collection of books.

A wide opening blends the reading room and kitchen-diner. ‘We didn’t want to restrict this beautiful large space in any way,’ says Stoykov. ‘We also felt the visual contrast between the rooms was enough of a separation.’

However, the builders did retain the pre-existing different floor levels, which are connected via a set of steps. This creates a ‘broken-plan’ (rather than fully open-plan) feel that also helps retain a degree of separation.

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The dining area is all about simple lines, with a cool, clean, almost industrial aesthetic.

Here you can see how the rooms are connected from the other side of the wall in the previous image.

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The stylish yellow, blue and green Eiffel-style chairs break up all the white. ‘They provide a splash of colour in the space, and also complete the bright and sunny feel of the kitchen-diner,’ says Stoykov.

The concrete built-in bench keeps things uncluttered and practical. ‘We needed the simplicity of the kitchen to contrast with the detail-heavy living room,’ explains Stoykov.

The striking lights are made from recycled bottles.

 

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Black-framed bifold doors open on to the garden for that desirable ‘indoor-outdoor’ feel.‘These open up the space and brighten it even more,’ explains Stoykov.

They’re also good for socialising, which the owners love to do. ‘The ground floor being so open means it’s easier for them to have the large parties they enjoy.’

However, what’s particularly great about the new ground floor layout is its versatility. ‘At the same time, they can still enjoy the cosiness of the living room if they’re having a smaller gathering, or just relaxing,’ says Stoykov.

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Skylights keep things light and bright in the kitchen. ‘When it came to these, we worked closely with the client and our suppliers to figure out what best suited them,’ says Stoykov.

Simple, white German kitchen units, with no handles, were chosen for a modern feel. However, the wall of exposed brick adds some warmth and character, and cleverly counters all the minimalism. ‘It gives the room that rustic contrast the clients were after,’ says Stoykov.

The grey and white theme has been followed through in here, too, thanks to the concrete worktops. ‘They were made bespoke and were the logical choice for this design,’ says Stoykov.

Open shelves provide a home for glassware and crockery and break up the run of cabinets.

No-fuss Astroturf is in vogue at the moment, and the owners went for it as it’s they felt it would be easier to maintain with their busy schedules.

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The super-minimal island unit has a sleek, modern feel, while the concrete worktop extends down the side for a stylish design touch that breaks up the white. It also doubles up as a breakfast bar thanks to the overhanging worktop edge.

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The kitchen was deliberately designed to be white and simple, with seamless concrete flooring. ‘The white was to contrast with the living room and help the owners feel recharged and energised,’ explains Stoykov.