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‘When I first viewed this flat, I saw the potential immediately. Even though there was worn beige carpet literally everywhere, including up the walls, in cupboards and on the bathroom floor,’ says the owner of this two-bedroom apartment in south London.
Located within a Grade II-listed building that used to be an orphanage and school, the property was too good to miss out on. ‘I’d never seen anything like it within my price range so I made an offer straightaway,’ he adds. The main problem with the flat was the tiny, enclosed galley kitchen with poor lighting. There was only really enough space for one person to be in there, as a big partition wall separated it from the living area. ‘Since the space was already small, this wall made it feel even smaller, so I knew I had to open it up,’ the owner explains.
Get started on your own makeover with our kitchen ideas
The plan was for a space incorporating the kitchen, dining room and sitting room. ‘As I didn’t have much space to work with, I had to think carefully about everything I put in the room,’ says the owner. ‘Planning the layout was easy, as the focal point was between the lovely sash windows, so I placed the dining table in the middle with the kitchen to the left and sitting area to the right.’
‘I spotted a builder’s van in the driveway, and discovered it belonged to my next-door neighbour. By a stroke of luck, he turned out to be the best builder I could have asked for. He did everything, including knocking down the partition wall and installing the kitchen, lighting, sockets and radiators. My dad plastered the walls and I tackled the painting.
As the entire flat was being renovated at the same time, I moved to my brother’s place down the road for six weeks, which meant I could check progress every day.’
An L-shaped kitchen with white units by Howdens teamed with white laminate worktops gives the owner ample storage and the design doesn’t overpower the space. Howdens helped design the layout and advised him on where to hide the washing machine and dishwasher.
‘I wanted a clean, sociable space that would showcase my vintage retro interior style and had already decided on an orange Smeg fridge freezer – I wanted it before I’d even bought the flat!’ he reveals.
‘As I didn’t want any space wasted, I had to eliminate some items. For instance, I don’t have a TV and I’ve gone for a drop-leaf dining table. The windows and view make this small space seem so much bigger, but it’s the furniture that makes the room. Everything I have bought has been carefully thought out.’
Above the table hangs a feathered headdress from Cameroon that the owner bought from a vintage shop in Crystal Palace.
‘Having studied product design, I love the detail that goes into making products, so that’s why I picked a classic Smeg fridge freezer in a punchy orange colour and vibrant artwork mixed in with mid- century gems from charity shops. Most of the colour comes from pictures, soft furnishings, furniture and appliances.’
White walls and floors will make a small room feel bigger, but pick an accent colour to create definition. The white ladder shelving from Habitat works well as it makes the accessories stand out.
Get the look
Buy now: J orange print by Ben Eine, £150, Art Republic
The leather sofa from West Elm is a more compact design to fit the space. ‘It was ex display so I got it for less than half price,’ says the owner, who painted the blue wall in Hicks’ Blue by Little Greene. ‘It has a much better finish than the cheaper paint I originally tried,’ he explains.
Ready for another revamp? Before and after: A new layout makes this kitchen feel twice the size
Get the look
Buy now: Wall painted in Hicks’ Blue, £48.50 for 2.5L, Little Greene
Buy now: Similar Alto galvanised bin, £35, Habitat
Buy now: Patsy mirror, £195, Habitat
‘I’m so pleased with the result, which blends my love of vintage retro with a laid-back Californian vibe,’ says the owner. ‘It’s a great place for entertaining and I’ve had lots of positive comments about the transformation on my Instagram page, @474sq. I remember one sunny day, having people round, sitting on my favourite swivel chair and just looking out to the park. Everyone was so relaxed and that’s what I want my home to be like.’