'I hated everything about our old kitchen,’ says the owner of this three-bedroom Twenties terraced house in Southend-on-Sea. ‘It was so sparse with its white units, white walls and garish black worktops. The style didn’t suit the house.'
Get ready for your own makeover with more of our kitchen ideas
There was minimal workspace and, unbelievably, only one plug socket. But she did like the communal, open-plan space and knew it had heaps of potential.
'We thought about extending the kitchen but, with a fairly small budget, we went for the cheaper option of fitting a new kitchen instead. I looked to Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration – I like the industrial look of dark inky blues teamed with white, black, grey and natural wood. I also love succulents, house plants and the occasional pop of colour.'
Managing to sell the old units on a local Facebook selling page helped with the budget. 'Our new Wren kitchen was delivered the same week we ripped the old one out and a local handyman installed it for us,' says the owner.
'We chose a white, handleless design that would stand the test of time and would work with any colour on the walls, as I like to change the colour scheme every few years.'
The stainless-steel cooker hood and oven are left over from the old kitchen as they were fairly new, but we purchased a new hob and traditional-style Belfast sink with stainless-steel tap.
As well as separating the kitchen and dining room, the breakfast bar provides an extra work surface and tons of storage space.
After the units and worktops had been installed, the couple painted the walls in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue. 'I had seen this colour in a few people’s homes in magazines and on Instagram and just knew it was the colour for us.'
Although the small window means the room is already quite dark, they felt the colour would add more depth and character to the space.
Herringbone is an on-trend option for laying metro tiles, and delivers an upmarket look, even when using inexpensive white tiles. Cover a large area, such as your splashback, for maximum impact.
‘Using open shelving rather than wall cupboards has made our kitchen feel more spacious,' says the owner. 'I love that the shelves cost us virtually nothing as they were offcuts from the wooden worktops.’ She picked up the brackets really cheaply at Ikea.
Get the look
Buy now: Ekby Valter bracket, £2, Ikea
Be inspired: Kitchen flooring ideas to spruce up your space
'We chose traditional floor tiles with a subtle grey pattern in keeping with the period of the property. I absolutely adore them,' says the owner. 'Also, having a dog rules out plain white, unfortunately!'
Get the look
Buy now: Laura Ashley Mr Jones floor tiles, £29.28 per sq m, Tons of Tiles
Add texture and interest to worksurfaces by using leftover tiles as alternative placemats or trivets for hot saucepans. They're a practical yet quirky Insta-worthy kitchen accessory.
‘I like to add some greenery to the scheme with succulents and house plants, whether they are real or fake.’
Get the look
Buy now: Vintage Cherryade produce tray, £14.95, Rex London
The dining table, bench and metal chairs were the perfect choice for the industrial-style look.
'Our industrial-style dining table is made from reclaimed pine floorboards with retro hairpin legs and is from a bespoke furniture company called Design Shack,' says the owner. 'To finish the dining area, we added a simple black ladder shelving unit from Ikea.'
We think you'll love this transformation... Before and after – a dash of colour has breathed new life into this kitchen
'We kept the original laminate flooring in the dining area as it works well with the floor tiles, and helps to zone the different areas.'
Get the look
Enquire online: Hairpin table, from £225, and bench, from £115, both Design Shack
Buy now: Vilto shelving unit, £50, Ikea
Buy now: Brunsta pendant light shade, £16, Ikea
'We’ve learned a lot from this project – specifically that you need a rigorous plan even for a small kitchen! There were a few mistakes along the way, but all in all the work went to plan. Eventually I would like to add coving and cornicing and update the lighting, but until then, we’re very happy with our new kitchen-diner.’
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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