A Shaker kitchen

Helen and the girls baking in their kitchen

Nestled in the north part of Cheltenham, amidst wide leafy streets, lies Helen’s detached 1930’s house which, for the past year and a half, has been subject to a big renovation project.

Having been invited to take a look around, we ask Helen to tell us about her kitchen, which is very much the central focus point in the house that she shares with her husband, Sup, and their two young girls.

What was the concept behind your plans?

“We wanted a family-centred space, so a lot of our renovation budget was spent on expanding the existing kitchen to also incorporate a dining area, space for comfortable seating and a separate utility room. Food is very important to us: Sup is from Calcutta and loves cooking Indian food and I bake for private clients around the Cotswolds, whilst also establishing a business producing a range of vitality-boosting snacks.  The kitchen had to really function well as a space. We had everything ripped out and, whilst liberating in some ways, being left with a blank canvas was a little daunting as I’d never designed a kitchen before.’’

Summers Under The Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani, one of Helen and Sup's many cookbooks
The girls getting creative at the Habitat dining table
How did you find your design inspiration?

“I spent a great deal of time scouring the internet looking for the right style and eventually settled on the Shaker look. We both liked the timelessness of this style, with its clean, simple lines and felt that it fitted in well with the existing period features of the house. We also wanted to maximise the natural light in this space and were keen to have bi-fold doors along one wall of the kitchen which would lead out to the garden – it is now pleasing that the bi-fold doors seem to work well with the style of the cabinets that we eventually chose.”

With the overall look in mind, where did you source the kitchen from?

“We went to a high-end kitchen showroom and, whilst their ranges were absolutely beautiful, we had to look elsewhere for a more affordable option. We settled on The Shaker Kitchen Company based in Cirencester, who market themselves as makers of affordable kitchens; thankfully they were able to offer us exactly what we were looking for and for a price that was within our budget.”

Plentiful Shaker-style storage
Classic Shaker half-moon cup pull handle
What were the practical considerations?

“In our previous house we spent so much time in our kitchen that it was really important for this room to be designed with family life in mind. We chose quartz worktops, which are non-porous and practical, and Porcelanosa ceramic floor tiles in a deep grey, which are easy to maintain. We had overspent a bit on the renovation of the rest of the house and therefore had to be clever with how we spent the remaining budget. As we are both passionate about food, we wanted to have an awful lot of storage space, which I’m pleased to say we achieved – we even have an empty cupboard!”

Art Deco style pendant lights from Art Deco Lighting Company
I love the pendant lights, tell me about them…

“I love the Art Deco period and I wanted to find some lights which were a nod to the architecture of our 1930s house. I came across Art Deco Lighting Company which specialises in both original lighting from the period and, also, reproduction and bespoke pieces; we settled on these beautiful Art Deco Skyscraper lights.”

Which other pieces of lighting did you add?

“We installed spot lights in the ceiling and some under the cabinets too: we like to be able to control the lighting throughout the day and find that these fittings enable us to do this. The Art Deco lamp by the day bed adds a nice, warm glow to this area of the room.”

How did you decide on the colour palette throughout the room?

“We wanted the bones of the kitchen to be neutral – grey woodwork and white walls – and then for us to add colour through our choice of soft furnishings and artwork. Our mustard coloured chairs around the kitchen island (Basil chairs in Mustard from Calligaris) were brought over from the old house but look fantastic against the grey units.  I bought the cocktail chair for £20 from ebay and then had it upholstered in a hot pink woollen fabric with contrast velvet piping; I snapped up a second chair from ebay which was already upholstered in a mustard coloured mohair fabric [not shown].”

Helen and the girls making good use of the surface space
And where did you source the other pieces of furniture from?

“We’ve had this Habitat dining table for quite a few years now – we eat at it and the girls paint and draw on it…it’s a well-used piece of furniture! We created another ‘zone’ within the kitchen by adding a Danish day bed; a sofa would have felt too bulky in this space, so we chose the compact ‘Zeal’ piece from Innovation Living.”

Danish day bed in citrine colour
The geometric patterned throw adds a cosy touch to the day bed
The addition of this Art Deco table lamp provides a further nod to the original style of this 1930's house

Helen's treasured Tray Emin artwork from the Affordable Art Fair
How about the artwork?

“About three years ago I was flying out to Greece and, whilst flicking through the in-flight magazine, I came across an advert for the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol, which happened to feature a signed Tracy Emin print – I fell in love with the print but realised that, unfortunately, the fair was taking place whilst I was away. However, a few days later, determined to source one, I logged onto ebay in my Greek hotel room and managed to buy my very own Tracy Emin – I think I paid £95 for it!

Different in style, but equally lovely, are the pair of paintings that hang above the Danish day bed which depict Calcutta both by day and by night.”

What are the biggest lessons you have learned along the way?

“I picked up a lot of tips from the kitchen company about how to design the space from a practical point of view: for example, they made us think differently about the placement of key pieces such as the oven to make the space function as well as possible. Throughout the process, I also realised that if you are prepared to do lots of internet research, it is often possible to find cheaper but equally good alternatives to otherwise expensive items.”


Helen’s sourcebook

Art Deco Lighting Company

Affordable Art Fair

Calligaris

Habitat

Innovation Living

Porcelanosa

The Shaker Kitchen Company

All photographs © 2017 Liam Jones