Dark blue kitchen design with marble surfaces and a curved island

Bespoke dark blue kitchen cabinetry, stylish finishes and a classic, centrepiece island put the heart back into this Victorian gem of a home in south London.

Keen to make the kitchen the centre of their family’s life, the owners of this Victorian property embarked on a large overhaul of the area. They have added handmade cabinetry, a fluted, curved island, timeless appliances and a better integration with the adjoining conservatory, where bespoke dining furniture creates the ultimate place to entertain.

Here, KBB journo Louise O’Bryan speaks to Richard McGarry, head of design at The Wood Works, about how his company worked with the owners and interior designer Lorena Uribe to achieve a dark blue kitchen and a stunning dining space…

The kitchen renovation

Prior to the renovation, the space consisted of three different areas that felt disconnected: a small kitchen, a separate utility and a dining conservatory, which was sectioned off by a peninsula unit. The rest of the house retained many of its original features, but the kitchen featured lowered modern ceilings, which did nothing to improve the space and light into the dark cooking area.

link between kitchen and conservatory
Having the conservatory at one end and a wall at the other dictated the position of the tall cupboards, which flank the entire length of the kitchen.

When we came on board, the space had been prepared by removing the internal wall between the kitchen and utility, creating a longer room, the ceiling had been raised to add a sense of space and the entire floor was rebuilt to create a level surface leading to the conservatory. A big arch was also put in to unify the two spaces and inject light into the kitchen area.

The vision for the dark blue kitchen

The aim was to create a central hub for the home, which would be sympathetic to the traditional aesthetics of the property, yet also ideal for modern-day life. For me, the key areas of the design were for the kitchen to flow better, while making sure the natural light and ventilation provided by the conservatory was fully utilised, creating a bright and airy space.

dark blue kitchen units
The cabinetry is all painted in Farrow & Ball‘s Railings.

The property’s architecture

The heritage aesthetics were hugely important to the look and feel of the kitchen. We took direct inspiration from the period features, leading the design in a more traditional direction, with the use of front-frame construction, butt hinges, antique brass hardware and subtle ornate detailing. However, we ensured the kitchen remained relevant to today’s contemporary family life by adding contemporary reeded curves on the island.

kitchen design with blue cabinets, island and patterned tiles
This striking glass-fronted dresser with oak interior and shelves hides the sliding door to the adjacent living room.

When it came to tackling the high ceiling, we needed to find a natural and consistent line to finish the height of the kitchen, without it feeling imposing or closed in. Ultimately, we came to the decision to make the kitchen finish in line with an existing doorway because this gave the correct proportions.

Fluted kitchen islands: click here for 15 inspiring ideas

The layout

As with every project, planning the layout involves working within the confines of the space, including location of the doorways, the width of the room and, in this case, the preference for a Lacanche range cooker. We also had to consider the natural light provided by the adjacent conservatory; this meant we needed to locate the tall units to one end. This not only maximises the storage but allows natural light to saturate the space.

marble worktop and matching splashback
The smart Lacanche range cooker, in Prussian Blue, sits underneath the powerful, bespoke Westin extractor.

The curved kitchen island

Faced with the long, narrow layout, the curved island design provided the best circulation and integration with the conservatory. A lot of the initial design concepts came from the clients’ interior designer, Lorena Uribe, and working alongside her concept, we combined elements from our Lexington Range and customised the curved units to fit within the space.

curved island with reeded panels and marble worktop
The round corners of the 3cm-thick slabs of Arabescato Corchia marble soften the look of the island. The matching splashback and shelf opposite highlight the veins in the marble and tie in with the island’s worktop.

At each end of the island, curved storage cupboards provide useful shelves for everyday items. We then repeated the curved detail on the edge profile of the worktop, the fretwork within the glass dresser and the bespoke Westin curved extractor to tie the whole kitchen together.

reeded kitchen island
To maximise storage, the curved, fluted ends of the island open to reveal hidden shelving for books and small appliances.

The appliances

Although the Westin cooker hood is modest in comparison to some specialist range-cooker hoods, it still has all the necessary requirements to match the power of the cooker. We worked closely with Westin to design the perfect size and shape of the extractor hood so that it would work in harmony with the powerful Lacanche range, as well as the furniture and architecture of the space.

The curves introduced into the hood design, coupled with the white paint finish, ensure that what would normally be a large, bulky and intrusive appliance, blends naturally into the kitchen without imposing on the space.

blue range cooker with curved white extractor
Below the powerful extractor is a floating marble shelf, which is under-lit by LED strip lighting, illuminating the cooking area.

Interesting details

Due to the height of the room we felt we could be dramatic with the colour of the cabinets, alongside the use of bronze handles to contrast with the bright Ararbescato Corchia marble. We eventually decided on Farrow & Ball Railings for the cabinetry and teamed it with oak veneer interiors to add additional warmth and depth to the space.

kitchen and conservatory layout
A large arch unifies the dark blue kitchen and conservatory, and brings more natural light to the food preparation area. Art Deco-style ceiling lights add charm and link the two spaces.

The tile is a modern twist on a traditional style, tying in the period features throughout the property, which complements the unique design elements within the kitchen.

dining space in conservatory with banquette seating
A bespoke L-shaped, upholstered banquette provides a sociable dining space, as well as a place to relax with a coffee and book.


When working with any period property, there needs to be a level of understanding of potential complications that might lie ahead. Specific challenges within this particular design centred around the detailing of the dresser, with the pocket door running behind, the secret door into the hallway and the floating marble shelf – all of which needed to be explained coherently with our team and other contractors. The end result was everything coming together seamlessly and the initial vision for this kitchen really came to life.

cooking and food preparation areas with open dresser
An over-the-counter cabinet maintains a clean wall-to-wall line of units.

As originally told to: Louise O’Bryan | Photography: Nick Smith

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