Modern stainless steel kitchen in a London flat

This looks like a New York loft apartment, right? You would think so with its blend of exposed brick, steel-framed windows and combination of homely and industrial styles. KBB journo Amelia Thorpe takes you through a couple’s exciting journey to this new home in London…

In reality, a bold look and a stainless steel kitchen have transformed the flat into an old Victorian schoolhouse. Shona Fleming and Clare Biddle, who met in Abu Dhabi, returned to the UK after a decade living in the Middle East. Both business managers, they took up their new jobs in London while contemplating the refurbishment of their flat.

“I’d bought the flat in 2005, lived there for a while and then rented it out when I moved abroad,” explains Shona. “It had got rather battered along the way, so it was certainly due a refresh.” At the same time, Clare’s eye for spatial planning gave the couple some new ideas about how to use the flat’s generous size.

Modern flat in a Victorian school conversion. Living room space follows to the dining area. Above is a mezzanine with steel glazed windows.
The floor plan evenly splits the main space into living, eating and cooking.

In the 1990s, the schoolhouse was converted into flats. “The apartment felt dated, had an awkward layout and about a quarter of the space was unusable,” recalls Shona. One and a half bedrooms on the mezzanine suffered from lack of privacy, while a central staircase was a substantial obstruction to the flow of the living space.

After sketching out some ideas, Shona and Clare discussed improving the layout with architect Stephen Kavanagh. The solutions included moving the staircase and installing steel-framed glazing to create two secluded mezzanine bedrooms. A new cinema room on the lower floor doubles as a third bedroom when needed. Plus, they created the chic stainless steel kitchen.

Open-plan living space with stainless-steel kitchen with concrete worktops, over head extractor and gas hobs.
The renovated space plays with different textures like the exposed brick and beams in the stainless steel kitchen with concrete worktops.

The stainless steel kitchen

One of the main problems in the existing layout was the dated kitchen. “It was set on a raised plinth, like a stage – I’ve no idea why, as there was no wiring or plumbing underneath,” explains Shona. This design made the kitchen feel cramped, while minimal storage and work surface made the space impractical. “Our aim was to make the kitchen feel part of the living area and to accentuate the beauty of the double-height space,” she explains.

The new scheme features a U-shaped layout, while the stainless-steel kitchen and concrete worktops are designed to be durable. “The exposed brickwork and steel beam are such important parts of the building, it made sense to celebrate them with industrial-style materials,” Shona adds. The cabinets were designed by Stephen Kavanagh and built by Cavendish Equipment.

stainless-steel kitchen with concrete worktop. Red small appliances. Fabric and steel bar stools. large American -fridge-freezer and overhead extractor.
The worktop is from Haus Concrete and matches the silver tones of the stainless steel kitchen.

Moving the hob from the back wall of the kitchen to the front peninsula created a more sociable layout, so Shona and Clare can chat to guests while cooking. “We knew we needed a powerful extractor,” says Shona. To make the most of the double-height space, Stephen commissioned an eye-catching bespoke extraction system from Westin. It has extra lighting and space to display plants, which add life and character.

To match the kitchen cabinets, the extractor fan is finished in brushed stainless steel and hangs from large suspension rods. As there are solid concrete slabs on the floor above, the exposed galvanised steel ducting punches through the external wall alongside the structural beam. 

Open-plan kitchen dining space with stainless-steel kitchen. Large dining table with four blue chairs. A mezzenine area with a living space under.
The total refurbishment time took over a year, and the kitchen cost £30,000.


Wide drawers and cupboards maximise storage. Units built on legs enhance the feeling of space, while slender steel handles match the Fisher & Paykel fridge-freezer. High-level cupboards are ideal for less-frequently used items and conceal the boiler. Their handleless design and simple white finish minimise their impact. “We call them the “secret” cupboards I can’t reach – it’s where Clare hides my Christmas presents!” adds Shona. For dry food storage and extra kitchen equipment, floor-to-ceiling cupboards with sliding doors, including a pantry, have been built at the rear of the TV-cinema living area.

Mezzeinie area with TV area below with sofa. Pendent lights over the large dining table.
Under the mezzanine there’s a TV area with lots of built in cabinets for extra storage.

Open-plan stainless steel kitchen 

By zoning the large room into distinct areas for dining, relaxing, and watching TV, it has a more natural sense of flow and makes better use of space. Arrangements of soft seating define the living areas, while a large table close to the kitchen area anchors the dining zone. Three dramatic pendant lights, suspended from the tall ceiling, create focal points and help to define the space.

“I had to source chains and cord long enough, which was quite tricky,” says Clare. She eventually found what she needed by scouring Ebay. “Our style is quite eclectic, and I love the Squid Ink Blue colour of the lights. They pop against the yellow splash back tiles in the kitchen and add more character to the space,” says Clare. “We feel as if we have reclaimed the flat and made it ours.”

Gallery wall in a loft flat with mid-century furniture furniture.
The couple have used every architectural detail to their advantage including this chimney breast that is a gallery wall.

As originally told to: Amelia Thorpe | Photography: Megan Taylor

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