This dark red kitchen design is inspired by a vintage lipstick colour

With cabinetry based on the shade of a vintage Rimmel lipstick, this kitchen renovation is full of character, memories and quirky details.

Interior designer Stephanie and senior construction manager Adam asked Miles Griffies at Red Squirrel Architects to reconfigure the ground floor of their home and help make the available space flow better. KBB journo Ifeoluwa Adedeji talked to Miles and the owners to find out how the open-plan kitchen-diner came together…

dark red kitchen design with dining area
Stephanie chose the colour of her cabinetry based on the colour of a lipstick she wore as a teenager.

The renovation

By filling out unused space on either side of their home’s existing rear projection, the couple have created a spacious, open-plan scheme. The building and site’s constraints were instrumental in dictating the way the extension would look, because there is a bathroom on the first floor at the rear of the property that sits half a level down.

“My team and I had to design around this, so we dug down and introduced steps from the kitchen-diner to create the living area that feels intimate,” explains Miles.

indoor outdoor link in kitchen-diner
The terrazzo floor runs from the dark red kitchen out to the garden; the window seat creates a connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

The inspiration

Stephanie, founder of Studio Calon, designed the kitchen herself. Tim Palin Joinery built the units, making the most of the ceiling height and utilising the space as much as possible. “We wanted a simple design due to the expanse of cabinetry and I wanted to break this up with some shelving to add interest,” she says.

dark red kitchen cabinets
The dark red kitchen units have been built along one wall, with integrated appliances for a clean aesthetic.

A once-favourite lipstick inspired the final shade for the units. “On the units I wanted to achieve the deep red colour of a Rimmel lipstick I wore as a teenager called Black Cherry. I chose the colour from a small sample and was so worried it was going to be overpowering. It is definitely bold but really warm and the blush tiled splashback and white crockery on the shelves really lifts it.”

dark red kitchen cabinets with open shelving and metro tiles
The tiled splashback balances the dark colour of the units.

The kitchen design

As for the layout, it was based around the vintage workbench the couple had kept in storage for many years – knowing they’d use it at some point as their kitchen island. In fact, many elements of the design are made up of old pieces of furniture the couple saved from being thrown away, such as the dresser, table, chairs and stools.

“Stephanie chose to install a range cooker as she’d learned to love cooking on the one that was there when they first moved into the home five years prior,” Miles explains.

kitchen design with old and new elements
The dark red kitchen mixes old, like the vintage dresser, with new cabinetry and flooring to create balance.

Stephanie also devised a clever solution for adding complementary lighting under the roof window by asking her kitchen maker to create and install a metal bar, in which they’ve run hidden wiring for further lighting. The couple now also use it for hanging plants and decorations.

open-plan layout
A sleek Dekton worktop, from Henderstone, is ideal for food preparation.

Outside, a new black steel pergola has increased Adam and Stephanie’s living space without needing to extend the rear of the property further.

“The structure has been intentionally shifted four degrees to create a wedge shape,” explains Miles. “This was done because the rear of the property is also built the same way, but in the opposite direction. The pergola’s shape means you don’t notice this distortion and instead it pulls you from inside the building to outside and makes you look up to see the grapevines growing during the summer.”

open-plan space with glazing leading out to the garden
Stephanie chose the tiles, which are made from recycled glass, because she wanted to match the tones as much as possible with the brown brick of the original property.

The snug

Stephanie and Adam also wanted the ability to retract the sliding doors in the dining areas, so these have been designed to go fully into the wall.

cosy snug with views of the garden
The glazing, from ID Systems, slides open near the snug.

“On the other side, where the snug is located, the doors slide open and shut. So, this zone has less natural light, which gives it a very different quality and it is used more in the evening,” Miles explains.

The final kitchen design is truly personal to the couple.

As originally told to: Ifeoluwa Adedeji | Photography: Adelina Iliev

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