House tour: Traditional blue kitchen in a pitched-roof extension

Classic kitchen in dark blue

There’s absolutely no convincing Jane Woof, an interior designer who has renovated her own kitchen in Colchester, to consider different options for her space – none at all. And I like her immediately. Right down to the smallest details, she spent months meticulously planning a large extension to the side of the Georgian-style four-bedroom detached house, ready for her dream kitchen, utility, boot room, cloakroom and new hall. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

Jane tells me the main thing she wanted to achieve was a large, light space with plenty of room for walking around and better flow with the rest of the house. Hello, extension. She also wanted a large island, plus a giant double-door fridge-freezer and lots of storage. “Building an extension created room to improve the flow through spaces and also gave me the opportunity to have the large, light and airy kitchen I’d thought about of for years,” she says.

Large kitchen island under skylight

Jane was keen to include as much storage as possible in the design – including base units large enough to fit pans with their lids on, a bi-fold door china cupboard, and a larder.

What I admire about Jane is that she did not want to compromise on anything. She knew exactly what she wanted, so was willing to spend her budget on getting exactly that. Of course, this likely meant that costs were higher than, say, if she’d shopped around for alternative ideas, but with such a clear vision, the direction was perfectly set out – very decisive indeed.

“This did mean the project as a whole took longer than first expected – ending up being a year in total – I was totally comfortable with all of my choices,” she says.

Lots of drawer storage in island

A warming drawer is a great feature for anyone who likes to entertain. It also doubles as a proving drawer for baking.

I ask what inspired the colour scheme. “I’ve been a fan of grey for a while and often use it in clients’ homes. But when it came to choosing a colour for my space I decided I was all ‘greyed out’, so wanted something bold and different that would feel new. Plus, with two black Labradors, white was out of the question.”

Breakfast bar on an island

Her favourite part of the space, Jane now spends much time at the island with family and friends. “It’s such a sociable part of the house now,” she tells me.

At first, Jane thought she would have different shades on the island and wall units, but found it tricky to find two or three complementary colours to work with the white marble worktops she was adamant about having. So, she went for one statement shade instead – and what a result.

I love how the dark blue contrasts against the marble. For the cabinets, I wanted a bespoke French-style door with chunky mouldings for a look in keeping with the era of the property, but I added leather and chrome handles for an up-to-date twist.

Row of ovens and induction hob

A row of three ovens was installed at eye level behind the island, completing the working area of the kitchen. Additional storage provides an ideal place to store smaller appliances and cooking equipment used every day. Handy.

Thanks to the large extension there’s plenty of space to play with, so when it came to the layout (as well as Jane’s plans for a big island), Jane needed some help. She drew up her ideas on a plan and then went in search of a kitchen company who could take her thoughts to the next level.

Richard Davonport at Davonport was recommended to her and together they came up with the ideal solution. One side of the kitchen space would be designated for cooking and the other for socialising. “I left the layout up to Richard and told him I wanted to include a row of ovens behind the island. It took six or seven attempts before I was sure the design was perfect and I even asked for line drawings instead of computer-generated renders so I could see every detail, including skirtings and mouldings.”

Traditional style bespoke kitchen in dark blue

A large extension to the side of the property created the new kitchen space has offered ample opportunity to improve natural light and flow from the rest of the house. The large skylight and paned windows were designed to be in keeping with the era of the property, maintaining a sympathetic look throughout.

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The layout was designed around the island and incorporates the room where the old kitchen was located, which is now used for additional storage and appliances, including the large fridge, which wouldn’t fit in the main space without imposing on the design.

Being in Jane’s home feels very welcoming. The kitchen, although new, feels like a well-established part of the house and like it has been there for years. I think this is largely due to the careful attention to detail to make sure that each architrave, moulding, door and drawer front has been meticulously designed with a classic finish in keeping with the property. Even the pantry has its name carved into its front, alongside the cold store, which is also labelled so. They say the devil is in the detail and her it really pays off.

Bespoke breakfast cupboard

The room where the old, smaller kitchen was sited is now used for storage. It also houses a large, double-door Liebherr fridge-freezer, which Jane knew she wanted from the start of the redesign. Its generous size meant it would impose on the look of the main kitchen space, so it was best located in this area. The words ‘pantry’ were engraved into the top of the cabinet.

Bespoke storage for barware and glasses

A fab-u-lous drinks cabinet sits to the right of the dresser, balancing out the fridge-freezer on the other side.

Before I go, I ask Jane: ‘any regrets?’. “No regrets,” she says. “I’d encourage anyone renovating their kitchen to spend lots of time researching and to not compromise on anything they want.” Well said, Jane. I couldn’t agree more.

Photographs: Darren Chung

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