ISSUE 50  |  Holidays Abroad

Kitchen of the Week: A Boundary-Breaking London Remodel

December 17, 2015 10:00 AM

BY Margot Guralnick

In a newly remodeled Victorian terrace house in Hampstead Heath belonging to a family of four, the kitchen’s wall of colorful cabinets extends all the way up to the study on the mezzanine above. And steel-frame windows connect table to garden.

The bold design is the work of Melissa Robinson of MW Architects, who was inspired by the structure’s existing “split section”: The front of the house is half a story taller than the back. “The owners thought the steps down to the original kitchen were a negative aspect of the property,” says Robinson, “but we immediately saw the potential to connect the key living spaces and open up the kitchen into a dramatic but functional family room.” Formerly “dark and pokey,” the room is now an architectural puzzle of solids and voids, planes, and angles–the dynamic hub of a traditional house reinvented.

Photography by French + Tye via MW Architects, unless otherwise noted.

Above: Stairs off the living room lead down to the large kitchen and dining area, which has been opened up in the front and back to the study. The steel banister echoes the lines of the balcony above and the new screen of steel-frame glazing below.

Above: The glass doors and windows visually enlarge the space and flood it with light and air.

Above: The bespoke cabinets, including the colossal island, are the work of Uncommon Projects, an architect-led London design-build firm specializing in plywood furniture. The counter and island are topped with Silestone (read about the material in our Remodeling 101 on Engineered Quartz Countertops).

Above: The cabinets are made of oak-veneered birch ply and have spray-lacquered MDF fronts paired with open shelves, a combination that gracefully morphs from kitchen storage to study bookshelves (to differentiate the two spaces, the colors gradually shift).

Above: To keep a seamless look, the below-the-counter cabinets have cutout door pulls. The upper cabinets have sliding doors. Photograph by Jocelyn Low via Uncommon Projects.

Above: A wall oven (one of two) fits nicely into the Mondrianesque design. To figure out your own appliance needs, see Remodeling 101: Range vs. Cooktop, Pros and Cons. Photograph by Jocelyn Low via Uncommon Projects.

Above, L and R: Each side of the island offers customized storage: The front (shown here) displays large serving pieces; the table end has flatware drawers, the side closest to the kitchen counter is stocked with bins for pots and pans, and the opposite side holds occasionally used items. Note the skylight at the back of the room that gives an extra influx of sunlight. Photographs by Jocelyn Low via Uncommon Projects.

Above: The fridge, dishwasher, garbage bins, and pantry are camouflaged behind cabinet doors. The walls are painted Farrow & Ball’s Purbeck Stone, and the honed limestone floor tiles are Carnforth from Painted Earth.

The room is lit by surface-mounted spotlights, which Robinson has said she prefers over recessed lighting because “they give a lot more flexibility, particularly with the shelving system. You can direct them wherever you like.”

Above: Mathematical precision: The cabinets end in a series of triangles large and small.

Above: Stairs off the living room offer a view of the kitchen through a tall glass window and lead up to the mezzanine.

Above: A view from the study. The dining table and chairs are hand-me-downs from a next-door neighbor. The honed limestone flagstones continue out to the patio. See more of the project, including floor plans, at MW Architects.

Working on your own kitchen? Peruse our Kitchen of the Week posts for ideas and sourcing tips. We recently explored two other noteworthy London designs: A Shaker-Inspired Kitchen by DeVol and A Culinary Space Inspired by a Painting.