ISSUE 48  |  Design Lessons

26 Grains: A London Restaurant with “Hygge”

December 20, 2016 8:00 AM

BY Izabella Simmons

Inspired by her time spent in Denmark, a grain-loving culture, Alex Hely-Hutchinson decided to returned to her hometown of London and take porridge to another level. With the help of Laura Kiely and Justin Melican of design firm Block1: Design, Hely-Hutchinson opened 26 Grains, a restaurant serving grain-based dishes in the heart of Neal’s Yard in London. Her goal was to create a Scandi-inspired restaurant embodying what the Danish call hygge, which translates to “celebrating life’s pleasures.” Join us for a look inside.

Photography by Enzo Cerri, courtesy of Block1: Design.

26 Grains in London

Above: The bi-folding exterior doors allow for outdoor seating during the warmer months. The exterior paint color was chosen to reflect the brand’s Scandinavian influences and to link the interior and exterior palettes.

26 Grains in London

Above: The tables and counter were all custom built for the space by the main contractor, MPH Joinery. “We chose natural oak for the wooden tables and leather for the banquette seating, and a hardwearing wood-effect floor tile over a wooden floor,” Kiely says. The tile is Wood Sense from Domus and is laid in a herringbone pattern.

26 Grains in London

Above: The two-toned walls were painted in Clouded Pearl 3 by Dulux paint on the upper section and in Hick’s Blue by Little Greene on the lower section. “We loved the original texture of the walls, so we decided to keep it. The colors again reflect the Scandinavian influence,” Kiely says.

26 Grains in London

Above: The Brass Wall Lamps are from Idyll Home and the stools were sourced from Cult Furniture.


Above: Graceful touches abound (slivers of cucumber in a carafe of water, for instance).

26 Grains in London

Above: “Part of the brief was to have the kitchen on display,” Kiely says, “to signal that the restaurant’s ethos is based on the principles of openness and honest cooking.” The marble counter top was sourced from Asper Marble in East London, and the metal bar shelving was designed specifically for this area.

26 Grains in London

Above: The staff’s denim aprons tie in with the color palette of the whole scheme.

26 Grains in London

Above: The shelving was designed by Block1: Design and built by MPH Joinery. “As space was limited, we wanted all elements to be as light as possible,” Kiely says. “For this reason we suspended the block shelving from the ceiling, which helped create a sense of space.”


Above: Alex Hely-Hutchinson recently released the cookbook 26 Grains, available via Amazon UK for £16 ($19.87).

See our London Design Guide for more restaurant and hotel options.