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Best Amateur-Designed Kitchen: Jo Flavell


Best Amateur-Designed Kitchen: Jo Flavell

August 17, 2015

The winner of the Remodelista Considered Design Awards Best Amateur-Designed Kitchen is Jo Flavell of Market Harborough, UK.

Her project was chosen as a finalist by Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson, who said: “The owners have done a nice job of creating an open-to-the-outdoors kitchen in a former garage–you’d never guess its past life. We like the way the salvaged wood floor adds a note of rusticity to the space and plays against the dark-blue-and-white color scheme.”

N.B.: This is the first of six posts spotlighting the winners of the 2015 Remodelista Considered Design Awards. Go to this year’s Best AmateurDesigned Kitchen Jo Flavell portrait 3

Jo Flavell’s Design Statement: “An unused double garage redesigned into an open-plan space with height and light. A variety of handmade furniture gives an unfitted look, with a mixture of simple colors and old wood. A central prep area serves as a place to cook and socialize and a dining table overlooks views of the garden.” 

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Q: Where do you live?
A: We live in a small hamlet in central England, full of thatched cottages and an old manor house. Our cottage is a listed property, built in 1701 and constructed in warm, orange-colored stone with views of a very old church to the front and open countryside from the rear walled garden.

Best AmateurDesigned Kitchen Jo Flavell portrait 5

Q: What were your practical goals for the project?
A: Although our cottage was quaint at the front, the rear of the property had had a 1960s makeover, which was totally inappropriate. Our goal was to create a large, open-plan kitchen/dining area from an unused garage, as we love cooking and entertaining. Cottage interiors can be dark, so we wanted lots of light and a new heating system as it was very unwelcoming before the renovation.

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Q: What solutions did you find to your design problems?
A: We wanted a large barn-type feel, but when work started on the renovation, we discovered that the brick-built walls were not strong enough to hold up the roof. We had two heavy steel beams made to support this and clad them in painted wood. The rest of the kitchen was all handmade by my husband, Peter–he’s a great solution.

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Q: What are your favorite features of the project?
A: The reclaimed wood floor adds warmth, and as it gets more scruffed and faded, the character improves. The enormous, handmade kitchen “armoire” houses the refrigerator and creates loads of storage. It is finished with a black linseed oil wax (Allback from Sweden), so the grain of the wood is still visible. This was also used to color the dining table, an inherited pine piece, and the base of the central unit to contrast with the English oak top. The oversized bottles in the windows–original French vinegar bottles–stand in for curtains and create a colored glow with the morning sunshine.

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Q: What advice do you have for someone undertaking a similar project?
A: Work out what is important to you and fits in with the way you live in a space. Also, observe how friends and family behave and relax. This is why we have a central island with high stools, so we can sit and chat while preparing food. Go for oversized pieces for impact and non-matching furniture to create a less formal look. Don’t be afraid of bold colors.

Q: What was your biggest splurge?
A: The Mercury range–a heavyweight piece with a double oven and gas burners. A classic design. We also splurged on handmade windows and French doors. As they are non-standard sizes, it gives the room character and lots of light. 

Q: What is your best secret design source?
A: We moved here after spending nearly 10 years living in the South of France. Shopping in brocantes and flea markets meant we accumulated lots of unusual, one-off pieces, such as the old Godin stove, wall cupboards, and stoneware. It’s not really a secret–we were just lucky.

Q: What is your favorite local shop?
A: It’s not local, but it is owned friends of ours. It’s called RE, in Northumberland. It does have mail order, but the actual shop, also originally a garage, is an amazing space full of one-off, quirky pieces. We found the original, white enameled lights there and hung them from metal conduits. All the textiles in the kitchen are also from this shop.

Q: Which architects or designers do you admire?
A: Ilse Crawford. We love how she mixes colors and styles to create an interesting and informal look. Also Axel Vervoordt for his use of natural materials, soft color, and old wood.

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