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Kitchen of the Week: A Creative Couple’s Ikea Hack in Black and White, Tiled Pantry Included

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Kitchen of the Week: A Creative Couple’s Ikea Hack in Black and White, Tiled Pantry Included

February 23, 2023

The clock was ticking. Lena de Casparis and Scott O’Donnell had six months to overhaul their terrace house fixer-upper in East London. “We could only afford to rent somewhere for that time, and we have two young daughters, so living in a building site wasn’t practical; we had to make the project happen,” says Lena. “These house s have a tendency to feel like dark tunnels,” she adds. “Ours was very in need of modernization.”

The couple are accustomed to working on deadline and thinking deeply about details—Lena is the associate editor and culture director of Elle UK and Scott is a film producer at Somesuch. In addition to adding more light, their priorities for the remodel included hiring local talent, sticking to a tight budget, and incorporating salvaged elements.

These elements all went into the making of the family’s new eat-in kitchen set in a garden addition. The design is by Hølte Studio, a London workshop that combines its own fronts with Ikea cabinet boxes. “We love Hølte’s simple, beautiful work and sustainable approach [[the company calculates its exact CO2-equivalent impact], ” says Lena. “Also they’re right here and could work within our timeframe.” The room pays homage to a range of references, from George O’Keefe’s pantry shelves to the feel of the wooden floor in De Casparis’s childhood home. Join us for a tour.

Photography by Beth Davis, courtesy of Hølte Studio (@holte.studio).

&#8\2\20;the design of the space centered around two things: a three meter  12
Above: “The design of the space centered around two things: a three-meter-long table for visitors to congregate around and dark cabinets,” reports Dan Robbins, the Hølte lead designer on the project. The latter were inspired by Ally Capellino designer Alison Lloyd’s kitchen as admired in The Modern House Journal. “I had an old Terence Conran book that I also looked at a lot when choosing elements,” says Lena. And the idea to frame the kitchen window in yellow? That came from memories of visiting filmmaker Derek Jarman’s celebrated dark cottage in Kent: “The yellow offers an optimistic touch—and keeps the black from looking too clinical,” says Lena.

The couple worked with George Beedle, an architect friend of theirs, on the back addition that enabled them to have a spacious kitchen: “it occupies what was previously a weird garden side alley,” says Lena. Will Elworthy, another friend, made the table: “we knew we wanted something that seats twelve comfortably.”

the cabinet boxes are from ikea&#8\2\17;s metod line, and are finished with 13
Above: The cabinet boxes are from Ikea’s Metod line, and are finished with fronts of Fenix, which Dan describes as “a new generation, high-pressure laminate with a soft-to-the-touch surface that’s extremely opaque and anti-fingerprint, making it great for dark colors.” The wooden detailing on the integrated cabinet pulls are cherry—Hølte offers a range of fronts and handles to create custom kitchens from Ikea basics, and also makes its own bespoke cabinets. The stainless range is by Smeg.
lena and scott bought their fluted sink at insitu, an architectural salvage yar 14
Above: Lena and Scott bought their fluted sink at Insitu, an architectural salvage yard in Manchester, and paired it with old brass taps from Taps Refurbishment: “Yes, cold and hot separate taps,” specifies Lena. “We really like simplicity in the kitchen: we don’t have a microwave or many mod cons.”

The counter is quartz, supplied by Hølte, and the overhead shelves are the quartz leftovers supported on Kilburn Shelf Brackets from Corston.

in addition to an accommodating table, lena wanted a presentable and accessible 15
Above: In addition to an accommodating table, Lena wanted a presentable and accessible pantry: “I’ve always found high cupboards annoying because I’m really small, so we decided to put in a larder instead. I have fond memories of my grandparent’s larder and it’s such a great space for all our food.”
the fridge is enclosed in the same fenix with cherry edging as the cabinets 16
Above: The fridge is enclosed in the same Fenix with cherry edging as the cabinets—”to tie in the freestanding appliance with the rest of the kitchen,” says Dan. Note the handy extra storage on top.
hølte&#8\2\17;s integrated handles come in a range of combinations. th 17
Above: Hølte’s integrated handles come in a range of combinations. This one is Fenix—which is partly composed of paper—and cherry.
the utensil drawers are fitted with ikea uppdatera bamboo divided trays 18
Above: The utensil drawers are fitted with Ikea Uppdatera bamboo divided trays
to close off the pantry, hølte designed and fabricated a sliding door inse 19
Above: To close off the pantry, Hølte designed and fabricated a sliding door inset with reeded glass.
tiling the pantry in affordable, standard issue white tiles set off with black  20
Above: Tiling the pantry in affordable, standard-issue white tiles set off with black grout was, Lena tells us, “mainly for practicality—we wanted to keep it clean. We used dark grout a lot in the house and like the impact.”
&#8\2\20;no part of the kitchen was unnecessarily wasted: the cherry larder 21
Above: “No part of the kitchen was unnecessarily wasted: the cherry larder shelves are offcuts from the cabinet fronts,” says Dan.
  the middle space between the kitchen/dining area and the living room is  22
Above:  The middle space between the kitchen/dining area and the living room is where the family plays music and the daughters put on shows—the vintage teak sideboard, Lena notes, is “FILLED with toys: it allows us to not have kids’ stuff out on view.” Lena chose the “five-finger parquet” floor of reclaimed oak for its midcentury warmth and echoes of the house she grew up in: “I loved it when I was a kid. It was a pain to install but feels great underfoot.”

For more companies that customize Ikea kitchen components, see Ikea Kitchen Upgrade: 11 Custom Cabinet Companies for the Ultimate Kitchen Hack.

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