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Kitchen of the Week: A Create-Cook-Eat Space Built on a Tight Budget

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Kitchen of the Week: A Create-Cook-Eat Space Built on a Tight Budget

January 28, 2021

A few years ago, British artist Peter Nencini led an illustration workshop in an exhibition space that thoroughly charmed him. He and his wife, textiles designer Sally Nencini, were looking to expand and renovate their kitchen, and he thought that the architect responsible for the event space’s clever design just might be the right person for their home remodel. So he did some sleuthing, which led to Thom Brisco, a young, relatively unproven architect.

Could Thom, who was able to reinvent the workshop site for just £500, handle their rather large project (convert a garage and closed-off kitchen into one open space for both cooking and creating)? Happily, the couple—and Thom—landed on “yes.”

Turns out, the risk Peter and Sally took in hiring a young talent paid off in spectacular and cost-saving ways. “Most people would assume we had £250,ooo to £300,000 to play with on this project, but we built it for just £95,000,” says Thom, who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do some of the construction himself. “I became a very, slightly alarmingly hands-on architect.” And taking a cue from his clients’ embrace of the upstart spirit, he found “a young builder keen to impress prospective future clients with an excellent finished project.”

Let’s take a tour of the results.

Photography by Nick Dearden, courtesy of Alder Brisco.

Peter and Sally live in an old Victorian house in Norwich, England, with their three children. They hired Thom to transform an unused garage into a large studio space for their creative work and to open up the kitchen to the garden. (Prior to the remodel, a utility room was wedged between the kitchen and the garden.) In lieu of &#8
Above: Peter and Sally live in an old Victorian house in Norwich, England, with their three children. They hired Thom to transform an unused garage into a large studio space for their creative work and to open up the kitchen to the garden. (Prior to the remodel, a utility room was wedged between the kitchen and the garden.) In lieu of “a cluster of tight cellular spaces,” a new art studio and kitchen-dining area (with access to the garden) now stand, with easy flow between the two spaces.
Though the kitchen takes up two-thirds of the area involved in the remodel, its remodeling costs were just one-third of the budget. One way they were able to cut costs on the cabinets: using Ikea base cabinets, paired with fronts from Naked Doors. The faucet is also from Ikea, as are the appliances.
Above: Though the kitchen takes up two-thirds of the area involved in the remodel, its remodeling costs were just one-third of the budget. One way they were able to cut costs on the cabinets: using Ikea base cabinets, paired with fronts from Naked Doors. The faucet is also from Ikea, as are the appliances.
Thom built the spruce plywood open shelving units himself in order to save on labor costs. The integrated refrigerator is to the left of the door, which leads to the foyer. The globe sconces are from Dyke & Dean; the pendant lights from Urban Cottage Industries.
Above: Thom built the spruce plywood open shelving units himself in order to save on labor costs. The integrated refrigerator is to the left of the door, which leads to the foyer. The globe sconces are from Dyke & Dean; the pendant lights from Urban Cottage Industries.
The flooring is &#8
Above: The flooring is “a ‘micro-cement’ finish laid upon both new and old screed flooring to unify the spaces,” says Thom.
The kitchen now enjoys access to the garden via folding glass doors. The studio space can be seen just beyond.
Above: The kitchen now enjoys access to the garden via folding glass doors. The studio space can be seen just beyond.
A ton of natural light in the studio thanks to skylights and &#8
Above: A ton of natural light in the studio thanks to skylights and “a ladder-like ribbon of white wooden windows at the top of the northeastern facade that supplies the stable northern light that art production requires,” says Thom of his favorite element of the project.
Peter is a maker of all sorts, including ceramics. To create a practical and economical workspace for the couple&#8
Above: Peter is a maker of all sorts, including ceramics. To create a practical and economical workspace for the couple’s creative work, he sourced industrial shelving from BigDug and fabricated plywood drawers to fit.
&#8
Above: “The studio space is the substantial new-build portion of the project, requiring new foundations, reclaimed brickwork, insulation, and the exposed timber roof”—which meant much of their budget was spent here. Thom built the unique stairs and balustrade himself on-site over the course of a couple days.
The lofted room upstairs.
Above: The lofted room upstairs.
Peter and Sally park their cars on the gravel driveway; the garage is now gone. In its place is the studio. Thom sourced reclaimed white brick for the front facade of the addition to match the original building.
Above: Peter and Sally park their cars on the gravel driveway; the garage is now gone. In its place is the studio. Thom sourced reclaimed white brick for the front facade of the addition to match the original building.
The view from the back. Interestingly, the back exterior of the building features red brick.
Above: The view from the back. Interestingly, the back exterior of the building features red brick.

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