Sometimes, the heart of the home actually has a heart of its own.
For Italy-born, UK-based graphic designer Martina Casonato, the kitchen was central in the remodel of her North East London home, yes—but a well-designed, well-appointed larder even more so. “Nothing gives me quite the same sense of peace and fulfillment as the sight of a well-stocked pantry,” she says. “For many people, a big American-style fridge is the number one priority in the kitchen. I was more than happy to compromise on the size of ours (which is a fairly modest integrated model, tucked away in a corner) in order to have the pantry of my dreams. It is truly my pride and joy and my happy place.”
It’s also the namesake of the Instagram account, @thevenetianpantry, where Martina started chronicling her remodeling progress during the second phase of lockdowns in winter 2021. The account—with glimpses of the home’s interior and in-depth detail on the process—quickly grew to have 33.5k followers.
Join us for a look at the house as of now, which Martina and her fiancé, Joe, along with firm Bradley VanDerStraeten, have transformed from a stripped-back, architecturally untouched Victorian into a warm, easygoing space—outfitted slowly.
Photography courtesy of Martina Casonato and @thevenetianpantry.
“It was perfect: completely empty, a large tree at the back, white walls and original pine floors and fireplaces. Unlike most of the other properties we had seen, this had never been extended, which made it the perfect blank canvas.” The couple opted to extend the existing galley kitchen (“which was narrow and dingy,” Martina says) with two subtle extensions, which now house the dining room (left) and widen the new kitchen (right).
“Aside from clearly having a functional purpose, it works brilliantly as a piece of decor in its own right. I designed it with a pair of fluted glass French doors so that I could easily conceal the mess inside, but the truth is we keep it open and in sight 99.9 percent of the time. In the evening, it also works beautifully as a lightbox, thanks to the LED strips concealed under the shelves. The backlit jars create such a cosy and soft atmosphere.”
“My background in design definitely paved the way for my aesthetic: a certain appreciation for simple forms, clean lines, and a ‘less is more’ approach (in the words of Mies van der Rohe),” says Martina. But I also think a home should feel lived in, welcoming, and warm, which is why I love to mix contemporary pieces with antiques. There is an easy-going quality about these kind of pieces, and I am fascinated by the stories they tell, and the lives they have lived before coming in our possession.”
This was the couple’s first remodel (“and a steep learning curve at that!” Martina says). “Like most first time-renovators, we approached the whole process with a certain degree of naiveté, but were lucky enough to have surrounded ourselves with a team of trustworthy and efficient contractors—we really struck gold there.”
Follow @thevenetianpantry on Instagram for more looks inside Martina and Joe’s home—and, potentially, at their next project: their wedding next year.
And for more houses subtly expanded, see:
- A Historic English Countryside Cottage Gets a Contemporary Extension
- Texture and Light: A Designer/Photographer’s Own Family House in the Netherlands, Revamped