Last year the lovely Amelia Thorpe and I sat down and disused all things kitchen on our recent renovation project. From estate agents’ bad pictures to renovations through a pandemic. Country homes and interiors created a wonderful feature for their September issue as seen below. I wanted to showcase all the details of the renovation, from why we choose materials to how we make design decisions. I hope you enjoy the below interview.
Head From darkness into light!
Once known by neighbors as ‘the dark house’, Emma Merry has transformed the interior of her new home to create a peaceful kitchen, filled with natural light
House A four-bedroom detached house, built in about 1915, in Surrey
Project Reconfiguration of the ground floor layout to create a new kitchen
Kitchen size 5m x 3.5m
Designer Emma Merry, designer, Emma Merry Styling
Cabinetry Contemporary Kitchen in Little Greene Rubine Ashes and island in oak veneer and Farrow & Ball Pigeon
The estate agent’s photograph of this mock-Tudor house was taken from such an odd angle, Emma almost decided not to view it. And when they did, its dark rooms discouraged a return visit. ‘But something made me go back,’ recalls interior designer Emma. ‘I wanted to find out if I could see beyond the gloom.’
‘It was the two beautiful windows at the front of the house, which reminded me of the London store, Liberty, that made me re-consider,’ she explains. Pulling back the heavy drapes that blocked the light, Emma began to plan how she might be able to reconfigure the layout and create a brighter feel. It was enough to persuade the couple to put in an offer, keen as they were to find a larger home for family life with their young sons.
After spending six months mapping how the light fell in the house, Emma, decided to remove several internal walls of the ground floor and add Crittall-style glazed internal doors, a nod to the period style of the house, to allow light to flow through the space. They also moved the kitchen to the front of the house, where the dining room had been before. ‘Because we spend so much time in the kitchen, it made sense to be able to enjoy the beautiful window every day, rather than just at Christmas and Easter when we’d use a dining room,’ explains Emma.
Painting the window surround in gloss black and replacing the blown glass with new bronze-aluminum frames accentuated its role as the focal point of the room. To create a relaxed, country feel with a modern twist, Emma designed traditional Shaker-style cabinetry painted in soft grey to create a light feel. ‘It now feels so calm and welcoming,’ says Emma, who offset the grey with oiled oak veneer and aged brass to lift the look and give it warmth. ‘When I learnt that the neighbours called this ‘the dark house’, I couldn’t wait to invite them over and watch their surprise,’ she says.
A run of cabinetry along one wall houses the appliances and storage, forming the main working area of the kitchen. The slender island, a turn and step away, includes the wet zone with prep surface and counter area for bar stools. A dresser provides display space and more storage opposite the island, while a drinks area is tucked around the corner from the fridge.
‘I didn’t have a great deal of space to play with along the wall run, so I wanted to avoid a bulky extractor hood above the hob,’ says Emma, who instead chose an induction hob with an integrated extractor in its center as a streamlined and efficient solution. Flush-fitted into the worktop and operated by a fingertip vertical slider, the hob has its extraction unit concealed below the worktop taking up less than 200mm depth. Positioned close to the larder and twin ovens on one side, fridge freezer on the other, and pans in the deep drawer below, both food and equipment are in easy reach for cooking.
Keen to include an area for displays, Emma considered adding shelving or a gallery wall opposite the island. ‘Then I realised that there was enough room to include a dresser with more storage, but only if I was careful to make it shallower than standard so that there was still plenty of space to move around the island,’ she explains. Two glazed cabinets sit atop a 30cm-deep base, with shelves between them, finished with brass fiddle rails as a smart detail. Built-in downlights highlight pretty jars and ceramics in the evening.
The L-shape of the room allowed Emma to include an area for drinks, around the corner from the main working zone of the kitchen. ‘I didn’t want to include a second dresser, nor did I want to see an ugly side to a cupboard on entering the room, so I added faux door fronts to disguise the side panel and make it look more attractive,’ she says. Two tall units provide storage for bottles and supplies, while a central section of shelving offers space to display Emma’s collection of vintage glassware.
COUNTRY HOMES AND INTERIORS - SEPTEMBER 2021
Words - Amelia Thorpe
Photography - Paul Craig
As always this can seem a little daunting and If you've read this far you are probably feeling overwhelmed and I don't blame you as a studio we create on average 24 room designs every year and we learn something new every day. This is why we are so proud to launch our new service the pre-build consultancy, we aim to highlight the potential pitfalls when undertaking a house extension /renovation before you start. Within this session, we examine the architect's plans, with a view to futureproofing your home. Focusing on how you will live in the space on a daily basis.
Our key objective is to ensure each room scheme works together with design continuity. Once the session concludes we send you over a full video link to watch back at your leisure as the information comes thick and fast and we don't want you to miss a beat.
Head over to our services page and hit the contact us tab to book your session and get your project underway.
That’s all folks! I really hope you found the piece interesting, and as always I’m happy to answer any further questions you may have or head over to email – emma@EmmaMerryStyling.com. All images & mood board copyright are owned by Emma merry styling except where noted. Please make sure you credit and tag if you use them. Thank you. x