Let there be light

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Plans for a new kitchen turned into much bigger project that transformed this 1990s home. Sharon Dale reports. Pictures by Tony Johnson.

After living with her gloomy, dark wood kitchen for over 20 years, Anita Perry was determined to get rid of it. Replacing it with something light and modern was the easiest and less expensive option, but thanks to a diet of interiors magazines and her addiction to the architecture and home decor website Houzz, she had much bigger ideas.

The extensiion with glazing by Apropos

The extensiion with glazing by Apropos

Inspired by the light-filled, open-plan living kitchens she saw in magazines and online, she has combined the kitchen, dining room and conservatory and added an extension to create one large space with an abundance of glazing.

“We bought the house from new in 1995 and the kitchen units were the developer’s choice. They were dark oak and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen them. They made the room feel even smaller and darker,” she says.

“The rear of the house is north-facing and that combined with a small window meant we had to put the kitchen light on even in the day. Just changing the kitchen units wouldn’t have made enough difference.”

Initially, Anita and her late husband Michael had decided on a kitchen extension and had even chosen the units but that was put on hold when he passed away, leaving Anita devastated.

The dining table and chairs are from Calligaris

The dining table and chairs are from Calligaris

“I’d found the perfect kitchen at Arlington Interiors and they were great when I called to put everything on hold,” says Anita, who has a son, Isaac, 20, and a daughter, Olivia, 22.

“My sister-in-law told me not to make any big decisions for a year or I’d make a lot of mistakes and she was right. I waited and I am glad I did as my mind was much clearer.”

When Anita came back to the project, she scrapped the first design and went for something more radical.

Along with knocking the rooms at the back of the house into one large space, she decided on the full-length glazed extension.

Anita at the breakfast bar with lights from Heal's

Anita at the breakfast bar with lights from Heal's

After admiring work by Manchester-based Apropos, she contacted them to ask for a quote for a “wall of glass” with bi-fold doors.

It came in at £32,500 but has proved well worth the investment, even though it did hold up the job.

“I was told I would need planning permission and Apropos applied for it for me but it turned out that my extension fell into the permitted development category. If we had known that in the first place it would’ve saved time,” says Anita, who hired builder Mark Oliver from Yeadon to do the construction work.

The separate rooms were combined and a door from the front sitting room to the dining room was blocked up. Mark also 
had to build foundations, support the rear wall of the house with steels and work to the millimetre to make sure the dimensions were right for the Apropos glazing.

The lights with filament bulbs are from Heal's at Redbrick Mill, Batley

The lights with filament bulbs are from Heal's at Redbrick Mill, Batley

“It was a big job and he was brilliant,” says Anita, who enjoyed overseeing the scheme and sourcing products.

She had some experience, as she and Michael had already extended the property by adding two rooms above the garage. Her organisational and people skills were also well honed thanks to her work in event management.

The bulk of the project was completed in three months, followed by the kitchen fitting and decorating. Keen to confine all the units and appliances to one wall, Anita managed to steal some space from the adjoining garage.

The sleek cabinets from Arlington Interiors have a gloss finish, which gave her the contemporary look she wanted, while the ivory shade suits any colour scheme, should she fancy a change of decor. The worktops and island are in pale Caesarstone and the walls are painted in Blackened and Mole’s Breath by Farrow & Ball as Anita wanted a “chilled out, calm feel”.

The flooring is vinyl tiles with a metallic finish from Greenholme Mills in Otley and the internal doors are from Magnet.

The updated look demanded fresh furniture and accessories, so the Calligaris dining table and chairs are from Housing Units and the breakfast bar chairs are by Kartell, with the lights above it from Heals.

The stag's head is from Achica.com

The stag's head is from Achica.com

The sofa is from interiors department store Redbrick Mill in Batley and the cushions are from Made.com, also at Redbrick Mill. Other accessories came from Dwell, Homesense and Achica, while the cow skin rug is from City Cows.

The outside space demanded attention as the new room has views over the whole garden.

Anita’s brother-in-law came up with the low-maintenance design, which includes planting in Wimbledon colours: purple, green and white to reflect Anita’s love of tennis.

The overall result is an exceptional, life-enhancing space, though the final bill for the build and fit-out was over £100,000.

“It was more than I originally planned to spend but doing the project really helped me as it gave me something to focus on,” adds Anita. “I also consider it a worthwhile investment as I can’t see myself moving from this house in the short term and I spend most of my time in this room now.

“I love it. It’s even inspired me to do more cooking.”

Useful contacts

Arlington Interiors, kitchens, arlingtoninteriors.co.uk

Apropos conservatories and glass extensions, aproposconservatories.co.uk

Greenholme Mills, Otley, flooring yorkshirefloorcraft.co.uk

Redbrick Mill, Batley, interiors department store with a Heal’s and Made.com showroom, redbrickmill.co.uk

Housing Units, Manchester, housingunits.co.uk

Dwell, furniture accessories, dwell.co.uk

Homesense, homeware, homesense.co.uk

Achica, homeware, achica.com

City Cows, cow skin rugs, citycows.co.uk

The kitchen and dining room were combined to make one large space.

The kitchen and dining room were combined to make one large space.

The extension with glazing by Apropos and rugs from City Cows

The extension with glazing by Apropos and rugs from City Cows