Can you tell us a little bit about you and why you renovated your home?
I met my husband on my first night at the University of Sussex in Brighton, 18 years ago. Having duly promised my friends to swear off men, instead, I immediately fell in love with both the man and the city and have never left.
After student rentals, our first home together was a sweet little one bedroom flat near the sea where we got engaged and spent our first happy years as a married couple. In 2014, we brought our first home just up the hill, a Victorian two up two down house, the potential was so exciting! We renovated it from top to bottom on a tiny budget. It definitely gave me the bug for interiors and how important the aesthetics of my home is to me, and also how you can achieve the look you want within a small envelope - Pinterest, Facebook Marketplace and eBay became my fast friends! It was a passion project and hard to say goodbye to, but we desperately wanted a bigger garden. Our home sold quickly, and we fell head over heels for a dreamy rose-clad cottage in the Downs of Sussex. Completely smitten and very invested, I had already picked the fabrics, wallpaper and the aga! BUT the survey came back and with some hair-raising structural scaries, we couldn’t risk it;
We were gutted and, like scorned lovers, haven’t been back to the village since. But the stars aligned in a strange and rather bleak way, with our house sold, lockdown and our fallen through house purchase meant that we could move back to my childhood home in Suffolk, it was at this time that my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, and I was able to look after her as she recovered... It was an odd feeling as we left our happy home with nothing to move on to and not particularly optimistic about the future…
Five months of lockdown and many, many house viewings later, the future was bright. My mum had made a miraculous recovery, and we were packed up and ready to move into a Victorian Brighton townhouse. Much like our first home, it had stagnated in the market for ages, with very little interest. We felt like if we could affordably solve the conundrum of the kitchen - which was crammed into the basement - then this large and light house could be a brilliant home. I spent a lot of time problem-solving this, talking with builders, engineers and architects, but in the end, it was a friend who pushed me to the big change, and after losing a chimney and wall, we had a clear footprint to create a kitchen in. The White Kitchen Company were amazing at helping us plan our dream kitchen into a brand-new footprint. Having lost the wall and chimney breast, we were able to create a light-filled, open-plan kitchen and living space. The L-shaped dungeon was transformed into a pantry and much-needed downstairs loo.
How has the process been? Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about redesigning their own homes?
Having a new kitchen fitted is always going to be disruptive, but the end result was worth the pain. My advice for people thinking about doing this is to carefully consider the ergonomics of the space and how you want to use it; can you get to the dishwasher whilst the other person is washing up? Can you easily unload the crockery from the dishwasher? What’s your current cupboard space, and how does that translate into the new kitchen? My one regret is having put the wine rack next to the dishwasher, the change in temperature is not good for storing wine…
What was the inspiration behind your kitchen? Or things you knew you wanted in the design?
Once we had the structure sorted, we needed to work out how the kitchen would fit into this. I wanted a forever kitchen that was beautifully made with solid materials in the colour of my choice. After a huge amount of research, The White Kitchen Company came up trumps, they were a good price and allow you to choose any colour from Little Greene or the Farrow and Ball colour charts. As the space was brand new, it felt quite intimidating planning where everything should go, but The White Kitchen Company had some great suggestions and were very helpful with the plans. I had a penchant for a pantry cupboard and was so pleased we plumped for that. Another pivotal item was the open bookshelf that seamlessly connects the kitchen and living space.
We love seeing our clients choose something unique! What made you decide on the colours and finishings for your kitchen?
I have always been inspired by Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex and the way they embraced joyful colours and patterns. I wanted my kitchen to feel warm and relaxed. I was actually inspired by the colours of a folk-art birthday card my husband brought for me. Having gone through many different shades of yellow, I went for Little Greene’s ‘Yellow Pink’ for the base units and Farrow and Ball's neutral ‘White Tie’ for the walls and wall units. Embracing the farmhouse vibe, I went for aged brass handles, which continued the feeling of warmth and felt timeless. I wanted the space to feel interesting but still cohesive, and spent many hours pouring over wallpaper and tile samples to ensure they spoke the same language.
Do you have any tips or advice for people who are just starting out with their kitchen design?
Your interiors should always be an expression of you. Focusing in on what brings you joy rather than a passing fashion. That way, it will be timeless. If you are thinking of colours for your kitchen, looking in your wardrobe is a good place to start; what do you enjoy wearing? Is there a particular pattern on a favourite mug you are drawn to? What colours do you surround yourself with? Once you start the process of getting samples, it really helps to physically arrange all the paint, tiles and wallpaper samples together so you can start really envisioning how they will communicate in the space. I often find it helps to take photos as a reference point - handy to have when you are out shopping for accessories too!!
If you would like to see more of this delightful kitchen or Jessica's business, take a look at her Instagram @brightonfilmphotoshootlocation
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