Kitchen Tour: A Long, Thin Room Gains Function, Storage and Light
The corridor-like kitchen in this Edwardian home just wasn’t working for the young family who live here
“The house already had an extension to the outrigger when my clients – a young family – bought it,” she says, “but it was a bit crude – long and skinny and quite dark. The whole space was around 6.5m long and just 2.5m wide.”
Architect Rosie Craggs, of SS4 Architects, was already reworking plans for the building and she and Gemma, who joined the project early on, collaborated closely to create three family-friendly zones for playing, cooking and dining. The cat even got its own entrance…
Who lives here? A couple with two young children
Location Walthamstow, east London
Property A Edwardian terraced house with five bedrooms and two bathrooms
Room dimensions 10.5m x 3.8m
Designer Gemma Fabbri of Studio Fabbri
Architect Rosie Craggs of SS4 Architects
Photos by Heather Hobhouse
With this project, the team made the sustainable decision to rework what was already there, rather than demolishing anything. To help the long room to function better, it was widened at the house end by 1.3m, giving the working part of the new kitchen more space.
Gemma and Rosie tweaked the plans as the design progressed, including adding an oriel window and incorporating the middle room into the space. “[The brief was] to create a room that included a kitchen, a dining spot and a play area for the kids, and generally [to create] an open, light and a sociable space,” Gemma says.
The skinny tip of the extension now houses bags of discreet storage, as well as being an area for the children to play in, with a lovely new window and seating.
White engineered ash flooring, The Wood Flooring Co. Parma 110 Classic wall lights, Astro.
Gemma felt this wasn’t the best use of space and persuaded them to have this window zone as a play area. Here, the children’s toys can be stashed inside the bench seating when not in use, they’re close to the garden, and they’re also easily in sight yet away from the cooking area.
There’s also the perfect spot – underneath the bench seat on the left – to cater for another member of the family: the cat, who has a personal, to-scale doorway here.
More: 8 Ways Designers Have Incorporated a Contemporary Oriel Window
Outside, Gemma and the architect settled on a solution for beautifying the brickwork of the existing extension – they clad it in blackened larch. The reveal is also (non-blackened) larch. It pops out to create an external seat, a mirror image of the interior one.
Windows and door, SunSeeker.
“I’m a lover of window seats; you can sit in them all year round,” she continues. “The client sits here with a coffee first thing in the morning before anyone else is up.” It’s also good when friends with children come over. “They can sit here and watch the toddlers playing on the floor,” she says.
Gemma and Rosie also designed the family’s shed. “We kept it low and clad it in the same material as the exterior of the kitchen to minimise it, because the garden is small,” Gemma says. “There’s also a little house and play area for the kids up there, too.”
As such, there’s an integrated fridge-freezer in the first tall cabinet at the kitchen end; the second one contains a full-height pull-out larder unit; next is a laundry cupboard, and next to that is a washing machine. The boiler is inside a bespoke cupboard made to butt up to the window seat. This also acts as a utility cupboard for brooms and so on.
Most of the storage in the kitchen itself is drawers. For safety, with small kids running around, Gemma says: “We put all the potentially hazardous stuff against one wall. The sink and dishwasher and bins are all in the island, which acts as a bit of a barrier to the rest of the kitchen.
Voxtorp kitchen, Ikea. Sonny brass pendants, Gemma’s own design for WorkHouse. Brass tap, Olif.
Walls painted in Dutch White, Craig & Rose. Form bar stools, Normann Copenhagen.
Kimono B handmade cement tiles, Marrakech Design. Brass switches and sockets, Buster & Punch.
“The dining room is quite simple,” Gemma says. “We kept it uncluttered, with the focus on the dining space, which is generous.” There’s a feature pendant above the table and a mix of open and closed storage either side of the alcoves.
“Although middle rooms are typically dark, it does still look out onto the garden,” she says. “We also didn’t darken it or make it snug-like. Instead, we deliberately painted it the same colour as the kitchen so it very much feels like one room.”
Gemma says her clients have filled the walls with art since the photos were taken.
Ambit pendant light, Muuto.
“That’s the thing I’ve really enjoyed about residential design – it’s about how can you make someone’s life at home easier and more enjoyable,” she says. “I have clients who say to me, ‘Every time I come home, it’s a delight – everything is just how it should be and that feels great.’ It can be life-changing.”
What do you think of Gemma’s reworking of this long kitchen-diner? Let us know in the Comments.