This Emerald Tile Kitchen Renovation Was 17 Years in the Making

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Photography by Coliena Rentmeester

Our kitchen is the central hub,” says London-based fashion creative Deborah Brett of her favorite room in the house—an all-green oasis, from the cabinets painted a calming sage to the rich emerald tile that extends from sink to ceiling. “It allows me to cook and chat with my children while they do their homework. Plus, I have views on to my garden and Holland Park.”

The love Brett feels for the space is relatively new. When she and her husband moved into the 1930s property 17 years ago, the kitchen was almost completely closed off and located at the opposite end of the house. “Nowadays it’s commonplace to have an expansive open-plan layout, but at the time that was not the case,” she explains. To create a gathering space for her growing family (which now includes three children under the age of 11), Brett flipped the flow of the first-floor to make a kitchen-living area—and added plenty of personal touches along the way, including her signature hue as leitmotif. Here, she shares three ideas on adding character (and color) to your kitchen renovation. 

Courtesy of Deborah Brett

Maximize Every Inch

Though much smaller, the original kitchen offered three full walls of cabinets. But the new space, with its wall of light-welcoming windows? Just two. So Brett worked closely with her architect to “measure every single cupboard” to ensure there was still plenty of storage for cutlery, pots, pans, and baking. They successfully fit everything on the two walls, with just one hitch—there was nowhere for a pantry. Luckily, Brett’s interior designer came up with a smart solution: adding chunky wooden shelving to an unclaimed nook and covering it with a metal louvred door.  

Go À La Carte 

Though Brett and her husband originally thought they would go for a super-modern look, the couple quickly realized that most of the ready-made cabinetry available was too sleek to merge aesthetically with the coziness of their lushly decorated living roomwhich could now be seen directly from the kitchen. “We wanted the two rooms to be fully integrated. So we commissioned different bespoke makers,” she says. One made the aluminum shelving that sits above their refrigerator; another built the oak-base sink table; and a third crafted the dresser that cleverly houses their microwave and plate warmer. For the kitchen island, they had a carpenter use a large slab of untreated oak and stabilized it against warping with a steel pole. Now the kitchen feels “eclectic, warm, and a bit vintage,” says Brett.

Courtesy of Deborah Brett

Make Color Your Connector

To keep a cohesive decor scheme throughout, Brett streamlined the palette. A custom Crittl unit with handblown glass shelves stores her cookbooks and ceramics in a range of cerulean shades. The shelves help create a visual separation between the kitchen and living room without closing either off and also have a “charming” wabi sabi effect. Green carries through in the glossy emerald subway tile that covers an entire wall of the kitchen and reflects the garden views through the windows. “I love the textures and colours that we’ve created in the space,” says Brett. “Sometimes I never want to leave.”

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