Written by Becca Green

Explore this colourful mid-century kitchen in east London

Keen to give her tired kitchen a contemporary remodel with a mid-century twist, Alison Ballard didn’t shy away from a bright palette.

mint green kitchen cabinets

Image: Malcolm Menzies

Alison Ballard, a photographer (alisonwonderland.co.uk) and book publisher lives with her husband in a five-bedroom Victorian house in east London. She wanted to replace the Ikea kitchen with a fun and quirky design, inspired by a retro look. Explore this colourful and unique kitchen below.

Did you have a project budget in mind?

Having done some research early on, we calculated that a figure of around £25,000 would be about right for the type of bespoke kitchen we were after, including installation.

Were there any disasters along the way?

The project ran smoothly on the whole, although Ian and I took on the bulk of the project management, which was quite challenging at times. We did everything from removing and disposing of the old kitchen, to coordinating plumbers and electricians which is a stressful part of any renovation in itself.

open shelving in kitchen

Image: Malcolm Menzies

What was the best bargain you found?

Definitely the Insinkerator 4-in-1 tap, which turned out to be a great buy, and purely by chance. A local shop in Stratford happened to have it on sale for nearly half the price we’d seen it for online, so that was a big saving and they threw in some extra filters, too.

Did anything cost more than expected?

As with any large-scale project, it’s always a good idea to set aside a little contingency for the unexpected. Luckily, no nasty surprises were uncovered – although, rather annoyingly, our 21-year-old Smeg fridge-freezer, around which the retro design was anchored, stopped working just a few days after the kitchen was installed, so we had to splash out on a new model to replace it.

modern chrome tap

Image: Malcolm Menzies

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

If we were to repeat the process, I would most definitely invest in a project manager to oversee and coordinate everything. Once we had designed the kitchen with the help of Pluck, the rest of the project became complicated and time-consuming with trying to organise all the different elements, so a professional would have helped things run more smoothly.

Did you stick to your original budget?

While we had a rough budget in mind, we didn’t fix ourselves too rigidly to the £25,000 budget and went over it a little; we had waited years for the new kitchen and wanted to treat ourselves to something we truly loved rather than compromising as we had done in the past.

exposed brick wall kitchen

Image: Malcolm Menzies

How do you feel, now it’s all finished?

It’s the clever, understated details that really make this kitchen so special. It’s so inviting and we now spend a lot more of our mealtimes in here, rather than the separate dining room – plus, we no longer have a view of the ugly boiler.

Project costs

  • Kitchen units – £20,022
  • Worktops – £2,500
  • Sink & tap – £965
  • Appliances – £3,162
  • Wall tiles – £100
  • Lighting and accessories – £568
  • Furniture – £495
  • Heating – £418

Total spend £28,230 


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