Kitchen makeover – a colourful update

Meet the renovators

Claire Gardner, a civil servant, lives here with husband, Matt, a cloud computing architect, and sons Adam, 15 and Sammy, 13.

Makeover brief

To give the family’s existing kitchen/diner a new look without replacing the units or worktops, bringing it up to date on a budget.

Project costs

Furniture £990; Chairs £412; Tiles £240; Panelling £200; Lighting £200; Artwork £200; Paint £179; Accessories £32.

Total spend – £2,453

What didn’t you like about your original kitchen?

Despite the units being well made, 12 years on from installing them after building our extension – where we turned a galley kitchen into a kitchen/diner – everything else had started to look a bit dated. I’d decorated with a fussy, floral wallpaper, which I’d gone off, the original pine table and benches didn’t work now our boys were older, and the white furniture just didn’t suit the space.

Claire Gardener Kitchen before shot
Claire’s original kitchen before the update. Image credit: David Giles

Did you have any big ideas for the new design?

I wanted to add more colour, as it all felt a bit wishy-washy, but at the same time make it feel cosier, to create a space we all wanted to be in at once. The cabinetry, worktops and appliances were staying, but it was the rest we needed to change, and it had to be something that went with the pale green units.

I’d heard good things about local interior designer Gemma John of Alpine Rose Interiors, so I explained that we wanted a different look, but one that could be easily achieved. We already had the picture rails, so Gemma suggested panelling the walls below them rather than painting or wallpapering, as it adds interest as well as being quick and inexpensive.

I’ll admit that the olive paint shade was a bold choice for me, but I love it now.

Claire Gardener Kitchen units
Panelling the walls and painting the woodwork in a rich olive shade has injected interest and a burst of Claire’s favourite colour to this kitchen-diner, which complements the existing cabinetry and worktops. Image Credit: David Giles

What about the walls that aren’t panelled?

Painting all the walls in olive green would have felt a bit too oppressive, so we went with a simple bright white on the wall with the door in, and tin-style tiles on the other two sections, to add a further textural element.

To tie the whole room together, we then used the olive green as an accent on the picture rail, door, skirtings and windowsills.

Claire Gardener Kitchen bench
Image Credit: David Giles

How did you tackle the seating area?

Adding touches of black has grounded the space and lent an industrial feel to the scheme. We swapped the benches for lovely wishbone-style chairs, which have black arms and backs, plus a black chest of drawers and storage with black metal elements.

Our original dining table and an old pine seat were too nice to get rid of, so we had some paint mixed up in the same colour as the units and painted the legs of the table and parts of the seat to match.

Claire Gardener Kitchen - dining table and TV
Image credit: David Giles

How did you make your budget work for you?

I didn’t start out with a set budget, but had a figure of around £2,000 in mind, which I went a little over with as I treated myself to some artwork. We were sensible about keeping any existing pieces that were in good condition, but got rid of anything uncomfortable, like the benches, or things that had seen better days, then set about upcycling the pieces we’d kept.

Claire Gardener Kitchen - Chesterfield sofa
Keeping her classic Chesterfield sofa, Claire went for a striking piece of bespoke artwork above it to draw the eye and take in all the colours around the room. Image credit: David Giles

Are you pleased with the result now it’s finished?

It’s like a completely new room, and really works now as an elegant multifunctional space where we can entertain, have casual meals or just chill out on the sofa and chat while cooking.

Using an interior designer like Gemma saved us money by narrowing down exactly what we needed to do or buy, while encouraging us to work on improving what we already had.

Shopping List

Wall panelling, £9.99 per pack, Wickes.

Olive Colour intelligent eggshell (on panelling), £80 per 2.5ltrs, Little Greene.

Pure Brilliant White easycare kitchen matt emulsion (on wall), £28.31 per 2.5ltrs, Dulux.

Anchor Chalk Tin Style tiles, £39.95 per sqm, Walls and Floors.

Black metal drawer storage cabinet, £595, Rockett St George.

Iron rectangle accent cabinet, £159.99; for a similar shelving unit, try the Danna, £125.99, both Trent Austin Design at Wayfair.

Bespoke artwork, £200, Kevin M Gavaghan.

Lara Wishbone chairs, £109 each; Vos pendant light, from £65; leaf effect vases, £16 each, all Dunelm.