Using her Italian splashback as a starting point, Vanessa De Angelis has created a contemporary kitchen-diner with a touch of glamour.
When taking on a house in need of total renovation three years ago, Vanessa De Angelis and her husband Chris already knew the basement would be where they’d spend most of their time. ‘We wanted a contemporary but cosy kitchen/diner, with space to relax as well as cook and eat. It was fairly dire down there, with an old green range-cooker, dated floral tiles, a chipped tiled floor, and a strange wall separating off a utility area. There was no access to the garden and everything was gloomy.’
The couple took their time over the kitchen, as it was such a big project. ‘In 2013, we engaged architect Leigh Bowen of 50 Degrees North, and he took us through the possibilities. Our house is a Grade II-listed building in a conservation area, so we knew we had to be very careful,’ says Vanessa. Bringing light into the room and creating access to the garden were important to the couple, so Leigh looked into what they would be allowed as an extension. ‘The space proved to be big enough for our existing table and chairs, which was one of our stipulations,’ says Vanessa. ‘So we went ahead with the extension and added extra roof lights and bi-fold doors.’
Removing the wall between the kitchen and utility room added more space, and Vanessa was keen on wall-to-wall cupboards under the stairs, with Leigh suggesting incorporating a cloakroom and a utility space, all hidden from sight. ‘I couldn’t find anything I liked in the way of kitchens,’ says Vanessa. ‘I just wanted something really plain and simple, without handles. I’m half Italian and I love Italian design. In the end I found a carpenter who could create exactly what I wanted.’
But it was a gold splashback Vanessa had spotted in Rome that was to be the centrepiece of the scheme. ‘I love white and grey, but I was determined to make a dramatic statement,’ she says. ‘I used to live in Rome, and had seen the gold splashback there, and vowed I would put it in my kitchen one day, so I had it shipped over. It elevates the kitchen to something very special.’
Photography: David Giles