Kitchen Transformed from Narrow and Gloomy to Light and Spacious 22nd November 2021 | IN KBB DESIGN | BY SBID

Charlie Smallbone, founder of Ledbury Studio, and his team faced a significant design challenge in this latest project. The existing kitchen of a 1920s house in North London was long and narrow with very little natural light. Located to the rear of the house and accessed via an adjoining dining room off the entrance hall, the advantageous lofty proportions of the space were unfortunately complicated by three different ceiling heights (the consequence of crude building works some 30 years ago). At the back of the kitchen was a door leading to a former cold store that had been converted into a cramped utility room. Here, Charlie reveals how they created the stunning new space.

Challenges and solutions 

Firstly, I wanted to get more natural light into the space. To achieve this, the utility room was replaced by a small lean-to extension accessed via glass doors at the rear of the kitchen and we also installed a large roof light.

Secondly, the client was keen to push the cupboards as high as they could to maximise every inch of storage space. However, at the same time, they wanted to retain the original coving. My solution was to put coving on top of the furniture and use this as the lighting recess that runs all the way round the room. The recess then joins seamlessly with the ceiling coving above, which in turn becomes part of the furniture. It is a great way to link the architecture of the room and the furniture, making them appear as one.

kitchen design, Kitchen Transformed from Narrow and Gloomy to Light and Spacious


We chose fluted glass for cabinet fronts to keep the design light and airy, but without having the contents on display as you would with open shelves. The worktops are hard-wearing Classico Marble Arabesque quartz coupled with Verre Eglomise splashbacks, whereby pure gold leaf was applied to the reverse of toughened glass and antiqued. Demonstrating an eye for detail, the client requested a floral design be gilded onto the Verre Eglomise surface behind the hob, transforming it into a standout feature.

The kitchen is mainly taken from our Ledbury Shaker collection, but the client was also keen to introduce our signature use of metals. We added aged brass to the edge of the cooker hood and also used it for the plate rack’s supporting brackets, the hanging rails mounted on the splashbacks and the cupboard handles.

kitchen design, Kitchen Transformed from Narrow and Gloomy to Light and Spacious

Storage solutions

The client is a prolific cook with a library of recipe books now housed in a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf within easy reach of the prep space. There is a generous breakfast cupboard too, combining a wealth of storage with dedicated space for microwave and coffee machine. Space to store wine was another priority, so we integrated a wine storage appliance into the design, in addition to the open wine storage in the mint-coloured cupboard. To the right of this is a walk-in cupboard for the boiler, and a slot for the washing machine and tumble dryer, stacked one on top of the other to maximise space.

Finally, the units either side of the range cooker constitute one of the most important parts of the design for me. What looks like multiple wall and base cupboards are actually two complete pieces of furniture.

kitchen design, Kitchen Transformed from Narrow and Gloomy to Light and Spacious

Ledbury Studio kitchens start from £50,000.

About Ledbury Studio

Charlie Smallbone needs little introduction. The founder of iconic brand Smallbone of Devizes, he has been pushing the boundaries of kitchen design for over 40 years. Charlie’s latest venture, Ledbury Studio, was born of his desire to harness the beauty of original materials whilst creating practical kitchens that exude style and elegance.

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