• Karen Wilson

10 ways to add individuality to your kitchen.

We’ve been lucky enough to be invited into hundreds of homes over the past five years, and the resultant photoshoots have appeared in several interiors magazines such as Ideal Home, Homestyle, 25 Beautiful Homes and House Beautiful. Aside from the major house envy we suffer from on a regular basis (poor us!), we absolutely love what we do and pick up so many tips from homeowners.

Lots of kitchens have wowed us over the years, but we’ve learned that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have an amazing kitchen. It’s all about taking your time planning and coming up with ideas that set your design apart from the ‘bog standard’ kitchen. Being on a budget kind of forces you to be creative, as one homeowner told us. Here are 10 great ideas that caught our imagination. If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, perhaps they’ll give you food for thought too.


All white kitchens are a great choice for serial faffers who love changing up accessories. It also gives you the option to add colour on the walls that can easily be changed. However this look can veer towards the clinical unless you add some texture and warmth with natural materials.

Lifestyle blogger and Instagram influencer Dominique Davis ( has done just that in her 1960s house in Chester-le-Street, County Durham. The small kitchen and dining room were knocked together, then Dominique and husband Dom settled on seamless white acrylic units and worktops. ’So many people said a white kitchen would show up every mark, but we absolutely love it,’ she says. ‘We originally wanted a seamless acrylic side panel but they couldn’t create one without a join.

So instead we recycled the dining table from our last home to make wood panels to add warmth.’

Units: Wren Kitchens, Bar stools:, Weathered oak clock: Cox & Cox


Kate and John Parkin’s kitchen in Ryton, Tyne & Wear features an ingenious idea that son Benjamin adores. At first Kate had wanted the oven and hob on the peninsular section with a pendant style extractor above, as she thought it would be more sociable. However the kitchen designer pointed out that it wouldn't be practical with a baby on the way.

'They said a toddler could potentially access the hob from three sides so it might be dangerous,' says Kate. 'So we reconfigured the design with the oven and induction hob to the right of the sink instead. We decided to use chalk paint on the outer side of the peninsular section to keep Benjamin occupied when we're cooking.’

Kitchen units, IKEA

Flooring, Doors and Floors Direct

Oak worktops, Wood & Beyond


Why opt for a plain, flat end panel when you can have something much more visually appealing? When Suzy and Elliot Helmanis-Johnson reconfigured the kitchen and dining space of their bungalow in Wolviston, County Durham, to create a more sociable open-plan layout, they made sure the island included shelving so recipe books are always close to hand. The taller section prevents guests being splattered with oil if Suzy is cooking, and provides additional cupboard storage for paperwork.

Building work and kitchen fitting, Helmanis & Howell

Kitchen units, Second Nature

Flooring, Joseph Parr


Carrie Nichols absolutely loves colour - so much so that she even considered aubergine, orange or lime green kitchen units for her extended Edwardian semi in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside. However in the end, Carrie and husband Simon opted for a plain white kitchen with colourful things around it that give the room personality.

‘I wanted to inject a shot of colour into the kitchen so started researching coloured glass splashbacks,’ says Carrie, who upcycles furniture for a living ( ‘As we were running out of money by this point, I soon changed my mind when I found out they cost £2,000. Instead we found yellow perspex splashbacks online, which are cut to size and delivered for our builders to fit. They were a quarter of the price but I think they look just as good.’

The New York skyline stickers were for Simon's 40th birthday party, but Carrie decided to keep them up. ‘They cost £2.99 but everyone thinks they're part of the door design!,’ she laughs.


If you like the previous idea but would prefer colour than can be more readily changed, why not copy Jo Lowry who revamped the kitchen in her 1970s house in Nottingham?

Jo opted to paint the window recesses a bright zingy yellow. ‘I saw the idea on a Scandi design Facebook page and loved it,’ she says. ‘Since I didn’t want curtains or blinds, this makes an ideal alternative to suit the clean-lined look.’

Units, Wren Kitchens

Window recess painted in Saffron vinyl matt emulsion, Wickes

Tea towel, Ferm Living


Lots of people I interview say ‘I didn’t want the room to look too kitcheny’. One way to achieve this is by foregoing wall units for open shelving, but if you need every inch of storage you can possibly get, another way is to opt for a two tone look with different coloured cabinets.

Miriam Peers has this look at her new build apartment in Manchester. ‘Although we didn’t get to choose the kitchen, it suits the space well and has grown on me,’ she says. ‘My dream would be a contemporary look with an industrial twist - perhaps grey painted wood with a big island and statement lighting - but for now this works really well and I like the combination of wood and white.’


By spacing out these aluminium effect wall units, interior designer Cathy Dean has given a designer feel to the kitchen of this Victorian apartment in Newcastle, which is open to the living area.

‘I considered painted shaker units but didn’t want a pastiche of something old,’ says homeowner Elizabeth Wiggins. ‘Then I thought about an ultra modern gloss white kitchen but was worried it might feel too stark and clinical.’

Eventually Cathy suggested contemporary handless units to contrast with the period features, but in a warm stone effect colour, which stand out against a dark purple brown feature wall. A beautiful ex-display extractor hood, that looks like a light fitting, finishes off the look perfectly.

Hacker units, Callerton Kitchens

Feature wall in Purple Brown, Little Greene

Bar stools, Cult Furniture


Several homes we’ve shot for magazines have featured reclaimed scaffold boards, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. They’re cheap (normally around £5 each from a timber merchant) and they suit both modern and traditional kitchens.

So if you love this industrial look, follow in the footsteps of Rebecca and Wes Walding who have staggered three scaffold board shelves in the kitchen of their 1920s semi in Normanton, West Yorkshire. They’ve even inscribed them with the birth years of their three children - such a sweet idea.


When Nicola and David Rasores-Parry bought a 1930s semi in Chester, they weren’t keen on the existing white kitchen units but couldn’t afford a whole new kitchen.

‘In the end we kept the base units but replaced the wall units with original ‘50s cabinets we found on Ebay and Gumtree,’ says Nicola. ‘Then we painted them all grey and yellow to jazz them up.’

To finish off the look, they added green Metro tiles behind the cabinets and created a feature wall of retro style wallpaper at one end.

The starting point for the colour scheme was the block-printed artwork which Nicola and David made in their garden workshop. It inspired the paint colours on the kitchen units, as well as the green Metro tiles.

Colours Orsino wallpaper, B&Q

Wall tiles, Walls and Floors


As if this gorgeous kitchen wasn’t fabulous enough, homeowners Katie and Jamie Allen have elevated the design to another level with the addition of a copper sink and bespoke tap made by her plumber.

Katie and Jamie converted a former post office and shop in Helperby, North Yorkshire and Katie is one half of interior design duo along with sister Rebecca. She wanted to create a show stopping kitchen that would form the heart of her home. The wall lights are original vintage communist scissor lights, which finish off the look perfectly.

Bespoke units, Chapel Kitchens

Arabescato marble worktops, Belgravia Stone

Copper sink,

Tap, Pacific Heights Plumbing

Wall light, Trainspotters

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