I’m so excited to be taking you inside a glorious kitchen renovation today from TLC’s sister interior design studio, Martine Cooper Interior Design.
Martine is the creative mastermind behind this recent gasp-worthy transformation, which is just one of many in her portfolio of interior design work for clients across Victoria and NSW. Specialising in renovations, Martine is our go-to when we work on large-scale projects where construction expertise is required. There’s nobody better!
I sat down with Martine in our shared office this week to ask her more about this kitchen renovation, not only to show you before and after snaps of her work (they’re pretty jaw-dropping), but to get her expert tips on what to consider before you start a renovation in this pocket of your own home.
Above and Below: Before the kitchen renovation, and after Martine worked her design magic.
The Renovation Brief: Hamptons, but not ‘Hamptons’
Martine spent a good amount of time getting inside the heads of her clients; a husband and wife who are now both retired and wanted the kitchen to be a space where family could come together more often.
Functionally, as you can see in the before shot above, it just wasn’t working. Dark, small and lacking storage, the space was tiny in proportion to the large double story home it sat within. Considering the clients both loved to cook and entertain, it was as if the kitchen was fighting them on every practical level. And the style was doing them no favours either.
“They liked the Hamptons style but wanted a more contemporary take on it,” Martine explains. “They also wanted a design that would connect to the existing art deco features of the home, and reflect their love of a soothing grey and white colour palette”.
Doubling the Footprint Meant Knocking Through Wall
The wall that sat between the old kitchen and the study beside it was ripe for removal, allowing the kitchen to double in size and make way for a beautiful servery window that connected the space to the garden outside.
With the husband’s study relocated to another room in the home, work began on making the kitchen much larger. Not that it didn’t come with its challenges, given the age of the home and some of its unique features.
“Something people often forget when you knock through a wall, is that you’ll need to address floor levels and finishes,” Martine tells me. “And the same with ceilings; it’s important to consider this, especially in period homes where decorative cornices or original floorboards may be hard to replicate”.
The outdated hard flooring was replaced throughout the entire ground floor of the home as a result, with some levelling issues corrected by the builder before the new kitchen cabinetry went in.
Banishing the Unnecessary Butler’s Pantry
We all know how hard butler’s pantries have been trending the past few years, but there’s a level of restraint required when mapping out your kitchen reno floor plan. In this makeover, for example, Martine concluded that the footprint just didn’t allow for an ample-enough butler’s pantry. And ultimately, it wasn’t really needed.
“It’s nice to have a butler’s pantry if you have the budget and space.” Martine says. “But whenever I take a brief from a client where we are designing a kitchen I like to do a deep dive into what storage they actually need in the kitchen. Often I find the butlers pantry is an overkill”.
With only two people using the kitchen in this home, Martine mapped out two smaller pantry zones instead, utilising the Convoy Centro Pull-Out Pantry from Hafele. This was combined with an appliance cupboard with bifold doors where the homeowners could store their kettle, toaster and coffee machine.
Creating a Standout Servery Window
As you can see, the connection to the garden outside is a feature that takes this kitchen design next-level; the perfect indoor-meets-out zone. And of course, a result like this doesn’t happen by accident.
When designing the kitchen renovation, Martine discovered a French door leading from the original study to the back garden. It only made sense to convert the door to a window to give the kitchen both a workable footprint but lashings of natural light.
“We decided to create a servery window here and extended the Laminam benchtop to the outer ledge,” Martine explains. “It wasn’t an easy build but our clever builders, Planned Homes, worked on creating a working window and track in the stone to keep everything flush”.
Selecting the Right Stone: Form Meets Function
Once cabinets were selected, Martine began the hunt for the perfect stone; one with a vein that gave a nod to the grey cabinets, painted in Dulux Dieskau. Functionality was key though, because the couple had experience with both natural and engineered stone and wanted something even more durable.
They eventually landed on Signorino Laminam Calacatta Michaelangelo, which was a porcelain slab selected for its heat and stain resistance, plus its ability to be used on a horizontal and vertical plane. Using the porcelain as a splashback also helped to give the space a more contemporary feel, and is easier to maintain and clean (no grout lines).
“The homeowner, having a scientific background, decided he would test the properties of porcelain before committing to this new innovation,” Martine says. “So we provided him with a sample of the Laminam which he then tested with turmeric, red wine, beetroot and lemon juice – all the usual offenders – and he was most impressed with its performance”.
Dressing it with Jewellery: Brushed Nickel Hardware
Tapware and cabinet handles are often a pain point for homeowners when considering a kitchen renovation. Do you go dark, do you go luxe, will it date, is it interesting enough? For this project, Martine kept the original brief in mind and used that to inform her decisions.
“We chose a brushed nickel finish for the kitchen because our clients wanted classic but contemporary. We referenced other door hardware in the open plan area which were brushed chrome as a starting point and went from there,” Martine explains.
While it always comes down to personal preference, Martine’s big piece of advice when it comes to finishes like this: pick the best quality you can afford.
“With brass, I suggest picking something with a natural finish (not too shiny) that will patina and look better over time. Black tapware is a great addition when you want to create a contemporary look with lots of impact, but we felt it was probably a bit strong for the kitchen in this case”.
- Interior Designer: Martine Cooper Interior Design
- Project Builder: Planned Homes
- Photography: Dylan James
Martine Top 5 Tips for Your Kitchen Renovation
- Design for how you live: consider a typical day in your life and how you use the kitchen. This will then address your functional needs as well as the look and feel.
- Don’t skimp on storage: it’s one thing to have a kitchen that looks good but you also want it to function well for a long time to come. Check out companies like Blum and Hafele for clever solutions.
- Give your kitchen some personality: be brave and think about how you make your kitchen reflect you and make sure to explore the best materials for how you live.
- Bench space is king: with so many people working from home, multitasking between cooking dinner and homework, think about where you can have a good amount of uninterrupted bench space with easy access to power and good light.
- Don’t go crazy on appliances: there are some pretty cool appliances out there and it can be easy to get caught up in brand names and features, but this is often where a budget will blow out. Think about how and you like to cook and clean in the area and make a list of the non-negotiables and then go shopping.