Designs that make you smile!

The Big Interiors Battle Ep2:
Kitchen makeover

Cooking Up Creativity: Designing my absolute dream Kitchen

Welcome back to my exhilarating journey on The Big Interiors Battle! In this thrilling second episode, the spotlight shifted to the heart of the home—the kitchen. As contestants, we were given the opportunity to transform a blank canvas into a culinary masterpiece, embracing the challenge with passion and boundless creativity. The kitchen is undeniably the beating heart of any home, a space that fosters connection and creativity. This episode showcased our dedication to infusing functionality with aesthetics, as we navigated the complexities of kitchen design with ingenuity and flair.

If you missed the episode, you can still catch it on Channel 4’s on-demand platform, experiencing firsthand the excitement and innovation that unfolded as we tackled this exciting challenge:
Watch episode 2

Join me as I delve into the details of my kitchen design journey, from conception to completion, in pursuit of creating my absolute dream kitchen.

THE BRIEF

Creating the ultimate kitchen

Week 2 of the competition was all about crafting the perfect kitchen—a space that seamlessly blended colour, function, and zoning. With a budget of £9000 for basic fit-outs and an additional £2000 for fittings and fixtures, we set out to design a kitchen that not only dazzled visually but also excelled in practicality. Again, we had 4 days to flawlessly execute everything (with one week of design, sourcing and purchasing prep).
AFTER - My kitchen (scroll down to see before)
AFTER - My kitchen (scroll down to see before)
BEFORE - My Kitchen
BEFORE - My Kitchen

KEY ELEMENTS

Kitchens being tricky spaces, designing it presented unique challenges compared to standard room transformations. Kitchens are inherently more complex spaces, requiring a delicate balance between functionality and aesthetics. For this week, Dara told us that she would base her evaluation on three distinctive key elements:
  1. Colour: Infusing the space with vibrant hues to create a lively and inviting atmosphere.
  2. Function: Designing a kitchen layout that prioritized efficiency and convenience.
  3. Zoning: Creating distinct zones within the kitchen to optimize workflow and organization.

MY APPROACH & INSPIRATION

In approaching the kitchen design, I viewed it not just as a functional space for culinary pursuits but as the heart of the home—a vital hyphen connecting all rooms and fostering communal gatherings. Kitchens are not merely spaces for cooking; they serve as hubs for social interaction, where cherished moments are shared with friends and family. Embracing this holistic perspective, I aimed to create a kitchen that harmonized with its surroundings while embodying conviviality and warmth.

Kitchen layout

Originally planning for a U-shaped layout, a last-minute change of flat, a few days before the challenge, led me to go with a straight kitchen design.
My initial kitchen layout
My initial kitchen layout
My final kitchen layout
My final kitchen and living room layout
The kitchen was part of an open plan layout that seamlessly connected with the dining and living areas, creating a vibrant hub for daily activities and social gatherings. Positioned to face the dining and living spaces, the kitchen layout encouraged natural flow and interaction among family members and guests. In addition to the kitchen and dining functions, I envisioned incorporating a cozy home-office station, blending work and leisure seamlessly within this multifunctional space. This setup not only facilitated productivity but also provided easy access to the kitchen, perfect for satisfying cravings or quickly making tea during work breaks.
Kitchen - 3D renderings
Sketchup renderings - View from dining area
Kitchen - 3D renderings
Sketchup renderings - View from kitchen
Kitchen - 3D renderings
Sketchup renderings - View from living room
Kitchen - 3D renderings
Sketchup renderings - View from entrance

Design Aesthetics: Vibrancy and Boldness

I wanted to create a kitchen that embodied vibrancy and boldness. A cohesive colour palette of fuchsia, orange, and yellow infused the kitchen with vibrancy and personality. This cohesive colour palette reflected a continuity in my design approach, mirroring the vibrant hues found throughout the apartment. Each colour was strategically employed to highlight specific elements, creating visual interest and a dynamic atmosphere.
My original moodboard for the kitchen
My original moodboard for the kitchen
Kitchen_after
An effervescence of colours

Functionality

As an integral part of my kitchen design, I wanted to prioritize functionality while incorporating unique solutions to meet specific needs. Given my husband’s passion for baking French pastries (yes I know I’m lucky😉) and the desire for additional storage and workspace, I envisioned adding an island with a sizable worktop.

Kitchen elevation plan I originally made
Kitchen elevation plan I originally made
However, due to spatial constraints and the need to maintain ergonomic measures, a traditional fixed island was not feasible. To overcome this challenge, I opted for a mobile island on casters, utilizing a repurposed chest of drawers from IKEA coupled with a scrap of my desired worktop. This creative solution not only provided essential workspace and storage but also offered versatility. The mobile island could be effortlessly moved to the dining area, facilitating seamless meal preparation and enhancing the conviviality of the kitchen.
My kitchen island on wheels
My kitchen island on wheels
Kitchen island on casters
Dara Huang The Big Interiors Battle Justine
Dara showing what the appropriate depth should have been

Geometric Spice Shelves

One of the standout features in the kitchen was the incorporation of geometric shapes to highlight the spice shelves. I arranged the spice jars along a straight line within a triangular arrangement, adding both functionality and visual interest to the space. This geometric motif not only emphasized the spice storage area but also contributed to the overall playful and modern aesthetic of the kitchen. By integrating innovative design solutions like this, I aimed to create a kitchen that was not only practical but also infused with personality and creativity.
Triangular spice racks
Triangular spice racks
Spice racks

Quirky zoning

To define clear and functional zones within the kitchen, I opted to highlight the flooring with playful vinyl shapes, creating a dynamic yet organized space. I was originally planning to use a blue and the Mix & Match vinyl from Forbo, cut into triangular shapes. But the Mix & Match vinyl couldn’t be delivered in time for the challenge. I decided to then select three different flooring materials from Forbo that I would cut myself, adding a cheerful and playful touch, reflecting my aversion to monotony and dedication to practicality.

By strategically placing these vinyl shapes, I not only delineated specific areas for cooking, dining, and socializing but also infused the kitchen with a sense of creativity and vibrancy. Each flooring material was carefully chosen for its durability and suitability for frequent use, ensuring a cohesive yet visually engaging design that enhanced both the aesthetic and functional aspects of the space.
My original kitchen flooring schedule
My original kitchen flooring schedule

CHALLENGES & UNEXPECTED TWISTS

As with any interior design project’s execution, unforeseen challenges arose throughout the week, testing both ingenuity and perseverance:
  • The intricate vinyl flooring shapes, meticulously selected to define clear zones within the kitchen, proved to be more challenging than anticipated. Each piece required precise cutting and placement, demanding extra time and dedication to ensure a flawless finish. I finished quite late in the evening and ended missing out Jamie’s birthday…
Kitchen side view
Blue triangular vinyl flooring
  • Furthermore, a last-minute delivery mishap involving a neon stripe for a custom neon sign added a touch of drama to the final hours of preparation (delivered 1h before judging time). The unexpected timing left me with little room for error, requiring quick thinking and adaptability to overcome the setback. The neon stripe I had ordered for the knife neon sign got delivered 1h before the judging time. It looked so horrible that the producers decided not to show it TV! But that didn’t stop Dara from judging me on this element anyway (this is what she meant by craftmanship).
Hidden neon sign
Hidden neon sign
  • As a nod to the building’s history as a cutlery factory, I sought to preserve its heritage by creating an accent wall adorned with framed photographs from the cutlery era. In a surprising turn of events, I wasn’t allowed to showcase pre-existing building photos, prompting me to take matters into my own hands by capturing images of the building myself. Although this feature was not aired on TV, it served as a testament to my dedication to preserving historical significance in my design.
Neon shape and historical pictures
Neon shape and historical pictures
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works
J. Guillermou - Eyewitness Works

FINAL OUTCOME

After days of creative brainstorming and meticulous execution, the kitchen emerged as a culinary oasis that surpassed The strategic use of geometric patterns and playful accents added personality and charm, reflecting my unique design sensibility. From bold cabinet colours to carefully curated textures, every detail contributed to an inviting and inspiring atmosphere that celebrated both form and function.
My bold kitchen
My bold kitchen
The strategic use of geometric patterns and playful accents added personality and charm, reflecting my unique design sensibility. From bold cabinet colours to carefully curated textures, every detail contributed to an inviting and inspiring atmosphere that celebrated both form and function.
Dara and AJ discovering my playful kitchen
Dara and AJ discovering my playful kitchen
AJ Odudu The Big Interiors Battle
Dara Huang The Big Interiors Battle
Despite Dara’s feedback on the island’s dimensions and the neon sign’s craftsmanship, I received the green light to continue and survive for an additional week, which fuelled my determination to showcase my capabilities and creativity in the following week of the competition.
The developers were surprised once more by the bold choice of colours!
Tim Heatley The Big Interiors Battle
Tim Heatley's look of surprise as he was discovering my kitchen

DIY: NEON SIGN

What you'll need

  • Loctite Super Glue Ultra Gel Control
  • Gorilla gaff tape
  • Chalkboard Marker/Dry Erase Marker
    Clear acrylic sheet – Cut to desired shape
  • El Wire in desired colour from The Glow Company

Directions

  1. Decide on your design—this could be a word, short quote, or simple shape. Adjust your design to fit the acrylic sheet.
  2. Determine where to drill holes for your neon wire. Typically, drill at the start and end of each word or disconnected letter. Experiment with the neon wire by bending it over your design to identify areas where excess wire gathers or where bends need adjustments for a cleaner look.
  3. Use a dry erase or chalkboard marker to trace your design onto the acrylic. Test this method first to ensure easy removal from the plexiglass. Pro Tip: Wipe away the marker as you trace to make final removal easier (waiting until the end can make it more challenging to clean off).
  4. Drill holes sized to accommodate your neon wire at each marked spot.
  5. Thread the neon wire through the first hole (starting at the beginning of the design, like the “L”), leaving the battery pack’s black wire at the back. Secure the wire in place with a small piece of gaff tape.
  6. Follow your traced design with the neon wire, bending it smoothly around curves and securing bends with drops of super glue gel. Hold each bend for a minute until the glue sets, then use painter’s tape to hold it in place while it fully dries (approximately ten minutes).
  7. As you trace, secure the neon wire at curves and loops. Drop the wire to the back of the plexiglass at drilled holes, pulling it through the next hole to continue.
  8. For the final letter, drop the wire through to the back of the plexiglass. Flip over the acrylic and trim any excess wire with regular scissors.
  9. Use gaff tape to wrap and secure any remaining wire on the back to prevent it from shining through when the sign is lit.
  10. Connect the battery pack and attach it to the back of the sign using tape for a finished look.
Your neon sign is finally done! Let me know if it turned out better than mine 😆

RESOURCES

The transformation of the kitchen was made possible through a carefully curated selection of resources and design elements:

Basic Fit-outs

  • Flooring: FORBO Sarlon trafic 15 db 33|43 – Deep blue stardust
  • Sink: Blanco Rotan 400-U- White
  • Tap / mixer: Mila Matt Black
  • Worktop: Silestone Blanco Zeus
  • Splashback: Silestone Blanco Zeus
  • Kitchen doors colour: RAL2000 – RAL4003 – RAL1018
  • Fuchsia paint: RAL 4003

Fittings & Fixtures

Furniture
  • Island on casters: upcycle of a chest of 6 drawers Kullen from IKEA with 6 casters

Lighting

  • Lights: TRACK lighting Ansel Black

Styling

For the styling accessories, I went with quirky and colourful elements to bring even more playfulness, but also personal items from my own home.
Lemon in my kitchen
Colourful kettle
Little astronaut bottle opener
  • Spice shelves: bought on the day at Home base
  • Towel ring for the island from Dunelm
  • Books: ‘Big Mamma recipes’, ‘The Avocado Show’, ‘Eat plants, be happy!’
  • My little astronaut bottle-opener which was a nod to my past
  • Tea towels and pot holder: Habitat
  • Glass jars: Hay
  • Tea kettle: Hay
  • Plants and fruits
  • Candle: from DW Home (the same taken from the bedroom)

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