Room Tour: Clever Thinking Creates a Brilliant Broken-plan Space
Sliding barn doors proved the perfect compromise between open plan and separate rooms in this Edwardian home
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Who lives here? Eva Beazley with her partner and two grown-up children
Location Ealing, west London
Property An Edwardian house with five bedrooms and two bathrooms
Room dimensions 53 sq m
Project year 2019
Architect Nick Taylor of IMBY3 Architecture & Design
The problem with the house was that the kitchen was a long, narrow corridor and it wasn’t easy to move between here, the living room next to it, and the dining room at the end. “The extension was already on the back, so the kitchen always felt cut off from everywhere,” Nick says. It also made the space quite dark, as you can see in this ‘before’ photo.
“The kitchen was fine if there were two of you cooking, although we always joked about needing roller skates, as it’s 30ft long,” laughs owner Eva Beazley, who project managed the renovation. “But if friends were round, everyone wanted to congregate in the kitchen and you couldn’t even open the oven door and stand behind it. So they’d go down into the dining room and then you’d be on your own. I really felt the need to have conversation, but without people standing right next to me.”
“The living room has an amazing ceiling and doors, and we didn’t want to lose the architectural integrity,” Eva explains. There was also a fairly limited budget, so Nick had to keep as much as possible as it was.
The solution was three sliding doors – one into the pantry (behind the camera in this image), one into the living room on the right and one into the dining area in the extension.
“We were chatting about how to open up, thinking of double doors,” Eva says, “but then wondering where they would go [when open] – it would make it worse – when Nick said, ‘Barn doors!’ I didn’t even know they were a thing, but they were the big breakthrough, as they’d allow us to keep the architectural integrity of the sitting room.”
The sliding doors are the perfect solution, as the kitchen can be completely open…
“The door at the end is so we could hive off the dining room as a work space,” Eva says. “Originally, it was going to be a dining room and an office for me, but then we went into lockdown and it was taken over by my children. With my eldest daughter’s boyfriend, too, there were five of us working from home.”
The engineered oak flooring runs throughout the three rooms and has unified the area. “I suggested Eva go for the widest boards she could, as narrow ones can look a bit cheap in a big space,” Nick says.
The sofa works nicely when the doors are open as well as closed. “You aren’t in the kitchen, but close enough to talk or share the music,” Eva says.
Sofa, Sofa.com. Engineered oak flooring, Havwoods.
“It’s a fantastic colour,” Eva says. “Then my daughter persuaded me to buy these lovely handles, and the same for the barn doors, and that’s really revitalised the whole kitchen.”
Units painted in Midnight Teal, Dulux Trade. Handles, Dowsing & Reynolds.
“We had all these spotlights in the ceiling, but I couldn’t see what I was doing,” Eva says. “[The track lights] make such a difference – I hate cooking in dim lighting and the kitchen is north-facing, so it never gets the sun.”
Some of the plasterwork was inevitably damaged, but, Eva says, “The builders made moulds to restore the cornicing and even restored part of the skirting board in the same way.”
The wall opposite was built to replace a rickety fence and proved the perfect place to introduce planting in this area. “I’d longed for a green wall, so this was wonderful,” Eva says.
Patio chairs, John Lewis & Partners.
The internal sliding doors have proved very useful. “If one person wants to relax or watch television, the sitting room doors can be pulled; if everyone is milling around, they can be left open,” Eva says.
“The dining room can be shut if someone’s working in there, and it’s also nice to have that enclosed space for eating and not have to look at the kitchen,” she adds.
The old trellis in the garden has been replaced with gorgeous framed willow fencing. “They’re all handmade by the family who own the business,” Nick says.
A planter fitted with a wooden seat, repurposed from an old bench, brings more greenery near the house and has created a nice place to perch.
Framed willow fencing, Musgrove Willows. Shelving painted in Harley Green, Little Greene.
The project is a lovely example of a great collaboration between designer and homeowner. “I do believe design works best when it’s a dialogue and, when the owner has a good eye, it’s great to get them involved as much as possible,” Nick says.
“It was finished just before lockdown,” he adds, “so they got to really enjoy the house while they were trapped at home.”
If you’re wondering about the metal pole, it was another lockdown saviour. “It was for chin-ups,” Eva laughs. “We did our Joe Wicks and yoga out there all summer long.”
District Sand porcelain paving, Mandarin Stone.
What do you like best about this reworked space? Share your thoughts in the Comments.