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Profile: A Central London Home Gets High-Contrast Style

Texture and tone combine to create natural warmth in this central London home
   EKBB Magazine  |  written on: 10-11-2021 18:00pm

Sophie Elborne, creative director of Kitesgrove, turns a rather unremarkable post-war house in South Kensington into a light-filled, contemporary family home. In collaboration with architect Duncan Mcleod of Studio Mcleod, Sophie began the project to convert the two-storey, two-bedroom house into a three-storey, three-bedroom family home. “We wanted to create a basement that didn’t feel like a basement,” she explains. The duo achieved this by introducing light through the stairwell, ceiling height and with carefully positioned skylights.

Immaculately finished Xila cabinetry by Boffi creates a very practical kitchen area. Its handleless design and clean finish with white glass integrated appliances is designed to reduce visual clutter and enhance the calm mood of the room

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- Designer:
 Sophie Elborne, creative director of Kitesgrove

- Style: Scandinavian, contemporary  

- Kitchen feature: The space is opened up to create a light-filled room that doesn’t feel like a basement area. The layout features different zones, from a sofa area to snuggle up to a family-size dining table and cooking area complete with bar stools for breakfast or drinks

Light floods down to the basement level through the triple height stairwell and skylight above the kitchen area

“Once we were able to demonstrate that it would feel large and light, it was clear that this area could become the heart of the home, a comfortable family living, dining and cooking space,” continues Sophie. The layout features different zones, from a sofa area to snuggle up and watch TV or read a book, to a family-size dining table and cooking area complete with bar stools for breakfast or drinks. “My idea was to create a very calm and serene space, somewhere with a sense of respite from busy London,” she says. “I worked hard to infuse the space with textural interest and tonal warmth." A ‘stripped-back’ mix of white and oak creates a harmonious combination, while accents of black and charcoal colour add definition.

Even the plates and bowls complement the white-on-white scheme, with black and grey details used to add some contrast

Q & A – Sophie Elborne, creative director of Kitesgrove

- Can you tell us how you developed the colour scheme?
Having worked so carefully to introduce natural light to the below street level basement, I wanted to maximise the effect by experimenting with shades of white, and to create a sense of depth by using different tones. From the paint effect stairwell wall all the way through to the plates and ceramic bowls, there are subtle steps in shades that alter according to the light in the room at different times of the day. This adds a gentle interest that enhances the sense of calm.

- And can you tell us more about the kitchen design?
We wanted a very high-level finish for the kitchen, so the Xila design by Boffi in White Silcover was a natural choice. It is smooth with a matt lacquer finish that creates freshness, juxtaposed with the warmth of the wood, and also forgiving because it doesn’t show fingerprints, a detail that is important in a busy home. The design is carefully streamlined, sweeping across the entire length of one wall into the dining area without being in any way overly dominant.

- And the finishing touches?
We added a few details in black, such as the tap. They punctuate the design in a way that I like to think of as ‘slow release’, you notice them, but not immediately. I like to create interiors that are comfortable, inviting and intriguing – that’s what will make them stand the test of time and not look dated.

Credit: Edmund Dabney and Julian Abrams (Images), Amelia Thorpe (Words)
Published: As featured in EKBB Magazine, Issue 237, January 2016

Read more: 
Profile: A Georgian Kitchen Designed to Socialise
Profile: A Country Kitchen with an Industrial Edge

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