Before and After: A Beautiful Traditional Kitchen Renovation

Aside from our own renovations, I haven’t often featured room makeovers on House Nerd – I’ve always gone the whole hog and done a whole house. Even though putting together full home tours – like this one – take me ages, I haven’t often done ‘room renovations’, such as a kitchen or bathroom only, because my time to blog is so limited and my thought process has always kind of been, “Oh, well if I’m writing a blog story, I should stick to whole homes only. I don’t have time to do room-only stories.” (Yep, I do see the irony!)

However, this gorgeous kitchen renovation has made me vow to change all that! From now on, I’m going to do more room renovations – because sometimes a room is worthy of a story all to its own. I fell in love with this beautiful Shaker-style kitchen renovation in Subiaco by Rachael Pearse of Staple Design the moment I saw it – and I know you guys will love it just as much!

Styling by Rachael Pearse of Staple Design. Photos by Meghan Plowman.

This house used to have a 90s kitchen – one that was looking a little dated and a little rough around the edges when its owner called in Staple Design interior designer and stylist, Rachael Pearse. The client had fallen in love with Rachael’s work online and enlisted her help to create a new kitchen, rework the laundry and assist her with furniture layouts and colour schemes.

Rachael said with the home belonging to a family of five (and a couple of dogs!) it was evident at her first meeting that it was a real family home. “The kitchen had some definite wear and tear which is not surprising when you’ve got teenage kids!” she says. From the very beginning, Rachael says her client was very clear that she wanted the kitchen and family room to feel homely and family friendly. “She had saved lots of reference images on Houzz and Pinterest, many of deVOL Kitchens which are classic and Shaker in style, and so I understood the ‘look and feel’ she was trying to achieve instantly.”

I have always loved deVOL kitchens – if ever there was a dream kitchen cabinet maker company, in my opinion they would be IT. If you have ever lusted after beautiful English country-style kitchens on Pinterest or in English home magazines, there’s a pretty good chance they would have been the work of deVOL. Famous for their painted cabinets in the loveliest colours, this UK company creates some of the most beautiful kitchens I have ever seen, and whether they are classic-lined or modern, they all have one thing in common – they are timeless and they look good for ages.

OLD WITH NEW: As a designer, Rachael says she is really interested in mixing old and new elements. “I think the floating shelves and display space within the design provides a great opportunity for the kitchen to be styled in a more contemporary way,” she says. Styling: Staple Design. Photography: Meghan Plowman.

Inspired in part by deVOL’s work, Rachael set to work designing a Shaker-inspired kitchen with the most beautiful coloured cabinets – and that is what I loved about it when I first saw it – you really don’t see a lot of kitchens like this here in WA. (And I wish we did!)

The existing kitchen was a typical 90s U-shape and in its original design came with a couple of limitations. “There was only one access point into the kitchen which I felt really hindered the flow of activity in the space,” says Rachael. “The existing island bench also had a high upstand that created a barrier and really cut the kitchen off from the rest of the family room. I redesigned the space with a freestanding island bench but this meant that there were rectification works to the existing timber parquet flooring- impacting both the budget and program of works.”

One of the other challenges was finding the perfect colour for the cabinetry.

“I was so excited when my client decided she wanted a green kitchen!” laughs Rachael. “When you’ve committed yourself to spending a significant amount of money on your kitchen renovation I think it can be easy to pick the ‘safe’ option ie: something really neutral.

“It was a really brave decision on my client’s behalf and so it was critical that we got it right! A lot of the greens looked great during the day but at night they were very grey and dull. In the end I called my friend Carlee Brake (@coloured_id) and got her on board to assist with the paint selections. Carlee and I actually studied Fine Art at Curtin, and while I am good with colour she is next level awesome with colour! I really believe that you need to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and for me I always strive to achieve the best outcome for my clients… if I think I need to call on another professional for a second opinion I will! We can’t be perfect at everything, right?!”

The amazing painted Shaker-style cabinets were custom-made by cabinetmaker Robert Payne of RP Design Furnishings (@rpdesignfurnishings).

CUSTOM-MADE KITCHEN: The painted cabinets were custom-made by cabinetmaker Robert Payne of RP Design Furnishings (Instagram @rpdesignfurnishings). The benchtop and floating shelves are solid jarrah, the detailing is brass. “Brass and other metal finishes are really ‘on-trend’ at the moment but I think the use of the brass in this project is so timeless, traditional and really adds an element of warmth to the kitchen’s design,” says Rachael. Styling: Rachael Pearse. Photography: Meghan Plowman.
THOSE HERRINGBONE FLOORS: The kitchen’s worn parquetry flooring was restored. I love these floors – they remind me of old Brooklyn homes. Styling: Rachael Pearse. Photography: Meghan Plowman.


And the home owner (who prefers to maintain privacy) says she can’t speak highly enough of Rachael. “She is fabulous and I would absolutely recommend her,” she says warmly. “She is very meticulous and really understood my brief but made it better. Robbie Payne, who installed the kitchen, also did a great job and took great pride in his work. He was a joy to deal with.”

Rachael styling the kitchen (how amazing are those giant proteas?!) Photo by Meghan Plowman.

So what tips would Rachael give future renovators who want to achieve a similar traditional, timeless look in their kitchen?

“The most important thing for a kitchen is to achieve a good working layout,” she says.

“Secondly you really need to understand your storage requirements; we literally measured all my clients appliances and found a ‘home’ for them in the new kitchen design. There would be nothing more devastating than realising your breadmaker doesn’t fit in a drawer and you are going to have to store it in the garage!

“Thirdly design your kitchen with a mix of open and closed storage. In this instance the floating jarrah shelves really helped achieve the homely look and feel that my client was after as it gave her places to display cookbooks, jars, salt and pepper mills etc.”

From the painted cabinetry to the solid jarrah benchtops to the brass detailing and that herringbone parquetry floor, I absolutely freaking love it all.

This beautiful renovation was by Staple Design. You can visit Rachael’s website here, follow her lovely Instagram feed @staple_design or  check out her Facebook page here. Photos by Meghan Plowman.


Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

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