Renovating an office kitchen in a rented building isn’t really a priority when you first move in, but after a few years of being in our Collingwood studio, I was eager to put a personal touch on the The Design Files’ kitchen!
Despite our industrial office’s open-plan layout and wide windows, the kitchen itself was very small and dark. I’ve always wanted our HQ to feel functional and joyful, so when we returned to the office after Melbourne’s (many!) lockdowns it seemed like the perfect time for an update.
Now what the 2x3m kitchen lacks in space, in makes up for with colour, warmth and personality! Here’s how it came together.
I wanted to make the stark-white kitchen feel friendly and welcoming – like a kitchen you’d find in a home! The fun thing about doing a renovation in your workplace (rather than at home) is you can be a bit braver and more carefree about it. At home I’m a little more pared back, but for this space I wanted warmth and quite rich colours.
The overall palette was inspired by a beautiful painting by Lucy Roleff, which I’ve always hoped to hang in the space. The still-life artwork painting has a warm brown base with pink and terracotta details, so that was where we started. I went looking for tiles and a benchtop that would complement those tones.
I wanted it done in three months, which was ambitious! I think it look about six months in the end. Because it’s a small kitchen, I thought it would be quick, but it was a bit fiddly. We needed plumbing work, electrical work and stonemasons for the marble benchtops, so it took a little time to coordinate them all.
My husband Gordy and I designed the layout together, then I did the colour selection and sourcing of all the materials. Luckily, Gordy is a cabinetmaker, so he did basically everything else! He re-built the walls to extend the room slightly, pulled out the door to make a wider doorway, tiled the walls, painted the ceiling and walls and hung the artwork. He also custom made all the timber cabinets, using American Oak veneer.
The original kitchen was really dark, so finding small ways to bring in more light in was a priority for the renovation. We decided to cut a little sky light out of the ceiling, and this was a great way to help the kitchen feel more connected to the wider office, which also has some sky lights overhead. We also bought the beautiful Ceto Wall Lamp by Ross Gardam in a smoked glass finish, and it really elevates the space.
This combined with some simple LED strip-lighting under our new timber cabinets (and another ceiling light) made the space feel bigger and brighter – even though we only extended it by about a metre!
We went with these Moroccan Pink Zellige tiles from Tiles of Ezra for the walls, and replaced the generic and dated grey-laminate benchtop with a beautiful slab of Rojo Alicante marble from Daniels’ Marble House!
To tie it all together, Gordy installed Surround by Laminex Batten 25 on the kitchen’s exterior wall – we wee especially impressed when he managed to create a curve in this wall! We painted the panelling with Dulux Clay Court, and the ceiling also got a complementary coat of blush pink with Dulux Piglet. It really ties all the terracotta tones together.
My favourite part is the view of the kitchen through the doorway! Looking in and seeing the light stream through the skylight onto the Lucy Roleff painting, with the tiles behind just looks SO NICE. Makes me feel really lucky to have a work kitchen like this!
I also love seeing the team enjoy using the space so much. Everyone used to bump into each other in there before, but the integrated fridge and freezer from Fisher & Paykel really maximises the space, and looks so streamlined in our small-ish kitchen. It feels really good to provide an environment that people are proud to call their workspace!