Sometimes, the only way to make a room feel right is to carve it in two. That’s just what London-based interior designer Mark Lewis did in this inviting family kitchen, the heart of an 1870 townhouse facing the city’s historic Hampstead Heath park.
Inspired by back-of-house kitchens in English country estates and on shows like Downton Abbey, Lewis created an intimate pantry off the main space for a more functional use of the square footage. A wall with glass panes lets sunlight stream into the windowless main room. “It’s a modern style—very practical,” he says, “but it doesn’t feel out of place in a Victorian house.”
To maximize utility, a fluted ceramic sink, modeled after vintage versions, sits atop exposed brick supports and creates a genius nook to hide a step stool. Above it, a drying rack frees up precious counter space. Rather than using drawers that all look alike, Lewis designed a produce holder that recalls apple crates at a farmers’ market (this keeps the refrigerator less cluttered during cooler months).
With so much function relegated to the pantry, the main room works for entertaining. An existing fireplace was expanded to fit a Lacanche range and hood, and custom Shaker-style joinery in a blue waxed finish gives the room a rustic vibe. Flame-textured granite countertops, inspired by those in old stone houses, are paired with Lewis’s own hand-cast brass hardware, modeled on antique drawer pulls, to tie the look together. “Nothing shouts at you,” he says, noting how the lack of upper cabinetry, a stylistic decision made possible by the pantry’s storage, contributes to the sense of openness.
Here are 5 smart small-kitchen solutions we collected from the design.
1. Keep It Open
Produce stays fresh (and doesn’t clog crisper bins) in these airy, crate-like pantry drawers.
2. Let in the Light
A simple glass-paned pantry door allows light from the window to stream into the main kitchen space.
3. Clear the Air
Bare bulbs and zero upper cabinets make the small room feel airy.
4. Elevate the Details
Wide-plank oak flooring gives the narrow aisle a more generous feel.
5. Free Up the Counter
An antique drying rack, raised above a farmhouse sink, clears prep space.
These tricks are from HouseBeautiful.Com