We visit Skye's stylish kitchen in her renovated west London townhouse and learn how to get the look.
Elegant and understated, this is the kitchen in Skye’s terraced west London home that she shares with her daughter Evie. She’s lived here for about eight years, having renovated the three-bedroom Victorian property–including installing central heating and removing the outside plumbing–although she’s lived in the area for about 30 years. Elder daughter Holly has since moved to LA and works as a photographer’s assistant.
Two years ago, frustrated with the cramped galley located between the living room at the rear of the house and the study at the front, Skye decided to relocate the kitchen, moving it to the front of the house and turning the old kitchen into a relaxed dining area, she set about finding a design that would be as beautiful as the rest of her home.
As she knew one of the founders of Plain English kitchens, Kate Fontana, she chose cabinets from the company’s off-the-peg option, British Standard, with some personalised touches from Plain English. Although the kitchen was set to occupy a larger space, Skye was uncertain about the configuration suggested by Kate—a long island with a fridge and food storage on one side and a range and sink on the other. How- ever, as the island provided storage to keep her kitchen clutter-free, she adjusted to walking around it and now feels that a smaller version wouldn’t have worked as well.
Another element that proved to be key to the design’s success are the honed marble worktops and splashback. Initially reticent about choosing a porous natural stone, Skye recounts her horror at finding the first stain, however, as other blemishes appeared, says she barely noticed them. What was more important was the feel of the design —after working all day in a frenetic kitchen, there’s nothing she enjoys more than coming home to a calm, peaceful space.
Few accessories sit on the worktop, except her pestle and mortar. Described as her tool of the trade, it’s in frequent use to make sauces, aioli or mayonnaise with an authentic, pounded texture.
Skye admits that the clean, pared-back kitchen is rarely the scene of Spring-like feasts. It’s more likely to be used for simple meals, such as bowls of soup and bread with friends at the weekend. However, Evie seems to have inherited her mother’s passion for food, cook- ing up healthy dinners for friends with coconut oil and chia seeds.
Personal touches abound in the room, from the 1970s Danish teapot with a bamboo handle that was her mother’s to a trio of good-luck elephants, which were given to Skye when Spring opened by Maureen Doherty from Egg, who also provided the uniforms for the restaurant.
Framed Polaroids by photographer Jason Lowe from her book A Year in My Kitchen sit on the open shelving either side of the range as well as a confit jar that she bought in the Languedoc. Also on display are quirky copper moulds, bought by Skye from E. Dehillerin when she was training in Paris in the 1980s.
The island shelves are home to a selection of cookery books—although never intending to collect them, Skye has every volume she’s owned since the age of 17, including classics such as Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters to reference books La Méthode and La Technique by Jacques Pepin. The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers—her favourite —sits by her bed, however. Less for her to cook from and more for inspiration, there are five or six books she goes back to time and again, her constant companions throughout her cooking life.
How to get the look
Cabinetry: Simple in style and construction, the furniture is an off-the-peg, standard-sized version of parent company Plain English’s early-Georgian-influenced ‘below-the-stairs’ designs. Handmade kitchen in poplar wood by British Standard (www.britishstandardcupboards.co.uk; 020–7870 7688), with Carrara marble backsplash and worktop, Ionian tap by Perrin & Rowe, double copper sink and bespoke leather handles, POA. Design by Katie Fontana at Plain English (www.plainenglishdesign.co.uk; 01449 774028). An average-sized kitchen by British Standard costs about £7,000
Paint: Skye loves the dark colour of the base units, which contrasts with the marble. The cabinetry is painted in Hague Blue with tall cupboards in Off White Full Gloss, £55 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball. The original floorboards are also painted. Try Floor Paint, £50 for 2.5 litres, Farrow & Ball (01202 876141; www.farrow-ball.com)
Furniture: The bench seating was designed for the bay window by Plain English. Its cushion is upholstered in fabric by Finnish design company Marimekko (00 358 975 871; www.marimekko.com)
Appliances: A professional-style gas cooker with six burners was a definite must-have for Skye. Having juggled with pans on four burners in her previous kitchen, she chose a Mercury 1000 range cooker in stainless steel, about £3,700, with SC1000 extractor hood, £1,050 (0800 804 6261; www.mercuryappliances.co.uk)
For a similar fridge with freezer section, try KIL82AF30G, about £820, Bosch (0344 892 8979; www.bosch-home.co.uk). For a similar-look dishwasher, try G4960Vi, £875, Miele (0330 160 6600; www.miele.co.uk)
There are few small appliances in the kitchen—most are hidden away in cupboards, including a KitchenAid stand mixer, about £399, Magixmix juicer, about £149.99, and a NutriBullet, about £69.99, John Lewis (0345 604 9049; www.johnlewis.com)
Knives: Most are from the Japanese Knife Company (020–7224 2422; www.japaneseknifecompany.com). Skye also likes Victorinox’s small, serrated knives, from £5.25, Divertimenti (0330 333 0351; www.divertimenti.co.uk), and has one knife from English artisan knife company Blok (07595 423545; www.blok-knives.co.uk)
Cookware: Heavy-based and robust, Bourgeat pans are Skye’s favourite, from £71.95 at Divertimenti, although she uses ‘invaluable’ non-stick pans at Spring