With a focus on natural materials, co-founder of Neptune interiors, Emma Sims-Hilditch designed her perfect kitchen, complete with a standalone larder-style cabinet and “cook’s table” kitchen island …
Photographed by SIMON BROWN
If you travel west along London’s King’s Road (until 1830 it was a private thoroughfare, originally reserved for Charles II’s trips to Kew), you will eventually reach Parsons Green, a residential district dominated by Victorian houses. When not in Wiltshire from where she runs her business, designer Emma Sims-Hilditch and her husband John (who co-founded the Neptune interiors and garden furniture brand) live in a terraced house in the area, which serves as a showcase for her work.
The house is a series of practical, carefully conceived rooms that enhance the quality of daily life. On the ground floor, the back garden is accessed through the kitchen, and to the side via a family sitting room.
The kitchen combines natural wood cabinetry with Carrara marble work surfaces. Emma likes to include as many natural materials as possible in a kitchen: “They help to create a softer look than the industrial style of some kitchens, and they also age beautifully. I use the same approach to decorating a kitchen that I use for any other room. I often hang paintings or a mirror with a distressed finish on the wall behind a stove. They add interest and personality to the space – as, of course, does antique furniture such as cupboards and dressers.”
Ceiling heights were raised throughout the ground floor and an internal wall between the dining and living rooms was replaced by steel-framed glazed doors which mirror those between kitchen and garden, delivering more light and a clean and contemporary “opening up” feeling to the spaces.
On the rear wall of the kitchen, panelling of irregular widths creates a relaxed backdrop and the absence of wall-hung cabinets enhances the feeling of space. The space is lit by a skylight. With the steel-framed doors open, the kitchen is seamlessly joined to the garden.
Dedicating a standalone, larder-style cabinet for breakfast items such as plates, bowls, mugs, a kettle, and a coffee maker means if you have to leave in a rush, you have the option of closing the doors rather than leave a mess! Emma advises more drawers than cabinets: “It’s easier to organise drawers and finding things in them is much quicker.” When space allows, an island is a perfect option. A kitchen island has its roots in the “cook’s table,” the workhorse of large Victorian and Edwardian country house kitchens.
The small garden is designed with entertaining in mind with a natural wood table, rattan chairs and baskets full of flowers. This relaxed basement den leads directly to a terrace at the rear of the house.