How to create a vintage kitchen with soul

With a need to combine work and family life, Laura Jackson spent a long time figuring out how to create the kitchen she’s always dreamed of

Inside Laura Jackson's homely kitchen 
Inside Laura Jackson's homely kitchen  Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

Food and entertaining are an integral part of life for TV presenter and lifestyle guru Laura Jackson. As well as design collaborations with the likes of Habitat, Next and Rixo, Laura runs her own supper-club company, Hoste London, which will launch a home-delivery hosting concept next month.

A homemaker in a very modern sense of the word, Laura has been decorating her Victorian house in east London with her husband Jon Gorrigan, a photographer, over the past four years. They have created a character filled family home; their daughter Sidney arrived last year, and a second child is on the way. When it came to the kitchen, Laura wanted a warm, sociable hub that would meet all the demands of work and family life. She talks us through the design process.

Laura’s husband Jon has built up a collection of plants over years; the potted tree behind Laura was his grandmother’s.  Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

When did you start on the kitchen?

It was one of the last rooms we did. For me, the kitchen is such a big part of our life. It’s the meeting room for everything, whether that’s eating breakfast, having a party or cooking dinner. It’s the first room that everyone comes into, so I wanted it to be a communal space that felt cosy. At first we didn’t know how we wanted to do that, so we gave ourselves time to think about it.

Design and salvage company Retrouvius (retrouvius.com) found the wood for the cupboard doors, which was from an old Italian church, and the vintage iroko wood for the shelves. Baskets that Laura designed for Next sit on the travertine worktop Credit: INGRID RASMUSSEN

What was on your wish list?

I also wanted it to be a practical, functional space with things like a dishwasher, and a utility room and pantry, which I’d never had before. I had the oven and hob facing out, rather than facing the wall, so I would be able to chat to friends while I cook. It’s less about design and more about usability. I’m a real hoarder and I like having trinkets and things on show, which Jon absolutely hates, so we compromised and went for a combination of lots of storage and then open shelves where we can have our plates.

Tell us about the look…

I knew that I didn’t want a brand new kitchen. I just felt that this house had so many stories, putting in a new kitchen didn’t feel right. So we went to Retrouvius, a design company who work with salvaged materials, and they found us the cupboard doors, which are made from old Italian church flooring, and the sliding pantry door, which came from a library. We found the sink and the taps on eBay, and the round window on Instagram. We did a lot ourselves, which was important to us.

The fridge is from Smeg (smeguk.com). A door salvaged from a library slides open on to the pantry and utility room

Do you have any kitchen design tips that you learned during the process?

Maria Speake at Retrouvius really helped with the layout – not just where the sink should go, but things like where you keep your cutlery. I love tea, and I’ve always had a shelf for my mugs, but now we’ve got a drawer for them, so you can see where everything is It’s only a little thing, but it just makes life easier.

And was there anything you regretted?

The walls were initially orange, but we changed them because it drove me crazy. It looked a bit posh and a bit ‘done’ – I’m neither of those things. We decided to paint it off-white, which feels much better.

Where did you find furniture?

We’re always on the hunt for things. The bar stools were £25 each from a vintage shop in Hay about four years ago. We had the dining table made from a piece of vintage wood because I couldn’t find one I liked, and it’s cheaper doing it this way. The chairs were from West Elm in the sale. The ceramics on the shelves come from all over; we travel a lot for work, and I love bringing things back and having pieces with a story interspersed with my high-street buys.

Get the look 

From left to right: Yonne rattan bar stool, £279, Beaumonde; Marple boiling water tap, £449.95, Victorian Plumbing; Sardal serving bowl, £20, Habitat; Jug, £14, Next; Holland dining chair, £299, West Elm