We always knew that converting a Victorian Gothic dining room with an enormous original marble fireplace, was going to be a challenge. Designing a kitchen with only one fully useful wall proved more difficult than we expected, even after years of designing and fitting kitchens in our previous homes. That’s why we created a triangular kitchen with a diagonal peninsula. It’s a bit out there, I know, but it works like a dream! If you are about to embark on your new kitchen journey, then continue reading to find out how we overcame a lot of the obstacles. Even in the most unusual of spaces, you too can design a kitchen that you can be proud of.
In the last 25 years (yes, 25 of them!) since my hubby, Mr C and I got together, we have designed countless kitchens. We’ve learnt on the job, making mistakes along the way. With every project we have gained more knowledge. We now know what makes a great kitchen, be it large or small. We understand what works and what doesn’t, what to avoid and how to save money. We’re in no way professionals, it was a case of needs must really, as finances wouldn’t allow for expensive contractors. For the last three kitchens we have used Classic Kitchens Direct for all the units. Can’t recommend them enough by the way! For our new kitchen I was even building their units from flat packed and I fitted them myself.
The original dining room
It was a beautiful room even before we started any renovations. We thank the victorians for that. However, it was extremely tired and needed a huge amount of love. It’s attached to a slightly smaller room, which would have been the original Victorian kitchen. The wall between the two had been knocked down by the previous owner to make it open plan. Our first idea, before the triangular kitchen solution, was to keep the smaller space as the kitchen.
However, we moved the entrance to it so that you can see the garden beyond from the front door. That meant that the smaller space was more of a walk-way with a lot of traffic. That’s my biggest design tip ever, by the way. If it’s at all possible, try and make sure you can see the outside and all the way through your home from the front door. It’s the best way to make it inviting, bring the outside in and create a flow through your home to the garden beyond.
There is also a single storey extension off of the smaller space. The previous owners had turned into the kitchen. If you follow me on Instagram, then you might have seen my skit about how horrible it was! However, it did provide us with a kitchen to use whilst we built the new one in the dining room – handy! Effectively, with the new entrance to the smaller space at one end and the single storey old kitchen on the other, it meant there wasn’t really the space for a new kitchen. So, we decided that the original dining room, being larger and not a thoroughfare, would make a better space to cook.
One Wall Wilma
So, the dining room became known as One Wall Wilma. The largest wall has an original black marble fireplace on it. It’s a form of marble than apparently ran out in WW1. So, it’s a rare gem and there is no way on god’s earth we were taking it out. We did toy with the idea of having it carefully removed and then reinstated on the other side of the dual room space. But, that proved way too expensive an option. So, that’s one wall discounted.
The wall next to it has a 3m high french door and window above it. So that’s that wall covered! The previous owners removed most of the third wall. That leaves One Wall Wilma and we love her! Thank goodness for Wilma. She would become a wall smothered with kitchen gorgeousness, festooned with culinary gadgetry and adorned with sumptuous aged brass finery. She would also form one side of our triangular kitchen of dreams!
What about the rest though?
However, one wall does not a kitchen make unless you’re designing a studio flat. If you’re putting floor to ceiling units along most of it like we were, then there isn’t much space for a worktop or a sink! So, what the hell were we going to do? The obvious solution was to then have an island parallel to it, effectively creating a galley space. On that we could, in theory, house the induction hob, the sink and useful drawer storage.
One big problem though. If we did that, then it would pretty much hide the fireplace and it’s too beautiful to cover up by a great big stonking island. We would also have to leave at least a metre gap either end for walkways. That meant the island was only going to be 2m long. That wasn’t really enough room for both a hob and a sink. There would be no worktop left.
The next idea was to try the island parallel to the fireplace. However, after the walkways were included, that made it only 2m long still. It also totally obliterated the view of the fireplace. Can you now see why this was a headache?
The Golden Triangle!
This is an old rule that kitchen designers and architects have used for years. I think it’s generally outdated and it’s time for change! That’s contentious, but I don’t care. Each to their own I say! The rule basically states that the main three work areas: the stove, the sink and the fridge should be no less than four feet and no more than nine feet away from each other. The three work areas create a triangle.
The rule was originally created in the ‘40s and it was actually designed to save on construction costs, not necessarily to help the cook. In our last kitchen we decided to completely ignore the rule. It doesn’t work for very large kitchens in my opinion and what if you have a very small space like a lot of studio apartments do? Very often there is only room for one line of kitchen units, so good luck with the Golden Triangle there! By the way, I made up the “Golden” bit. It’s just called the Triangle Rule really!
Taking The Golden Triangle rule to the extreme
However, in our new kitchen, the golden triangle rule might just be the ticket. Now it’s not often that I big myself up and declare that I am indeed master of all design, but to hell with it! Yes I did put an actual triangle in my kitchen! It was the only way it worked. Why not create a diagonal peninsula off of the little bit of wall that was left when the previous owners knocked the rest down and create and actual, real life, living and breathing, bonafide, knock yourself out with a pogo stick, golden triangle to beat all triangles?
Well, because it’s never been done before. People don’t do that! Everyone will think we’ve gone loop the loop. Kitchen designers around the country will be deliriously gushing with “told ya so” delight! Well, in the infamous words of Del boy Trotter, I say: “He who dares Rodney. He who dares!”
The awkward corner
The one problem with creating a triangular kitchen is that you have awkward corners. It was imperative that we used the little bit of wall that was left next to Wilma. Of course, that really meant that our triangle wasn’t a true three sided one as it created a mini fourth side (see diagram). But, there had to be space for the dishwasher and the sink to go. It’s still effectively a triangular space with the diagonal peninsula.
Using that corner meant that we had to have a corner cupboard and I hate those. I’m so not a fan, I have to say. Nine times out of ten the corner base units are very hard to get into and so kitchen companies have created ingenious pull-out storage to counteract this problem. However, huge amounts of space are still left unused and what you can store is limited to the strange shape of the pull-out unit itself. I totally understand that in some kitchens it is the only positive way forward though. Indeed, ours being the perfect example. However, we used it to be the cupboard under the sink. So, really it just houses the Quooker tap water tank and descaler and some kitchen cleaning products.
The diagonal peninsula
This really is the game changer! First of all, it creates a pathway from the door into the new dining room to the french doors in the kitchen. The peninsula literally guides you to the doors and the garden beyond. I love that. Always trying to bring the outside in and visa versa. Secondly, it doesn’t block the view of the fireplace. Indeed, it celebrates it in all its Victorian splendour. The other advantage of the peninsula is that it blocks one end from unwanted cooking area visitors. I don’t know about you, but I like my guests to stay the other side while I’m conjuring lunch!
Finally, it also gives the widest space between the tall units and worktop of Wilma wall and the peninsula. At its widest point it’s 2.5m apart and at its narrowest it’s a metre. Using the diagonal also allowed us to fit in a 3.2m workspace on the peninsula, much more than would have been possible with the conventional layouts. So, you see, it might be extremely unusual. It might not have ever been done before. But, does that make it wrong? By Jiminy, no it does not! I’m luxuriating in all its crazy triangular weirdness. It’s solved all the issues we had with the space and highlighted the room’s natural beauty. Who knows? Maybe I might have started a new trend?
If you liked this then why not read: How to create the perfect small kitchen.
Brilliant design JP! It I can see how beautifully it works. Love your blog x
Oh thank you Sue that’s very kind.
JP I just loved this blog. It took care of absolutely everything. Your kitchen, house and Harbour Deck House are truly amazing. You are a complete genius when it comes to design. Would love to see you with your own TV programme.
Wow thank you for such a wonderful comment.
Your kitchen checks all the must haves and more! The flow is perfect…
As we say in the states you’ve hit a homerun!🎉🥳👏🎊🥂🤩😘
Great Blog JP. It was great to hear about the design process. I remember reading about your old kitchen, and the unwanted guests in the cooking area!, and wondered how you were going to tackle it in the house. You’ve done an amazing job x Nikki @the.grove.at.homel
Nikki thank you so much for taking the time.