A renovation story – step by step


Here’s one renovation story made really enjoyable by lovely clients and a wonderful builder – this is what it looks like when all the key elements come together in the right way!

You will see from the process menu above that the initial consultation between the client and amo espaco is getting to know them, thinking carefully about priorities, lifestyle and dreams and arriving at some tangible goals for the project.

Then the fun starts – moodboarding and gathering inspiration. This renovation threw up several challenges around textures and materials. We spent time looking at how to resolve key spaces on the ground floor. Pinterest really came into its own for us, helping us collaborate and discuss remotely, saving time and keeping the creative momentum going.

window seat pinterest

Sketching – it’s amazing! How else are you going to know what your new space will look like? Often when clients come to me they are really struggling to visualise their current space working differently, so at this very early stage of idea generation, I can show them, to scale, with their furniture or new fittings, how their new space will look. This is what makes this creative idea-generation stage of the process so exciting. When the work is complete it is actually possible to hold up the initial sketch of the new space and see how it has come to life.

kitchen view sketch

window seat with cushion

kitchen under cab on

Now, the bit you really want to see – the “before” and “after”! Here’s how we enter the new space, the old hallway transformed by new double doors streaming light into the main house from the enhanced glazing.

hall before and after

The rear of this property looks over the garden from a position of height – there are steps down to the lawn and the view of trees and greenery is lovely – the clients felt drawn to this window so we decided to make it a real feature. We enclosed the window and view in a deep frame in which you can sit, and this frame then allowed us to build in much needed storage – for toys, books, photos, music tech and all the trappings of domestic family life. The focal point – the beautiful view – delivered not only an enhanced experience of the space, but a functional one too!

window beforen afterWhat is now the kitchen, dining and family space was in fact two good sized rooms. We have flipped their functions with the kitchen now in the old dining room and the dining and family space where the kitchen used to be, with a large opening between them. We’ve also, along with the new feature window seat, added Crittal doors to the kitchen and dining spaces, making the most of the beautiful garden and the interesting higher position these spaces hold, creating a lofty feel.

kitchen beforen after

The generous ground floor space allowed us to create a boot/utility room, where all the muddy rugby boots and running gear can be sorted out, keeping the kitchen for more pleasant tasks.

You have seen some of the key spaces, now let’s talk materials and finishes. It’s a real treat as a designer to work with clients who are brave and adventurous, allowing us to include some really nice materials in this renovation. We pulled out all the stops scouring markets and the internet for the right look.


In the end, we married faux London brick on one wall with concrete worktops, crackle glazed metro tiles around the hob with antique mirror splashbacks and stunning hand distressed metal tiles as the panelling on the island.

sink extractor finshesAntique oak flooring marries beautifully with the island pendants in wood and white ceramic, while the subtle coloured pendants over the dining room table twinkle a little glamour. It sounds like a lot of different textures and materials but when they are chosen to compliment each other the result unites in a single look – “boho industrial” we like to call it! The colour palette is muted, and acts as a backdrop to daily life, not an imposition, so the space is comfortable. The large grey blackboard painted wall delivers the thing every household needs – somewhere to scribble notes to family members passing each other like ships and reminders to everyone.

chalkwall to dining

The renovation has truly transformed this home and the experience of being in it, and all without the expense of extending, by really examining the use of the existing space and how to make it so much better!


Back in session

Leaves bannerIt’s fitting that after a long hiatus since the pancake post (due to the busiest summer at Amo Espaco) the next post is a seasonal one too.

leaves for blog

Autumn is well and truly upon us after seemingly endless balminess and we are now under what can feel like a permanent blanket of cloud. To lighten the mood and prove to my children that their mother can do something creative with them as opposed to for someone else, we set upon the large glass doors to our garden with poster paints and handfuls of leaves of different shapes and sizes. Instantly there’s more colour and a smile in the morning when we come down to our own cafe-style window to the world!

I’ll be bringing you the fruits of summer’s labour’s soon, so keep following! It seems the Amo Espaco blog, like parliament, is back in session!

Amo Espaco in the community

East Sheen Primary School is a state primary school in Southwest London. The school is passionate about school food issues. Long before school dinners became a hot topic, ESPS was changing how it sourced, prepared, cooked and served food to primary school children. To enhance this ethos further and really get children understanding nutrition and where food comes from, ESPS embarked on the ambitious plan of installing a kitchen where the children could learn to cook for themselves.

Ann Marie at Amo Espaco teamed up with the enthusiastic Headship Team and talented parent volunteers to make this happen. Over the next year, the needs of the project were analysed, the design process undertaken and pitches to three major sponsors made. Ann Marie and superparent David Roberts won sponsorship from Robert Dyas for the cookware and Neff for the appliances and combined with herculean fund raising efforts from the ESPS PTA, the project was ready to go ahead.


Demoliton began the day after school finished for the summer break and the new kitchen was opened in September 2010 by local MP Zac Goldsmith. http://www.zacgoldsmith.com/celebrity-chef-christens-kids-kitchen-2/11easzac-205x300

The project has succeeded in its objective of helping children understand where their food comes from, broadening their experience of different food groups and learning the life skill of cooking for themselves. Combine that with a relationship with a local organic farmer and a thriving allotment project and East Sheen has now got children growing and cooking their own food.

The school teaching kitchen has sparked a lot of interest. The team at Jamie Oliver visited the school to see how ESPS does things as part of their Kitchen Garden initiative.

Paul Merrett pressChefs Paul Merrett and Tom Aikens have cooked with the children in the kitchen, with Tom’s group preparing a pudding for the Great British Menu. The kitchen has been used as the launchpad for the Innocent Smoothies national Campaign “Taste Not Waste”. https://youtu.be/7Nb57CLBDiI along with visits from other schools aiming to do what ESPS has done. The video shows just how many children can be involved in a hands-on, fun learning experience about food, where the children are truly participating as opposed to watching an adult do it for them – this is what ESPS and its kitchen are all about.

flippin’ fantastic

As you get over the pancake-fest that was yesterday I thought I’d share this lovely photo from https://twitter.com/sfmtweet/status/440843001724944385/photo/1 taken in the Pupil Teaching Kitchen at East Sheen Primary School. An Amo Espaco voluntary community project from 2010,  I will tell you more in the future, when a gap appears in the spring renovation excitement currently going on, and I have time to spend on lovely social media again!

As a parent of two girls at East Sheen Primary when the project to create a Pupil Teaching Kitchen arose it was something I couldn’t resist. And with the collaboration of an enthusiastic and talented group of parents and Headship staff, PTA fund raising and some incredible sponsorship by Neff and Robert Dyas in September 2010, our Teaching Kitchen was born!


It is wonderful to see this resource constantly delivering fantastic learning experiences in a fun environment, with the latest technology, giving these students confidence and independence in the kitchen and a life skill to boot!

Now, where’s that chocolate…! Lent…what Lent!


What is bubbling under in interiors now? The answer is  – lots of things! The safe answer is still “Anything Goes” but there are variations.

Still hanging on from recent trends:

• From the catwalk – block colour

• Style your home like a Hotel – never goes out of fashion

• Indoor meets outdoor – the more merged the better

New for 2014:

• Kitchen embellishments – add some personality

• Playfulness  – with accessories

• Graphic and geometric prints and patterns – wallpaper

• Modern Bohemia – with an ethnic twist

• Copper – it’s everywhere in lighting

• Turquoise – or almost mint

And ones I’m not so sure about:

• Hide on furnishings – too many cowhide handbags

• Honey- toned wood – just simply wrong!

There you have it – and now that you are in the know, you’ll recognise all of these trends around you in shops, magazines, fashion, hotels and bars. Thanks to Cult Furniture http://www.cultfurinture.com for the Vegas lights I’ve used in the title graphic. Who wants to be a slave to fashion, but it is nice to know what direction the industry is headed in this year.

inspiration for renovation!

It’s an oldie, but a goodie! To help you get your renovation juices going again in 2015 take a look at this renovation, from sketch to finished job. I hope you can get a sense of the excitement we felt making this happen – it has truly transformed this home, delivering the key elements identified – light, style and space while future-proofing this ground floor for many years to come, as children turn into teenagers! Turn up the volume and enjoy!