So here we are at the end of series 6 of The Great Indoors and a huge thank to John Lewis & Partners for sponsoring us, and you can listen to the full episode here. Not only is this episode our Christmas special but celebrity cook, author and tv broadcaster Rachel Khoo opened the doors to her compact London flat for the Great Indoors house tour.
Rachel and her family are based in Stockholm but this Victorian terrace ground floor flat is her London base as she runs her business from the UK. Rachel uses the flat to stay, to host meetings and events and film content. A lot to ask of any space let alone a bijou flat! We kicked off the tour in what was a fairly empty long living room . It was once two separate rooms but Rachel knocked down the wall to create more space, which would classically be a knock through living room/ dining room but Rachel needs the scope to use the space in a multitude of different ways. And she’s come up with quite the solution!
There’s no denying that the flat is bijou but with her vision and passion for design, Rachel has created a multi-functional space that works on all levels. One of the first ‘oohs & aahs’ from Kate and I was what appeared to be a row of wardrobes were actually hiding a fold-down bed. But not just any bed, a double, complete with bedside lights and some handy shelves. The hydralic hinges makes it easy to pull down and the bed is fully made, so stores the bedding inside too.
The other end of this narrow knock-through room is a wall of bookshelves on the right hand wall. Drum roll this is actually a hinged room divider, that can be pushed out and positioned to turn the long narrow room into two smaller square ones. Suddenly we are in a two bedroom flat!
With so many clever ideas in one space, it soon became clear that Rachel is not just your average TV cook. With a background in design, studying at Central St Martins, combining function with aesthetics is Rachel’s design ethos. Her talent re inventing small spaces really came to the fore when she lived in Paris – a tiny 15 sqm flat to be exact, which had to work as an office, a space to entertain, cook and relax in. It was this tiny apartment, that very much kick started her TV fame and her very successful book The Little Paris Kitchen. She shared how to create amazing food in a very compact domestic kitchen with the minimum of cooking equipment.
Leaving the practicalities behind for a moment you next step out and into the stunning dark blue and glossy hallway and striking chequer board floor. It’s a very clever idea to paint your thoroughfares dark as you get a real heightened sense of space and light when you walk into paler reception rooms. I love the way the doors and woodwork are all painted the same colour, it gives a mysterious Alice in Wonderland quality.
Next, through a door reminiscent of an old telephone box – that’s because that’s what it is! The old door has had mirror inserted inside the panes and was sourced by, Retrouvoius who are situated very near the flat. I’m sure that could be lethal for me as it’s a bit of a treasure trove!
Through the telephone box and into the triangle shaped bathroom which again is small but Rachel had still managed to make it feel very luxurious – I just love the miniature but very deep slipper bath. She has really embraced the small space and really thought about how to be clever with it and she says “Just because you have an awkward shape doesn’t mean you have to miss out.”
Rachel’s top tips for the small bathroom:
The rear of the flat had been extended to create a fabulous and relatively large open-plan kitchen/dining/living room with bi-fold doors to the back yard – although I was quickly corrected by Kate that the term one uses in London is actually a ‘town garden.’ Either way, I love how the indoor kitchen cabinets continue outside to create an outdoor kitchen and are all painted the same colour. Thats a really clever touch and again links the two spaces cleverly and helps draw the eye outside.
The kitchen is a great place to be in and is where rachel really excells and her exquisite taste is really on show. The kitchen itself is a show stopper. Designed by high end brand DeVol I just love the colour, Pea Green by Little Greene. Rachel suggest that open shelves are a great idea in both small and large kitchens as you can keep things easily and quickly close to hand. She doesn’t over style her shelves and her favourite yellow cooking pot is in pride of place. Kilner jars are a great place to store dry foods and herbs you regularly use. Everything else is firmly shut behind closed doors, this is a highly organised space! All appliances are integrated to keep a seamless view. There are plenty of tall cupboards and cleverly Rachel had narrow shelves attached to the back of the doors of cleaning bottles. Deep shelves in cupboards make things at the back hard to reach.
For Rachel design is about problem solving so when she was faced with the problem of needing extra work surfaces, dining tables and a coffee table but not the floor space to have them all at the same time, she came up with quite a mind blowing solution. These industrial looking tables were another brainchild of hers. She wanted a brass top for looks and prcaticality so found a company that would cut metal to size – Metal Sheets but still needed a base. After a bit of research, she landed on a motorcycle hydraulic lift as it could take the weight for a work surface and then a simple foot pump action can transform it into a coffee table – genius!
Okay, I’ll admit, I had kind of hoped hard she would cook for us! And this hearty lunch was just what Kate and I needed. We’d just come out of having the most horrid winter flu (if you listen hard you can hear us cough in the background) much needed food for the soul. This is a great concept if you are cooking over the holiday season for lots of guests with lots of food preferences. The idea is to create a vegetarian based stew, this one was made of beans. Then offer up a plethora of toppings for people to adjust to their preferences. We were offered rocket leaves, avocado, toasted seeds, grated cheese, greek yogurt, sun blushed tomatoes and I had them all! Rachel comments that you can also add crispy bacon or shredded meat like chicken to this dish. This dish sums up Rachel perfectly. Effortlessly cool and laid back, thoughtful, highly innovative and above all really practical!
Don’t forget our Facebook group for all fellow interior lovers, so do get involved to share your views and any questions about the show. So it just leaves me to say a huge thanks to our producer Kate Taylor and our, of course, the fab listeners. See you in the new year for the next exciting series of the Great Indoors.