Gold leaf tiles and a hidden pantry: Inside TV presenter Jenny Buckley’s new kitchen

Years in the planning, this Sutton kitchen has pops of colour and a friendly family vibe

TV presenter Jenny Buckley in her new kitchen which she has just installed. Photograph: Alan Betson

TV presenter Jenny Buckley in her new kitchen which she has just installed. Photograph: Alan Betson


You will always find Jenny Buckley in the kitchen at parties providing of course it is her own party and her own spanking new kitchen.

She likes nothing more than entertaining friends and family in her new open-plan kitchen complete with custom-made island, funky bar stools, quirky tiles and a warm wood floor.

“We lived in an apartment for years so didn’t have much space for entertaining,” says Jenny. “Our friends and family cooked for us on many occasions so now that we have our fabulous new kitchen, we just love having people around to pay them back for the hospitality they showed us for so long.”

Jenny, her husband Garret and their two daughters Jude and Bo have only recently moved into the house which they bought three years ago on Strand Road in Sutton. They fell in love with the property at first sight and while the whole place was renovated, it was the kitchen that had the most attention to detail.

“Our home is an old 1930s build which we loved immediately thanks to the amazing views of the sea,” says the mother of two. “We bought it three years ago and did a big refurbishment job that took over two years to finish. We’re not in it very long and it’s only in the last few weeks that we have finally finished everything.

“We are absolutely thrilled with it and love every room but it was the kitchen which was a bit difficult to get right as when I was looking for design inspiration, all I could find was clinical, grey and very minimalistic options which seem to be in vogue at the moment – I really wanted something with colour and character because I believe the kitchen is so important as it is what brings a house to life.

After a lot of searching, Buckley came across interior designer Elaine Verdon of Leo & Cici and discovered that they were completely on the same wavelength when it came to colour, textures and finishes. “She knew exactly what I liked and her interior design help was just what was needed to create my dream kitchen.”

The refurbishment of the house included an extension to the rear where the kitchen is located. It has a sunny south aspect and both Jenny and Garret wanted to take advantage of this light and add as much colour to the space as possible.

“The design element of the kitchen was always going to be key in terms of it functionality as a place where we could cook, eat, live as a family and also entertain,” she says. “My main objective was to inject vibrancy through the use of colour and texture and with Elaine guiding me, we chose Hague Blue tiles which contrast beautifully with the white marble worktops.

“I also really wanted a gold backdrop and literally everyone from my husband to the builders and tilers were against it, but Elaine said it would be amazing and helped me to source it. When we found the gold leaf tiles, there was another issue because they were made of glass and had to be cut in a particular way but no-one wanted to touch them.

“Eventually we found a company who agreed to take it on and before long, I had my gold backdrop which really brought the kitchen to life and everyone agreed it looked amazing. They added a touch of finesse and character to the kitchen as well as creating a very unique look and the old exposed brick wall contrasted wonderfully with the modern feel of the rest of the room.”

Buckley’s kitchen design was coming together, but she wanted a show stopping splash of colour to offset the blue and gold. So decided on a vibrant shade of kitchen stools and stopped at nothing until she finally found them.

“I wanted to have burnt orange stools to go with the island as I felt it would make the whole room pop with colour,” she says. “After a lot of searching, they were located in Italy and after a three month wait, they arrived. But they weren’t the right shade so we sent them back and had to wait another three months for the correct ones. And I’m glad we did as although they are very bright, they really work and add so much zest to the kitchen.”

While design is obviously important to Buckley, functionality is also crucial as she loves to cook and was determined to have a space where she could interact with her children, friends and visitors while preparing food.

“In terms of the design, manufacture and installation we used Keith and the team at Woodale kitchens who gave us a truly inspirational kitchen with a large Island that forms the hub in terms of both cooking and socialising,” she says.

“The island is made of marble which continues down the sides to give a free-flowing look and works really well as a centrepiece as it is very dramatic. And as we have a hob in the middle of it I can chat to people while I’m cooking rather than having my back to them as I would at the cooker – it is also great for my eldest daughter Jude to sit up and do her homework while I’m preparing food.

“My friend Aisling is a chef and she recommended we get two ovens side by side. These are very useful because although they aren’t huge, there is a plate warmer and also separate pizza and cake settings, which I love as I make a lot of both.”

But one of the very favourite things for Buckley in the new kitchen is a separate pantry where everything she needs for food prep is to hand – and if she wants to try and resist temptation, she can simply shut the artfully-designed door.

The pantry was created by Bob from Robert Mooney Designs and has a traditional feel with open shelving and a rustic tiled floor. “It’s such a joy to walk in there and just look at the shelves before choosing what I need – mind you I’m sure I eat a lot more these days as there is so much choice at my fingertips all the time.”

With two little girls and a busy lifestyle, manageability is crucial when it comes to kitting out a kitchen and Jenny feels they got the balance between beauty and practicality just right.

“As far as I’m concerned the kitchen is definitely the heart of the house and is where we spend most of our time,” she says. “It’s very child friendly as it is open-plan and there is a nice big space for the baby, who is just beginning to walk.

“And everything is really easy to clean, particularly the cupboards as they just require a wipe down. Elaine helped us to source a long reclaimed oak dining table which is great for entertaining and easy to keep clean and the best thing is the wooden floor which looks clean even when it isn’t – so it is very low maintenance.

“To be honest, I’m really in my element – the decorating is thankfully finished so I’m able to thoroughly enjoy my dream kitchen.”

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