Get the look: How kitchen designer Julia Brown gets industrial vibes at home

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Even as an award-winning kitchen designer, Julia Brown is not always itching to rip out an old kitchen just to fit a brand new one. That’s why, when looking for her new home six years ago, taking out the existing kitchen was not an immediate priority – that could come later.

‘Whenever my husband and I view houses online – which we regularly do even now while having no intention of moving, such a strange hobby – we get more excited in viewing images of a house [where] the kitchen is falling apart and the ugly wallpaper is peeling, and the carpets are brown and worn. That, to me, is heaven.

“If we had bought something already done up, it would have felt like a wasteful sacrilege to rip it apart just to add our own stamp to it.’

A lot of people throw almost new kitchens and bathrooms out just for the sake of it, says Julia, which, she adds, is such a waste. Their 1900s semi-detached was very dated throughout when they looked at it and the kitchen had done 35 years of service, so could be changed guilt-free.

‘Because we were starting from scratch with the whole house we had complete freedom and, naturally, I already had a very clear idea of what I wanted in terms of look and function.

‘We decided to relocate the kitchen from one side of the house to the other, so basically into the dining room. This placed the kitchen in a very central location in the house.’

Julia and her architect husband Mark formed an opening through to the front lounge and this, together with the fact the main wall had been removed, meant that it felt very open-plan.

The property is in the Newcastle suburb of Gosforth, close to many of the client homes Julia works with as design director of bespoke kitchen specialist Mowlem & Co and based in the company’s Jesmond showroom.

The new kitchen is classic but clean-cut with well-defined areas and stark contrasts between the dark shaker door cabinetry, in Farrow & Ball Railings with chocolate bronze handles, and the natural marble, which features on the main run of units and practical Caesarstone worktop.

Find them above

Quooker PRO 3 VAQ tap in stainless steel

Quooker PRO 3 VAQ tap (Picture: Quooker)

Julia says: ‘I wouldn’t live without it.’

Get a Quooker system and tap

French Connection Home stools

French Connection Home medium Roger bar stool (Picture: French Connection)

Julia says: ‘They also supply a gorgeous array of home accessories.’

ALTERNATIVE: Get the Medium Roger bar stool for £79 from French Connection.

Armac Martin Edgbaston handles in chocolate bronze

Armac Martin Edgbaston handles in chocolate bronze (Picture: Armac Martin)

Julia says: ‘One of my favourite brands and a regular feature in kitchens I design.’

Buy them from £56.04 at Armac Martin.

Solid oak herringbone floor

B&Q Impero natural solid oak herringbone flooring (Picture: B&Q)

ALTERNATIVE: Buy Impero natural solid oak herringbone flooring from £37.40 at B&Q.

Caesarstone Raw Concrete quartz worktop

Caesarstone Raw Concrete quartz worktop (Picture: Caesarstone)

Get the island worktop in Raw Concrete quartz from Caesarstone.

‘Giving the island a free-standing feel by raising the open plinth also adds to the “industrial” vibe,’ she explains. ‘I would encourage our clients to be brave with their colour choice.

‘After all, a Mowlem & Co kitchen is built to last but the paint colour can always be changed at a later date if desired, so if anyone wants to try something bold they can. Always start with the layout first.

‘The cabinet finish can change throughout the design process from classic painted, to a natural wood in a Scandi style, or something more glamorous and glossy, but ultimately the layout of how you use the space is the most important aspect to get right.’

Unsurprisingly, the kitchen is the most used room in the house but it also feels effortlessly connected to other aspects of the home. If a renovation budget and size of property allows, it is also always worth considering moving the kitchen completely to maximise light and to create an effective hub.

‘Standing at the island prepping a meal, I just need to turn my head to the right to enjoy the view of our front lounge, which is cosy and inviting, especially during the winter months,’ she says. ‘Turning my head to the left gives me an aspect of our garden, while straight in front of me is the open-plan dining area and snug for more casual sofa surfing and as a break-out space for teenagers to hang out in.

‘Whenever you’re starting a new kitchen project, first of all consider where in the house to position it, as a change in location could make all the difference, as it did for us.’

Cox & Cox gaux potted monstera

Julia says: ‘Adding greenery without the maintenance of keeping them alive.’

Buy small Faux Potted Monstera for £12.50 from Cox & Cox.

H&M mango wood chopping board

Julia says: ‘A great source for affordable home styling.’

Buy Mango wood chopping board for £24.99 from H&M.

Farrow & Ball railings paint

Julia says:’ Railings can look different depending on the time of day, lighting, even the weather.’

Buy Farrow & Ball Railings paint from £52 at B&Q.

Original BTC Titan Size 1 pendant light

Julia says: ‘I love the fact these add the industrial feel I was going for.’

Buy Original BTC, Titan Size 1 pendant light Putty for £355 from John Lewis.

Check out Julia’s website at

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