Readers kitchens: Helen from South East London

helen's kitchen understairsIt’s been a while since we’ve had a Readers Kitchens feature, but when I recently saw Helen’s kitchen, so beautifully restored by her and her partner (and a brilliant carpenter apparently) I begged her to let us put it up. Helen bought most of the original fixtures and furniture you see here on ebay, patiently waiting for the perfect design to appear at a good price. Inspiring stuff.

diningroomName: Helen Palmer

Location: South East London

Occupation:Textiles Forecaster

What do you do in the kitchen and with whom?

The kitchen is the very heart of my home and it’s where I love idling about. At weekends I enjoy nothing more than pottering and cooking up a veggie storm for my partner, with the familiar hum of the radio in the background and a sherry on hand when stirring the Sunday-lunch gravy. Quieter moments I relish in the kitchen are occasional working-from-home days at the table with my pretty courtyard garden in view or on colder evenings nestled in the reading nook near the log-burner amidst cushions and blankets with a classic novel, hot chocolate and my adorable cats close-by for company and warmth.

helen's kitchen

helen's sofasHow would you describe your style?

The bones of the kitchen have been restored to reflect its early Victorian style and pretty much everything I have sourced and collected is salvaged or remade, as I can’t bear throwing away anything that could be usefully re-imagined. I have an amazing carpenter friend who has creatively re-modelled my kitchen units along with impulsive junk shop finds, including the oak kitchen island unit which I bought for fifty pounds and took us a weekend to bring to life. My appreciation of textiles and crafts defines my style and the kitchen is a decorative jumble of shabby Victorian Arts & Crafts furniture, Scandinavian textiles, rustic studio pottery, post-war appliances, deco lighting and even mid-century Modern finds.

helen's house

helenskitchenunderstairsMost useful or most used item?

It’s difficult to define one particular thing but  I’m particularly fond of the Coleman’s mustard hued 1930’s Electrolux refrigerator lovingly restored and donated by a friend, which really keeps food well and has a natty copper ice box to boot, and I really enjoy using my rustic salt-glaze jugs and vessels as they are so heartwarmingly tactile, not forgetting my inherited aforementioned sherry glasses which evoke memories of Norfolk family get-togethers and Christmas cheer.


helen's cats


  • Sarah says:

    What a beautiful kitchen, really lovely individual pieces.

  • Sue says:

    I wish my kitchen looked like that. The reading alcove and window, the Colman’s fridge…completely covetable.

  • Katy says:

    So lovely.

  • Amanda says:

    I had to be dragged away….glad you’re liking it too Ax

  • sue evans says:

    Lovely Helen !! So nice to finally see it after hearing about the renovations for several years. I am jealous !!

  • Helen says:

    What a beautiful, lovingly put together kitchen. So many lovely pieces. Love the birds picture, and all the textiles too … some gorgeous cushions, including – I think – one 4-way bargello tapestry cushion. I’m just in the process of stitching one myself, from an out of print 1970’s Bargello pattern book full of the craziest colour combinations.

    And the cats – adorable. I imagine they’re sooo cosy to snuggle up with.


  • jeanne says:

    I can never have too many kitchens and this one is very personal and special and makes me wish the owner was a friend. It was a real treat for me to see some Scandi textiles looking very much at home in south London.
    Snowy wishes Jeanne near Lillehammer, Norway

  • Julia says:


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