Joanna Thornhill
Interior stylist Joanna Thornhill at home.jpg

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Latest news and work from interiors stylist and writer Joanna Thornhill

Talking Kitchen Cupboard Pimping and Scaffold-shelf-hacks with Jo Good on BBC Radio London

Jo Good and Joanna Thornhill on BBC Radio London.jpg

I was extremely flattered yet terrified to be asked onto BBC Radio London’s brilliant weekday afternoon show with Jo Good, to discuss the new book and also give advice to listeners on the various issues and pitfalls that come with London living: namely, how to carve out a desirable abode from what’s inevitably going to be a tiny space that there’s every chance you don’t even own. As a renter herself, Jo put forward some great questions and my nerves eventually dissipated when I realised I was at least able to answer everything thrown at me without swearing or my mind going utterly blank.

Topics covered included how to make a skinny Victorian sitting room feel wider, what to do about grotty old tiles if you can’t replace them, going big in a small space, living successfully with a windowless bathroom and- of course - what to do if your bedroom IS also your office.

Joanna Thornhill Bathroom Washstand.jpg

One of Jo’s personal questions was how she might tart up the units in her rented kitchen, which I thought I’d also answer here with some links (I do also cover this on page 56-57 of the book, too): if you’re allowed to paint the doors (renters: consider asking your landlord rather than just assuming this’d be a no-no - assure them you’ll do a decent job and they’ll get a free kitchen makeover out of it - they may just surprise you and say yes!) then initially you should give them a clean (with sugar soap) and a sand (with a relatively fine grit sandpaper - around 80-120 grit should do) and remove all hardware, then use a brush or roller to add an appropriate primer (this will vary depending on the surface, but odds are your cabinets will be some sort of melamine or veneer so you’ll probably need a ‘difficult surfaces’ primer).

Joanna Thornhill bathroom cabinet with paint.jpg

There are various all-in-one products around that will both prime and paint onto ‘difficult' surfaces, but these can be limited in colour or finish. To allow for greater options, go for a separate primer then choose your preferred tone from any of the paint brands who offer colours available in your choice of finish, such as Dulux or (if you’ve got a few quid to spare) Farrow & Ball, then select that hue in an eggshell finish, which is low-sheen for a flattering, contemporary look, yet will work with your undercoat and - crucially for a kitchen - offer a hard-wearing, wipeable surface. In my own recent bathroom renovation, I painted my IKEA Godmorgan washstand (a melamine cabinet in a semi-gloss finish, just like you’d find in most kitchens) using Bradite One Can primer and Little Greene’s gorgeous Tea with Florence, both of which I’d personally recommend. (also sneaking into shot is the least-sexy yet most-pleasingly-practical bit of storage in the new bathroom - my bog-roll recess!)

Designer Anna Alicia's kitchen in Insta Style for Your Living Space by Joanna Thornhill

Alternatively, if painting’s not for you, you could have a go with sticking some sticky backed plastic over (flat) door fronts, instead (Carrara marble is hugely popular right now) - test it in an inconspicuous area first, but it should come off again without too much fuss. Or, do away with the wall cabinet doors altogether and create an open-shelving type look, like this one featured above (taken from my book Insta Style for Your Living Space - the shelf edges were jazzed up with strips of coloured Washi tape, which removes easily without damage).

If you want to have a listen for yourself, the show link, taken from the 6th March 2019 recording, is here (you’ll need to create a website login if you don’t already have one) - my ramblings begin at 1:08:30