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Dr Alex’s Cottage Renovation Project

Project Date
March, 2023

Dr Alex George, the government’s Ambassador for Mental Health, decided it was time to renovate the out-buildings on his parent’s property. The former barns and stables were uninhabitable but filled with potential. With their rustic, thick stone walls and countryside charm, they would make perfect holiday cottages in the wonderfully remote Pembrokeshire, accompanying Dr Alex’s parents’ bed and breakfast next door.

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Dawn -Smile Kitchens Designer
Designed by:

We loved collaborating with Dr Alex and his mum, Jane, on these four projects. They gave us the freedom to explore various options and to really put our stamp on each of the spaces. As each cottage has its own personality and aesthetic, we were keen that we didn’t just copy and paste the kitchen into each of them. We wanted each one to be perfect for the space it sits within.

The project brief

Each cottage was to have its own colour scheme, themed around flora and fauna, but with commonalities that linked them together. The four cottages are Rosemary, a green colour scheme, Bluebell, a blue colour scheme, Primrose, a yellow colour scheme and finally Clementine, an orange colour scheme.

Each space had its own challenges and needs with the cottages, not all being the same in terms of their architecture and layout. Some cottages had sloping rooves to overcome, others had thick stone walls in different places or beams to workaround. Varying window shapes also presented an interesting challenge for Dr Alex and his mum, Jane, who was on hand to support, but also for Smile Kitchens’ design team.

Dr Alex was really keen that the four kitchens weren’t dictated by them but that they were, instead, a collaboration with Smile. He knew that our design team had the skills to deliver something amazing, so he left it to us to pitch our ideas…

Kitchen details

Each of these four beautiful kitchens is from our Hjerte range in the timeless, smooth grey of Tusk; our most popular colour. We chose this range to ensure the kitchen had a nod to classic, country styling through the shaker frame but with a slick, modern finish that comes with Hjerte’s vinyl-wrapped, five-piece doors.

We added a modern worktop that emulates quartz but in a matt, soft-touch, luxurious finish; our blended acrylic worktop in Silver Haze. With seamless joints, this beautiful worktop is not just pretty on the eye but also super hardwearing and ultra heat resistant - the perfect choice for a holiday let! These sturdy worktops will stand the test of time and give Dr Alex peace of mind.

Finishing touches

We wanted the accessories to be modern in shape and format but with a nod to classic country styling, much like the doors, so we opted for the simple, yet striking, combination of our Form collection, namely the brushed brass handle and the brushed brass round flat knob. The crisp square shape and edges are beautifully contrasted with the softer, rounded edges of the knob, creating a wonderful harmony.

As well as accessories that are both stylish and practical, each kitchen comes with a range of modern touches and storage solutions that make the everyday use of the kitchens that little bit more enjoyable for the guests. These storage solutions are specific to each kitchen giving each one its own unique spin on the overall style.

Dr Alex's experience with Smile

“I think you guys are brilliant. To start a company in the way that you have, to focus so much on design, quality, and service; I think that is a really good way to be as a company. We’re very proud to have all the kitchens as Smile Kitchens and I’m sure they’re going to last a good deal of time."

The Cottages

Take a closer look at the cottages...

Dr Alex sat down with us to chat about his experience with Smile and we spoke about how he found our design process, you can watch the full video on Youtube by following the link below.

Watch the interview

The Cottages

Bluebell Cottage

The Bluebell Cottage, featuring beautiful blue and nautical accents throughout, contains a compact kitchen. This presented the challenge of feeling open and light whilst also featuring everything needed for the guests to enjoy their time there.

Adding open shelving above the sink area on the back wall allows space for the beautiful blue accessories that make this kitchen feel so original, as well as allowing light to bounce around the space. The white subway tile running all the way up the wall elevates this kitchen and gives it a premium feel. The long run of cabinetry that encompasses the oven and integrated fridge freezer, has a more classic feel to it. Driving this feel is the addition of the built-in extractor fan that is hidden within the bridging unit.

The Cottages

One of the big challenges with this kitchen was the external stone wall down one side. This rugged and uneven surface, whilst beautiful, meant the kitchen needed fillers that were custom cut to ensure they integrated the kitchen with the space.

As this kitchen is compact and has limited space for storage, we were keen to ensure that each cabinet was super accessible and could be used each day. That’s why the corner unit has a corner optimiser in it, this clever piece of storage equipment pulls out completely allowing you access to everything stored inside.

The Cottages

Clementine Cottage

The Clementine Cottage features a wonderous array of orange accessories and furniture and a retro feel that comes from the psychedelic and mid-century style art throughout. This space was more interesting to work with as it’s on the first floor, unlike the other three properties. The sloping roof, large beams, and window meant there was less space to work with and we had to be more thoughtful with our design choices.

This kitchen features a central oven with spice rack pull-outs on either side creating wonderful symmetry. The pull-outs give easy access to cooking items whilst you’re stood at the hob, making life a little easier. To the left, we have a corner cabinet that features the super-useful corner optimiser, perfect for easy access. Above this are wall cabinets on the only full-height wall in the kitchen with space beside them for the free-standing fridge freezer which ties in the retro styling seen around the room.

The Cottages

To the right of the oven is another corner unit that leads a wonderful run of half-height cabinetry in front of the deep, large window. This overlooks the courtyard outside as well as the Pembrokeshire countryside - the perfect place to finish the washing up.

Due to the sloping walls, we were unable to add many wall fixtures. Instead, we opted to keep it clean and simple, allowing the kitchen to feel like it nestles expertly into the compact space available. Again, the use of the subway tiles not only helps to reflect light around the space in an otherwise very matt kitchen, but the way they reach up right to the ceiling adds a premium feel. It also draws the eye upward giving the illusion that the space is larger than it is.

The Cottages

Rosemary Cottage

The Rosemary Cottage, with its rich green, stone wall and accessories, has the pleasure of having the largest kitchen of the four cottages. This kitchen features a lovely open L-shape with space for an integrated fridge freezer to the side.

Whilst this kitchen also features the imperfect stone wall (boldly painted green in this instance), the majority of the space is smooth and so feels subtler and modern. The use of the open wall down the left-hand side helps to promote the spread of light and a feeling of openness throughout this kitchen.

Again, the difficult corner unit, which may otherwise be wasted, features the handy corner optimiser making great use of the space and making every cupboard accessible for everyone.

The Cottages

The height of the window to the right meant that the wall was best to be left open. However, we felt it was important that in absence of a view, the sink should look across the rest of the living space, helped by the fact that the kitchen is up a step and therefore you look out across the living area at a higher level.

Like with most of the other cottages, this kitchen features the built-in extractor that helps to add that classic look and feel. Again, this is accompanied by the simple subway tile that reaches right up tying the space together and promoting the high-end feeling.

The Cottages

Primrose Cottage

The Primrose Cottage features bold and bright yellow stylings throughout including some beautiful stained yellow slit windows in the thick stone walls. Similar to the Bluebell Cottage, this cottage features an L-shaped kitchen that runs along a stone wall with a large window. However, it also features a cut-in area for a beam and the window placement was a little trickier to deal with. This meant that the end of the cabinets down the left-hand side needed to run parallel to the wall instead of attaching to it.

Due to the cut-in for the beam, we had to add a small cabinet here to ensure it could be accessed easily. This worked well as it allowed us to have a slightly longer stretch of open shelving next to it. This makes the kitchen feel much larger and more open. Again, the use of the subway tiles right up to the ceiling makes the kitchen feel premium, a wonderful touch.

The Cottages

The use of the oak open shelving ties in the oak cabinet internals, and also expertly compliments the gold and brass accessories. The contrast between this and the light grey of Tusk creates warmth and allows every element to pop and have its own significance. The longer length of the shelves gives more space for whimsical stylings such as books and jars.

I think you guys are brilliant. To start a company in the way that you have, to focus so much on design, quality and service; I think that is a really good way to be as a company. We’re very proud to have all the kitchens as Smile Kitchens and I’m sure they’re going to last a good deal of time.

Dr Alex
This kitchen features:


The Hjerte range is packed with character, heritage and a warm timeless feel, with timber effect shaker doors to create a kitchen fit for any home. Its name comes from the Danish for ‘heart’.
View the Hjerte range