Dr Alex’s Cottage Renovation Project

Design by Dawn Filkins

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

Project date:

March 2023









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.

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.

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.

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

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.

- Dawn

Make this kitchen your kitchen

View this range in the colour used in this kitchen and start to plan your own.

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Discover the details

These are the accessories chosen for this kitchen.

How are we different?

Online design service

Our Smile design team are experienced kitchen designers by trade, not just sales people.

Samples delivered to you

Feel the textures, see the colours, and assess the quality of our products in your own home.

Value for money

Without costly showrooms, we keep prices lower, offering you exceptional value without compromising on quality.

No payment until delivery

You won’t have to pay a penny for your kitchen until it’s been delivered.

How we work

Connect with our expert designers from the comfort of your home and bring your dream kitchen vision to life.

Planning your kitchen

Browse our site and explore our kitchens, then book a consultation with our designers. They will ask about the scope of your project and share inspiration, ideas, and ways to optimise your space.

Creating your design

Your designer will present your design with a 3D walkthrough and a full breakdown of costs. We'll make amendments until the design aligns perfectly with your vision, and we'll also send you samples of doors, handles, and worktops.

Placing your order

When you are 100% happy with the design, we'll send out a design pack for your fitter to double-check. Once everything is finalised, lets arrange a call to run through every detail and place your order.


What’s included in the design service?

What isn’t included?! You’ll have your very own 1-on-1 dedicated kitchen designer who will listen to your needs, get to know you, and offer expert design advice throughout your project. Your designer will send free samples, tweak your design as many times as you need, and provide high-quality renders of your design alongside a video walkthrough. We’ll provide a fully itemised transparent quote as well as technical elevations for your fitter to check. Plus, you’ll receive access to our brand partner’s discount codes! If you decide to order your kitchen with us, the initial £25 payment for your design consultation is taken off the cost of your kitchen.

How long does my design consultation last?

We book 1 hour for your online design consultation – plenty of time to discuss your project and chat with your personal designer.

Does your service include free samples?

Yes! After your design consultation, your designer will send you free samples including door colours, cabinet internals, worktops, and handles. The only chargeable sample is for the bespoke colour match service, where there will be a fee of £30 per door sample which is refundable upon ordering.

Do I have to buy my kitchen from you?

There’s absolutely no obligation to buy a kitchen from us after having a design! We’re a team of designers, not salespeople, so you’ll never be pressured into buying anything here. We always recommend getting quotes from different suppliers before purchasing, so you can feel confident in your decision. We’re committed to keeping our prices low all year round, and we’re with you throughout your project.

What are the next steps after my design consultation?

Following your design consultation, your designer will take your brief and start designing. They will arrange a time that suits you for a design presentation, ideally the following week, where they will present the design to you and talk you through the quote breakdown. After this meeting, you will receive the design, 3D walkthrough, floor plan, and a fully itemised quote. You can share the link to your 3D walkthrough with your friends and family for feedback!

Do you supply and fit kitchens?

Yes and no. We supply all the kitchen furniture you need to transform your room – from cupboards and handles to worktops, sinks and taps. We then work with your chosen fitters – any trusted local installer you’d like  – sharing everything they need, all the small details to support your fit every step of the way. We deliver your new kitchen, then work hand in hand with your fitter to make sure everything goes super smoothly.

What range of worktops do you offer?

The real question here is “what type of worktop would you like?” We stock a huge range of worktops in a laminate and Minerva but if you love a super sleek Quartz top or a rustic wooden counter, we’ve got great supply partners to bring you any type of worktop you’d like.

Where do your names come from for your kitchen ranges?

If you hadn’t guessed yet, we absolutely love the concept of Hygge and the Danish approach to warm, cozy living. So we draw on all those Scandavian influences to name our kitchen ranges. Don’t worry, we still don’t really know how to pronounce Hygge (Higgy? Huggy? Hyoo-guh?), so we’re happy to go with whatever you call our range – we’ve heard every variation (and every one sounds wonderful!)

Do your units come supplied rigid or flat packed?

A great question, because you’ll be wondering how much space you need to make for the delivery (and how much work your fitter might need to do). Almost all our units are supplied rigid and ready to fit. You’ll need a good amount of space ready for the units. We have a small number of units that have to be flat-packed due to their size however we’ll be sure to let you know in your quote if this is the case.

Do you offer bespoke sized units/doors?

We’ve got such an extensive range of kitchens that we can always try to accommodate your space. When we design your kitchen, we make sure everything fits snug as a bug.

Do you supply appliances?

We don’t currently supply appliances, and there’s a really good reason why. We’re brilliant at designing kitchens, but not so good at manufacturing washing machines and fridges. So let’s leave that to the appliance experts. Our designers will help you create the perfect appliance-shaped gaps in your custom kitchen design, and our partners at AO.com will happily fill them. And because we work closely together, you’ll get a lovely 10% discount off any appliances you fancy.

How do I know my new/existing appliances will fit into my kitchen design?

Easy! We’ll tell you. We’ll check for you. And then we’ll double check. We’ve been doing this a long time, and we know how the vast majority of appliances are sized (they’re actually all fairly standard). But just to be certain – send us the measurements of your appliances (or just the model number and we’ll go Googling to get the details) – and we’ll make sure they fit snugly into your new kitchen designs.

How long are your kitchen quotes valid for?

Our price quotes are valid for 30 days from the date of quotation. Should your design change as part of the amendment process, we will provide an updated quote and honour the prices provided at the time of original quote as long as it is within the original 30 day quotation period.

Why do you charge for your design service?

The honest answer to this is that we think it’s more than worth it! Your design consultation is with a qualified designer, not a salesperson. The quality of service you will receive from your designer – their care and attention to detail in creating your design and the high-quality renders of your designed space plus a 3D walkthrough and fully itemised easy to understand quote are worth paying for. Plus if you’re not 100% happy with it, we’ll refund you the design service fee.

Do you offer an at home measuring service?

We don’t currently have a home measuring service, but we do have wonderful designers who help walk you through the whole process to measure your kitchen yourself. And then we’ll ask your fitters to double check and verify all those measurements themselves too, just to make sure. Any professional fitter will want to take their own measurements so we verify every inch. Only when you’re happy, your fitter’s happy and we’re happy, do we move ahead with the order process.

What if I have measured wrong?

We’ll be double and triple checking every measurement, so don’t worry. Your chosen fitter will want to measure everything themselves too (if they don’t, we’ll give them a nudge), and then any measurements that were a bit skew-whiff, we’ll rejig the designs and update the quote. No worries at all.

Why do I need an online design consultation?

So you can design your dream kitchen in your pyjamas? So you can browse brilliant new kitchens without leaving your current one (and sneak whatever snacks you like)? So you can get to know our amazing designers one on one? All great reasons why we like to have a design consultation with you. Most importantly, a video call helps us get to know each other and clearly understand your vision for a new kitchen. And it means we can share our screens and walk through a 3D visualisation of your transformed room together.

How much is the deposit?

We don’t ask for a deposit on any of our kitchens – you don’t have to pay for your kitchen until it’s delivered in full and you are 100% happy! We’ve never had a customer not pay for their kitchen we’ve delivered!

What method of payment can I use?

We have a secure online payment system for you to pay for your new kitchen when it’s delivered. We accept the following payments:

  • Visa credit and debit
  • MasterCard credit and debit
  • American Express
  • Bank transfer

Do you have a fitting service?

We don’t have a fitting service, so you’re free to choose any local trusted fitter you like. Many of our customers like to get a few different quotes from fitters, and we’re more than happy to sense-check any quotes for you, helping you find the right fitter for the right value.

Do you provide instructions for installation?

Absolutely. We might not have a fitting service, but we send out a comprehensive fitting pack for your installers. It’ll have all the instructions and drawings they need, but just in case that isn’t enough, we’ll be sure to have a chat with them too. And we’re always here to answer any questions or help in any way we can during the fit too.

How long have you been open?

We opened the doors to our new way of designing and supplying kitchens in 2020 (though we’d been putting the groundwork in a long time before that). Our team has decades of experience in kitchen design, and our founder has been working with kitchens for so long, he’s become a permanent fixture.

Where do you deliver?

We deliver to the mainland UK. Please note this excludes Northern Ireland.

Where are you based?

Our designers work from home, so you might be chatting to them in Newcastle or Newquay, Kent or Kendal. Our HQ is in Greater Manchester.

Other real kitchens

We know that nothing beats seeing a real kitchen in a real customer’s home. Take a look around and check out your favourite ranges in real projects.