Swapping the living room and the kitchen was probably the best decision we took during our Victorian renovation.


After fully renovating our Victorian end of terrace in Oxford, not much was left of the original layout. An extension was added, a hallway was created, and rooms were ‘swapped’ for practicality and to make the best use of sunlight.

Today, I want to share with you the transformation of the old sitting room into the new kitchen. To help visualise my explanations, below is a comparison between the new (left) and the old (right) ground floor layout.

As you can see, the former layout followed a classic pattern in Victorian terraces:

  • living area at the front;
  • kitchen at the back; and
  • a bathroom built in an extension.

The whole ground floor was dysfunctional, despite being (kind of) open-plan, because of the spiral iron cast staircase and a low wall + bannister separating the sitting room and the kitchen-dinning. Walking from the front to the back of the house meant zigzagging through the two areas.

When renovating Victorian terraced houses, the usual move is to add a rear extension and create an open-plan kitchen-dining room while keeping the living room at the front of the house. Instead of doing that, we swapped rooms and transformed the old sitting room into our new independent kitchen.

room transformation_old sitting room
room transformation_ground floor

Why we did that

Victorian terraces have lovely bay windows at the front, so turning the sitting room into a kitchen sounded quite a controversial suggestion. My first reaction was to reject that idea but the more we discussed it, the more convinced I was that it was the right thing to do.

The house is northeast faced. This means, that the front of the house gets the morning sun while the back of the house gets the sun in the afternoon and evening. Therefore, having the kitchen at the front and the living area at the back would allow us to

  • have breakfast by the bay window enjoying the morning sun; and
  • enjoy our afternoons and evenings sitting on the sofa looking out into the garden.

Before renovations, the kitchen sink was right under the window (see second picture above) and I think that’s the worst possible use of a window overlooking a garden. Why would you want to look out into the garden while doing the dishes, when you could enjoy that view from your living area with bi-fold doors open?

Of course, making a new kitchen in our sitting area, which came with an old-fashioned gas fireplace and a wonky end of terrace wall turned out tricky. It meant having to buy a made-to-measure worktop and adapting regular cupboards to the available space and funny angles. But it also meant having a modern kitchen with a few original and quirky bits, such as the bay window and an exposed brick fireplace.

The room transformation in pictures

 Check the transformation of the old sitting room into the new kitchen in the four ‘now and then’ picture galleries below.

What are your thoughts?

Join the conversation on this Instagram post

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Irene Corchado Resmella

Irene Corchado Resmella

I'm a Spanish freelance translator living in the UK since 2011. After fully renovating and selling a Victorian end of terrace house in Oxford, I recently relocated to Edinburgh with my Scottish husband.

In The Home Reporter I share everything home and lifestyle – from renovation stories and interiors inspiration to tips and anecdotes about buying a house, working from home and relocation. Lover of bright spaces, wooden floors and matte finishes.

Find me on Instagram.

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