Projects & Case Studies

Interview with interior design blogger & influencer Lily Sawyer

Discover the visually stunning home of interior design blogger Lily Sawyer. Featuring Smeg's 50s retro appliances including an electric oven, gas hob, extractor hood, kettle, toaster, and tap.


Hi Lily, tell us a little about your kitchen renovation. What did the kitchen space look like before you started renovating?

The kitchen is actually a kitchen-diner - one small room at about 2.4 x 3.6 meters that has to work hard as a kitchen and a dining room at the same time. The cooker was almost impossible to use - it was a stand-alone cooker that took double the time to cook anything! It was slotted inside a gap in the cabinets but was not fitted well so grime had accumulated on the sides, dripping down the oven and cabinet sides. It was truly gross! The extractor hood was even worse - it was brown with dried up fat and didn't do anything to help with the smells. There was no washing machine, so we bought a temporary one which was too big for it - or rather, the kitchen worktops were too shallow, and the washing machine had to stick out. The stainless-steel sink was wonky and super annoying when doing the washing-up - the water literally pooled on the draining board side.
It was definitely not a welcoming kitchen nor a space to be proud of. The floor was covered in old, very thin worn-out vinyl and the kitchen cupboards were inefficient. You open the cupboards, and you can see pipes and tubes at the back! I didn't really understand how these kitchens were even allowed to be built!

What parts of the kitchen did you want to change the most?

There was absolutely no question I wanted to change everything. There was so much dead space, and it was very poorly planned. I wanted to change all the appliances to maximise efficiency and all the cabinets to maximise storage. I definitely wanted an integrated fridge-freezer and washing machine that would seamlessly hide any appliance clutter. I also obviously needed an oven, hob and hood but didn't want the ultra-modern ones that I feel look pretty ubiquitous anyway. 
I didn't want anything to particularly clash though so I really had to think of the design - classic, full of character without the clash!

We know you’ve been a fan of Smeg appliances for some time and love the way you’ve used built-in models in your new space. What made you choose Smeg’s products this time?

If there's one thing I really do not want - it's a kitchen without character! It was a no-brainer to go for the Smeg 50s Retro Style. They add instant character and timeless style!

How you style and place your appliances in the kitchen is often something many people overlook and don’t spend enough time thinking about when designing a kitchen. How did you decide where to place your appliances?

Given the small dual function space I had to work with, I stuck to the existing L lay-out but chose appliances, cupboards and cabinets including open shelving that maximised the kitchen area. I didn't want too much upheaval regarding all the wiring as I felt the original lay-out worked well so I put the new main appliances where they were originally slotted for.

Image here shows fridge freezer

What factors did you consider?

In terms of the most important considerations, I've had to make, the overall size of the space was right up there. I had to choose appliances that fit perfectly within the space - a mix of integrated appliances and ones that are always on show. One can never go wrong with the Victoria Built-ins. Smart, efficient and always beautiful.
The second factor was storage - I wanted to maximise every inch but still have a kitchen that felt open and welcoming. The third consideration is colour scheme - I wanted a timeless design that was bursting with character. I will not be changing any aspect of my new kitchen anytime soon.

Where did you get most of your inspiration from?

The flat being so close to the sea and surrounded by nature was inspiration enough! I wanted the colour scheme and design to bring the outside in and opted for a green colour scheme that matched the view outside the kitchen window. The Smeg Victoria appliances in cream went perfectly with the Olive Green cabinets and the Dark green wallpapered wall opposite. It all feels very peaceful and calming yet a little cocooning with a sophisticated touch.

Image here shows oven, hob and hood

How would you describe or sum up your new kitchen design in five or less words?

Classic, timeless, full of character.

Which Smeg appliance do you find yourself using the most? Do you find you’re surprised by the answer?

This is a difficult question because all of them are used pretty much all the time. The fridge-freezer is surprisingly spacious and just lovely to use. The washing machine is a dream to use with the short cycle and extra spin options! I am particularly loving the 15-minute cycle especially for small items that need a quick clean. And of course, the hob - several times a day every single day. The hood is super-efficient and helps remove cooking smells. The oven is probably cleverer than me in the kitchen! So, I find this question impossible to answer!

Image here shows kettle, toaster and tap

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone tackling a kitchen renovation?

Thanks for asking that question! I actually wrote a blog post in detail on how I designed my new kitchen and shared 5 Best Design Ideas for Small Kitchens  I hope there is some good advice on there.

As a bonus though, I'd say to go for what you really love - go with your gut feeling - and with this, get some professional advice on how to make it work. Kitchens are long-term investments and it's not the space for trial and error - in my humble opinion!

Instagram @layered.home

Get the look


Toaster, No. of slices: 4, Pastel Green, 50's Style
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Kettles, 1.7lt / 7 cups, Pastel Green, 50's Style
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Hob, Aesthetics: Victoria, Gas, 60 cm, Built-in: Traditional
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Oven, Victoria, 60cm, Thermo-ventilated, Cream, A, Vapor Clean
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Hood, Chimney Cooker Hoods , Victoria, Cream, 60 cm, B
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Sink, Universal, Monoblock sink, Standard, Drainer: Reversible, No. of bowls: 1
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Refrigerator, Universal, Under counter, Built-in, Hinge position: Right, White, Static, F
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Washing Machine, Fully integrated, 7 kg, White, E
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Refrigerator, 50's Style , Bottom Mount, Free Standing, Hinge position: Left, Pink, Total No Frost - Double Cooling system, D
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