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When Jess Stern traveled from the U.K. to Australia back in 2017 to visit her sister, Becca, and meet her then newborn nephew, the siblings took a walk on the beach one day. And on that fateful stroll, they began talking about lockers. “Becca had a couple of vintage metal ones at her house that were a bit rusty, but she absolutely loved them,” recalls Stern. “We started thinking: How could we make a locker that was practical and functional?” At that moment, the pair was casually pondering fresh designs for their own spaces, but the idea quickly evolved into a full-blown business called Mustard Made. Today the brand carries four different styles of old school–style lockers in 10 hues, ranging from playful berry and lilac to dark olive and, naturally, mustard yellow. “We reinvented it into a colorful, fun storage solution for your home,” says Stern.
While things were running smoothly on the business front, back at Stern’s London home, the scene was, well, a little more chaotic. The ground-floor, one-bedroom Victorian terrace flat Stern and her partner, Mark, purchased four and a half years ago was not conducive to the couple’s work-life flow. The layout was choppy and the kitchen and dining areas were superdark (a less-than-ideal feature for a pair who likes to entertain). “Mark loves to cook and I work a lot, so I would often be in the living room in the front of the house; he’d be cooking in the back; and we’d be shouting to each other,” remembers Stern. But once they learned they were expecting their first child, Poppy (now 5 months old), creating a family-friendly floor plan became a top priority.
An Eye-Opening Addition
Step one of the renovation was hiring an architect to create what they call in the U.K. a “ground floor wraparound extension” (a fancy term that implies there was a lot of excavating involved to expand and connect the main living zones). This splurge-worthy renovation allowed the couple to have a new connected kitchen and living room, which now flows into a garden thanks to the addition of the big French doors. The visibility has been a game changer, especially with the baby. “Now when Poppy and I see, ‘Oh, Daddy’s cooking dinner in the kitchen,’ we know that it’s nighttime—it’s a lovely moment,” shares Stern.
Another great thing about the addition was that it freed up the old living room, so the couple effectively had two bedrooms instead of just one. The former living area, located at the front of the house, now serves as the primary suite, while Poppy has taken over the other main bedroom.
The fresh skylights aren’t the only thing making the kitchen a happier place to be in these days—so are the new cabinets designed by Howdens. “The pantry was a special detail on my want list,” says Stern. From the outside, the nook looks like all the other cupboards, but open it up and you’ll discover a tricked-out space with tidy spices; decanted dry goods; and, at the center of it all, a dedicated caffeine station—a lifesaver for new parents. “It’s definitely a part of Mark’s morning ritual,” notes Stern. The cabinet paint color was custom-matched to Mustard Made’s sage green locker color, a hue the brand added to its assortment in 2020.
Getting a Grip
The curved wood cabinet hardware came straight from Australia (Stern’s sister shipped it to the U.K. for the couple). The exaggerated lip makes it supereasy to grab onto them and get a comfortable handle on things, which is necessary when it’s 3 a.m. and you need to get a fresh baby bottle fast.
Containment Brings Calm
The most-used locker unit in Stern’s own space is easily the pink Lowdown one in the living room; it houses everything from extra TV cables and a Nintendo Switch to medical supplies and even alcohol. A bonus of Mustard Made’s units? The lockers come with a lock, so adults can keep precious essentials (er, booze) out of reach of little ones.
Fake Built-Ins Through Color
While the Twinny locker in Poppy’s room is a freestanding piece, the storage unit looks built in for the simple fact that it matches the dimensions of the 40-inch-wide alcove. Carrying the sage green color around the rest of the room with paint makes the piece appear even more bespoke. Inside the wardrobe are adjustable shelves, so Stern can change their height as Poppy (and her clothes) grow.
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