COUNTRY KITCHEN FOCUS
THOUGHTFUL PLANNING, A SOFT COLOUR SCHEME AND TACTILE FINISHES CREATE AN INVITING ATMOSPHERE IN NICCI’S BESPOKE KITCHEN
Chic cabinetry, copious food storage and a sociable bar – this is a kitchen to die for
Fitting a kitchen in a previous house gave Nicci a clear vision of what she wanted in her new home – and it was a long way from the dark, shiny, masculine design the developer had installed. ‘It was a quality kitchen but not my style and the layout didn’t work,’ she says.
Nicci worked with designer Andy Murphie of Fold4 and contractor Owain Davies of Joyner & Mason to remodel parts of the house, which included lowering the ceiling in the kitchen area of the open-plan room to make the space feel cosier. For the cabinetry she chose Mark Wilkinson Furniture and her first challenge for the company’s designer Simon Hosein was requesting that the Aga be set into the island so she could face the room when cooking. ‘It’s not usually done,’ says Nicci, ‘so I went to a showroom to see a room-vent Aga at work. One of the issues is cooking smells but standard ovens vent into the room and, anyway, a little bit of cooking smell is nice.’
The new lowered ceiling also made it possible to have a flush-fitting ceiling extractor directly above the Aga, and Nicci and Simon spent nearly a year finalising the cabinetry. The new layout has a compact U-shaped working area with the Aga, fridge and sink set in a classic work triangle. The striking focal point of the room is an oak armoire-style cupboard that houses the fridge and freezer – inspired by a piece of furniture
Nicci had in a previous home in France. She feels that every drawer and cupboard in her new kitchen is in the perfect place and tailor-made for its contents. ‘I honestly think I have four times the usable space now,’ she says.
Colour proved to be a dilemma. ‘I had always wanted pale green but we tried at least 12 shades and not one of them worked with the light in this room,’ says Nicci. The solution was to colour-match to an existing piece of furniture, resulting in a soft stone shade. The painting was done in situ, allowing for a late change to the island colour, with a stand-out brick red becoming a subtle grey.
‘I had never realised before how important the feel of the materials and the energy of a space would be to me,’ says Nicci. ‘This kitchen is everything I wanted: it’s natural, it’s tactile and it’s warm.’
The joy of bespoke is in the detail, such as the long, narrow shelf along the back wall created to display the couple’s collection of miniature porcelain Dutch houses.
A large island with seating on one side and a cook’s work station on the other is key to the layout.