The kitchen is the new sports car, re­ports Caro­line McGhie who dis­cov­ers Lon­don homes with five ovens, four fridges, three dish­wash­ers and room for 1,600 bot­tles

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

En­ter one of the most amaz­ing kitchens in the coun­try and you might not recog­nise it for what it is – an ex­pres­sion of ex­treme wealth, Lon­don on steroids, the home as refuge in a tur­bu­lent world. This kitchen is a con­coc­tion of whites, a lab­o­ra­tory. Its brain­power is con­cealed be­hind ice­berg cup­board doors. But un­der­ground, be­low this Kens­ing­ton street, you can cook up a wild party and in­dulge all your senses. First the tech­nol­ogy. There are five Miele ovens, four Sub-Zero fridges, three dish­wash­ers, seven Gagge­nau gas hobs. All you have to do is cook on them. Then you can wan­der into the cin­ema, plunge into the mul­ti­seater so­fas where flinty-eyed 007, Daniel Craig, is al­ready wait­ing for you on the huge screen. At the flick of a switch you can turn the swim­ming pool into a dance floor for 60 with a bar. Your largesse is kept in the wine room, big enough to keep 1,600 bot­tles at an even tem­per­a­ture, and 3,100 cigars. “We dug out 22 me­tres un­der the gar­den, put the kitchen on the lower ground floor, the swim­ming pool be­low that, and the cin­ema be­low that. Fit­ting the kitchen cost £120,000,” says for­mer in­vest­ment banker and de­vel­oper Christopher Marek Rencki. This is a Poggen­pohl kitchen with knobs on. “Dish­wash­ers are im­por­tant if you en­ter­tain like I do. One is for glasses only, 40 or 50 in at a time, four min­utes at 200 de­grees.” While Mary Berry talks sponges, soggy bot­toms, fruit fill­ings and ic­ing tech­niques, tak­ing us back to an age of in­no­cence and child­hood won­der, Lon­don de­vel­op­ers are cater­ing for the shadier world of the ex­iled Rus­sian oli­garch. The house, South End, has a mix of bul­let-proof and shat­ter­proof win­dows, a vault with an eight-inch steel door, steel gun and am­mu­ni­tion safes, CCTV cam­eras watch­ing ev­ery room, and cars parked on top of each other in a stack­ing sys­tem be­hind a bul­let- proof elec­tron­i­cally op­er­ated slid­ing wall. It is on the mar­ket at £13.75m with John D Wood (020 7908 1100). A lit­tle way off in La­timer Road, the same agents have floated an­other house on the mar­ket with­out any kitchen at all. At £1.995m, the price is not so strato­spheric but in­cludes a bud­get of £50,000 for the new own­ers to spec­ify their own kitchen. “Kitchens and bath­rooms are so per­sonal, they are of­ten the first thing to be changed when new own­ers move in. I have of­ten seen brand new kitchens ripped out and re­placed im­me­di­ately,” says Rollo Miles of John D Wood. The kitchen has, it seems, be­come a room where you can spend as much as you would on a sports car. New re­search to be pub­lished to­mor­row by Lloyds Bank In­sur­ance shows that a cen­tury ago it was the most func­tional room in the house, but now it’s the most valu­able, worth an aver­age £4,909. The study shows a third of those ques­tioned spent most time at home in the kitchen and more than half now en­ter­tain in there rather than the liv­ing room. Even if we can’t live like James Bond, we crave the hard­ware. Ac­cord­ing to Lloyds Bank In­sur­ance, more than 40 per cent of us in the past year bought a new cof­fee ma­chine, and 33 per cent bought a bread maker. Me­lanie Backe-Hansen, house his­to­rian and author of House His­to­ries: The Se­crets Be­hind Your Front Door, sees how mod­ern life has changed our home. “Liv­ing spa­ces are less de­fined than in the Vic­to­rian pe­riod, and far more mul­ti­func­tional. The tra­di­tion of fam­i­lies sit­ting down to eat to­gether may be im­pacted by longer work­ing hours, more hec­tic so­cial lives and the grow­ing in­flu­ence of tech­nol­ogy.” While we happily spend on the cof­fee maker, we don’t sit down to eat to­gether. The sur­vey shows that around 59 per cent of home own­ers eat at a dif­fer­ent time to the rest of the fam­ily. Some mothers, how­ever, have de­signed their kitchen to be the cen­tre of fam­ily life. Sarah Rogan lives in stylish Gaunt House at Stand­lake, just out­side Ox­ford, where she has opted for a kitchen which has all the fun and colour of the cir­cus. The Aga is lime green, glass is rasp­berry pink, the fridge is vinyl wrapped in pink, green, red, blue and or­ange. The chil­dren, Grant, aged nine, and Mol­lie, six, ride their scoot­ers around the cen­tral is­land. On hot days they spill through the French win­dows to eat on the ter­race. “I have a bell I can ring to call them in. We have nearly 40 acres with the River Win­drush flow­ing through, so they can’t hear if I call. But we al­ways eat to­gether.” The rit­ual will prob­a­bly con­tinue when they move abroad and sell Gaunt House. Sav­ills (020 7016 3780) and Knight Frank (020 7861 1114) are ask­ing £6.25m, which also in­cludes two cot­tages, a pool, ten­nis court and pad­docks. True chefs al­ways make their kitchen a top pri­or­ity. In Pauline Bow’s kitchen in Great Ch­ester­ford, near Cam­bridge, the La Cor­nue pro­fes­sional kitchen range looms like a parked train. It has gas and elec­tric ovens, a plate-warm­ing drawer, a grid­dle made of siz­zling lava rock, and four gas burn­ers. The brand is known as the big beast of the kitchen. It is large enough to take suck­ling pig. Cus­tomers in­clude Kylie Minogue, Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni and Brad Pitt. Chi­nese cook­ing is Pauline’s thing – she owns The Phoenix restau­rant in Cam­bridge – so she reg­u­larly re­moves two rings from her La Cor­nue and low­ers in a heavy wok to stir-fry beef for large num­bers. “My kitchen range is very ex­clu­sive, very strong, very good,” she says. “The gas oven is good for faster cook­ing, the elec­tric is steady and mel­low and good for bak­ing. “My kitchen cost £80,000, in­clud­ing the Sub-Zero fridge and ice-mak­ing ma­chine, the mi­crowave, the cof­fee maker, the steam oven. It is worth it be­cause it is for­ever, and here for who­ever buys it.” The kitchen is a mod­ern coun­ter­point for Oc­to­ber House, also in Great Ch­ester­ford, which is a beau­ti­fully re­stored Ge­or­gian house with five bed­rooms, a twobed­room coach house, work­shop, land­scaped gar­dens and pond filled with koi carp. Bid­wells (01799 516688) is sell­ing at £2.25m and only se­ri­ous cooks need ap­ply.

Earn­ing their stripes: the Rogan fam­ily and their cir­cus-coloured kitchen

Oli­garch style: South End, in Lon­don’s Kens­ing­ton, has un­der­ground lev­els that house a cin­ema, a pool that can be turned into a dance floor, and a kitchen with five ovens, four fridges and three dish­wash­ers. It is on the mar­ket for £13.75m

Old and new: the beau­ti­fully re­stored Ge­or­gian Oc­to­ber House in Great Ch­ester­ford has land­scaped gar­dens and koi carp. The kitchen cost £80,000 and comes with all the high-end trim­mings. The house is for sale for £2.25 mil­lion through Bid­wells

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