Dream kitchens

Re­design­ing the kitchen is one of the most im­por­tant projects you will un­der­take, yet cre­at­ing the de­sired look for a pe­riod prop­erty while mak­ing it prac­ti­cal is a del­i­cate bal­ance. Get it right with PL’S com­plete guide

Period Living - - Contents -

Find the lat­est trends and ad­vice to cre­ate the per­fect hub for cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing

Peo­ple can spend years fan­ta­sis­ing about a new kitchen, imag­in­ing what it will look like and how it will be laid out. Added to the fact that it is one of the most ex­pen­sive home im­prove­ment projects, and there can be a huge amount of ex­pec­ta­tion sur­round­ing the end re­sult. Yet, all homes and bud­gets have their lim­i­ta­tions, and pe­riod prop­er­ties of­ten present chal­lenges that newer builds do not, so to en­sure your grand ideas come to fruition, you need to en­sure your pro­ject is ex­pertly planned out.

Where to start

Be­gin by ac­cu­rately mea­sur­ing the space and tak­ing note of any po­ten­tial ob­sta­cles, such as ex­posed pipework, a fuse box, ver­ti­cal tim­bers or a chim­ney breast. Some is­sues are eas­ily fix­able, while oth­ers will re­quire a cre­ative so­lu­tion. Draw up a scaled plan of the room and mark on it the po­si­tions of these ob­sta­cles as well as doors and win­dows, power points, and plumb­ing and gas con­nec­tions.

The next step is to com­pile a wish-list. As a start­ing point, think about what you do and don’t like about your ex­ist­ing kitchen, so you can avoid re­peat­ing mis­takes. Seek out as much vis­ual in­spi­ra­tion as pos­si­ble, and col­late the best pic­tures on a mood­board. In­clude not just big ideas, like ex­tend­ing the space or in­clud­ing a cen­tral is­land, but smaller de­tails like the type of iron­mon­gery you pre­fer, and what type of stor­age you need for cer­tain items. Fin­ish by or­gan­is­ing your pri­or­i­ties, high­light­ing the es­sen­tial el­e­ments. ➤

Armed with all this in­for­ma­tion, you can be­gin work­ing out what will be in­volved to achieve your vi­sion, and con­sult with de­sign­ers. You may be tempted to de­sign the kitchen your­self, but you will likely end up hap­pier with the fin­ished space if you con­sult with an ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional. A good de­signer will think of so­lu­tions you may not have con­sid­ered, spot po­ten­tial is­sues and help you to get the most out of your bud­get.

Many re­tail­ers of­fer a free de­sign ser­vice, but for a large-scale pro­ject, you should con­sider in­de­pen­dent kitchen or in­te­rior de­sign­ers.

Get­ting the space right

If your cur­rent kitchen isn’t big enough to in­clude ev­ery­thing you want, then you need to ei­ther con­sider space-sav­ing al­ter­na­tives, or look how to en­large the room. If the kitchen is lo­cated at the rear of the house, then a sin­gle-storey ex­ten­sion, with doors open­ing out to the gar­den, is a pop­u­lar so­lu­tion. It might also be an op­tion to re­move a non-load-bear­ing wall be­tween the kitchen and an ad­join­ing room to cre­ate an open-plan kitchendiner. As long as the house isn’t listed, both so­lu­tions are usu­ally pos­si­ble with­out plan­ning per­mis­sion – see plan­ning­por­tal.co.uk for de­tails.

De­sign­ing the lay­out

Think of how to lay out a kitchen, and the ‘work tri­an­gle’ – with the hob, sink and fridge po­si­tioned around the cook – springs to mind. While this is quite an old-fash­ioned con­cept, it serves as a use­ful re­minder that the key el­e­ments should be thought­fully sited for con­ve­nience while cook­ing.

These days, kitchens are de­signed to be so­cia­ble spa­ces where the whole fam­ily gather, and kitchen-din­ers are tak­ing the place of ded­i­cated din­ing rooms. If you have room for a cen­tral is­land or penin­sula, then not only are these per­fect in­for­mal eat­ing ar­eas, but can be­come the hub of the space, al­low­ing the cook to chat to oth­ers dur­ing food prep. They also help to break up the room’s lay­out, al­low­ing for sep­a­rate ‘zones’. Is­lands can be fit­ted with hobs or sinks, for the ul­ti­mate so­cial cook­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Don’t for­get to in­clude a pow­er­ful and quiet ex­trac­tor fan, as noth­ing will ruin a din­ner party more than smoky air or a loud fan whirring away in the back­ground.

If you hope to in­clude a sep­a­rate tall fridge and freezer, or Amer­i­can-style fridge-freezer, in the lay­out, con­sider con­ceal­ing these within one wall of full-height units, along­side a pantry cup­board. In­clud­ing one in­tense prac­ti­cal block is of­ten bet­ter than spread­ing each item around the room, as it al­lows other ar­eas to breathe and pre­vents the space from feel­ing crowded.

Which style for my home’s era?

A kitchen de­sign that is truly authen­tic to the pe­riod your home was built in is not a prac­ti­cal or de­sir­able op­tion in the 21st cen­tury. There­fore, the chal­lenge is to cre­ate a scheme that com­ple­ments ➤

the prop­erty’s ori­gins while be­ing user-friendly and of­fer­ing mod­ern func­tion­al­ity. This could be a min­i­mal­ist con­tem­po­rary de­sign that con­trasts with the rus­tic shell, or it could be a clas­sic scheme that in­cludes el­e­ments in­spired by the house’s era.

Tu­dor homes of­ten have wooden beams on show, and work beau­ti­fully with sim­ple, un­adorned cab­i­netry. Ide­ally this should be free­stand­ing, but if that’s not prac­ti­cal try to in­clude one or two free­stand­ing pieces, such as a pantry cup­board or dresser. If you al­ready have a lot of wood in the room, avoid un­painted tim­ber cab­i­nets, or it could feel over­bear­ing. In­stead, opt for painted cab­i­nets in a muted shade with oak work­tops and shelv­ing, or per­haps a tim­ber cen­tral is­land, to tie the room to­gether. Dark, matt iron­mon­gery tends to suit Tu­dor style well, but keep it sim­ple – cup or rus­tic pull han­dles are a good choice.

Ge­or­gian prop­er­ties of­ten com­ple­ment a clas­sic style of cab­i­netry, with or with­out adorn­ments depend­ing on your taste and the style of the house. Plain Shaker or raised and fielded panel doors are a good choice. To make the kitchen look grander, opt for an im­pres­sive man­tel shelf above the cooker, dec­o­ra­tive mould­ing de­tails such as cor­bels, painted cab­i­netry and mar­ble work­tops; or to keep it more down to earth, keep adorn­ments to a min­i­mum and mix and match painted and un­painted fin­ishes. Bronze iron­mon­gery will fin­ish it off per­fectly.

Vic­to­rian-in­spired kitchens might be pared­back de­signs in­spired by work­ing scul­leries with a large open dresser, but­ler’s sink, range cooker and an­tique cook’s ta­ble. On the other hand, some grander Vic­to­rian de­signs have higher lev­els of dec­o­ra­tion than Ge­or­gian styles, with painted cab­i­netry, elab­o­rate scrolls and cor­bels, den­til mould­ing and carved pi­lasters all fre­quent fea­tures. For an authen­tic Vic­to­rian touch, dis­play cop­per items such as jelly moulds and ket­tles, and hang a laun­dry maid over the range.

Be spoke or off the shelf?

The most de­sir­able type of kitchen is made up of solid hard­wood in-frame cab­i­netry (where the doors sit within the frame, like a tra­di­tional cup­board), made us­ing time-hon­oured meth­ods. Not only do they look in-keep­ing with a pe­riod home, but they can be tai­lor made for awk­ward spa­ces and wonky walls, and their de­sign can take their cue from orig­i­nal fea­tures in the prop­erty.

The down­side to a be­spoke solid wood kitchen is the cost, with prices tend­ing to start from £15,000 for fur­ni­ture only. Some com­pa­nies, such as Pineland, of­fer more af­ford­able al­ter­na­tives made of soft­wood, which are still made in the same way but may not be quite as hard­wear­ing. Prices start from around £4,000 for fur­ni­ture only.

MDF flat­pack units, where the doors are mounted onto the front, are the most com­mon op­tion and also the most cost-ef­fec­tive – although some bet­ter qual­ity ones are made from solid wood. You can­not fully recre­ate the look of an in-frame ➤

kitchen, but you can still cre­ate a clas­sic de­sign us­ing solid wood or Shaker-style moulded door fronts and dé­cor pan­els, as well as other dec­o­ra­tive el­e­ments. The units gen­er­ally come in a choice of stan­dard sizes and con­fig­u­ra­tions, with filler pan­els or ar­eas of open shelv­ing mak­ing up gaps when the siz­ing doesn’t per­fectly fit the space.

Stor­age so­lu­tions

The quan­tity and qual­ity of stor­age is one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors in the suc­cess of a kitchen de­sign, es­pe­cially in a small space. En­sure you max­imise ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and think about not just where to in­clude stor­age, but what you are ac­tu­ally go­ing to put in each cup­board or drawer, to en­sure you are in­clud­ing the right so­lu­tions in the right ar­eas. Deep draw­ers are of­ten bet­ter for stor­ing large items such as pans than cup­boards, and for cor­ner units a carousel or pull-out shelv­ing is in­valu­able. Con­sider in­clud­ing a be­spoke built-in larder cup­board, which can store the equiv­a­lent of sev­eral cab­i­nets and keep ev­ery­thing in one place.

Tempt­ing as it may be to cram the kitchen wall to wall with units, this can over­whelm the space, so make sure you also in­clude some open shelv­ing or plate racks to break it up.

Fin­ish­ing touches

De­tails such as work­tops, tiles, sinks and taps, and the ap­pli­ances, can make or break a kitchen, and el­e­vate the look of cheaper cab­i­netry. Choos­ing the right work­top ma­te­rial is im­por­tant; it needs to be durable and prac­ti­cal as well as good-look­ing. Solid wood, gran­ite are pop­u­lar op­tions, and can beau­ti­fully com­ple­ment each other when used to­gether – for ex­am­ple, a gran­ite is­land and wood ev­ery­where else. Also con­sider stone-look quartz.

Tiles vary hugely in price depend­ing on whether you are go­ing for a stylish but sim­ple op­tion, such as a metro de­sign, or char­ac­ter­ful hand­made tiles. You don’t have to fill ev­ery wall with tiles, and can in­stead opt for a state­ment de­sign over the cooker, for ex­am­ple, and use work­top up­stands else­where.

A Belfast or but­ler sink is the clas­sic choice for a pe­riod home, and re­stored re­claimed ver­sions, in par­tic­u­lar, are highly prized. If you want to make more of a state­ment, opt for a rus­tic cop­per sink.

There is a wide choice when it comes to taps. Swan-neck de­signs are prac­ti­cal and lend clas­sic el­e­gance. Bridge taps are more or­nate and work in char­ac­ter­ful schemes. Bib or pillar taps are less prac­ti­cal than mixer taps, but lend a sim­ple, retro look. Don’t be afraid to add a mod­ern twist to the kitchen with a strik­ing con­tem­po­rary de­sign, per­haps a sleek shape in a warm rose gold fin­ish.

Fi­nally, make sure your ap­pli­ances are inkeep­ing with the scheme. Range cook­ers are the real heart of the kitchen, and mod­ern de­signs are more prac­ti­cal then their pre­de­ces­sors. When it comes to fridge-freez­ers, the best op­tions are to hide them in cab­i­nets or opt for a state­ment de­sign, such as a retro-in­spired Smeg model.

Top: Dis­tressed and waxed oak cab­i­netry with hand­painted is­land and gran­ite work­tops. Be­spoke kitchens from £24,000, Ren­craftAbove: Hand­made cab­i­netry with curved de­tails and break­fast bar, painted in Far­row & Ball’s Mole’s Breath and fin­ished in oak and Car­rara mar­ble work­tops. From £35,000, Lewis Alder­sonAbove right: Be­spoke Ma­cas­sar kitchen with mir­rored in­lays, from £50,000, Small­bone of De­vizesRight: Larder with door-hung spice rack and tim­ber drawer fronts in nat­u­ral oak, £3,260, Bur­bidgeBelow: New Clas­sic cab­i­netry with an Amer­i­can black wal­nut is­land, from £35,000, Martin Moore

Above: Be­spoke cab­i­netry painted in Corn­forth White and Mole’sBreath by Far­row & Ball, with Car­rara mar­ble work­tops and foxed glass splash­back. Cab­i­netry is priced from £30,000 at Naked KitchensLeft: Be­spoke cab­i­netry with mdf car­casses and hard­wood doors, from £10,000, The Shaker Kitchen Com­panyBelow: The Chelsea kitchen mixes Shaker cab­i­netry in soft grey with an is­land in Far­row & Ball’s Rail­ings, and fea­tures a Car­rara quartz work­top and Siemens ap­pli­ances. From £35,000, The Wood WorksBot­tom: Ash­ton kitchen with a graphite open is­land unit paired with off cream and white painted units from the Painted Fu­sion col­lec­tion at Crown Im­pe­rial, from around £15,000

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