It can be all too easy to prioritise looks over function – or vice versa – and end up with a kitchen that is inherently a compromise. Striking the right balance between the two was vital in this home. The brief was to create a kitchen that suited the clients’ lifestyle: one half of the couple likes to cook and entertain so the prep area and cooking layout had to be perfect, while the other is more interested in the aesthetics of the design.
Tasked with delivering a design for the space was Hub Kitchens of Battersea, South London. Co-Founder Daniele Brutto said: “We made sure they had the ovens at eye height as the client is quite tall and we placed the pull out larder unit very central to the kitchen so herbs, spices and ingredients were all easily accessible when cooking.”
Open shelving was used near the cooking area so cook books could be stored to hand. And to complete the design of shelving, they were mimicked at the rear of the island and to the right of the kitchen in the extensions alcove. Large pan drawers underneath the hob were added for practical storage and a breakfast bar near the garden provides the perfect location for a morning coffee.
“The open shelving was a major factor in helping shape the design,” said Brutto. “We wanted to create a long linear look that extended into the garden as in the summer, both of the homeowners like to spend a lot of time there. Using a dark timber veneer gave the shelves real presence, while keeping them thin made sure they remained elegant.”
The look is undoubtedly super contemporary and modernist but with a mixture of materials to help ground the design and soften the aesthetic. “We wanted to seamlessly merge the materials in the same way the inside outside space merged together. The smooth transition of the veneers from open shelving to breakfast bar and then into the Corian worktop helped this look.”
The choice of materials throughout was key to the success of the project. Dark Oak veneer shelves where used to give the kitchen a focal point and to help give the design a cohesive look. Corian was used for the worktop and splashback due to its hardy nature but soft touch. Brutto added: “Corian enabled us to go for the moulded look on the island with the veneered breakfast bar making the transition of materials more cohesive.”
The dark Grigio Graphite gloss lacquer was used as a backdrop for the other material to pop from, it makes the white in the kitchen really stark and contemporary. “We wanted the island to be about the shelving and breakfast bar so we chose Bianco Ghiaccio matt units to help blend with the Corian finish giving the shelving centre stage.” Brutto said: “The client liked our idea to go with a pop of colour with the bar stools so chose the bright yellow items.”
The kitchen units are from Italian brand Record Cucine using the Ainoa range of units which are handleless with Blum soft close drawers and hinges. The shelving system at the rear of the island was completely bespoke in construction to allow for the combination of veneered shelves and Corian worktop.
The white kitchen units are matt lacquered and the colour is Bianco Ghiaccio while the dark grey kitchen units are gloss lacquered in Grigio Ghisa.
Lighting was another important part of this design. The client did not want the standard ceiling downlighting scheme found in most new extensions. Mood lighting was very important for the client but task lighting over the worktops also had to used. The pendent lights over the island give a nice warm glow at night while also being bright enough to light the worktop when in use. The pendent warm brown glass also works nicely with the warm tones of the timber veneer in the rest of the kitchen.
Flush recessed LED lighting was used under the kitchen cabinets and the floating shelves to make sure there was enough light over the hard prep areas of the kitchen. This continual strip light also gives a nice warm glow at night should the client wish to keep them on while not working in the kitchen. A recessed ceiling LED downlight was used directly above the dining table, making it very discrete but giving this area plenty of light.
Ultimately, the challenge was to create a look that both the clients would like. Although they were close in their views of how the space should look, they were not completely convinced that they wanted the ultra-modern look. Incorporating the different materials into the design helped bridge this gap between the two of them.
Brutto added: “Making the kitchen not only function perfectly but look great can be tricky in a space of this size and layout. I had to understand how they lived and used their space before I could create a design that would appeal to them. Once I understood both of their priorities, the design started to take shape from a simple multipurpose island starting point. From there, the challenge was to make this island both functional and ergonomic while seamlessly beautiful.”
Of the various components, Brutto picks out a couple of stand-outs: “I love the island and shelving design, the way it seamlessly merges from Corian to Veneer gives the kitchen a real transitional design from hard working kitchen to living area.
“Making something look simple can be very difficult to achieve, so although hours of design work went into the shelving unit on the rear of the island, it looks very simple and clean despite all the elements behind its design. I’m also pleased my final design looks very different to their original layout that they sent to me before I started to design. It’s nice to have a client trust your ability to design a great kitchen for their needs.”Hub Kitchens | hubkitchens.com