The bespoke kitchens I design draw their inspiration from the traditional farmhouse and country house kitchen. The status of the kitchen in the mid to late 20th century has been elevated from below stairs to the heart of the home. As it is the owner of the house who works in the kitchen (as opposed to staff in the past), the architectural detailing can also be elevated. This creates the opportunity to treat the kitchen with the same respect as one would a library, utilising the wider vocabulary of classical and traditional architecture.
A kitchen has to function very efficiently. The ideal kitchen today for a single operative is a galley kitchen where there is not more than one step to reach different surfaces and machines. In a large room, with the farmhouse layout of a central table with a range and dresser on the perimeter, it is important to separate the snacking requirements from the production of a main meal. Once that separation has been created, you can have the efficiency of the galley kitchen in the production area, without the snackers and tea-makers interfering with the ‘chef d’oeuvre’.
The snacking area is the area where people come to make a cup of tea or toast, sitting chatting to the cook, thereby needing easy access to cups and saucers, bread and butter, and a kettle. the central table is effectively an island unit which separates the snacking side from the cooking and preparation side. The positioning of the sink in the central table enables access from the snacking side (to fill a kettle) or from the cook’s side to wash or fill a pan and prepare and wash food. The range unit can be a central Aga or a gas hob and oven below with preparation areas each side of it, with storage below for the items which are immediately required for cooking.
A key part of designing kitchens (and other rooms too) is the clever use of space to maximise storage and utility. One of the things I enjoy most about being a designer is finding ways of disguising functional spaces. In a kitchen, space is at a premium and so what appears to be a column can in fact be a deep storage drawer, or a set of drawers can turn out to be a fridge.