Open plan kitchen - rebuild and revise layout in Trilium and Concrete

How did you discover Bower Willis Designs?

I’d done internet searches and wandered along Wigmore Street in London to try and get some inspiration and ideas about the type of kitchen we wanted but I was keen to use a local company. I then did an internet search of local companies and BWD was stand out different. We wanted to go very modern and a lot of the other kitchens we saw from local companies were very traditional. So we went to see Angela and Jeremy who were very welcoming, completely professional and totally knew what they were talking about. From the very beginning I felt like I was in the hands of experts. We’d also been to see a couple of other kitchen companies but it was a totally different experience. Choosing Bower Willis Designs just felt right.

How did your kitchen project come about?

We’d been in the house for 4 years and wanted more space. We thought about moving house to somewhere that was already done so that we didn’t have to think about it, or to somewhere bigger that we could perhaps renovate . But in the end we really like our house, we love the position of it and we didn’t want to go, so we decided to just knock a few walls down…!

We’ve had so much work done internally to the house; it used to be two squares joined at the diagonal corners. What used to be the outside porch is now the hallway and we’ve used glass walls internally so that we can see the kitchen from all parts of the downstairs. We had a downstairs loo where the fridge is now and there was a range cooker that split the room, which was smaller than it is now and was further cut off by a half-wall to a small dining area. The staircase went in the opposite direction which created a weird corridor of dead space. It was just a very poor use of available space. The staircase and the kitchen were done at the same time. We chose ‘walnut’ for the stairs based on the walnut samples from the kitchen cupboards, hoping the wood colours would look ok together and we’re delighted that it’s such a close match.

How long did the process take?

I suppose it was about a year from conception to completion. We decided to go ahead at the end of the summer and then planning permission came through in April. We lined up builders and they came in July, so we moved out. But by January I’d had enough of living in hotels so we moved back in but we didn’t have a downstairs at all and only had makeshift stairs. There was so much building work that we hadn’t expected to do. For example, there was no solid floor so we had to put a floor in and wait for the slab to dry which took much longer than we’d thought. But it was totally worth it.

Did you have a clear idea on how you wanted the kitchen to look?

We had an initial idea in our head of what we wanted, but what we’ve ended up with is quite different. We’d spoken with another kitchen company and had been looking at high-gloss white drawers and a white marble matt worktop with folded over edges. We hadn’t gone for any wood or colour, it was very white. And as you can see, what we’ve got is totally the opposite. We loved the wood in the BWD showroom so that helped us to visualise how that would look, and then Angela showed me the concrete and I thought ‘that’s it’. It was brand new to the market and they’d never done it before but I knew I had to have it. Combined with the Dekton Trilium worktop, it was gorgeous. There’s so much light in the room, it can totally take the warmth of the materials.

What did you want to achieve with your new kitchen design?

At sociable times of the day I wanted to make sure we were altogether and whether someone was cooking or sitting down, they weren’t cut off and could still chat with the rest of the family. And it’s a real party house, dinner parties, big gatherings, it’s great. Everyone stands around the island chatting and socialising and then moves to the table to eat. You’re never away from your guests even when you’re cooking or preparing, and you’re never in a different room, wondering what you’re missing. It’s a more inclusive feeling for the guests too. I’ve always had a dream of this open plan living space where you have kitchen, dining, somewhere to sit, plus we can still close off the lounge if we want to.

Do you like to cook?

I do like to cook, even more so since the new kitchen. I don’t use it to the full extent that I could do yet but that’s a project for next year. But we love the BORA extractor, it’s fantastic and a real feature when people visit. It extracts to the outside of the house which I’m told can’t always happen in every house and that allows a 100% clean air rate. I’d been to one of the steam cookery demos at the BWD showroom and picked up a few tips; that’s what made us want the VZUG ovens, seeing them in action that night.

And it’s not just me, even my teenage daughter says it’s a lovely space to be in, to work in and eat in. My mum said the same thing too when she came to stay with friends, she said ‘we just loved cooking and talking in this great big space’. It feels like a holiday house, the floors are light and it’s bright outside. Summer was amazing with the glass doors out to the garden and the outside space. And it’s so easy to clean. It’s a very clean space. The Dekton is very low maintenance and you can put anything on it and it doesn’t damage, even straight from the oven or from the hob. At first we were a little bit wary but we don’t think twice about putting hot pans on it now.

Are there any decisions you’re particularly glad you made?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing. We’re so glad we did the island and we’re delighted with the size of it too; it’s wonderful when there’s lots of people standing around with coffee or at dinner with a glass of wine and a chat. We love the Dekton worktop and the Bora hob. And I love the wood and the different textures going on; there’s wood, concrete, stainless steel and porcelain tile floors. A concrete and stainless steel kitchen could feel quite cold and industrial but the rust colour within the worktop and the walnut panels give it real warmth. I’m glad we did it all. And I’m so glad that we’ve gone for this look rather than the white, lots of interior design magazines are showing this concrete and Trilium look at the moment and I would’ve regretted not having it.

How do you use the room throughout the day?

It depends whether it’s weekday or weekend, who’s here or visiting. Mornings are typically a quick breakfast or at the weekends we’ll maybe have a bacon sandwich or some eggs and stand around and chat about the day. We’ve put the casual armchairs facing out to the garden and that’s a lovely way to start the day, sitting with a cup of tea, looking outside. While the builders were here we decided to do the garden too. It used to have a long elevated deck reached by 3 or 4 steps which seemed to create a sort of psychological barrier so that we never used to go outside. Now it is all one level and we have indoor / outdoor slabs that carry the whole way through from the house to the garden. At dinner time it’s often me and my daughter, and when my husband is around we all prepare dinner together, pottering around and catching up on the day. Cooking doesn’t feel like a chore because we do it together. That’s what I wanted, one big open sociable space.

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