Zoned to perfection

How one families individual needs have created a kitchen that balances the requirements of cook, host and busy home life.

House hunters everywhere know the feeling all too well; finding the perfect property but with one big compromise, the kitchen is too small. So when one family in South East Warwickshire fell in love with a beautiful 18th Century cottage, they knew the only way to make it their dream home would be to create it themselves. By extending the rear of the property, they have achieved a beautiful juxtaposition between a 250 year old cottage and the bright, spacious kitchen they had always dreamed of.

“We wanted a really social party kitchen that also worked as a professional catering space. We enjoy having friends over for dinner, and have a busy family life too.”

For the kitchen to work on all counts, careful zoning was key. Four carefully defined areas allow chef, family and guests to enjoy the kitchen equally without getting in each others way. Centrally located is the fridge, for everyone to reach without crossing paths; it’s the neutral equivalent of Switzerland in kitchen zoning territory!

The preparation area is situated beneath the flood of light that descends from the ceiling atrium window, and with a dedicated prep sink and easy access to the oven and hob, there is plenty of working space and cavernous storage ensuring everything is close at hand.

“I think that’s what I wanted most, space and light. The old kitchen was so small and dark and there was no work space or storage so everything was out all the time. Now the only thing that’s out is my pink Kitchen Aid, which I love. Slowly I was allowed pink accents like the pink splash back and although it’s not a really girly pink, if I change my mind in a few years, I can easily change it.”

The wet zone houses the dishwasher and sink, providing an area for dirty dishes to be placed out of sight from the dining area.

Along the entire end wall is the breakfast and drinks zone with coffee machine and toaster balanced by the wine fridge and drinks area either side of the American Fridge freezer, where varying levels and contrasting materials create design interest. “They did a brilliant job on the drinks and breakfast bank. I think it’s the best part of the kitchen but probably gave everybody the biggest headache owing to the varying measurements between builders and architects whilst the extension was being built. In any project like this, issues will arise, but there wasn’t ever a time when BWD said no, they always managed to get around things.”

So much of the kitchen has been designed with attention to detail to suit the families needs; tall cupboards in the drinks zone to specifically house champagne flutes, purpose built shelves so the cook books are always to hand but not cluttered, and the conveniently placed ‘dogs’ cupboard to put things away as soon as you walk in through the door.

The newly extended kitchen space opens effortlessly into the garden, with parliament hinges on the external doors to allow them to fold all the way back open, and side windows which bring in a lot of borrowed light.

Having discovered the Bower Willis Showroom when driving through Shipston, the couple had immediately liked what they saw inside. “With something like this, and for me because the kitchen is so important and because I like to cook, if we hadn’t got on, it wouldn’t have gone any further, no matter what ideas they’d come up with. Straight away, they got what I wanted and were very efficient with everything that came back.”

Knowing they wanted a feeling of space and light, the exploratory design process evolved naturally with the introduction of different colours and textures.

Design technology played an invaluable role in the design process too, enabling the homeowners to virtually ‘stand’ in different parts of the room and see what the kitchen would look like. The software uses the exact kitchen furniture, not just generic units, so it’s incredibly accurate on space, colour and finish. From a two dimensional plan to a three dimensional space, they could really envision how it was going to look and feel. This was particularly pertinent with the island, which changed shape a number of times to achieve enough setting space to be sociable, without compromising the flow of the room or creating an awkward pinch point.

“It was amazing. Because the extension had not yet been built, it was difficult to get an idea of space. But being able to see Angela’s ideas plot through on the software, we could actually stand in the room and work out what worked best. Every time there was a change in design, they’d send the designs through and we could see the difference.”

In terms of colour, the kitchen uses neutral flint coloured units framed in contrasting Walnut, with Walnut end panels and drawers. “The Flint panels look different depending on the time of day, or whether natural or electric light. The colour can go from a beige grey right through to almost a putty colour which works really well with the darker wood.”

The relationship between client and designer was further enhanced by a shared love of cooking. “It makes a difference, when you speak the same language and can communicate exactly what you need, by knowing exactly how you want to use your space. Because we had so little space before, I knew exactly what I wanted in the new kitchen and Angela got what I was talking about. A lot of kitchen companies can absolutely have the design qualification but in a practical sense, to have people in your kitchen who know what it’s like to be cooking and living in it, it is a different thing. There’s an extra level of understanding on how the room will be used.”

“I still come down each morning and feel ‘wowed’ by it. If anything, I’d say the only downside is that we don’t use the rest of the house much anymore!”

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