Twitter Linkedin Facebook Pinterest Newsletter

Posts Tagged ‘Dorset Designer Kitchen’

Case Study – ‘Fire & Water’ Kitchen

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Our ‘Case Studies’ are an opportunity to take a more in depth look at projects from a design perspective…

Our latest kitchen is our most spectacular and complex yet; it has two islands, a drum walk-in larder, stunning elm, burr elm and walnut timbers, a rare and beautiful stone worktop, and if it’s all too much to take in you can take a seat on one of our bespoke stools at the island bar and open up the incredible drinks cabinet.

Watch the film that follows the ‘Fire & Water’ project from start to finish; from making in the workshop through the on-site fitting to the completion of a kitchen masterpiece.

Well-known kitchen industry writer Gramhame Morrison’s take on the film…“All of detail that goes into this outstanding kitchen is captured in the Fire & Water video. While it is possible albeit extremely unlikely that you may see a better kitchen in 2016 (and don’t forget that this is a real kitchen in a real home), you ain’t gonna see a better video.” For the full review click here.

When Simon was approached by a potential new client to design a kitchen for his substantial new-build home near the South coast, the brief was a dream: ‘to come up with something really different” for what is an enormous space by most domestic standards. Sounds simple and straight forward and with lots of space to play with it seemed the only boundaries were in Simon’s own imagination. However, to design a kitchen which is practical and beautiful as well as unusual is much harder than it sounds.

Having this much space is a luxury but it needs to be managed skilfully if it is to be put to its best use. A single island in the centre of a large space can easily end up being too big to be practical – what use is an island if you can’t reach the centre of it, or if it feels like you to walk a marathon in the preparation of even the simplest of meals? Conversely, to put all the aspects of the kitchen against the walls would be to create a barn-like space with no atmosphere or ambience and is wholly impractical. Other designers had been in and come up with just that, a single large square island and a wall of floor to ceiling cabinetry containing most of the appliance. Nothing wrong it that, but the clients were looking for a more creative solution.

The answer, it turns out, is simple – two islands; practical, beautiful and unusual. Creating two islands which complement each other and work in harmony with the rest of the kitchen was the next challenge and it was the third or fourth attempt at drawing them which was to whet the client’s appetite. Inspired by the concept of Yin and Yang, the design grew from the separation of the two key elements required in the preparation of food – fire for cooking and water for cleansing.

The islands run at an unusual 30 degree angle to the back oven wall. Opening out and creating a clear route to the glazed ‘orangery’ living space via the drinks cabinet and island seating. It was always conceived as a very open and sociable space, allowing the activities of work and conversation to happen very naturally.

There is also a nautical ‘boat’ feel to the shapes of the islands, emphasised by the dropped ceiling canopy which floats over the centre echoing the forms and looking like it’s heading out to sea; very apt considering the location on the South coast and the client’s interests. The elm trim around the canopy helps that illusion of floating, especially in the evenings with the gentle wash of warm led lights in the alcove above.

In this big space it’s hard to get the sense of scale; the ‘Water Island’ alone is nearly four and half metres long. Along its straight, inner edge, it contains all the water services: sink, hot water tap, integrated dishwasher and waste disposal unit, as well as plenty of practical kitchen storage, drawers and even some specially designed bespoke trays. The outer curved side incorporates a feature burr sideboard with cupboard storage as well as cutlery and crockery drawers, effectively serving the kitchen dining table.

The ‘Fire Island’ is shorter because of the angle it sits to the back wall. It contains pan drawers, general storage, the all important induction hob flush, to the granite worktop, as well as the cantilevered raised bar area to seat two. There is no wasted space anywhere in this kitchen, every centimetre is efficiently put to use.

Although it is the islands and canopy that immeditely grab the visual attention, the backdrop of the oven, coffee, fridge-freezer and larder wall units gives balance to the space behind. We were determined to make this run of wall units full of appliances exciting to look at with varying elevation depths, lit recesses, curves and different height cornices.

The run starts on the left with the feature curved drum larder unit. It’s a real ‘tardis’ inside those big burr elm doors. As they are opened, the internal LED lights come on to reveal vast amounts of storage on shelves and in deep drawers. There are also adjustable racks on the backs of the curved doors for more bottles, jars and spices. All the dry non-perishable, food items are in one place at the heart of the kitchen.

The central element of this run contains all the ovens, large pan drawers, the coffee machine and a deep, lit alcove and work-surface to line up the coffee cups or put a hot roasting tin straight from the oven. Added interest is created by arranging the Miele appliances in an ‘L-shape’ configuration.

To the right of this wall run is the fridge and freezer cabinet. There is only so much you can do with the fridges and freezers; they are big ‘lumps’ to be blunt. We did what we could to soften the hard shape of integrated Gaggeneau units adding detail with the scalloped walnut door handles in horizontal elm panels.

The wine cooler which stands to the right of the main double doors into the kitchen is also a top of the range Gaggeneau. Like Miele it is a beautifully made and engineered German appliance that doesn’t disappoint. The wine fridge again is integrated into our cabinetry. Its bulk is visually softened by the glass door and our treatment of the cabinet, but it is still an imposing piece in the corner of the room. We had space to incorporate a rack for 2 further cases of wine. After all, you can never have too much wine storage!

We have used the burr elm on the 3 feature pieces in the room – the sideboard element in the ‘Water’ island, on the drum larder and finally on the large display and drinks cabinet. This is a real ‘piece of furniture’, a big statement piece which in the large space looks well proportioned. It contains a beer and mixers fridge in the bottom section, lit glass display sections to either side, and the main drinks cabinet behind curved sliding tambour doors in the top middle section. We all love this piece because it is quirky, striking to look at, but also technically a challenge to make.

It’s just a step away from the raised bar on the ‘Fire’ island where you can perch on one of our ‘Guinness & Murphy’ stools and talk to people while they work in the kitchen. We have produced lots of bars, cabinets and drinks related furniture over the years, in fact there is an article here on the STP blog dedicated to it!

The final element is the kitchen dining area. We made a set of 6 ‘Gabriel’ chairs with seats covered in lovely woven purple and gold fabric which beautifully sets off the elm and walnut. We made the table top in hand cut radiating elm veneers; very simple but stunning when combined with the fluted café style metal base. This, along with the foot frames of the stools, was bespoke bronze plated, and they all look incredible.

This was very much a whole room solution rather than just a kitchen. It is designed to echo with the client’s lifestyle, interests and needs, with the social aspects as important as the practical working needs of a kitchen.

Our clients are completely delighted with the project. During the photo shoot one of them said to me, “We love our kitchen, is so beautiful and yet so practical.” As designers and makers of very bespoke kitchens we know we’ve done our job when we hear that. The best kitchens come out of a successful collaboration between client and designer. That takes time and effort, but it will be worth it!

If you’d like to talk to Simon about a kitchen project please get in contact, initial conversations and ideas cost nothing. For more of our kitchen case studies click here.

All images taken by Double Exposure Photographic / Video work by Watershed PR

Latest Kitchen Project Takes Shape

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Our latest luxury bespoke kitchen is taking shape in a new build house in the leafy streets of Branksome Park, Poole. It is our biggest kitchen project to date with two islands, a wall of 5 ovens with matching coffee machine, a huge walk-in drum larder and everything else you could ever dream of a kitchen needing – this has it covered! We recently spent two weeks fitting the kitchen, and although it’s not completely finished yet we thought you’d might enjoy this time-lapse video of those 2 weeks compressed into 47 seconds!

If Chopin lulls you into thinking fitting looks like an easy and relaxed affair I can assure you it never is, but this one went well. We are back in during the early part of 2015 to do all the finishing touches once all the other trades have left site. Then we can hand over to the clients who are delighted and keen to be in. There is a full feature length video that follows this project from start to finish. It will show much more of the making side as well as the completed kitchen in all its glory. Expect that in spring 2015.

In the meantime, here’s another little taster video of me doing a walk and talk though the oven wall, larder and fridges. Oh yes – and the wine fridge!

Around the Workshop – Autumn Arrives

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The workshop has had just one focus and one project since August – our English walnut and sycamore kitchen which is bound for the outskirts of Bath. In that time the seasons have changed from Summer to Autumn and I don’t feel I’ve even looked up.

The deadline was always tight and by the time we landed this fabulous commission we were already starting 3 weeks late, time we hoped to make up during the 8 weeks of making. The kitchen is part of a complex refurb of a stunning Georgian House, so timing and schedules really can’t be stretched without all sorts of knock on effects.

If you saw the last ‘Around the Workshop’ post you will have read the ups and downs (mostly downs) of using English walnut. Sure enough most of that has come to pass – I love this stuff but the firewood pile has consistantly been 3 times bigger than the component pile. So we have had to go out and find more, that’s never easy at the best of times. Luckily i’d been speaking to contacts in the business just in case we did run low, so I called in some favours and parted with more cash.

Although the outer doors and surfaces are all English walnut, the internal carcasses and frames are all made of solid sycamore, another favourite wood of mine. It’s great to be able to make all of a kitchen in solid native timbers, from a making point of view it’s the ultimate challenge, something we could all really enjoy getting stuck into. As always my design work incorporated lots of curves so that adds to the making challenge.

Curves also mean we have had to cut our own ‘saw-cut’ veneers so they match the solid straight components. Essentially we make a our curved doors by slicing up pieces of thick timber into veneers through the bandsaw, (around ten 2mm pieces out of 2 inch stock.) We then re-glue them over a curved mould. It makes an incredibly strong, light door but it is time-consuming, particularly if you have lots of different radius curves to make. It’s another thing we have become very good at – but it has been made a lot easier with the big dimension sander. The design detail on all the doors and drawers has a 3mm shadow gap around the framed centre panel. Its a bit of a play on a traditional frame and panel door, but as always we are playing with subtle twists – using traditional form and proportion in a very contemporary way. It’s not minimal, instead we are trying to bring the best out of this wonderful timber.

It’s been a bit of a baptism of fire for Connor our new apprentice, straight in at the deep end, but he’s done well. When the pressure is on like this we probably don’t have as much time as we like to talk him through stuff and put each process in context. As a result he has ended up doing things that make no sense at all until a couple of days later. I’m always saying to him and other people we have trained over the years, that a critical part of being a good maker is the ability to be thinking about a dozen processes ahead of what you are doing now. That comes as second nature to John, Mike and I (most of the time), but for someone out of a school environment used to being taught in a systematic way to pass an exam, that’s a giant leap. The great thing is you can see those eureka moments on Connor’s face when it all falls into place. Or perhaps it’s a sense of relief that the people he’s working for aren’t mad after all!

We have already part fitted some of this kitchen, partly because the lead time between granite templating and fitting was so long. So two weeks ago we got all the base cabinets in ready for templating. We are back on site next week to fit wall units and the island. That will coincide with the granite fitting. We still have one or two elements to finish after that, the main one being the free standing cabinet for recycling bins. Again, rather a nice piece in English walnut and sycamore for this unglamourous job. That will be complete by the end of the month and see a conclusion to this project.

We have loved making it, but I’m sure it will run over time. We have also been working long hours, including weekends, and are all knackered. So for us and the clients its conclusion can’t come soon enough. We have been filming the making and fitting of this project so there will be some video in a month or two, as well as the usual still images. Mind you I’ve not photographed the last kitchen we finished yet! It will be like buses – all at once.

I’ll blog some more images at the end of next week, by which time it should look much more like a finished kitchen.

Case Study – North Dorset Kitchen Project

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Our ‘Case Studies’ are an opportunity to take a more in depth look at projects from a design perspective…

Well I’ve been talking about this kitchen almost as long as I’ve been writing the blog, so it’s lovely to finally be able to show it off properly. A job like this isn’t complete in my mind until the photographers have been in and done their stuff. I say it’s a ‘kitchen’ but it spun on into major office and bar area projects as well, taking just about every hour over an 18 month period. It does look great though. Let me take you for a walk through…

This is what you see as you enter from the dining hall, that sounds a bit grand but it does feel like one of those medieval hall buildings, just on a more intimate scale. The clients also commissioned friends of mine Zoe Cull and Alex Evans of Stoneform to make a magnificent fire surround in that room as well. As a house it’s hard to place period wise, it feels very arts and crafts from the outside, bits of it are very old cob construction, while much of it was a 1980’s addition. The kitchen is an entirely new build element along with a new master bedroom and a pretty major reworking of the upstairs spaces. The work done ties it all together, but as a house it retains a quirky, idosyncratic and homely feel.

So back to the kitchen; the brief was simple; the heart of a family home – to socialise, chill, eat and be merry. It had to be beautiful but practical, modern but sensitive to the architecture, have great gadgets but only those that would get used, but most of all, have that ‘wow’ factor.

Needless to say, it’s that island, built round an Aga that is the first feature that hits you. Lots of storage in doors and drawers, as well as a breakfast bar to seat 4. It has three soft ‘D’-end cupboards which helps aid flow around the room (both visual and physical). The sharp eyed may notice something odd about the Aga – no flu pipe breaking out the back disapearing through the ceiling. It’s one of the new generation of Electric AIMS Agas and we were able to hide the flu under the floor to an outside extractor. It puts the Aga in a very different context to how you normally see them, hard up against a wall or in a chimney alcove.

The island contains slide-out spice and oil racks, a prep sink with pull-out hose tap and an induction hob, which for most of the time is covered by a sliding chopping board. The hob is a back up in case the two hot plates on the Aga are in use.

OK, we can’t ignore it any longer, the ’small’ pink fridge thing… Actually it is quite big and technically it’s ‘rose’ coloured. Made by Meneghini it oozes Italian retro style with those big chunky handles. Getting the cheese out becomes an event like opening a bank vault. As well as the fridge and a freezer there is also a wine cooler within. It’s what you might call a statement piece, but it’s also great fun and acts as a counter-balance to the darker tones and colours in the room.

The timbers used on most of the cabinetry was a specialy selected black walnut. I was looking for something that had character, but not so much it became distracting. It runs horizontally and is ’slip’ matched (without being turned), rather than the more traditional book-matched method. We also used a couple of dyed Itailian ‘Tabu’ veneers – a very simple black for the handle details and kick-boards, and a rather more vibrant pink ripple sycamore. But more of that later…

It is also worth mentioning the beautiful and unusual granite called ‘Meteorus’. I’m not sure any of these shots do it justice, close up it is black, grey and silver with layers of what look like bamboo shaped leaves cris-crossing. To top it off there are cherry red berry shaped flecks throughout. It’s like on of those Japanese screen paintings made by some Zen master with a sweep of a brush stroke. Stunning!

Before we move away from the granite I should also mention the double sink, made from that same material, a bespoke piece made by Stone Circle. That sink has two taps on it, one of which is a Quooker instant boiling water tap, making the kettle all but redundant.

If we keep walking round we get to the curved units at the back of the room. The two outer corner cabinets contain general storage, the dishwasher and the large crockery storage drawers. In the centre is one of the feature pieces of the kitchen, a tambour fronted sideboard. I love throwing in items that break up that fitted look, pieces that visually and in this case, actually, stand alone. The tambour uses the flat black veneer but reveals that bright pink ripple sycamore within when the doors are slid open. It’s like a beautiful tailored jacket lining.

In between two pairs of double doors that lead out to a patio with views of the North Dorset countryside, is another ‘piece’ of furniture – this one a modern twist on the kitchen dresser. It is actually my favourite element, perhaps because its proportions work so well, or maybe its the isolated stand-alone simplicity that appeals to me. As for function, well apart from displaying stuff on the shelves its role is to house all the breakfast items, including the all important Nespresso coffee machine. The narrow drawer is designed to store those enticing little coloured capsules in perfect order. Arranging them became a mild obsession during the photoshoot. I thought I was over it until I saw the images again! The dresser is located closest to the breakfast bar on the island. I’ve rarely gone into the house without seeing one of the family sitting there, breakfast time or not.

So we are heading back out of the room – but what’s that huge shinny black thing! Well, it’s the larder actually, full height and the best part of 4 metres long. The two outer sections are kind of walk in, at least they feel that way once the doors are open. The centre one contains the microwave and bread maker with the pan drawers below. In the outer two there is space for a generous wine rack, vegetable drawers, a granite work-surface and more storage than a UN warehouse. You get the picture. The clients wanted somewhere they could hide ALL the kitchen clutter.

The gloss black is a lacquered surface, which although dark is highly reflective. We used the same pink ripple sycamore within the handle scollops as a bit of a giveaway to what was inside. As you open the doors the lights come on to reveal the vibrant pink glow inside. A real contrast to the minimal exterior.

Turning round and looking at what we have achieved here does give me a real buzz. You get that initial ‘wow’, but it’s also all those great little details, many of which only we and the clients know about that make this kitchen so unique. It’s a room full of great furniture that happens to also be a practical kitchen, but perhaps most importantly an everyday living space.

I have to thank Kim and Peter for being brave enough to commission something so different. Of course any room like this is a collaboration of ideas between designer and client, but it takes a mutual trust for it to work out as well as this project.

We still have the office and bar area to look at which are located in a converted barn just next to the house. These projects are featured in their own case study which can be found by clicking here.

If you’d like to talk to Simon about a kitchen project please get in contact, initial conversations and ideas cost nothing. For more of our kitchen case studies click here.

All images taken by Double Exposure Photographic