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Posts Tagged ‘Poole Interior Design’

Case Study – Elm and Quilted Maple Kitchen, Poole

Friday, October 19th, 2012

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

My blog started in 2009, so there are major projects we completed before then which have not been featured as ‘Case Studies’ that we are very proud of, this is another one of those.

I first meet Richard and Alison during Dorset Art Weeks 2006 when they visited my old studios at Slepe. Since then we have continued to design interiors and furniture for their home in Poole, and have more planned for 2013. Sometimes you meet potential clients and you know (well think you know) that things are going to work well, both from a design perspective and a personal one. Over the 15 years my business has been running I’ve been lucky to have worked for some great clients, many of whom have become good friends. Richard and Alison would certainly count among them.

The property is a classic red brick Edwardian house with lots of original features, lovely proportions and a very high build quality. They wanted to add an extension at the back of the house that was in character, but also bridged the outdoor space with a new kitchen / living area – a space where they and their children would spend much of their time. Of course they had seen previous spaces we had designed – in particular the Surrey walnut and elm kitchen (featured in a previous case study) and loved the use of soft curves which help the space flow and create visual drama.

Within the kitchen space we also had a walk-in larder to incorporate and a dining table and chairs to design, so plenty to keep us busy! The start point for me is always to understand how a family live and interact, how they cook, what they cook, how they socialise (my clients always do!) and how they envisage this might change over time. It’s a detailed interogation, but the more I can get from a client at this stage the more longevity this crucial living space will have. Understanding the clients leads to good spacial design ideas.

They responded very positively to the more exciting ideas like building a huge curved wall across the room to house the fridge and ovens, but also hide the larder behind. They also loved the fact we had created so many storage ideas like the sideboard / drinks cabinet, curved glass glazed units and the protruding eliptical work-surface and cabinet below. Alison also wanted an island with lots of storage, worktop, bar seating, and all the wet services in. There is lots going on in this space but I think we somehow succeeded in making it work and perhaps more importantly look uncluttered and sophisticated.

Materials wise – they were happy to be brave with colour, texture and timber choice. The palette runs from mazur birch and quilted maple on the lighter scale – seen working together most effectively on that curved fridge wall. Then as the mid range tone we used red elm, most obviously on the island. The ‘feature’ doors were in a dark burr elm which also had a hint of redness. This was deliberate and echoed the red of the Aga and other objects in the room. We often use a strong colour to break the brown mid tones of the woods which can get a bit mono-tonal, especially if used with subtle wall paints and flooring as in this case.

There is lots of curved surface in the kitchen, in fact there is not much that’s straight. I’m certainly not a designer that could be described as ‘minimal’- but there are plenty of others pursuing that crown of dullness. We have become experts in creating those timber curved doors and drawers over the years. We also utilised curved glass on many of the display cabinets, not a cheap option and not very forgiving either. If you get a radius slightly wrong – you can tweak timber, but you can’t tweak glass. We also used a black laminated glass top for the island bar top after lots of discussion about the right material. All the other worktops are a lovely Madura Gold granite, with lots of subtle colour and character.

I love the fact this space is so exhuberant – full of touches that are not neccesary, and yes – they do add expense. Yet it’s those elements like the gently curved fridge wall with the hidden door into the larder space (insanely difficult to make by the way) and the rounded display shelves at the end of that run that are my favorite.

Other favorite bits – I love those bespoke handles on the feature doors, designed by us; we used a small engineering company for the stainless work. There is a real pleasure in finding other people who want to deliver the same attention to detail in another material. IP Engineering are a tiny outfit but they love a challenge! The other handles weren’t exactly ‘off the peg’ either, they came from one of my favorite metalworkers called Ged Kennett who makes wonderful stuff in all sorts of metals.

Earlier this year we redesigned the utility area in the room behind to match the materials in the kitchen and maximise storage. In doing this I spent a lot of time in the house again and realised just how much I like this kitchen. It’s five years old now but still looks as fresh as the day we walked out after fitting. That’s partly because my kitchens are not fashionable: I see each one and the clients that will use them as a unique design challenge which demand a completely new solution.

I’ll leave you with my favorite view as you walk into the kitchen…

The kitchen was designed by me but made at Halstock Cabinet Makers, whom I worked very closely with for many years. At the time my own workshops were too small to do this kind of work, something we resolved in 2007 by moving to our new workshops at Briantspuddle, Dorset. We now design and make all our kitchens and interior projects ‘in-house’.

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