A timeless investment that’s sure to bring pleasure for years to come, a bespoke country-style kitchen is a style statement that’s rarely out of fashion…
Who can resist the charm of the country kitchen? This is a style that is all about warmth, welcome and good old-fashioned comfort – where the kitchen really is the heart of the home, wherever that home might be. Small or spacious, the country kitchen is always friendly, cosy and hospitable, as well as being practical and charmingly pretty.
Today’s country kitchen has its roots in the food storage, preparation and cooking areas of the great English houses. Open shelves and a larder cupboard, a dresser on which to display crockery, hanging racks and hooks for pots, pans and utensils, a trestle or refectory table, a deep ceramic sink and a traditional range cooker: none of these has changed much in centuries.
To create a functional modern kitchen while retaining these traditional values simply means finding a way to disguise modern time-saving gadgets, either behind doors or in a separate, adjoining room. And while some might argue that a true country kitchen consists of a collection of free-standing cupboards in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles, it is perfectly possible to create a country look using fitted units, as long as you ensure that they’re not overly unified.
Buying a new country-style kitchen can be as inexpensive – or as pricey – as you wish, but it does help if you ensure that what you’re buying is well-made and durable. It is easily possible to buy just a few, high-quality cupboards and make up the rest of your storage space with open shelves, racks and rails, and pieces such as a dresser, table or sideboard picked up at auction. Older itemswill have that knocked-about look that prevents a new kitchen from feeling overly slick and modern.
Buying for keeps
Fitting a country kitchen is definitely a safe bet in terms of investing in your property, says Simon Buhl Davis, head of Savills Interiors. ‘A hand-built wooden Shaker kitchen will have enduring appeal and stand the test of time,’ he says. ‘With the current economic situation people need all the comforting they can get, something warm and cosy, that Shaker ethic: simplicity, utility and quality. It’s a much safer option than putting in a modern kitchen that’s hot now, but that will look out of date in five years. If you are going to spend £20,000 on a kitchen, it’s always best to choose something that will last.’
KITCHENS UP TO £20,000
1. Front Framed – John Lewis of Hungerford
John Lewis of Hungerford has re-introduced its classic ‘front framed’ kitchen, with a maple wood frame, panelled doors and drawers with traditional dovetail joints. The chunky chimney shelf,
tongue-and-groove panelling and cup-shaped handles all add to the nostalgic look.
Prices for this ‘front framed’ kitchen start at £15,000.
2. Milton – Second Nature
Second Nature’s ‘Milton Sage’ kitchen features a traditional in-frame design and comes in a delicate sage green – ideal for combining with natural materials such as slate, timber, wicker, pewter and granite. This modern-rustic look is tied together with a cool stone floor.
Kitchens start at £15,000.
Harvey Jones makes kitchens to order, using premium materials and traditional joinery techniques. The clean lines and classical proportions of this kitchen (which is painted in Dulux ‘Chiffon White 4’) are influenced by early 19th-century Shaker furniture.
Harvey Jones kitchens start from £17,000.
A slate floor and a hanging rack for pots and pans set the tone for this relaxed country kitchen, which is fitted with Moben’s ‘Manhattan Oak’ units. The cupboards feature softly rounded edges and flat-panelled doors, while barley twist pilasters add charm and traditional character.
A fully installed Moben kitchen starts at £7,500.
5 New England – Fired Earth
Balancing modern and traditional, Fired Earth’s ‘New England’ kitchen concept is modular and freestyle. Pieces are hand-crafted from beech and cherry using traditional joinery techniques, with worktops in engineered stone or cherry staves.
The ‘New England’ kitchen costs from around £8,500.
6 Tulip Wood – George Robinson Kitchens
Designed for a renovated farmhouse, this small kitchen includes an enamelled sink and marble surfaces. It was created in striking tulip wood by George Robinson Kitchens, which specialises in bespoke, solid-wood kitchens.
This kitchen would cost between £12,000-£16,000.
THE INGREDIENTS OF THE COUNTRY KITCHEN
A solid-wood kitchen, either left natural or painted a subtle, pale colour, is key to the country kitchen look. Doors should be Shaker-style – tongue-and-groove or simply panelled – and be fitted with wooden or ceramic knobs, or cup-shaped handles. Wall units could feature some glazing, or be replaced by open shelves for an informal effect. If you can find space for a dresser and/or larder, so much the better, while an enamelled range cooker makes the perfect centrepiece. Add a ceramic butler’s sink, beamed ceiling, stone-flagged floor, butcher’s block, hanging rack for pans and utensils, and a farmhouse dining table. Then go to town with accessories – cake stands, mixing bowls, tea cosies and egg cups, wicker baskets, enamelware and wirework and crockery in pretty colours and patterns.
KITCHENS OVER £20,000
1 Ash Kitchen – Jasper & Co
Despite being fitted in an east London apartment, this white-painted solid ash kitchen has the light, informal look of a country kitchen. It was built by skilled craftsmen using traditional techniques. Clever features include folding doors to hide a washing machine and tumble drier.
An average Jasper & Co kitchen starts at £20,000.
2 Long House – Plain English
Plain English’s ‘Long House’ kitchen draws its inspiration from a tradition of honest, utilitarian English joinery that dates back to the 18th century. Drawers sit on top of one another, without a dividing rail – a woodworking technique that requires skill and precision.
Prices start from £20,000; the average cost is £30,000.
3 Cook’s Kitchen – Mark Wilkinson
Inspired by Edwardian style, the spacious room shown here combines natural timber with painted cream and burgundy cupboards. The company prides itself on offering a creative and complete service, which may include a fitted kitchen, free-standing pieces or even building work.
A Mark Wilkinson kitchen costs from £35,000.
4 Original Hand Painted Kitchen – Smallbone
The ‘Original Hand Painted’ kitchen is a Smallbone classic, inspired by Irish Georgian kitchen dressers. Each bespoke kitchen is hand-painted in situ by Smallbone artists for a high-quality finish and individual appearance.
Kitchens from Smallbone of Devizes start at £35,000.
5 Original Freestanding Kitchen – Chalon
This ‘Original Freestanding’ kitchen is made from Quebec yellow pine, in a style that emulates the classic elegance of English 18th and 19th-century furniture. It has been hand-finished using a unique, distressed paint technique, designed to look as if each piece had naturally aged.
Chalon kitchens cost from £30,000.
6.Painted kitchen – Newcastle Furniture Co
This kitchen, with its beamed ceiling, Aga and stone floor, is painted in sage and cream and features worktops in maple and green slate. Handmade in mature, seasoned hardwoods, it uses modern and traditional joinery techniques.
Kitchens start at around £28,750.
H&A’s Kitchen directory
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0207 589 5998
Feature Katherine Sorrel