Kitchen design with colour, timber and terrazzo; designers made exceptional spaces in the heart of the home
White Rabbit House, Islington, London
Bespoke joinery and terrazzo are the main features of this highly crafted new kitchen at White Rabbit House, a delightfully idiosyncratic reworking of a generic 1970s speculative house-builder property. Architect Gundry & Ducker sought to create a modern interpretation of Georgian throughout the project, which completely remodels the original house and adds a rear extension.
The 10m2 kitchen straddles the extension and rear of the original house and is accessed from both the hallway and the living room. Its bold and colourful design typifies the overall approach, which combines an open-plan ground floor with copious built-in storage.
According to Christian Ducker, the aim was to add ‘a bit of drama and character’ into what was a very ordinary house. The kitchen continues the long run of built-in cupboards that stretches from the front door, hiding variously power meters, coat and shoe cupboards and a toilet. In the kitchen, these conceal a fridge freezer and an extra worktop and storage area, concealed by a cunning concertina door that tucks tidily out of the way when in use.
The joinery for both these cupboards and the island unit was created on site by main contractor IC&T Projects. This combines laminated plywood carcasses with MDF doors, the latter grooved along the sidewall to give a unified look to the irregular sized doors. The 2.4m wide island unit, which accommodates appliances and has four equal sized units, is therefore not grooved. All joinery is hand painted in a vibrant green, which is carried through to the arched window recess and window seat.
The arch form of the kitchen window and door refer to the house’s original arched front door. Both are visible from the entrance, which has views down the corridor and through the kitchen and into the garden.
Terrazzo, which is also a key feature of the redesigned hallway and new staircase, is used for both the island unit counter and the floor. Artisan Zan Peltek created the floor in-situ using black marble chips within a white concrete floor, and created a 40mm thick precast counter in an inverse terrazzo colour scheme of black-tinted concrete and white marble chips. The counter was cast to accommodate the sink and hob, as well as an overhang for bar stools.
A skirting detail bridges the step up to the terrazzo chequerboard hallway floor. Additional light is admitted through a roof light, which also finesses the change in ceiling height between the original house and the extension and allows glimpses up to the original rear elevation. The white with black flecks terrazzo is continued outside on the rear wall.
Ducker is very pleased with the transformation of the house. ‘It’s an amazing space to go into and is hopefully easy to live in – there’s a cupboard for everything.’
Architect Gundry & Ducker
Structural engineer Feres
Main contractor IC&T Projects
Terrazzo contractor (precast and in situ) Zan Peltek
Makepeace Mansions, Highgate, London
At just 5m2, the kitchen of a compact two bedroom flat in Highgate, north London, presented something of a challenge to architect Surman Weston. The kitchen redesign was part of a refurbishment of the whole property – an apartment in a 1920s mock Tudor mansion block.
After considering more extensive layout changes, it was decided to retain the tiny kitchen in its original position but to connect it to the living room with the insertion of a distinctive, pivoting porthole window. This can be opened to enable conversation and views between those in the two rooms. This key feature is combined with bespoke oak cabinets and a wood-chip terrazzo counter and splash back.
‘We wanted to introduce a connection. It’s something a bit special that’s a centrepiece for both rooms,’ says Tom Surman.
The porthole was inspired by an Art Deco aesthetic, and in particular the work of Charles Holden in the 1920s and 30s, which was a key reference point for the whole project. The architect collaborated with joiner Tim Gaudin on both the porthole and the bespoke kitchen cupboards to create a highly crafted design. The protruding porthole frame measures 930mm in diameter, 35mm thick and 200mm deep, and is formed by four curved sections of oak. Inside it is a pivoting, oak-framed, stained glass window. All the oak is finished in charcoal-stained Rubio Monocoat.
For the cupboards, Gaudin created bespoke units with fluted oak fronts formed from curved slats and fixed top and bottom to the rear structure. These are shallow on the wall beneath the porthole and full-depth on the facing wall.
‘It was a balance between getting in as much as we could, and not feeling like it was completely without any floor space,’ says Surman.
Most of the units have touch latches with the exception of those for the appliances. These have brass knobs, chosen because they will age well and dull-down to complement the oak. Oak is used to line the window recess and is also incorporated into the terrazzo counter and splashback. Surman Weston had been aware of Foresso’s resin and timber chip sheeted product for some time, and felt that this worked well in a distinctive blue in combination with the handcrafted cabinets.
The splashback continues up to the bottom of the cupboards and carries on around the rest of the space with a bullnosed timber finish detail.
Terence Woodgate cylindrical downlighters from were specified in oak, although they have a lighter shade to tone with the oak finger parquet flooring.
Architect Surman Weston
Joinery Tim Gaudin
Foresso (counter and splashback);
Rubio Monocoat (stained oak finish);
twentytwentyone (Terence Woodgate wood downlights);
Dowsing & Reynolds (cabinet knobs);
Lead & Light (stained glass for porthole window).
Kyle House, Sutherland
Kyle House, a self-catering lodge in a remote Scottish landscape in Sutherland, is an exercise in elegant simplicity. Designed by Edinburgh practice GRAS, the project is part of a conservation programme by client Wildland, which is dedicated to returning human-scarred highland landscapes to their more natural state.
The kitchen distils the essence of the extensive refurbishment scheme – use of high quality joinery and materials combined with deft touches that minimise the contemporary interventions.
The result, says GRAS director Gunnar Groves-Raines, is ‘an understated, monastically simple building, but one that uses amazing materials in an incredible location.’
When GRAS took on the project, the property was a long-disused stone shell of a 19th century farmhouse building, with an asbestos roof and few intact windows. What it did have, however, was dramatic views from its location at the southern end of the Kyle of Tongue sea loch.
GRAS focused enhancing the connection with the landscape with the help of simple natural materials – local Caithness stone, heart oak and lime plaster. The concept was to retain a stone and lime render outer shell and insert highly crafted timber ‘boxes’ inside to make the floor, walls, and ceiling.
The interior was designed with Swiss based interior designer Ruth Kramer, Wildland’s concept and design manager. At 14m2, the kitchen is one of four similarly sized key rooms along with the living area, and upstairs bedroom and bathroom – the idea was that all have equal importance. Sliding pocket doors – 2.4m high, 1200mm wide and 70mm thick – allow the spaces either to flow together or be separate.
The run of five kitchen units was built off-site from Dinesen’s HeartOak – made from the middle of large oak trees – by Danish-based bespoke kitchen specialist Garde Hvalsøe. These incorporate a central sink with brass splashback and a hob and are illuminated by a ribbon window which gives views over a courtyard. To either side of the window are high brass shelves with two Lampe Gras downlighters – designed in 1921 by Bernard-Albin Gras – completing the pleasingly symmetrical arrangement. The countertop, the two flanking walls, and the ceiling are all oak, with a lime plaster wall above the units and under floor heated, polished Caithness stone.
This simplicity is deceptive. The units conceal a dishwasher while the shelf above the hob incorporates an extractor fan. Inside the flanking oak wall to the right hides a pull-out trolley, while oak panelling to the left conceals a fridge-freezer and oven. All this endeavour to create a tranquil interior has paid off.
‘It does take a lot of work to do simple things,’ comments Groves-Raines.
Structural engineer David Narro Associates
Interior designer Ruth Kramer
Contractor K Macrae and Son
Garde Hvalsøe (kitchen units)
Viero (lime plaster)