Copper and Cask

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This unique kitchen is situated in a converted barn in the English countryside. Its eccentric design was inspired by traditional whisky distilleries.

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Creating a one-off design that respected its traditional surroundings while resonating with the owners was an exciting challenge that Matt Withington, co-founder and design director of Splinter Works, was excited to take on. He set out to create an open-plan living space with a kitchen that celebrates the building and the local area without feeling too aged or traditional.

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The brief was to create a kitchen to sit within a large multi-use space in a period barn. The owners wanted something industrial yet homely, with a blend of contemporary and traditional styles. “I wanted to create an industrial feel but wished to avoid heavy wrought iron, so I drew on the softer aesthetic of traditional distillery industries, such as whisky making, which predominately used copper and oak,” says Matt. “This also reflected the owners’ enjoyment of whisky,” he adds.

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The centrepiece is the ‘whisky barrel’ island, which is rendered in oak and copper, and positioned to create a gathering place. “The island is a triumph!” elates Matt. The gleaming copper accents inject warmth into the scheme while the cask-like appearance acknowledges the owners’ impressive whisky collection. 

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A walnut shelf with concealed drawers acts as a partition device between the kitchen and the hallway, restricting direct access while maintaining the penetration of daylight. “The space beneath has also become the family dog’s favourite place, conveniently out of the way of foot traffic,” says Matt.

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The room’s three-storey height necessitated carefully planned lighting. “The lights are suspended above key areas,” explains Matt. “Above the island I designed a horse shoe-shape gantry that contains spot lights that give great task lighting for the chef, or dimmed illumination for guests.” The oak beam above the Everhot range cooker is hollowed to conceal lighting alongside an ultra contemporary extractor hood, which would look out of place if left exposed.

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The design allows the owners to be surrounded by their treasured mementos, books and artworks. “They are thrilled with the result,” concludes Matt.“They particularly love the island bar, which is constantly in use, not just for entertaining guests as anticipated, but also for working at.”

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