Light Fantastic

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Having lived in their five-bedroom country cottage for some years, these homeowners were loath to leave it. But the family was reaching an age where they needed their home to function differently. Deciding that it would be best to stay put and remodel, so that the property continued to suit their lifestyle as their sons grew up, this couple knew the time was right for an extension project.

“We worked off-plan to create the design,” explains David Pike, senior designer at Mark Wilkinson Furniture. “We knew that we’d have to adapt and adjust some of the detail at a late stage, but the process is largely the same.” The brief set out the couple’s priorities for a flexible space in which the family could relax, spend time together, and eat meals as a family – but they also needed somewhere to entertain, both formally and informally, for business and pleasure.

“A breakfast bar was a must-have,” recalls David. “As well as a double-door fridge with an ice maker, a wine fridge, and a coffee maker. The couple also already had a range cooker that they loved and wished to be incorporated into the new layout.” The challenge with the design itself was to make the room feel coherent – since it was located partly in the existing house, and partly in a new extension.

The design inspirations were in part pragmatic, in order to minimise the aesthetic impact of constructional features – such as the variation in ceiling heights at various points, and a number of structural beams and columns that had to be worked around. Additionally, the orientation of the meadow views were a factor; the island’s orientation enabling the sink and prep zones to make the most of the stunning outlook.

“Designing a kitchen to provide what the family needed now, and in the future, was a challenge and an inspiration,” David explains. “The family has two young boys, and we had to plan for their future needs – a place for them to share time with their parents, to do their homework, and play on their tablets and games consoles. We also had to fulfil the need for the parents’ work-related entertaining. It had to be a complete design.” With this long-term view in mind – as well as the style and location of the house itself – a modern classic aesthetic was chosen.

The layout works just as beautifully for casual family time as it does for more formal entertaining – the island unit enables the cook to continue working whether chatting to guests or helping the kids with their homework.

Made from poplar wood – which has a particularly smooth surface – the units left the factory coated with an eco-friendly primer, and they were then finished on-site, by hand. One of Mark Wilkinson Furniture’s painters came to the property to discuss colours with the homeowners on several occasions, before the final choice was made. The Sage and Nantucket shades were chosen as the perfect complement to the English Classic style, with its raise and field design and cott-beading detail.

The end result is everything the homeowners had hoped for. They’re delighted with the way that the new kitchen extension functions in exactly the way they’d intended, thanks to the close relationship they enjoyed with their design team, and the way that the brief was carefully listened to and interpreted – all without the room itself even existing at that stage. “From a technical point of view, time spent in planning the whole room and project pays off enormously,” David explains. “And while the speed of the fit isn’t the be-all-and-end-all in something that will last for generations, unnecessary delays can be irritating for both parties.”

A success on all fronts, then. It’s no wonder that the couple went back to Mark Wilkinson Furniture for a little addition to their space, once the kitchen had been completed – and thoroughly tested both by family life and entertaining. Shortly a bespoke drinks cabinet will also be part of the space’s furnishings, to add the final flourish to the sociable setting.

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