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Kitchen ripe for renovation? Take heed of these inventive ideas that use statement stone, accent colours and glorious wood, showcased in a host of creative guises. Inspiration starts here…
PAVE THE WAY
A floor treatment that’s more commonly seen in exterior spaces, crazy paving is the latest eye-catching surface to be reclaimed by interior designers and architects, and not only for its practical, hard-wearing properties. In this project by Studio Esteta, irregularly shaped slabs of slate inject subtle texture and movement – the perfect foil to the smooth swathes of oak and polished blue-grey stone above it – and lead the eye from the monolithic island to the matching marble-wrapped nook on the rear wall. studioesteta.com.au
ON THE GRID
From metro-style to mosaics, tiles are an eternal favourite in the kitchen for obvious reasons. The most current shape and size for making a statement is the unassuming rectangle, but take heed of the all-important rule; for impact and loftier-looking ceilings, vertical orientation is a must. There’s no limit to the creativity that can be conjured from these brick-like blocks. Multidisciplinary studio H+O’s Mondrian-esque scheme applies them to walls, floor and built-in sideboard, creating a precise, graphic look. hpluso.design
Tasked with creating a kitchen in a space blessed with palatial proportions and an abundance of original features, London-based design outfit Sella Concept steered clear of trying to reproduce something of the period. Instead, they opted for a contrasting contemporary scheme that echoes the building’s arched windows; sweeping curves have been sliced from the custom-built celadon-green cabinetry, while the breakfast bar has been similarly rounded-off. Green marble and brass handles by Swarf hardware add a suitably luxe edge. sella-concept.com; swarfhardware.co.uk
When Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen – aka Dutch design duo Muller Van Severen – embarked on creating their family kitchen, the pair seized the chance to incorporate their signature bold shades and materials. The result is a melting pot of surfaces; sea green enamel cabinets, richly veined marble and a red and white checkerboard floor that recalls
a 1950s diner, demonstrating that being brave with unusual combinations can pay dividends. Playfully pulled together by dining furniture and bright ceramics, this is an expressive space that tells its owners’ story. mullervanseveren.be
RESTORED TO GLORY
Over almost 30 years, bespoke salvage studio Retrouvius has turned reclamation into an art form. This striking kitchen, with its exquisite panelled cabinetry, pays testament to the enduring appeal and adaptability of wood and proves reclaimed needn’t mean rustic. Discarded shelves receive anew lease of life as statement geometric fronts in tulip wood and oak trim, via a diagonal cut that creates distinctive lines and eliminates waste. They even outshine the monolithic onyx island – in a similar honeyed hue – which would be the showstopper of any other space. retrouvius.com
The 1970s have already influenced furniture, fabrics and lighting – now the era is making itself known in the realm of the kitchen. Dark timbers and veneers are key to the look. Design practice Marcante Testa’s galley kitchen nods to the period with wenge wood, green laminate cabinets and a ceiling adorned in Little Greene’s densely patterned ‘Fern’ wallpaper, all brought up to date with a marble floor and brass accents. marcante-testa.it
Overuse marble or stone in a kitchen and it could be in danger of feeling cold and austere. It’s clearly a material Paris-based architect Joseph Dirand has much experience with, as his masterful treatment of the stone in his Right Bank apartment shows. Carved from a hunk of breccia stazzema marble, the colossal island is softened with gentle fluting on the base while the top’s generous radius gives it a tactile quality. Rounded edges are repeated on the counter and shelves while the subtly grey washed walls enhance the space’s mellow feel. josephdirand.com
SMOOTHLY DOES IT
Framed by original wood panelling, pale timber cabinets and sleek brass details, the stretch of concrete in this understated space feels refined rather than rough-hewn – a testament to the metamorphosis of a material in a different context. London architecture firm McLaren.Excell has eschewed the industrial palette usually paired with concrete for an effect that’s subtler, softer and supremely liveable. Take note of the seamless transition from butler sink to splashback, which tempers any industrial edge. mclarenexcell.com
PLY FOR HIRE
Considering its versatility, affordability and tensile strength, plywood’s status as a solely functional material seemed somewhat unjust. It’s since been reincarnated as an architect favourite, driven by a renewed interest in humble, untreated materials and smart housing solutions like prefabricated homes. Proponents of ply are now shifting attention onto coloured stains: in this ply-clad kitchen by Feina Studio, visible grain tinted in a forest green hue creates a visual connect between a stretch of low cabinets and a distinctive exposed ceiling. feinastudio.com
To treat a kitchen island as a simple extension of an existing scheme is to lose out on its transformative potential. Try mixing materials, introducing curves and sacrificing some of the storage below for a bold, sculptural structure.
WOOD THREE WAYS
There’s no denying that wood is a wonder material: with its myriad species, shades and finishes, it hardly feels like a single substance at all. The kitchen is an opportunity to showcase panels at scale, with the precise craftsmanship involved in bespoke timber cabinetry offering plenty of flexibility.
When it comes to wood done well, the most exciting modern iterations are finding creative ways to highlight natural texture: think the undulating knots of one sizeable slab carried through a series of cupboards, or recessed panels fronted by gridded frames in a contrasting grain. Matt stains, from blackened larch to a chalky whitewash, are an on-trend antidote to the varnished variety.
Above left: Bespoke dark-stained oak in-frame cabinetry with Kinnekulle limestone countertops by Nordiska Kök, from £10,800 including shelves; ‘Base’ dining table by Mika Tolvanen for Muuto, from £825, Chaplins; ‘Evo’ tap in ‘Grottesco’, from £396, Tapwell
Above right: Bespoke walnut kitchen with black granite countertops, Quincoces-Dragó & Partners
Wallpaper is usually banished from the kitchen. A shame, we say – it works fantastically as a foil to this room’s obligatory hard lines and surfaces, granting a sense of synergy and flow between spaces in the house. Graphic, geometric pattern is a more transitory alternative to tiles, or choose a botanical print and leave the upper wall cupboard-free for an impactful frescoed feel. Subtle edging, using an extension of the same material as the countertops, adds a protective transition.
While brass and copper have reigned in the kitchen of late, silvery metallics such as chrome, mirror and stainless steel are fast gathering momentum. High-shine cabinets are a particularly effective iteration of the trend – they’ll add polish while bouncing light around the room and suggesting extra space. Sleek and streamlined is the mantra to remember (ditch handles for maximum effect), but that doesn’t mean the rest of the room should adhere to the same futuristic feel. Balancing the look’s inherent drama with a mix of materials, like beautifully patterned floor tiles, will help prevent it feeling too clinical or cold.
The benefits of a kitchen island are numerous – many have a triple duty as a breakfast bar, worktop extender and storage concealer – but they can also act as a canvas to showcase a striking material in a sizeable slab.
While islands are no longer limited to simple, monolithic forms, styles that eschew obvious cupboards or ornamentation provide the most effective backdrop for highlighting stone’s strata, whether onyx, terrazzo or Carrara marble. A wall of cabinets in a darker tone will give a feeling of depth as well as help frame a central design.
Left: Bespoke kitchen in ‘Calacatta Vagli’ marble with bleached sycamore cabinetry, price on application, Elizabeth Roberts Architects; vintage 1960s vase by Arne Bang, for similar, try Vinterior
Right: ‘Maro’ embossed ebony veneer cabinetry with ‘Coffee Brown’ marble island and splashback, from £80,000, by Eggersmann Design, eggersmanndesign.com; ‘Tara Ultra’ tap by Dornbracht, from £726.12, majorelleinteriors.com
SUNNY SIDE UP
Sunshine hues are surprisingly liveable, but sticking to a single shade – and choosing it wisely – is key. With punchier colour, the nuance of tone becomes ever more significant – yellow in the kitchen can be energising and zingy, warm and buttery or rich and earthy. Gloss will add a slicker, contemporary edge, while matt finishes feel fresh and modern when paired with a countertop in a contrasting hue.
For those wary of wall-to-wall colour, a kitchen island or a stretch of low cabinets are a subtler way to introduce a stronger shade, and neutral shades on walls and splashbacks can offer balance to its natural zest.
Left: Oak-edged five-cabinet kitchen in ‘Giallo Kashmir’, £1,502; oak worktop, £1,040; hand-turned oak handles, £9 each; ‘Phoenician’ tap by Perrin & Rowe in ‘Chrome’, £372, all Husk
Right: Painted cabinet fronts in ‘Rembrandt Golden Brown’ with wooden countertops and solid brass handles, to fit Ikea systems, from £57, &SHUFL; ‘Fusion Square’ tap by Quooker in ‘Patinated Brass’, £1,590, Appliance City
Slabs of marble are synonymous with a polished, luxurious feel, but there’s an increasing call for varieties with depth of colour and complex, unique veining. Among the most distinctive strains of the stone is panda marble – so named for its high-contrast combination of brilliant white and broad, swirling waves of black – which offers a striking alternative to the classic, subtly streaked countertop.
A neutral backdrop will showcase the material’s statement strata to best effect, but its crisp, monochromatic makeup can take vibrant pops of colour, too. Utilise sparingly and offset with panels of stained wood, or use several slabs to unify an island with a work surface or splashback.
We’ve previously reported on the rise of fluted wood in kitchen design, and now wider vertical strips are proving popular. Much like the modish pencil tile, narrow slats offer a flexible way of fronting curved cabinets, smoothing corners or softening the solid form of a central kitchen island. In unfinished wood, they feel orderly yet organic.
Man-made materials, however, offer ultimate flexibility in form – playful executions of the idea include undulating cabinet fronts, which appear striped when cast in shadow and grant a sense of movement and flow.
Left: Bespoke kitchen with Corian-fronted units in smoked
oak, concrete worktop and splashback, price on application, Jake Moulson
Right: Bespoke kitchen island and splashback in ‘Statuarietto marble’, price on application, Neil Cownie Architect; ‘Potter DS’ extruded ceramic pendant in ‘White Glaze’, price on application, Anchor Ceramics; ‘Icon A69.08.V2 Kitchen Mixer’ tap in ‘Aged Brass’ by Astra Walker, price on application, Lavare
The clever balance of form and function has granted the industrial kitchen enduring appeal. Now, a more sophisticated spin on the trend is emerging, tempering the look’s more utilitarian tendencies with sleek, luxurious materials and a firmly monochromatic palette.
Try swapping the obligatory open shelving for a glass-fronted cabinet, simple bar stools for seats or a poured-concrete floor for high-shine herringbone. The visual texture of fluted or reeded glass helps soften the warehouse feel of Crittall frames, while bifolding internal doors add flexibility and privacy to an airy, open-plan space.
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