Case Study  - Designing a Country House Kitchen Island

The kitchen island has humble origins.  In the days when large houses were supported by busy kitchens teaming with staff, the oak table was the workhorse of the room.

The kitchen at Middleton Park. The house was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and his son Robert Lutyens in 1938 for the 9th Earl of Jersey. Not Used CL 12/07/1946

(Above) The central island in the main kitchen at Middleton Park was simply a domestic table raised off the ground on blocks.

 

Today, most domestic kitchens are used by the home-owner and not by staff. We prepare our own food, and as a result, kitchen islands tend to look less utilitarian.

Many of Artichoke’s kitchen design commissions are for large country houses where history has played its part in shaping how the house looks and runs.  Often these design commissions are from the new owners who are often responsible for replacing years of lost period character.  As bespoke kitchen designers, it is often our responsibility to balance their wishes for period authenticity with the practical needs of a modern home.

This case-study shows how one such kitchen island has evolved from a series of simple sketches to the finished article in Artichoke’s workshop.

The brief was to design a kitchen with a period feel that met the needs of a modern family.  The house is a captivating Grade II listed house set in National Trust parkland near Alderley Edge in Cheshire, with owners keen to re-introduce some high quality period detail back into the house.

 

INITIAL HAND SKETCH

Each kitchen design project evolves in different ways, but in this case, initial ideas were roughed out on paper to gauge the feasibility and to help give the client an understanding for what can be achieved.

Island 1

Island 2

Island 4

2D DRAWINGS

Once the concept is proven, the general intent drawings are prepared showing turning detail, period moulding detail and interior layouts of the drawers.  At this stage we are drawing to scale.

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3D CGI

Artichoke’s design team often deploys CGI (Computer Generated Images) to explore how kitchen furniture works with the rest of the room and the architecture. The studies below show the oak kitchen island at the centre alongside other decorative items.  CGI can be extremely useful in helping clients understand how design impacts their space.

Blackhurst - View 4

Blackhurst - View 7

ENGINEERING DRAWINGS

Once the kitchen island  design is approved by the client, our cabinet makers will make the piece in digital form first using a software package that will also calculate bills of materials, quantities of components* weight of parts etc.  We make every piece virtually in this way.  It ensures all potential problems are ironed out before we purchase materials, and it improves efficiency for the client.

Island b

Island c

Island d

Island drawer exploded[1]

* there are 141 individual hand made component parts in this island.  Each is bespoke made from the original raw materials (European Oak).

 

CABINET MAKING

Artichoke makes the finest quality kitchens that are robust enough to last for dozens of years.  To make kitchens of this quality requires the component parts to be jointed traditionally using craft base skills that have stood the test of time.

In the case of this kitchen island, the rail is jointed to the turned legs using dovetail joints and mortice and tenons.  These traditional joints take time to make and will be unseen by the client, so some would argue that they are uneccessary.  However, we know that these methods are a mark of quality and will far outlast a mechaniocal fixings.  We know that it will never fail.

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Traditional dovetail joints are used to fix each leg to the rails
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Mortice and tenon joints also hold the rail in place

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A specially designed jig with leather protective padding clamps the rail to the leg.
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Dovetailed drawers.
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Artichoke cabinet maker Craig putting final adjustments to one of the island drawers.

CABINET MAKING

The final phase is the finishing, and in this case the finish required is mid to late 19th century.  Our head of finishing, Rob, used to be a well known antique restorer and has incredible skill for turning new oak into old.  Like most professionals, Rob keeps his recipies a closely guarded secret.IMG_3352

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24 February 2016: Project being installed.

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