Designing a Grand Kitchen Island for a Country House

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

The kitchen island has humble origins. In the days when large houses were supported by busy kitchens teeming 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
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 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, as well as practical modern features like a grand kitchen island.
 

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 of what can be achieved.
 

Island 1

 

Island 4

 

2D Drawings

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

 

Screen shot 2015-07-03 at 10_25_12

 

Screen shot 2015-07-03 at 10_23_02

 

3D Renders

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 grand kitchen island carved in oak 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

 

Production Engineering

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 d
There are 141 individual hand made component parts in this grand kitchen island.
Each is bespoke, made from the original raw materials (European Oak)
Production

Artichoke makes the finest quality kitchens that are robust enough to last for many 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 grand 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 unnecessary. However, we know that these methods are a mark of quality and will far outlast mechanical fixings, so it’s important to include such details in the design of such a substantial piece of furniture as a grand kitchen island. We know they will never fail.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 14_03_20
Dovetail joint
Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 16_05_14
Mortice and tenon joints
Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 16_07_50
A specially designed jig with leather protective padding clamps the rail to the leg
IMG_3230
Dovetailed drawers
IMG_3236
Artichoke cabinet maker Craig putting final adjustments to one of the island drawers
Finishing

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 recipes a closely guarded secret.
 
To view the finished project and see how the grand kitchen island turned out, follow this link

 

IMG_3353

 

24 February 2016: Project being installed.

 

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