A precursor to starting the interior design work for any bespoke library or study is to take reference from the past. We take a great deal of inspiration from the past and we are fortunate in this country to have a great number of well preserved magnificent spaces to take inspiration from.
Here are some of the libraries we love, most of which have found their way into client presentations over the years
The Philosopher’s Hall, Strahov Monastery, Prague(we are currently designing a project inspired by this library). Click this link to see a fascinating detailed 360 tour of this room.
The grand library at Chatsworth.
Bookcases in the Library at Hatchlands Park, Surrey.
The Library at Knightshayes Court, Devon
View from the Book Room into the Library at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire
The library steps by Thomas Chippendale the Younger, in the Library at Stourhead, Wiltshire
The Library, designed by Robert Adam in 1766, at Osterley Park, Middlesex.
A view from the Hall to the Library at Basildon Park, Berkshire
The Library at Castle Drogo, Devon.
The Library at Belton House, Lincolnshire. The room was a dining room in the seventeenth century, changed into a drawing room in 1778, and was converted into a library in 1876.
Gilt-brass wirework on one of the bookcases in the Library at Hartwell House, a historic house hotel in Buckinghamshire.
Shelves in the Library at Scotney Castle, Kent.
One of the inscribed Gothic hinges on the Library door at Tyntesfield, North Somerset
View of the Library at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire
The Library at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire.
Looking through the Library door toward the Entrance Hall at Castle Drogo, Devon.
The library at St Giles House near Shatftesbury, recently restored and owned by the Earl of Shaftestbury.
Villa Guglielmesca is situated near the town of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany. While the prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval Renaissance, the villa itself dates back to the beginning of the 1900s. Originally a private house, it was transformed into a hotel with 12 bedrooms in the 1950s before being purchased by the current owner.
In 2010, Artichoke was commissioned directly by the owner to reconfigure the villa and make it function again as a private residence. This has involved extensive interior architectural design work by Artichoke’s creative team and includes designing the architecture and furniture for the entrance hall, master bedrooms, bespoke Tuscan style kitchen, dining room, butler’s pantry, boot-room, guest and master bathrooms, ballroom, interior architectural joinery, doors, skirting and floors.
Front Entrance Door
The front entrance door was designed taking inspiration from the architecture of local Tuscan vernacular. Our initial design below proposed the door as European Walnut, although the door is now more likely to be hand painted. The exterior elevation on the left shows the stone architrave which will be in Pietra Serena to match the Tuscan columns and the fireplace found in the Tuscan style kitchen. Pietra Serena is a beautiful grey Tuscan sandstone which was used by Michelangelo in the Medici Chapel Romeare.
Entrance Hall Design
Below is the Entrance Hall as it existed while Villa Guglielmesca was a hotel. As you can see, the existing interior architecture of the villa required significant design work. Our initial focus was to research and gain a thorough understanding of local vernacular to create an appropriate space for family living.
The images below show the approved Artichoke re-design of the entrance hall with twinned Etruscan columns supporting the vaulted ceiling and hiding the re-enforced concrete columns. The stone we decided to use for the columns are made from Pietra Serena.
Bespoke Kitchen Interior Design
Artichoke’s design team also introduced the groin vaulted ceiling detail used in the entrance hall to the principal bespoke kitchen as both a device to architecturally tie the two ends of the vast space together and to frame the large open fireplace (also designed by us).
Inspiration for the bespoke Tuscan kitchen design in Villa Guglielmesca was taken from typical Tuscan agricultural furniture design. The primary timber being used for the kitchen is French oak. The oak on the island was bleached and the oak for the pan-shelves were fumed to age them. The breadboard island tops were made from wild-grain European walnut which we sourced in Italy. The arched doors on the end of the island, which is plastered, are made from solid oak, and roughly hand planed across the grain with a curved plane blade to create an aged effect to match the Tuscan style kitchen. The glazed dresser doors close on traditional espagnoletes.
Boot room Design
In addition to the villa’s Tuscan style kitchen, Artichoke designed a simple and authentic boot room for the private residence. Artichoke’s design teams have designed numerous bespoke boot rooms for country properties and apart from plenty of storage, a key aspect to most successful boot room designs is combining practicality with simplicity. Boot rooms get a lot of wear. They get dirty and are more loved for their practicality than their looks, mainly because most of the fitted furniture becomes draped in coats, hats and scarves, and eventually much of it becomes invisible. Artichoke designed the villa’s boot room with drainage at the centre of the room to allow mud to be washed and brushed away.
Artichoke designed the fireplace in the Tuscan style kitchen and surround as a multi-functional space, and it is far from simply decorative. A chargrill has been designed on the right hand side, with the left reserved for open fires and spit-roasting meats. The stone for the surround is Pietra Serena.
There are nearly 100 individual features designed by Artichoke inside Villa Guglielmesca, including coffered ceilings, fireplaces, windows, columns, doors and stone architraves. A few examples can be seen below:
The Completed Project
This project can be found in full by visiting our website. A selection of images from the completed project are below. With each project, whether a kitchen or a whole house, we aim to create fitted furniture of lasting value, adding architectural value to our clients’ houses for their family and for future generations. We aren’t simply making joinery. We are making history.
To discuss your project, email the Artichoke team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +44 (0)1934 745270.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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