What Should be the Focal Point in Bespoke Kitchen Design?

With bespoke kitchen design, there are so many approaches to deciding the focal point of a kitchen. It will depend on the house, its period, the requirements of the household – their habits and their desired aesthetic.

Historically, the obvious focal point in a kitchen is the solid fuel range to cook on. An Aga stuck in a fireplace is a quintessential focal point in a traditional English country house.  The Aga or stove was critical not only for cooking but as a source of heating the kitchen. Its focus was accentuated further by a chimney cowl to ventilate it.  The range remains an obvious and appropriate choice as the focal point of a kitchen, so much so that we create other features around the range to increase the focus.

Bespoke kitchen design with Artichoke's glossy painted cook's table
The beautiful stone mantel was introduced to create a focal point of the range cooker

Life with no heating

In other rooms in period homes, the fireplace was also the natural focal point – life without central heating was cold and therefore furniture was arranged in a way to take maximum advantage of the heat source.  In new houses and with 21st century technology like underfloor heating, this is no longer the case.  This brings possibilities for alternative focal points like views or art in both the kitchen and the rest of the house.

Bespoke kitchen design makes the most of garden views and sunlight
The orangery kitchen makes the most of garden views and spectacular light.

Modern living

Family life has evolved so that kitchens and the way we use them has changed. Even in grand houses, they are not just the preserve of servants but tend to be central to family life.  Kitchens are not simply practical spaces stuffed with cupboards.  Kitchens have become more like living rooms.

Bespoke kitchen design in this London apartment creates a wonderful kitchen and living space
A kitchen that’s easy to live in.

The heart of the home

Traditionally kitchens were small, located in the back of the house for logistical reasons. The purpose of a kitchen was entirely functional.  In our market, kitchens are much larger, often centrally located in the heart of the house.  They enjoy the best light and the best views.  Read more about how we move a kitchen in a listed building here.  The generous space allows more room to absorb the many functions associated with storing, preparing, and cooking food.  Kitchens such as these can afford to be more like living rooms.  Therefore, a focal point may well be a beautiful painting or a view – features that are not related to functional cooking equipment or storage.  Instead, the bespoke kitchen design deliberately emphasises a piece of art or decorative element like a fireplace.

Bespoke kitchen design creates an island in this Bristol kitchen.
The location of the fireplace interfered with the layout of this Bristol kitchen so we created a unique island as the focal point instead.

Ancillary rooms today

In large houses, ancillary rooms like pantries and sculleries can be useful in freeing up the kitchen, making it a more pleasant place to hang out and entertain. Kitchen storage, washing up, cooking and preparation can therefore be kept slightly separate.  It is very much a speciality of Artichoke to design such rooms.

Bespoke kitchen design can involve ancillary rooms like this pantry
Artichoke’s hand finishing gives depth and character to the timber.

The scullery

Recently we have been treating the scullery as a secondary focal point in our bespoke kitchen design. Washing up is an important element of kitchen tasks and is often neglected.  We believe, with a bit of flair and imagination, a scullery can be just as exciting a focal point.

Bespoke kitchen design can involve ancillary rooms like sculleries for washiing up
Tasks related to washing up are housed in this eye catching scullery.

Alternative focal point

An approach we sometimes take with our bespoke kitchen design is to consider each area with the same focus as might historically have been given to the kitchen range. This sink is expertly crafted out of a block of soapstone creating an unusual focal point at the window.

Bespoke kitchen design creates additional focal points like this soapstone sink

Material choice

Material choice is an important part in bespoke kitchen design and can create natural focal points. Making certain elements out of a very special timber or stone or highlighting particular pieces of furniture via a pop of colour can be very effective in creating a focal point.  In this London kitchen, we have used marble with a striking figure to elevate the cooking area to be the focal point.

Bespoke kitchen design means striking materials can be chosen to create a focal point

If you’d like to discuss our approach to bespoke kitchen design and discover first hand our passion for brilliantly designed furniture and how it can improve your experience of living in a period house, please email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call +44 (0)1934 745270.

Bespoke Kitchen Design Tips

Bespoke Kitchen Design Tips - Header image

 

Artichoke’s approach to kitchen design is far more architectural than most, and we are highly experienced in resolving how interior space is organised by furniture.

Before any drawing work is done, it’s important for us to gain a thorough understanding of our clients domestic arrangements.  Gaining this knowledge helps us design spaces that work effortlessly.  It is the key to providing functional solutions for our clients.

 

General Requirements

The key to a successful outcome is to establish a clear brief for the kitchen and surrounding areas of the house.

Who is the client?
Is the person providing us with the brief for the kitchen the person paying for it?  To us it is vital to establish a relationship with all interested parties.

Who will be using the kitchen and how does the household operate?
Sounds like an odd question, but often, the person who will be using the kitchen is not the same person paying for it.  For instance, some clients have housekeepers, so it’s vital to understand their needs within the kitchen also.

How many people does the kitchen need to serve on a daily basis?

What is the largest number of people the kitchen needs to cater for on a semi regular basis?

Does the client have a budget?
It is vital to establish a budget for the kitchen early on.  Setting financial expectations from the outset will help control the kitchen specification.

What are the client priorities for the kitchen: Quality / Cost / Function / Aesthetics / Deliverability?
The prioritisation of these five topics will have an impact on the kitchen design.

What is the time frame for the project?  
The sooner we can identify and consider the risks to the project; the more effective we will be in providing for them.   Quite often for instance, the builder will be screaming for positions of gas, water, extraction and drainage before the design has even been started.

Does the kitchen need to accommodate religious dietary needs such as ‘Kosher’?  
This is important as some religions have very specific food storage needs.

Is the property listed?  What are the listing restrictions and do any apply to the kitchen space, ducting routes etc?

 

Wolf range oven with bespoke aged extraction hood

 

Where is the kitchen located within the house?
Has it been nominated enough space?

Is there a requirement for the kitchen to be supported and serviced by others rooms such a scullery, cold room, dry larder, wines cellar or butler’s pantry?

What is the route in to the house and kitchen for groceries, and what is the route out for waste?  Where is the location of waste for recycling?
Understanding this can have an important influence on the position of fridges, bins and internal doors.

Is there an existing kitchen, and are its contents relevant? 
Quite often there is a real benefit in surveying the clients’ existing contents and existing storage volume as this can have a direct bearing on how the new bespoke kitchen is designed.

What is the floor finish?
We need to first consider the setting out of the floor in relation to the kitchen plinth lines to ensure joins don’t clash or look ill-considered.

What is the structure of the flooring proposed?
The weight of the kitchen furniture and kitchen appliances are significant as they will deflect the sub floor and compress the floor coverings if they are not correctly engineered.

What are the window furnishings?
Do they need to be accommodated into the design?

What are the heating requirements for the kitchen and how is the space to be heated?
If the kitchen is under floor heated, BTU calculations should be made by excluding the kitchen furniture foot print, otherwise too much heating might be installed into the room.  Heating underneath fine furniture is also likely to cause timber movement and potentially structural damage.

What are the general ergonomics of the client?
Are they exceptionally tall, and what is the height of their partner?  Do they have any disabilities to consider?

 

Bespoke Kitchen Design Tips - Knives and storage

 

Appliances and Kitchen Equipment

What fuel type is available?
Often in rural locations, natural gas is not available which means LPG needs to be considered as an alternative.  If the LPG route needs to me taken, checks need to be made to ensure that chosen gas appliances can be converted to LPG.

What is the oven capacity needed and how many hobs are required?

Does the client prefer a range oven or ovens in column?
Understanding the age of the client is an an import factor when choosing positions of ovens in a kitchen, flooring types, access, waste routes and so on.

What type of cooking does the user of the kitchen do?
Knowing this will effect the choice of appliances.  Oven types can vary from conventional, fan assisted, grilling, baking, steaming, microwave and multi-functional options whereas hobs now come in a dizzying variety, including ceramic, induction, gas, wok, grille, steam, fryer, Teppanyaki, domino.

What are the kitchen extraction requirements?
Where is extractor motor located?  Ideally in-line or externally as this will be quieter. Does the client fry a great deal on a Teppanyaki type hob?  Knowing the size of the room in cubic metres will effect the size of the extractor motor.

What type of lighting is integrated into the extractor system?
Does this co-ordinate with the task lighting throughout the rest of the kitchen?

 

Additional cold storage in the pantry of a 19th century London house

 

Refrigeration

What volume of refrigeration and freezer is required?

Is there remote cold storage available?
There is little point in taking up critical space in the main kitchen with long term storage.

What wine storage and cold drink storage is needed? 

Is cold water and ice making required?

 

This recessed cupboard conceals a fridge. The other hides a microwave and pot storage.

 

Water, Sinks, Dishwashing and Waste

Is there enough drop?
It’s important to consider waste water routes when siting sinks to ensure enough drop is available to deliver grey water into the drainage.

Thought should be given towards the material of the sink.
Consider the suitability of the kitchen sink materials from a functional and aesthetic perspective.  Options include ceramic / cast iron enameled / stainless steel / wooden / corian / synthetic / stone.  If there is crystal being hand washed in the scullery sink then wood is more appropriate than cast iron.

Consider the different uses of a sink.
Preparation of food, drainage for cooking liquids, and scullery. In larger kitchens that serve large volumes, it helps to separate these functions. In smaller compact spaces it may be necessary to combine all these function into one sink.

Thick worktops
When specifying thick kitchen worktops, consider the fixing of taps; it may be necessary to undercut the worktop to accommodate the thread length of the tap.

Solid Stone Sinks
When specifying stone sinks it is well worth understanding their weight, depth, support and how to integrate ‘over flows’.

Matching metal finishes.
When specifying taps and sprays it is important to consider the metal finishes available.  Is it possible for the taps to match the wastes in the sink?  Will they have to be custom finished?

Dishwashers
Dishwashers have a minimum height beyond which they cannot be compressed. With integrated models it is important to ensure the height of the plinth and length of the integrated door is considered so the geometry of opening door works. Particular care should be taken with ‘in frame’ doors.  If the kitchen caters for large parties, are two dishwashers needed?

Bin Drawer Doors
Dishwashers and bin drawers are the most frequently used moving parts of a kitchen, and therefore need to be robust. Does the adjoining furniture need to be protected from steam and water? The design of a bin drawer needs to facilitate easy cleaning and sorting of waste for recycling.

Waste Disposal
Is kitchen waste disposal needed?  Switched or continuous feed?

Consider the storage of waste. If possible, do not store waste within the kitchen but look to a transitory location for larger volumes between ‘bin days’.  Dealing with waste is an essential process within a household and a holistic strategy needs to be developed that works.

 

Designing a bespoke, luxury kitchen - Quarta option

 

Kitchen Equipment and Gadgets

There are a never ending list of kitchen gadgets and equipment for food preparation.  It is worthwhile finding out which ones need to be stored in and around the kitchen; here is a check list:

  • Integrated and worktop coffee machines.
  • Sous-vide.
  • Multifunctional taps (and affiliated reservoirs).
  • Bar top bottle coolers.
  • Ice cream makers.
  • Bread makers.
  • Fish kettles.
  • Rice steamers.
  • Food processor.
  • Mixers.
  • Juicers.
  • Coffee grinders.
  • Sandwich toaster.

 

For further information, call Bruce or Andrew on 01934 745 270 or email newprojects@artichoke-ltd.com

 

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