The interior design of many of our most treasured country houses in many ways reflects the characteristics of the English themselves. Restrained, understated, subtle and, occasionally, elegant.
These are all traits the Artichoke design team tries to inject into the kitchens and furniture we design for our client’s country houses. Many of these attributes are successfully delivered through the physical form of the furniture we design, such as the period mouldings we create for each piece, the width of the door frames we design and the proportion of the furniture. Achieving elegance through form can quickly be tarnished if the materials then chosen to adorn it are not well considered.
At Artichoke we believe that when a designer creates beautifully detailed kitchen furniture, little else needs to be added. This is particularly so with classical furniture where mouldings and shadow inject a wonderful flow and ripple into the face of the work. Contemporary kitchens are so often adorned with striking and flamboyant marbles because the furniture itself has little creative substance to it. By introducing a carrara marble worktop or another bold patterned marble, the designer is simply deflecting attention away from the fact the furniture is principally flat and lifeless.
It is inevitable that as designers and makers of kitchens and domestic areas of country houses, we have a view on which marble worktops look most appropriate in traditional environments. Despite our work being principally in English country houses, we tend to favour marble worktops over English stone when suggesting a design for many of our English country kitchens While many of them are extremely hard wearing (such as slates available from Lancashire), few of them can be used for pieces such as a cook’s table or a kitchen island. This is mainly due to the nature of their extraction from the rock bed. Most English stones are blasted from the quarry face with explosives, resulting in eccentric sized blocks usually no wider than two metres. By contrast, marble slabs are cut from the quarry face in huge rectangular blocks, allowing for a much greater size of slab (typically up to three metres in length). This makes marble much more practical to use in kitchen design. We explore which stones perform best for kitchen worktops in another blog ‘Ideas for Kitchen Worktops’.
In the Georgian and Edwardian periods of English architecture, Carrara marble was the favoured stone of choice.. It can be seen in many of England’s finest country houses such as Chatsworth. Marble Arch is built from Carrara. Not only was it readily available, but it’s quiet and understated graining also reflected the characteristics of the English themselves.
Carrara marble worktops are luxurious without being opulent and they have a more understated veining compared to other more ‘vulgar’ marbles. It has been described as the elegant workhorse of the kitchen, and it ages beautifully. From a longevity point of view, Carrara marble worktops are also timeless. This works well with our designs which we create to sit comfortably and elegantly into their architectural surroundings for many years. If we are to create furniture today that will be admired by future generations (in much the same way that today we admire work created in houses like Chatsworth), then it is worth remembering Carrara for your project.
With each project, whether a kitchen or a whole house, we aim to create Britain’s future heritage, adding architectural value to our clients’ houses for their families and for future generations. We aren’t simply making joinery. We are making history.