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.

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