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.

Carrara & the English Country Kitchen

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.

 

Carrara marble for country house
Carrara marble grain. Understated and elegant.

 

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’.

 

Carrara marble islands
Honed Carrara Marble worktops and backsplash form an understated background to this Artichoke kitchen.

 

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.
 

To discuss your project, email the Artichoke team at newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call on +44 (0)1934 745270.

Original & Elegant Georgian Kitchen Design

When a child under the age of ten is asked to draw a house, it is typically a Georgian house, with a door in the middle and sash windows to the side.  Everyone loves Georgian architecture.  There is something about its proportions, its materials and its grandeur that makes it appealing to all of us, and the same applies to elegant Georgian kitchen design.

 

A Georgian kitchen designed and made by us for a Georgian house in Cheshire

Georgian kitchen design as we think of it today is a little misleading.  In the 1700s, most kitchens on the great houses of Britain were often positioned in a wing or subsidiary building.  This was to keep cooking and curing smells away from the main house.  Original Georgian kitchens were in fact quite devoid of furniture and any sense of intentional interior design.  Their focus was more on the appliances such as cooking grates, spits and ovens.  There may have been a cook’s table and a dresser to store pots in, but that was as flamboyant as most got.

 

Georgian kitchen design islands
Artichoke created this Georgian kitchen design for a Dorset country house built originally in the early 1700s.

 

Aga oven under stone chimney
Artichoke designed the mouldings on the stone over mantle to match the scale of the room. .
From back of house to front – How the Georgian Kitchen gained prominence

Owners of grand houses did not like to spend money on their back of house spaces and consequently most original Georgian kitchen designs were kept pared back and understated.  As the industrial revolution began to take hold, a burgeoning middle class began to appear and servants left their roles serving the upper and middle classes to take jobs in factories.  Servant’s wages began to rise to a point where hiring them became unsustainable for country estates, and as a consequence, the lady of the house became more involved in the kitchen.  This marked the turning point in kitchen design.  Home owners did not want to spend their day in the dingy spaces that their predecessors’ staff had had to endure, and as a result, back of house kitchens manned by maids were userped by front of house kitchens manned by their owners.   And with the Georgian kitchen’s new prominent location within the home came a sharper focus on interiors and kitchen furniture design.

 

Georgian kitchen by Artichoke
This Artichoke designed kitchen used the Georgian cook’s kitchen as its centrepiece.

 

Shelves in a Georgian kitchen design
Simple glazed storage for glassware.

 

Georgian Kitchen Design for Grander Houses

When kitchens were back of house, their detail was kept to a minimum for a number of reasons.  Detail costs money, and detail takes time to clean.  The door frames were therefore typically square and the cabinets were usually devoid of mouldings and decoration.

When kitchens were moved to the ground floor of the main house, the  rooms were larger, as were the budgets.  The scale and proportion of these larger spaces also allowed for greater decoration and moulding to match the spaces they were in.  Typical kitchen tasks, previously divided in separate smaller basement rooms such as scullery, pantry, larder and cooking were now amalgamated into a single larger space.  The Georgian kitchen had become and multi functional space.

 

Grand Georgian country house kitchen
This grand Georgian kitchen was designed by the architect Craig Hamilton and made by Artichoke. It illustrates how a larger room can take more detail.

 

Georgian kitchen design
Greek classical mouldings were used in the design of this kitchen.

 

Georgian kitchen detail
The columns on the kitchen island reflect detail elsewhere on the façade of the Georgian building.

 

For further information about Georgian kitchen design and Artichoke’s bespoke kitchen design services, email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk or call +44 1943 745 270

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Request Portfolio

Request Portfolio

Please get in touch using the form below

  • Hidden
  • How did you hear about us?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.