Carrara & the English Country House

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.

 

Our view here at Artichoke is that if a designer creates beautifully detailed kitchen furniture, very little else needs then to be added to detract from it.  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 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 not to suggest English stones for many of our kitchen worktops.  While many of them are extremely hard wearing (such as slates available from Lancashire), few of them can be used for pieces such as cook’s tables or islands. 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 was the favoured marble of choice. Not only was it readily available, but its quiet and understated graining also reflected the characteristics of the English themselves. It is luxurious without being opulent and it has a more understated veining compared to other more ‘vulgar’ marbles.  It can be seen in many of England’s finest country houses such as Chatsworth.  Marble Arch is built from Carrara.  It has been described as the elegant workhorse of the kitchen, and it ages beautifully.

From a longevity point of view, Carrara marble is 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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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