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Real home: An individual country-meets-modern kitchen
Simple lines and industrial finishes are softened by wooden accents and light in this kitchen
written on: 12-04-2022 10:30am
"My friend calls it the operating theatre,” laughs Ali Children, describing the kitchen in her farmhouse in Herefordshire which she shares with husband Simon and their three kids. However, clinical is not the word for this imaginative space. The eight-metre sweep of polished concrete underneath the picture window, the oak units stained to match the old beams of the 1850s house and the crisp mix of white, wood and stainless steel on the island give the space real personality.
- Owners/residents: Ali Children, her husband Simon and their kids Harry, Josh and Madeleine
- Kitchen feature: The combination of wood, steel and concrete gives each element of this Roundhouse kitchen individual character
When the Children family moved into Rudgend Farm it was, in Ali’s words, a wreck. Over 10 years Ali and Simon painstakingly restored and renovated. The kitchen was the finale and the space was extended and knocked through to include an adjoining low-ceilinged corridor, which became the snug. “The view was key for us,” says Ali. The long, narrow windows are at head height and crop the terraced garden into inviting snippets of colour and movement. “You walk through the front door and see straight into the garden.”
When it came to the layout of the new interior Ali was keen to move away from the traditional. She explains, “I really didn’t want a cook space that looked like a kitchen. I wanted it to look like individual pieces of furniture, each with distinct features.” To help them achieve this, Ali and Simon worked with designer Jonny Morris at Roundhouse Cheltenham, where all furniture is made bespoke. “As soon as I walked into the showroom I thought, this is different. It was imaginative and individual and I absolutely knew it would work,” she says.
As Ali had envisaged, the kitchen is divided into three. The island houses the induction hob and has a stainless steel worktop and a wrap-around whole-stave oak bar with seating. The final piece of the kitchen is the long run of polished concrete and wide, deep drawers. “Simon and I don’t let the children leave anything out on top because the concrete is so beautiful it can’t be cluttered up!”
The family spends most of their time here – cooking, talking, listening to music, watching telly, says Ali. For a space so regularly occupied Ali’s kitchen is spotless – designed so there is a place for everything. It’s creative and enjoyable. But an operating theatre? No.
Q & A – Jonny Morris, director of Roundhouse Cheltenham
- What was your brief? This was a fun kitchen to design because Ali and Simon were enthusiastic and really didn’t want a traditional looking kitchen. They had come to Roundhouse because we approach design a little differently and we make everything bespoke. The island is the first thing you see when you walk in and the oak bar and seating means it doesn’t scream ‘kitchen’. Ali wanted furniture that looked like ‘you could pick it up and move it,’ and that was key to the project. The long sink run was designed to complement the picture window above it. The plinth is pushed back and the run doesn’t go wall to wall which gives the illusion of a freestanding piece of furniture that almost floats.
- What influenced your choice of materials? Ali and Simon wanted natural elements to their kitchen so we chose steel and wood. Ali loved white European oak but Simon was worried it was too pale and wanted something richer to match the original oak beams in the farmhouse so we stained the wood a warmer shade. We used it in the book matched tall units and in the whole stave oak bar, with a rough-sawn finish on the exposed back. Ali saw the concrete worktop in our showroom and loved it. It really complements the other finishes.
- Any challenges with the scheme? We pushed the boundaries with the drawer design to make them as wide as possible and help achieve a long, linear look. Each drawer front is 2.4 metres so we had to be sure they could take the weight, which they do.
Credit: Heather Gunn (Images), Rebecca Morris (Words) Published: As featured in EKBB Magazine, Issue 253