The answer, say Ali and Paul Cunningham, is to re-think the layout and extend – and they’ve done this not just once, but twice.
"When we moved in as a couple 23 years ago, it was a perfectly-sized three-bedroom cottage," explains Ali of their early Victorian lodge in Sussex. "Then our sons were born, so we knocked down a leaking lean-to conservatory and replaced it with a playroom and extended to add a kitchen, further bedroom and bathroom to create more space. Now, we’ve extended again to replace the old drawing room with a larger, open-plan kitchen-dining living space that much better suits the way we like to live as a family now."
In the process, they have converted the former kitchen into a family TV snug and made the old dining room into Ali’s study. Ali volunteers locally and Paul is a solicitor, while their sons, Sam, 21, and Tom, 18, are students, so life is busy.
"We wanted to create a room where everyone could be together, but not on top of each other," explains Ali, who says that friends are frequent visitors, while both her brothers and their families will join in the festivities at Christmas. "Everyone can get together in this room – there’s plenty of space," she says.
After researching a number of potential kitchen suppliers, Ali and Paul settled on a local Sussex company, OpenHaus, after admiring its showroom and the friendly approach of the staff.
"My previous kitchen had felt cluttered, so this time I wanted clean lines, plenty of storage and work surface space, and easy maintenance – no nooks and crannies for dirt to hide," she says. "I love blue and white as a fresh, crisp combination, and I felt it would work beautifully in this space."
No more extensions or modifications in the house then? "It’s a very comfortable space, and I think we’ve future proofed it," laughs Ali. "We both feel we’ve got it right this time."
Kitchen profile: Rational Cambia blue soft lacquer cabinetry is finished with brushed stainless steel strip handles and plinths to accentuate its sleekly linear design. Dekton Zenith solid white worktops provide clean contrast, while an oak bar and pillar complete the design with a touch of natural beauty. OpenHaus Kitchens The Old Chapel, Horsham Road, Pease Pottage, West Sussex, RH11 9AW. Tel 01293 511804; openhauskitchens.co.uk. Kitchen prices start from £25,000.
Q+A with Jon Hunt, Designer at Openhaus Kitchens
What was the key challenge? It was important to create a well-balanced layout in a large space, and to resolve what some may see as a problem – the structural pillar in the centre of the room. We designed a large island which not only embraces the pillar so that is no longer an obstacle, but also provides plenty of work surface, the cooking zone, drawers for storage, a built under fridge and freezer, and a breakfast bar.
Can you tell us about the colours and materials? The furniture is finished in a velvety-matt lacquer in a deep blue, which contrasts with slender, 20mm white worktops and white-painted walls. The worktops are made from Dekton, which is an ultra-compact porcelain surface material which is very robust and highly stain, scratch and heat resistant, ideal in a busy kitchen. Ali and Paul chose a solid oak handmade breakfast bar and oak cladding for the structural pillar, and limestone flooring, which all add natural warmth to the scheme.
How did you design the extraction? Powerful, quiet extraction is especially important in an open-plan room like this one. This model is unobtrusive, almost ‘disappearing’ into the ceiling, with its ducting hidden above.
How did you plan the tall units? There are two large banks of tall units, one to house the ovens and fridge, the other the walk-in larder. Both are recessed into the walls to minimise their bulk and create a streamlined finish in keeping with the clean, unfussy design of the room.
STOCKISTS Appliances HB678GBS6B oven, £1,229; HM678G4S6B combination microwave oven, £1,829; CS658GRS1B compact steam oven, £1,459; BI630CNS1B warming drawer, £529; EH975MV17E induction hob, £1,819; LF959RE55B ceiling extractor, £,2089; CI30RP01 fully integrated fridge, £4,609; KU15RA51GB builtunder fridge, £499; GU15DA50GB built-under freezer, £529; SX778D00TG fully integrated dishwasher, £919; all Siemens. Fixtures and furnishings Blanco Culina-S tap in chrome, £609; BlancoSubline 500-U, £600, and 160-U, £324, undermounted Silgranit PuraDur II White sinks, range starting from £324; all Blanco. Solid oak breakfast bar, handmade to order, Fergus Gillett. Nordic Square boiling water tap in chrome, £950, Quooker. Rational Cambia cabinetry, £POA; Dekton Zenith worktops, £POA, all OpenHaus Kitchens. Dijon tumbled limestone floor tiles, from £41.85 per sq. m, Mandarin Stone. Bar stools, £85 each, Horsham Forge. Old Factory pendant light, £99, Industville. Morsø wood burning stove, £POA, Bolney Stoves. AFIA Persian Nain 9La 296cm x 211cm rug, £3,500, Lilla Rugs. Le Creuset round casserole dish, £209; Artisan dinner plates, from £12; pre-lit sparkle wreath, £35, all The White Company. Tea towels, from £29, Tori Murphy. Pine cone luxury Christmas crackers, £35, Nancy & Betty Studio. Selection of candles from The White Company and Peppermint Grove Australia.
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