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Real home: a contemporary kitchen with an integrated faux tree

The magnetic green laminate makes the space fit perfectly within the garden views that surround it
   Amanda Peters  |  written on: 15-03-2019 09:00am

Q&A with Rhiannon Phenis, senior designer at Sola Kitchens.

What was the design brief? What kind of space did the homeowners want to create?
The client wanted an open, sociable space that functioned as a chef’s kitchen while at the same time didn’t look like one. They loved all things vintage and eclectic and the only specific they had was that they wanted a tree in the kitchen.

What was the biggest challenge of the project? How did you overcome it?
The initial challenge was to create a functional, yet effectively hidden kitchen in a style that appealed to the client without much of a design brief. Considering it wasn’t supposed to look like a kitchen, I avoided wooden furniture as this would fall into the trap of typical kitchen cabinetry. However, their love of vintage implied that I needed to feature the warmth of wood somewhere, and that is when I came across this magnetic laminate in deep green. The laminate on the door fronts, surrounded by walnut frames and the lack of handles made it look less like furniture yet brought in the warmth. The natural colours and tones perfectly blend the space with the garden views, not to mention the tree in the middle of the island.

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Inspiration by Sola Kitchens


Clever design solutions are often hidden ones. For instance, Corian was used for the countertops as this flexible material cleverly concealed the induction cook zones made of a ceramic type material called TPB Tech. As I didn’t want to ruin the aesthetic of the beautifully tall and inclined ceiling with an extractor above the cooktop, a bespoke one was created and positioned above the fridge/freezer.

Expert's corner: how to keep your kitchen worktops clutter-free

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Inspiration by Sola Kitchens


The base of the island was mirror-clad, creating the illusion that it is floating, as well as made the functional cabinetry behind it disappear. The space also hid an accessible manhole cover and a post box within.

How was the tree idea conceived? Were there any special design considerations taken?
The client had lived in a property called Olive House and they loved the idea of tying together the indoors with the outdoors. I originally planned to have a living tree in the island and had to make sure that there was adequate and accessible space for it to be housed and watered underneath the kitchen worktop. However, after researching the feasibility of it being alive, I settled on a faux tree that took a large team to finally get into the house and position into place.

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Inspiration by Sola Kitchens


Can you elaborate on the design of the ceiling?
The client wanted a light and airy space. Thus, the high ceiling was primarily kept bare apart from the lighting that accentuates the architecturally features. The tree was also used as a means to highlight the height of the room.

What’s your favourite element of the new look?
There is no denying that the tree is the biggest feature. However, the mirror cladding on the island makes it seem like it is floating in thin air and emerging from the countertop, while the antiquing of the mirror softens the look.

What’s your top piece of advice for anyone considering redesigning their kitchen?
Think about why you want the change and make sure you reflect on this throughout the process. It’s easy to lose sight of this as you progress through the various stages of research and design.

Also read:
Expert's corner: three ways to bring the outdoors in to your interiors
Real home: A brass splashback shines through this all-white kitchen

NEXT! Want some fresh ideas for displaying greenery in your home? Get inspired by our moodboard of ideas - click any image below to begin exploring. 





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