Christmas in Sam Gates and Andrew Hamilton Barr’s home is a festive and fun-filled family affair for the couple and their teenage children, Jack Storm, 16, and Tallulah, 13. Relaxed meals, with dishes prepared by each member of the family, are the heart of the celebrations, as Sam explains: ‘It starts on Christmas Eve,’ she says. ‘We all love cooking, so Andrew will be making the mince pies, the kids preparing sushi for dinner, and I’ll be getting things ready for the next day. With cheesy carols on the sound system and the dog mooching in the background, it’s a lovely way to spend time together.’



Food writer Sam, author of Food for your Brood, and Andrew, director of contemporary kitchen company Espresso Design, returned from 10 years’ living in Cape Town in 2013. Although they fell in love with their Edwardian semi-detached house in Surrey for its period character and village location, they were less impressed with its kitchen. ‘It was tiny, with hardly any work surface or storage, no dining area, and badly needed updating,’ explains Sam. Their solution? To knock down internal walls between the existing kitchen, piano room and boiler room to make one larger kitchen with enough space to include a dining table. New French doors open directly on to the garden, and flood the room with natural light.



‘We chose clean-lined, white furniture for the kitchen to create a simple, neutral background,’ continues Sam. ‘I like to be able to add colourful accents and change them when I’m ready for a different look.’ Christmas, she says, is a good time to dress the room with greenery, frosted and silvery touches, and flickering candles, creating a softly elegant backdrop to a noisy family gathering (there will usually be at least 10 around the table) and sumptuous fare. ‘After having so many hot Christmasses in South Africa, when the centrepiece would usually be fillet steak on the braai, now I love to cook a full-on traditional roast turkey event,’ she laughs, ‘although dessert will usually be lighter, such as my mango, lime and vodka sorbet.’



‘My book is all about sunny, happy cooking for people you love,’ continues Sam. ‘I can’t think of anything nicer than getting everyone together, and this room is big enough and friendly enough to do just that.’


Cesar Cloe handleless cabinetry in Silk-effect White lacquer creates a clean-lined finish in this family kitchen. Drawers are finished with a chamfered edge and Silk White profiles to enhance the crisp effect of the design, while 20mm worktops of Stone Italiana KSoul quartz introduce subtle interest. Kitchens start from £25,000 at


Photos by Malcolm Menzies


Article by: Amelia Thorpe