When people visit the house, they often say it’s like a Tardis,’ laughs Vanessa Walter, who lives in the end of terrace Bristol property with her husband Frank and their two young children. ‘They come in and find this incredible space at the back.’ It’s not surprising to hear of the awe the space inspires. Its mixture of polished glass walls and engineered walnut cabinetry is an exercise in how to blend contemporary design without compromising the period character of the four storey building, and Vanessa says it’s completely transformed the way the family uses their home. ‘It’s not an exaggeration to say the new kitchen has changed our lives. We live in here, entertain in here a lot and the children play in here – despite the fact we have a playroom underneath the kitchen!’


Vanessa and Frank knew the project was going to be an ambitious one, so they enlisted the help of architect firm Paul Archer Design, a company specialising in old to new. ‘The old kitchen was just a little space at the back which would originally have been the drawing room,’ explains Vanessa. ‘It was quite small compared to the size of the house.’



And so, a major conversion began. The back of the house was completely removed in order to build an entirely new space. With such an investment the couple knew the kitchen they put in the room would have to live up to the space surrounding it. ‘We’d fallen in love with the engineered walnut of the bulthaup kitchen when we saw it in a showroom in Germany,’ says Vanessa. ‘We looked at other options but decided that if we were going to be creating this space we needed to put the most fabulous kitchen in there.’


Designer Richard Keyes of UK company Hobsons Choice joined the project after Vanessa and Frank made the decision to go with a bulthaup system. ‘Our brief was quite straightforward. We’re both keen cooks and wanted to be able to operate in the kitchen at the same time,’ explains Vanessa. ‘With two young children we knew we also needed space to gather. Plus, we like everything to be neat and tidy, so storage was really important.’



The outcome is a contemporary space filled with light which still retains the warmth of a traditional period kitchen. The engineered walnut cabinets contrast with the gloss finish on the bar island countertop and the polished glass, bringing effortless style to the new space and breathing a new lease of life into the Victorian building. Meanwhile a chance encounter with celebrity chef Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat Saison persuaded the couple to invest in a bank of top-spec ovens from Gaggenau.


With a four-year build schedule – including a period of two years when the family had to move out of the home – this was no small project. So was it all worth it? ‘We’re planning to live with this for a long time and there’s no question in our mind that it’s our dream kitchen,’ says Vanessa. ‘So the conclusion is yes, it was definitely worth it.’


Kitchens from hobsonschoice.uk.com start from £35,000.


Photos courtesy of Darren Chung


Article by: Molly Forbes