The beautiful Georgian house near Bath had been on the market for a long time when John and Caroline Campbell took a leap of faith. It required their optimistic view in order to make the property ladder jump to a home beyond their imaginings, for their future retirement. Not only was the house a listed building, but the kitchen was disproportionately small for a house of its size. Additionally, the whole house required complete renovation, as little work had been carried out for the previous 35 years of ownership, which needed to be within the strictures of the Grade II listing. It’s easy to see why some may have been dissuaded.

 

However, the Campbells treated the challenges as opportunities. ‘The listing affects the outside of the property more than the inside, but we still couldn’t move any walls or affect the character of the house. For us, that wasn’t a problem – we feel so lucky to have a period house like this,’ says John. ‘For planning, we just informed them we wanted to replace all the electrics and plumbing, and to make some internal improvements.’ Even though the size of the kitchen was, quite literally, set in stone, the Campbells were able to find the right solution for their family.

 

 

‘In terms of fitting out the kitchen, the only implications were making enough space for everything we wanted. We worked out that we would have enough room if we could build an extension next to the kitchen in order to have dining space.’ The Campbells were granted planning permission with certain stipulations. ‘We were allowed to build under guidance. We had to ensure the extension looked similar to the orangery into which it leads, so the extension roof has a similar lantern roof, but we were allowed to have one of aluminium construction to avoid the necessity of repainting the timber regularly, but they still match.’

 

In addition they had to re-use the sash windows from the exterior wall that they took out to create the opening to the dining room, so they now form an interesting feature down one side of the extension. ‘We also had to have timber-framed exterior doors to match those in the orangery, and our builder managed to find some slim line double-glazing, so we were able to upgrade them for energy efficiency, including those in the period orangery too. We knew the previous kitchen layout wasn’t the best use of space, and we sought advice from an architect friend, but their designs lessened the appeal of the feature fireplace. It was after searching through magazines that we found Neptune by Sims Hilditch, and their design just made more sense. It made the best use of the space, light and features, and managed to fit a nice, big island – something we had always wanted.’

 

 

The couple opted not to have the usual breakfast bar and stools, as space would’ve been too tight. ‘The dining table is only a few feet away, and when you’re sat there and someone’s at the island, you’re still in the same eyeline, so can converse easily. However, more often than not, I find myself enjoying standing at the island chatting and reading the paper while Caroline prepares a meal. It’s such a focal point aesthetically, but it’s also such a huge, free work space. The kitchen is our most used room now, especially with our sons Jack, 25, and Alex, 23, cooking and Stan the cat wandering through. When I retired last year, I set myself some goals, to re-learn the piano, play the guitar, learn a new language, and to learn to cook. Well, I took delivery of a new piano last week, I’ve begun French classes and I’m getting myself a guitar, so now is the time to learn to knock up some good food without referring to a book,’ says John. In such a well-appointed kitchen, it’s easy to see how cooking has been added to this list of well-earned, stimulating and joyful pastimes and given the airy ambience of the room, it seems being a guardian of a period home is less a burden, more a blessing.

 

Kitchens from Neptune by Sims Hilditch start from £30,000.

 

Photos by Darren Chung

 

 

Article by: Kate Rowe