Past meets present in the best of British kitchen design, as the latest styles give a modern twist to classical cabinetry
Above Floor-to-ceiling cupboards make the most of a high ceiling. In this bespoke Bovingdon kitchen by Podesta, lightweight Carrara-style quartz worktops are teamed with dark blue and natural cabinetry for a modern take on the traditional look. Classically proportioned furniture makes this style instantly recognisable and one that will stand the test of time. Added elements such as a classic cornice, end posts and beading enhance the elegant approach with prices from £62,000
Whichever kitchen camp you fall into – classic or contemporary – the current vogue for a modern take on traditional delivers on all counts, and Brit designers do it best. With its heritage firmly steeped in the workbenches and pantries of the Victorian era, today’s multifunctional spaces still utilise these elements, albeit with a dramatically dark finish and teamed with an eclectic mix of contrasting materials and textures.
Above With ample room for family mealtimes as well as entertaining, this striking kitchen from British Standard Cupboards is made up of a series of cabinets and a larder unit painted in a Sanderson shade to colour-match Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue. Cabinetry is from £465 and average kitchens from £8,000
‘The key is to create something timeless,’ reveals Andy McCarron, managing director of McCarron & Co. ‘It’s important to have a nod to the past with subtle design details and proportions too. Above all though, the quality must shine through and be evident throughout, as a modern classic won’t stand the test of time if it isn’t beautifully made.’
Above This stunning Arts & Crafts house has high ceilings and spacious rooms, so the Real Shaker Kitchen by deVOL was the perfect solution to making the most of every inch while letting the natural light flood in. Painted in deVOL’s Pantry Blue, prices start from £12,000
Simple and understated are two of the hallmarks of this nod to our industrial past – themes that are carefully blended with the innovations and high-tech aspects of our forward-thinking kitchens of today. ‘Capturing the modern classic look is all about the balance of heritage and innovation both in terms of design and manufacturing,’ explains Peter Humphrey, design director and founder of Humphrey Munson. ‘When it comes to the actual manufacturing and installation of a project, we make all our cabinetry using traditional joinery techniques but we embrace modern innovation at every turn – for example, our drawers are all made using traditional dovetail joints but they sit on soft-close drawer runners.’
Above The owners of this Martin Moore kitchen love to entertain, so the New Classic range incorporates plenty of workspace and storage. An American black walnut island is contrasted with painted cabinetry in Little Greene’s Bone China Blue and Rolling Fog, with prices starting at £35,000
It’s this form and function approach that makes the modern classic kitchen so sought after. Plan the room with casual zones for the different activities of cooking, eating, relaxing and even working, using a combination of fitted and freestanding furniture where necessary. Think about your storage needs, how much worktop will work for you and how you like to cook and move about the kitchen. The trick to making it your own is to add personal touches with a favourite floor covering, unusual lighting or a carefully curated display of much-loved ceramics or glassware. ‘Making a kitchen personal is the hardest bit for many people to get right,’ says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL, ‘but adding your own touches is what will make your room feel special. It could be collections of crockery and linens neatly stacked on Shaker shelves for all to admire. It could be your treasured array of copper cookware, collected over many years, all hanging around the ceilings and used every day, or it could just be a jumble of organised chaos that works perfectly and tells a story of you and your family’s passions and life.’
Above Handleless Shaker-style cabinetry from Higham Furniture provides the perfect contemporary twist on a classic kitchen design. Painted in Little Greene’s French Grey, prices start at £25,000. Add accents of white and wood for extra warmth and character
Q&A with Richard Moore, design director of Martin Moore
What are the key elements of ‘modern classic’ kitchen design? The idea of ‘modern classic’ is an evolution of traditional furniture adapted to suit today’s lifestyles. Their forms and proportions are inspired by period pieces, but the detailing is pared back to make them timeless. They should seem as if they have always been there, while at the same time looking relevant.
How can it be interpreted for today’s multifunctional kitchens? Key elements of furniture in a period kitchen have adapted perfectly to today’s multifunctional spaces. The most versatile of all is the dresser. As well as storing linen, chinaware and cutlery, the classic dresser can now be purpose-designed as a larder, an appliance cupboard or even a drinks station with sinks, fridges, coffee machines and wine coolers hidden away.
What other pieces have been taken forward? In addition to the dresser, several other elements of the traditional kitchen are central to the modern classic concept. These include a large central workstation, which in Victorian kitchens would have been a table and has now evolved into the island. Period kitchens also tended to centre around cooking on a large range within a chimney recess with a mantelpiece above. This has been adopted as an icon for the modern classic kitchen, with the contemporary range cooker creating a focal point for the room. Other transitions from period to modern classic style include capacious butler’s sinks and large end grain chopping blocks.
What makes British kitchen design the best? Britain has a centuries-old tradition of design and craftsmanship and has always had its own recognisable style, perfectly suited to the proportions of British houses. This style has been widely admired across the world because it is elegant, practical and beautiful. The roots of modern classic kitchens lie in the English cabinetmakers’ skills, which keep it alive to this day.
Above A bespoke in-frame design by Charlie Kingham, this kitchen features plain panel Shaker-style furniture, hand-painted in Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Gray. With prices from £15,000, the quartz worktops with pencil edge and cornice details keep the classical feel prominent
Advice from Fred Horlock, kitchen designer at Neptune
• Making stylised choices such as removing the backs of cabinets to see features such as original brick walls can be a great and efficient way of introducing texture into a modern kitchen. Closed wall cabinets can dominate a kitchen if they’re over-used and so open shelving is a way to break things up and will expose the original wall.
• Hardware is a great way to add a modern twist to a more traditional style. Using brass hardware is something we’ve been doing for a while – it’s on trend, but is also timeless.
• Lighter colours tend to work well in most kitchens because there’s usually a variety of surfaces and textures that reflect light to brighten it further, such as stainless steel, enamel cookers and hobs or polished worksurfaces.
• Blending two complementary, light colours creates a calm, sophisticated space with a subtle amount of variation in tone and unlike with darker colours, they won’t try to compete for attention, they’ll harmonise with one another.
• Combining texture and rustic colours with contemporary spaces can work fantastically well. This could be anything from accessorising the kitchen with aged copper pans or a characterful wooden chopping board to using reclaimed brick or rough sawn timber panelling on feature walls.
Above Neptune’s Suffolk kitchen design was inspired by a simple 18th century chair found in an East Anglian antiques shop. Starting from £14,000 for a medium kitchen, the clean-lined look is made up from tulipwood, plywood and oak cabinets that can be painted in standard colours such as Dove Grey and Honed Slate
Article by: Hayley Gilbert