Those who favour a more contemporary, cutting-edge kitchen look are sure to be won over by the latest trend to hit the British kitchen scene. As industrial interiors continue to take over our homes, this easy blend between urban and utility creates a fully functional space perfect for modern living.
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“This look is all about mixing materials such as concrete, wood, exposed brick walls, glass and stainless steel,” says Andrew Hall, who is managing director of Woodstock Furniture.
He says: “Different materials and colours break the space up to ensure it’s still inviting while not appearing cold and clinical.
“Streamlining cabinetry and creating uncluttered work expanses are also key to the essence of this style, which is form and function.”
So where to start? Well, according to kitchen designer Tom Howley, light and space are essential. “Design to get the most out of the space,” he explains.
He adds, “Something as simple as moving the window can completely transform the functionality of a room.
“Opt for a contemporary colour palette complemented by modern hardware to elevate the design.
“I recommend keeping it as simple as possible.
“Choose open shelving, for instance, but give yourself the option of concealed storage for food cupboard essentials.”
For furniture, it’s all about simple slab doors – handleless or with recessed handles – and Shaker styles with square frames and clean lines. Recycling is another aspect that will help give your scheme an individual look.
Melissa Klink, head of design at Harvey Jones, says: “When it comes to utilitarian living, the best and most effective way to introduce this aspect is with recycled and industrial elements.”
“Consider installing a worktop that looks visually stunning as well as being made up of recycled china and glass,” she adds, ” and also, try reusing existing appliances, worktops and handles in your new kitchen to create a unique style.”
Think about mixing it up with different textures, too. Consider matt door fronts with grained oak designs; use reflective metallic-clad islands or mirrored splashbacks and finish with a sleek run of quartz or marble work surfaces. Choose pieces that you love and you’ll never go wrong.
We speak to Roundhouse Design director James Telford to glean some of his kitchen expertise.
What are the hallmarks of a modern British utilitarian kitchen?
A modern British kitchen is the working powerhouse of the home and a utilitarian design reflects that. Rough sawn timber, robust stainless steel, smooth concrete and patinated aged metals are my materials of choice. These are often used in spaces where the architectural ‘bones’ of the building are exposed, such as brickwork or steel joists.
How are designers making it their own and which materials, colours and finishes are most sought after?
By carefully mixing materials and textures and combining them with colour, either as an accent or in painted cabinetry. Blues and greys are still the most popular colour choices for the main kitchen cabinetry but increasingly unusual materials are being used on the island, making it a focal point. At Roundhouse we’re seeing our clients becoming more adventurous in their choice of materials with antique brass or burnished bronze growing in popularity, and these finishes are being used with other textural materials like deeply riven oak or work surfaces made of gorgeous textured stone or brushed stainless steel.
What are the best ways of adding warmth and personality?
The addition of a large freestanding piece like our glazed Nightingale cabinet with its antique mirror back and glass shelving brings personality to a utilitarian design, allowing for personal collections of glass or china to be displayed. Similarly, open shelving performs the same function and has the additional benefit of breaking up long runs of cabinetry. Use large art prints or posters and consider introducing soft furnishings in the form of custom-made banquettes.
Is it a style that will endure?
Providing the style is not followed slavishly just to tick the trend boxes then yes. Roundhouse kitchens are built to last and our understated style ensures they don’t date. We’ve got a polished concrete and timber kitchen that looks as good today as it did when first installed 14 years ago.
We also spoke to Kiran Noonan, managing director at John Lewis of Hungerford, and sought out his kitchen design advice.
• Modern utility spaces need to be super practical and hardworking to suit a busy lifestyle. They need to either be open and accessible with open shelving above and below the counter, or hidden away in defined zones. Use pantries or larder cupboards for food storage with everything in one place. Utility spaces can also incorporate work areas such as breakfast stations, baking areas and social media zones.
• Granite and quartz are firm favourites for worktops, as they are hardworking materials. They are also available in very modern finishes such as honed or suede as well as new varieties that can take on the appearance of concrete with a very realistic finish. Real, poured concrete is still used but these new quartz varieties create a similar look, are easier to install and are eminently more practical.
• Surfaces and materials need to be durable with minimal time for cleaning. Timber is a key feature of a modern utilitarian look, from chunky butcher’s blocks for preparation, breakfast bars and floating open shelves. It’s a hard-wearing surface when looked after and adds another texture to a kitchen scheme.
•Painted cabinetry, though it can sound delicate, is actually a very hard-wearing surface when applied correctly. A good painted kitchen company will test its paint finish and ensure it is suitable for the kitchen environment and offer a low maintenance surface with an unlimited range of colours for you to create your individual look.
•Internal accessories are now available in a number of modern finishes. Most popular at present is a gunmetal or anthracite finish on metal baskets and pull-outs. These echo style choices for room design such as Crittall-style windows, metal sliding doors and exposed steel supports.