This is a stunning kitchen design we produced for the owner of the Lutyens House, Little Thakeham, in Sussex. The style is high Arts & Crafts country house style - the brief was to look like it was contemporary with the original house.
The brief also required that it be designed and built to the same exacting craft standards that Lutyens would have insisted on. This required the best materials, skilled cabinet making, skilled blacksmithing, fitting and finishing. An interesting thought on reproducing a period kitchen like this is that originally this would have been a servant's room, and would probably have had a 'standard' cream painted pine kitchen. When designing a new kitchen for this type of interior, you have to design it as the original designer might have done had this been for one of the better rooms in the house. And you also have to incorporate all the conveniences of modern life.
The room had not been used as a kitchen for years and was in generally poor condition. The chimney breast had to be re-built further forward, and a new ornate shelf had to be built over the opening for the range. This allowed us to hide the Aga chimney and extractor underneath. Also, there were too many doors & angled walls in the room!
The design incorporates many Lutyens design ideas and touches. Lutyens often played with circles and part circles in his work, which we continued with arcs in the kickboards, the stone sink splashback, the chimney shelf, etc. The use of flat panelled oak doors is prevalent in the house, which we continued in the cupboard doors. The 'buttress' ends were really a Voysey touch, not something that Lutyens used.
The kitchen was stained to match the colour of the oak doors throughout the house. Steel handles & hinges for all the furniture, to match the same style & steel finish door furniture used throughout the house. Even the dishwasher door is made to look like a drawer & door, with false hinges, so the door can open downwards.
There is an oak leading edge detail to all the black stone worktops. The ends of these oak edges had a lovely mitred end detail, real craftmanship. Electric sockets were cleverly hidden, set into the top of the unit end panels & hidden by the worktop overhangs.
We also used quarter sawn solid oak ( which emphasises the beauty of Oak wood grain ) for the woodwork on the units, which is a key element of Lutyens, and Arts & Crafts cabinet work in general. The woodwork was then given several coats of oil, to provide long term protection and which really brings out the beauty of the wood over time.
Another feature we used from Lutyens original design work at Thakeham was the use of beautiful bright steel strap hinges and handles on all the doors. We had a blacksmith make up these cabinet handles and hinges especially to echo the originals, which 'lifts' the units superbly. The steel was all sealed, to stop it rusting in future (especially steel on oak & in a kitchen as well!).
The kitchen had to look like original Arts & Crafts cabinets, for a more freestanding look, (part of the brief was that there should be no wall cupboards, not that there was much blank wall to put them on anyway). The introduction of a black stone worktop, to match the top of the range, introduced a more sophisticated modern feel as well. The sink run had a matching stone splashback, with a curved piece in the middle, behind the sink. The double ceramic butlers sink echoed the Edwardian feel we were trying to capture.
You can have the best design and making service, but a kitchen must be practical as well. A traditional design must be able to incorporate modern appliances. The sink run actually houses an integrated fridge and dishwasher. The base units actually incorporate electric sockets at the ends ( which will be matching oak faced when finished ) - this makes visible sockets a thing of the past, but still easy to access. Each end of the sink run incorporates an electric plinth heater, for heating the room quickly (just visible in 1 photo).
The large long island makes a great central feature in the room. The large storage space can be accessed from either side of the units. A built-in Oak Arts & Crafts settle will be built into the back corner of the kitchen, to serve as seating for the table.
The back wall, oppisate the Aga, had a large cream painted dresser installed, which harks back to how the kitchen might have looked originally. It was painted cream to match the colour of the Aga. The top half of the dresser had glazed doors, and the interior was painted a dull green, perfect for displaying ornate chinaware.
We would be happy to discuss any future kitchen design projects of this nature with customers wishing to achieve an authentic Arts & Crafts look. Each kitchen is designed and made as a one-off, so it is difficult to give quotations at an early stage ( there are too many variables to consider ). We are always pleased to discuss options.