The biggest challenge in terms of design, materials and budget has been, without doubt, our kitchen.
We decided early in the process that we wanted a big, black, monolithic kitchen; “like the control deck in the Death Star” as my Star-Wars obsessed husband, Sean, described!
How then to achieve a minimalist aesthetic, a statement black colour which wouldn’t feel cold, enough cupboard space to function as kitchen, ‘plant’ room and cloakroom storage, and all for a tight budget?
Challenge set and accepted.
I tackled flooring first – we have always wanted a polished concrete floor, but I was staggered when I got some quotes in, I had no idea concrete could be so expensive!
We were lucky to stumble upon a local company, whose core business is doing all the floors at Gatwick airport, but – almost as a sideline – they do a poured-resin concrete-like floor for residential properties. The quote was a much more affordable figure and we’re very happy with the results.
We returned to a kitchen supplier we had used previously to discuss our project – Kitchen Warehouse, a family run company based in Yorkshire, which not only produces exceptionally high-quality kitchens for a very good price, but have outstanding customer service.
I explained to their kitchen designer, Daniel, our plan to have a part-factory-produced, part-bespoke kitchen and discussed if he’d be willing to work with us to create a one-off design.
Daniel immediately got our vision and agreed to supply us with a carcass only order, helping us with the minutiae of the design and supporting us every step of the way, even tweaking a cabinet size while it was being made in the workshop!
So then to the cabinet doors – I sourced 18mm thick BB grade birch ply which could be cut to the exact measurements of all 53 door dimensions, millimetre perfect, from Cutting Edge CNC in Lewes.
The ply was stained black, with a matt lacquer top coat by Adam at the Spray Centre in Peacehaven (who was so patient with my often-stupid questions: “Adam, can you sand the face and edges of the doors before you spray them?” to which he gently replied, “Georgia, we’re in the spraying business and dust is our nemesis…”!)
More straight-forward decisions included a cut-to-size 20mm thick, wide stave, oak worktop from Good Timber; a long stainless steel trough sink; integrated appliances; feature pendant lighting and an induction hob. We were ready to go.
In just two days our carpenter Ben and his team, Bob and Ken, had the kitchen up and in place – like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece slotted in, and…ta dah: a kitchen.
I am so proud of what we have created and the team who have helped us.
Our kitchen is monolithic and minimalist, but it’s also warmed by the oak wood, softened by the glimpse of hedgerow through the splashback window, and it really comes in to its own in the evening when we turn the bright spots off and the pendant lights make the room glow.
The cabinet doors are, in my opinion, beautiful – quite obviously and immediately, they’re a floor to ceiling wall of jet black, but the more you look, the more the natural grain of the plywood comes through, creating mesmerizing ebony rivers and swirls.
The underfloor heating transfers wonderfully through the resin concrete floor, warming my toes as I cook fish fingers for the kids.
The tall pocket door cabinet which caused our carpentry team so many headaches, perfectly hides all the ugly but essential culinary paraphernalia of kettle, toaster and coffee machine.
Our blush-Formica-topped ply dining table and the powder pink curtains soften the monochromes. Pot plants dotted around bring nature in to the room.
We haven’t, mercifully, created a kitchen inspired by a set from a Star Wars movie, but it is the control deck of our home. It’s where meals are eaten, coffees are shared, emails are sent, homework is begrudgingly completed, board games are played and bottles of wine opened. It’s the heart of our family.