Listed Property & Bespoke Kitchens

Artichoke is regularly asked to design bespoke kitchens in listed buildings.  Quite often these listed buildings have been purchased by new owners who are unclear about the listing process, what it means, and how it effects them.

The rules were altered by HM Customs and Excise in 2012 and this short article will help explain what the listing process means and how it effects the kitchen in your listed buildings project.

 

St Giles House, Shaftsbury
Grade I Listed Buildings

These are of deemed to be of exceptional interest and sometimes considered to be internationally important; only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I.  In these buildings it is typical for English Heritage to be adamant that the existing interior detail must remain unaltered and untouched (including architectural joinery, light switches, and plaster work).  Designing bespoke kitchens into Grade 1 buildings can be full of issues, usually involving extraction routes, methods of fixing into the existing fabric of the building (which can often be made up of soft lime mortar and rubble walls), interference of the existing joinery and so on.

Artichoke was recently asked to design a kitchen for the West Apartment at Burley-on-the-Hill which was built in 1690 in the style of Sir Christopher Wren.  In 1909, the West Wing was almost completely destroyed by fire and the joinery inside this part of the house has a very Edwardian feel.   Despite the fact that it is modern in comparison to the rest of the house, it is still Grade 1 listed and the panelling in the kitchen could not be touched in any way.

 

Burley on the Hill, Rutland
Grade II* Listed Buildings

These are deemed by English Heritage as particularly important buildings of more than special interest (Grade II); around 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade II*.   There are many reasons why a building can be awarded Grade II* status.  It maybe that they are houses that while not particularly grand, are particularly important examples of local vernacular and they are in essence “Grade II but of particular significance” .  It is likely that a Grade II* house will have a particularly special interior or interior features which will be treated in the same say as Grade 1 features in that English Heritage will not allow them to be touched or altered.

Depending on the features and their location, English Heritage can be more relaxed (although not much!) about designing kitchens and furniture into these properties. For instance, it maybe that a farmhouse has a particularly special roof structure which is the reason the house has a II* listing.  In this case, English Heritage will be willing to discuss extensions to the house within reason.

 

 

Grade II Listed Buildings 

These are buildings that are considered nationally important and of special interest; 92% of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.  This is a  good example of a recent Artichoke bespoke kitchen designed into a Grade II listed building.

While permissions for alterations are down to the discretion of the individual listed planning officer, in Artichoke’s experience it is the exterior of the building that they are focused on more.  While the interior is still of importance, they are often a little more relaxed.

 

Dinder House near Wells is Grade II

Regardless of the listing of your house, it is important to stress that Listing is not seen a preservation order preventing change. Listing has a reason, and that is to identify the life stages of a building and it’s various characters.

Listing does not freeze a building in time, it simply means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest. Listed buildings can be altered, extended and sometimes even demolished within government planning guidance.

 

Listed Property, Bespoke Kitchens and VAT

Pre 2012 it used to be the case that a bespoke kitchen built into a new extension of a listed building was zero rated for VAT (or rather the built in/fixed items such as the Aga, furniture and extraction were zero rated).

Since 2012, the Government decided to “simplify” things, and sadly for many listed property homeowners, VAT relief on approved alterations was removed (although if you had applied for Listed Building Consent before 21 March 2012, zero rating will still apply for approved alterations until 30 September 2015.)

There are still VAT advantages available for work on buildings that have been unoccupied for more than 2 years, for a change of use from commercial to residential use and for a change in the number of individual dwellings within a property – eg splitting a house into flats.

Other than that, we’re sorry to say, it’s the full 20%!

 

We would caveat the above by stating that we are neither nor lawyers or accountants, but designers of fine bespoke kitchens. For a final adjudication on whether your project could be awarded reduced rate status, please speak with a trained professional!  in the past we have found the HMRC team extremely helpful and they do publish a book which we have used to advise our clients ion kitchens in listed buildings.  For more information on VAT in listed buildings, you can follow this link VAT in building and construction.

Kitchen Design Inspired by Lanhydrock

There are many Victorian kitchen designs which have inspired Artichoke projects over the last 25 years, but few really hit the mark as soundly as the National Trust’s Lanhydrock house kitchen.   It is, in our view, one of the finest examples of Victorian back of house interior design and architecture in Britain.

 

The main kitchen at Lanhydrock house
Beautifully lit by natural light; the main kitchen at Lanhydrock house.

Originally Jacobean, the house was damaged by fire in 1881 and it was given an extensive restoration in the high Victorian style.  With the UK buoyed by the successes of the industrial revolution, the newly restored magnificent country house kitchen was updated with the very latest equipment and technology for staff to cook food for the owners, their guests and other staff.

The Artichoke kitchen design team has been quietly obsessed with Lanhydrock for many years.  When the opportunity arose to share our passion and interest with a client, we jumped at it, travelling down to Cornwall with him to help explain why we felt we should take inspiration from it for his bespoke kitchen design.  Our initial visit was about capturing some of the detail which makes this kitchen so special.

 

Cast iron ovens at Lanhydrock House kitchens
The huge cast iron oven forms the centrepiece of the Victorian kitchen design.  Note the recess in the background, framed with a cast iron mould
Artichokes Victorian Kitchen Designs

Much of Artichoke’s work involves designing kitchens with aesthetic links to the past.  More often than not this is because we are designing kitchens into period buildings where some link to the past is a sensitive and pragmatic way to ensure the kitchen design has longevity, does not date and sits comfortably within its architectural surroundings.  At the same time, we try not to let the past constrain us.  After all, we are designing kitchens and spaces which need to be used for modern living.

In this particular Victorian kitchen design project for a country house in Hampshire, we have been more exacting than we might usually be.  Surveys were taken of moulds and copies of the Victorian handles have been made using the same lost wax cast brass method used at the time of Lanhydrock’s restoration.

 

Render of Artichoke's bespoke kitchen design
Render of Artichoke’s bespoke kitchen design.

 

plate rack in Victorian kitchen design
Render of Artichoke’s bespoke kitchen design.

The plate rack Artichoke has designed above the brass sink is decorative and will be used to both store plates as well as dry them.  Each plate rack has a bespoke pewter drip-tray base.  The main sink is made from solid brass. During the late 1800’s Victorian kitchen designs often features metal sinks, usually made from copper or nickel alloy, a corrosion-resistant and robust lightweight material capable of standing up to the rigors of a large country house kitchen environment.

 

copper sink in the bakery
The copper sink in Lanhydrock’s bakery. The walls were painted blue as it was considered the colour least attractive to flies.
The Range Oven

A large cast iron range almost always formed the centrepiece to many Victorian kitchens.  Artichoke works regularly with Officine Gullo, a modern Italian company specialising in the design and manufacture of incredibly hard wearing cast iron kitchen ranges.  The ovens are known for their build quality and distinctive period character; they fit well into many of the country house projects Artichoke designs kitchens for.

This particular oven top features a pasta cooker, four large gas burners, a French plate (used typically for sauces) and put down.  A pot filler has been integrated into the back.

 

Officine Gullo coup de feu top
The heavy gauge cast iron Coup de Feu or French plate is an essential piece of kit in professional kitchens.
Casting the frame mould

The original moulding which surrounds the recess on Lanhydrock’s kitchen is made from cast iron, which Artichoke has replicated for this bespoke kitchen

 

Officine Gullo range oven in Victorian kitchen

 

The moulding is being cast by a foundry in Somerset and is a highly involved process.  Starting with the mould frame pattern (made from timber), a reverse sand mould is made into specialist casting sand along with tapered edges to ensure it can be removed (similar to the reason children’s beach buckets have tapers on).  Poured molten pig iron is then poured into the mould and left to solidify and cool for 24 hours before it is then shot blasted and fettled.  The finished mould will be very dark grey in its natural state.

 

Cast iron moulds

 

Cooling in the original Kitchen

Domestic fridges were not invented until 1913, and until that point, a host of relatively creative methods were deployed to keep food cool in large country houses.

 

Cold water feed in a cast iron trench system with marble and slate

 

The method above, as seen in Lanhydrock’s dairy, is one such example and not one we’ve seen anywhere else.  A cold water feed distributed water (from the hills above the house) around a cast iron trench system to keep dairy products cool.  The dairy room uses both marble and slate to keep the dairy products and desserts cool. However, more modern cooling methods were decided upon for this Victorian kitchen design with a Sub Zero refrigerator being integrated into the wall next to the cast iron range oven.

 

Victorian Pull Handles

During Artichoke’s numerous visits to Lanhydrock, we surveyed the handles on the cook’s table which we will be copying using the traditional method of casting them in brass.

 

Brass pull handle for kitchen
Stage 1:  Surveying one of the original kitchen handles from Lanhydrock.

 

Technical drawing in preparation for creating a mould for a new handle
Stage 2: Artichoke technically draws and details the handle in preparation for creating a mould for the brass team.

 

Scale version of the Lanhydrock handles in timber 
Stage 3: Artichoke makes a 1:1 scale version of the Lanhydrock handles in timber for the casting team to then use as a model

 

 

Completed copies of the new handle design
Stage 4: The completed copies, ready for client approval
Technically detailing the Cooks Table

Because Artichoke only designs one off projects, each is unique, so it is imperative to ensure the cabinet-making team is given the clearest possible information to make from.  To do this we design each component part using a specialist 3D technical drawing package.  This modern version of what used to be called ROD drawings allows us to provide our team with detailed drawings of incredible clarity, meaning that regardless of whether this is the first time the furniture has been made, they know exactly what to make it and how.

 

Technical drawings of a kitchen island

 

Cabinet maker making an island
Artichoke cabinet-maker Arthur making the Cook’s kitchen table.
Assembling the Kitchen

An important element of Artichoke’s cabinet-making work is the assembly phase.  It is the first time we get to see the kitchen come together.  The assembly phase allows us to fit the appliances, cut in the butt hinges and shoot in the doors and drawer fronts into their frames (“shooting in” where a cabinet makers uses a well sharpened plane to dimension a component to exactly the correct size.  Because all of our kitchens are bespoke, we are making each project for the first time, and doing this work on our premises means that we can avoid undertaking it at our clients homes, making the final installation more efficient.

Once the fully assembled kitchen has been signed off by our Production Manager, it is disassembled and prepared for finishing.

 

kitchen island table
Cook’s table island with wrought iron tie bars and visible joints.
Large plate rack
The kitchen’s large plate rack, ready for the sink and surfaces.
Close up image of how the frame of the Cook’s Table is jointed into the top of the turned leg
A close up of how the frame of the Cook’s Table is jointed into the top of the turned leg. The hole allows us to pass electricity cables through it.

 

 

The project is ongoing and will be added to as the project progresses.  For further information, contact Artichoke on 01934 745270 or email newprojects@artichoke.co.uk

Jacobean Country House Kitchen & Pantry

Every so often, a kitchen space is presented to our design team that requires particularly specialist attention.  In this case, a beautiful Grade II* listed Jacobean hall situated near the Peak District National Park.

 

 

The house sits beautifully in walled gardens with a perfectly symmetrical Georgian facade and wonderful views over rolling valleys and farmland.  The kitchen space is large (approximately 8×7 metres) which for designers presents a challenge. Often large kitchen spaces are more difficult to design into.  Added to this, the room is an unusual shape (not unexpected given the age of the house), but a challenge nonetheless. Further complications arise from various beams and supporting structure which require further investigation and structural engineering advice.

Artichoke was commissioned to undertake detailed kitchen design work on the back of our extensive 25 years experience designing into country houses.  Our brief was to design a kitchen space which worked for a modern family but which was also sensitive to the architecture of the listed Jacobean interior.

Following a number of visits and investigative work by Artichoke’s team, an idea began to formulate.  This  involved taking advantage of the existing beams and supports to divide the kitchen up using a combination of both architectural joinery and furniture. This is not an entirely new idea; it was extensively used by the architects of grand country houses to divide up parts of the domestic back ends of their servant’s kitchen and utility spaces.

 

Kitchen design and development

Artichoke’s 3D visuals show how architectural joinery has been introduced to the kitchen to divide the space up.  The joinery elements feature solid brass glazed framed windows to ensure light floods the room.  These windows are to be made from solid brass and are moulded.  They open on pivot hinges, secured with brass ball catches embedded into the oak frames.

 

1795-view-4

 

The glass shelves within the interior hand painted furniture elements feature turned brass gallery rails supported on brass posts.  The large central island is hand painted, with the colour taken directly from the main kitchen at Tyntesfield Abbey. The batterie de cuisine over the island will be in blackened steel, and the chopping block will feature brass straps (not steel as shown).

 

View of island

 

Brass detail development

The image below shows one of the unwelded frames machined from solid brass.  The glass we are setting within the frame will be restoration glass which has slight imperfections which refract light, making it well suited to match ‘old fashioned’ windows throughout the rest of the building.

 

brass window frame

 

Close up detail showing the turned brass gallery rails mounted onto the glass shelves.

 

turned-brass-gallery-rails

 

Sink and Taps

A heavyweight solid brass sink has been designed into the scullery to match detailing throughout the rest of the room.

 

OfficineGullo_lvq039

 

We have chosen to use the fantastic Regulator tap from Waterworks in unlacquered brass to ensure it ages.

Brass Waterworks Regulator tap

Lighting

Artichoke has specified these lovely simple wall lights (in antique brass) with clear reeded glass shades.

 

carey_prismatic_glass_contemporary_bathroom_wall_light_1

 

Update: 7th October 2016

A welded sample for the solid brass windows with an aged patina.  Each window is calculated to be around 12kg (with glass), with double windows being around 20kg.  This will affect how the joinery into which they are set is re-inforced.

 

Aged brass window fame for kitchen

 

detail of brass window frame for kitchen

 

 

14 November 2016:  Ongoing project.  Further updates soon!

More Case Studies of Artichoke’s work can be viewed by visiting our Profile page.

Bespoke Kitchen Design Tips

Bespoke Kitchen Design Tips - Header image

 

Artichoke’s approach to kitchen design is far more architectural than most, and we are highly experienced in resolving how interior space is organised by furniture.

Before any drawing work is done, it’s important for us to gain a thorough understanding of our clients domestic arrangements.  Gaining this knowledge helps us design spaces that work effortlessly.  It is the key to providing functional solutions for our clients.

 

General Requirements

The key to a successful outcome is to establish a clear brief for the kitchen and surrounding areas of the house.

Who is the client?
Is the person providing us with the brief for the kitchen the person paying for it?  To us it is vital to establish a relationship with all interested parties.

Who will be using the kitchen and how does the household operate?
Sounds like an odd question, but often, the person who will be using the kitchen is not the same person paying for it.  For instance, some clients have housekeepers, so it’s vital to understand their needs within the kitchen also.

How many people does the kitchen need to serve on a daily basis?

What is the largest number of people the kitchen needs to cater for on a semi regular basis?

Does the client have a budget?
It is vital to establish a budget for the kitchen early on.  Setting financial expectations from the outset will help control the kitchen specification.

What are the client priorities for the kitchen: Quality / Cost / Function / Aesthetics / Deliverability?
The prioritisation of these five topics will have an impact on the kitchen design.

What is the time frame for the project?  
The sooner we can identify and consider the risks to the project; the more effective we will be in providing for them.   Quite often for instance, the builder will be screaming for positions of gas, water, extraction and drainage before the design has even been started.

Does the kitchen need to accommodate religious dietary needs such as ‘Kosher’?  
This is important as some religions have very specific food storage needs.

Is the property listed?  What are the listing restrictions and do any apply to the kitchen space, ducting routes etc?

 

Wolf range oven with bespoke aged extraction hood

 

Where is the kitchen located within the house?
Has it been nominated enough space?

Is there a requirement for the kitchen to be supported and serviced by others rooms such a scullery, cold room, dry larder, wines cellar or butler’s pantry?

What is the route in to the house and kitchen for groceries, and what is the route out for waste?  Where is the location of waste for recycling?
Understanding this can have an important influence on the position of fridges, bins and internal doors.

Is there an existing kitchen, and are its contents relevant? 
Quite often there is a real benefit in surveying the clients’ existing contents and existing storage volume as this can have a direct bearing on how the new bespoke kitchen is designed.

What is the floor finish?
We need to first consider the setting out of the floor in relation to the kitchen plinth lines to ensure joins don’t clash or look ill-considered.

What is the structure of the flooring proposed?
The weight of the kitchen furniture and kitchen appliances are significant as they will deflect the sub floor and compress the floor coverings if they are not correctly engineered.

What are the window furnishings?
Do they need to be accommodated into the design?

What are the heating requirements for the kitchen and how is the space to be heated?
If the kitchen is under floor heated, BTU calculations should be made by excluding the kitchen furniture foot print, otherwise too much heating might be installed into the room.  Heating underneath fine furniture is also likely to cause timber movement and potentially structural damage.

What are the general ergonomics of the client?
Are they exceptionally tall, and what is the height of their partner?  Do they have any disabilities to consider?

 

Bespoke Kitchen Design Tips - Knives and storage

 

Appliances and Kitchen Equipment

What fuel type is available?
Often in rural locations, natural gas is not available which means LPG needs to be considered as an alternative.  If the LPG route needs to me taken, checks need to be made to ensure that chosen gas appliances can be converted to LPG.

What is the oven capacity needed and how many hobs are required?

Does the client prefer a range oven or ovens in column?
Understanding the age of the client is an an import factor when choosing positions of ovens in a kitchen, flooring types, access, waste routes and so on.

What type of cooking does the user of the kitchen do?
Knowing this will effect the choice of appliances.  Oven types can vary from conventional, fan assisted, grilling, baking, steaming, microwave and multi-functional options whereas hobs now come in a dizzying variety, including ceramic, induction, gas, wok, grille, steam, fryer, Teppanyaki, domino.

What are the kitchen extraction requirements?
Where is extractor motor located?  Ideally in-line or externally as this will be quieter. Does the client fry a great deal on a Teppanyaki type hob?  Knowing the size of the room in cubic metres will effect the size of the extractor motor.

What type of lighting is integrated into the extractor system?
Does this co-ordinate with the task lighting throughout the rest of the kitchen?

 

Additional cold storage in the pantry of a 19th century London house

 

Refrigeration

What volume of refrigeration and freezer is required?

Is there remote cold storage available?
There is little point in taking up critical space in the main kitchen with long term storage.

What wine storage and cold drink storage is needed? 

Is cold water and ice making required?

 

This recessed cupboard conceals a fridge. The other hides a microwave and pot storage.

 

Water, Sinks, Dishwashing and Waste

Is there enough drop?
It’s important to consider waste water routes when siting sinks to ensure enough drop is available to deliver grey water into the drainage.

Thought should be given towards the material of the sink.
Consider the suitability of the kitchen sink materials from a functional and aesthetic perspective.  Options include ceramic / cast iron enameled / stainless steel / wooden / corian / synthetic / stone.  If there is crystal being hand washed in the scullery sink then wood is more appropriate than cast iron.

Consider the different uses of a sink.
Preparation of food, drainage for cooking liquids, and scullery. In larger kitchens that serve large volumes, it helps to separate these functions. In smaller compact spaces it may be necessary to combine all these function into one sink.

Thick worktops
When specifying thick kitchen worktops, consider the fixing of taps; it may be necessary to undercut the worktop to accommodate the thread length of the tap.

Solid Stone Sinks
When specifying stone sinks it is well worth understanding their weight, depth, support and how to integrate ‘over flows’.

Matching metal finishes.
When specifying taps and sprays it is important to consider the metal finishes available.  Is it possible for the taps to match the wastes in the sink?  Will they have to be custom finished?

Dishwashers
Dishwashers have a minimum height beyond which they cannot be compressed. With integrated models it is important to ensure the height of the plinth and length of the integrated door is considered so the geometry of opening door works. Particular care should be taken with ‘in frame’ doors.  If the kitchen caters for large parties, are two dishwashers needed?

Bin Drawer Doors
Dishwashers and bin drawers are the most frequently used moving parts of a kitchen, and therefore need to be robust. Does the adjoining furniture need to be protected from steam and water? The design of a bin drawer needs to facilitate easy cleaning and sorting of waste for recycling.

Waste Disposal
Is kitchen waste disposal needed?  Switched or continuous feed?

Consider the storage of waste. If possible, do not store waste within the kitchen but look to a transitory location for larger volumes between ‘bin days’.  Dealing with waste is an essential process within a household and a holistic strategy needs to be developed that works.

 

Designing a bespoke, luxury kitchen - Quarta option

 

Kitchen Equipment and Gadgets

There are a never ending list of kitchen gadgets and equipment for food preparation.  It is worthwhile finding out which ones need to be stored in and around the kitchen; here is a check list:

  • Integrated and worktop coffee machines.
  • Sous-vide.
  • Multifunctional taps (and affiliated reservoirs).
  • Bar top bottle coolers.
  • Ice cream makers.
  • Bread makers.
  • Fish kettles.
  • Rice steamers.
  • Food processor.
  • Mixers.
  • Juicers.
  • Coffee grinders.
  • Sandwich toaster.

 

For further information, call Bruce or Andrew on 01934 745 270 or email newprojects@artichoke-ltd.com

 

Curved Kitchen for a Round House

Round houses were once all the rage (think mud huts, yurts and teepees).  Houses were built in the round because they offered strength against earthquakes, strong winds and heavy snow, and because they were quick to heat and simple to roof.

These days, modern building materials and fixings offer enough strength and stability to not have to deploy round exteriors for strength, and it is unusual to see one.  Not because the shape is unappealing aesthetically, but largely because the machinery that makes and shapes building materials such as steel, brick, glass, timber and stone is designed to produce it flat, square and straight.  Flat, square and straight is the default setting for most building material manufacturers, so it should be of no great surprise that design and manufacture of curved furniture takes longer and ultimately costs more.

Even the glass backsplash is curved.

 


This particular house is round because it has been inspired by the circular garage carousel upon which it sits, created to store the clients car collection.

Design Challenges – Designing A Kitchen in a Round House
The project has been designed in collaboration with Mark Gillette and for it to be authentic and a design success, it was first vital that all of the curved elements of the bespoke kitchen doors were actually curved, and not faceted.

This challenge is further compounded by the fact that the curve becomes tighter the nearer to the center of the roundhouse the furniture is positioned.  This means that the radius of the furniture doors in the scullery at the back of the kitchen is different (shallower) to the radius of the doors on the outside of the island (tighter).

Radius dimensions are 16.16 metres for the scullery, 15.32 for the glass splashback, 14.62 for the main kitchen furniture, 13.49 for the inside of the island and 12.09 for the outside of the island.

In addition to the varying radius dimensions, other challenges present themselves. Dishwashers and fridges have flat doors, raising the question of how you fix a curved furniture door to the face of a flat metal door?  Does the hinge on the appliance throw the curved door out far enough so that it doesn’t meet adjacent doors?  Hardly any of the joints meet at 90 degrees.  How do you clamp these items together at an angle?  Are the floor tilers using the same radius as you and will their floor radius match your plinth radius?  The glass backsplash needs to be specially curved. How do you set out the kitchen at the installation stage?


Artichoke’s creative design images of the desk area with doors open and closed. The right hand side of these images show the strength of the curved doors.

Materials
The primary material chosen for this kitchen is fumed Eucalyptus, typically found in Australia, New Zealand and Spain. The material is a light brown/golden yellow in its natural state, and it is made to go a deep chocolate brown colour by fuming it (a process using ammonia that causes a reaction with the tannins in the timber).

As you can see, the timber has a wonderful ripple running through it and great care and considerable time was chosen to source a pack of veneer that was even in colour throughout and maintained its ripple across the width of the kitchen.  As is often the case, we took the client to our veneer suppliers to advise and discuss the choice.

The Fumed Eucalyptus in Artichoke’s workshops before it is worked.

This video shows an Artichoke cabinet-maker bonding veneer onto one of the curved substrates using a vacuum bag-press. 

Production Engineering
At Artichoke, because our kitchens are so highly bespoke, we put every completed design through a process called Production Engineering.  This essentially means we are making the kitchen digitally into an accurately surveyed wire-frame model of the room.  This allows us to iron out every issue on computer first before any materials are purchased.

Images show the kitchen being digitally cabinet-made into the wire frame model of the room.   Once this process is complete and we are happy the kitchen works, we can use this software to produce making drawings for the cabinet-makers.

Cabinet Making
For quality control reasons, every bespoke kitchen we design is assembled at Artichoke’s workshops to ensure any issues are ironed out before we come to the installation phase.  This also gives us the opportunity to ensure that all of the appliances fit perfectly and that all of the door gaps are perfect.  Only then is the kitchen dis-assembled and finished in Artichoke’s high tech, air filtered finishing booths. 


Individually, the curve on each door is surprisingly slight, but when compounded it becomes more pronounced.

Installation Phase
Artichoke’s workshop environment is specifically set to domestic heat and humidity levels, so moving completed furniture into a non domestic environment is a potential danger.

The installation phase is often the most risky, and we take great care to ensure that our furniture is introduced to the building at the correct stage of the build.  We are particularly focussed on ensuring the relative humidity is appropriate (between 40 and 60%).  If humidity levels are under, it can cause the timber in the kitchen to shrink, causing cracking, gapping and surface checking.  If the humidity levels are above (which can be as a result of plasterers still working on the site), then it can encourage mould growth and buckling.    Solid timber is particularly vulnerable.


The house nearing completion.

The main sink elevation.


The double doors lead to the scullery.  The glass was also curved, as was the stone profile.  The stone has a textured surface.

 

Completed Project

If you are interested in curved kitchen design and would like to discuss a project with us, please contact Andrew or Bruce on +(0)1934 745270.

Designing a Country House Kitchen Island

The kitchen island has humble origins.  In the days when large houses were supported by busy kitchens teaming with staff, the oak table was the workhorse of the room.

 

The kitchen at Middleton Park. The house was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and his son Robert Lutyens in 1938 for the 9th Earl of Jersey. Not Used CL 12/07/1946
The central island in the main kitchen at Middleton Park was simply a domestic table raised off the ground on blocks

Today, most domestic kitchens are used by the home-owner and not by staff. We prepare our own food, and as a result, kitchen islands tend to look less utilitarian.

Many of Artichoke’s kitchen design commissions are for large country houses where history has played its part in shaping how the house looks and runs.  Often these design commissions are from the new owners who are often responsible for replacing years of lost period character.  As bespoke kitchen designers, it is often our responsibility to balance their wishes for period authenticity with the practical needs of a modern home.

This case-study shows how one such kitchen island has evolved from a series of simple sketches to the finished article in Artichoke’s workshop.

The brief was to design a kitchen with a period feel that met the needs of a modern family.  The house is a captivating Grade II listed house set in National Trust parkland near Alderley Edge in Cheshire, with owners keen to re-introduce some high quality period detail back into the house.

 

Initial hand sketch

Each kitchen design project evolves in different ways, but in this case, initial ideas were roughed out on paper to gauge the feasibility and to help give the client an understanding for what can be achieved.

 

Island 1

 

Island 4

 

2D Drawings

Once the concept is proven, the general intent drawings are prepared showing turning detail, period moulding detail and interior layouts of the drawers.  At this stage we are drawing to scale.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-03 at 10_25_12

 

Screen shot 2015-07-03 at 10_23_02

 

3D Renders

Artichoke’s design team often deploys CGI (Computer Generated Images) to explore how kitchen furniture works with the rest of the room and the architecture. The studies below show the oak kitchen island at the centre alongside other decorative items.  CGI can be extremely useful in helping clients understand how design impacts their space.

 

Blackhurst - View 4

 

Blackhurst - View 7

 

Production Engineering

Once the kitchen island  design is approved by the client, our cabinet makers will make the piece in digital form first using a software package that will also calculate bills of materials, quantities of components* weight of parts etc.  We make every piece virtually in this way.  It ensures all potential problems are ironed out before we purchase materials, and it improves efficiency for the client.

 

Island b

 

Island d
there are 141 individual hand made component parts in this island. Each is bespoke made from the original raw materials (European Oak)
Production

Artichoke makes the finest quality kitchens that are robust enough to last for many years.  To make kitchens of this quality requires the component parts to be jointed traditionally using craft base skills that have stood the test of time.

In the case of this kitchen island, the rail is jointed to the turned legs using dovetail joints and mortice and tenons.  These traditional joints take time to make and will be unseen by the client, so some would argue that they are uneccessary.  However, we know that these methods are a mark of quality and will far outlast a mechaniocal fixings.  We know that it will never fail.

 

Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 14_03_20
Dovetail joint
Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 16_05_14
Mortice and tenon joints
Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 16_07_50
A specially designed jig with leather protective padding clamps the rail to the leg
IMG_3230
Dovetailed drawers
IMG_3236
Artichoke cabinet maker Craig putting final adjustments to one of the island drawers
Finishing

The final phase is the finishing, and in this case the finish required is mid to late 19th century.  Our head of finishing, Rob, used to be a well known antique restorer and has incredible skill for turning new oak into old.  Like most professionals, Rob keeps his recipies a closely guarded secret.

 

IMG_3353

 

24 February 2016: Project being installed.