Kitchen ripe for renovation? Take heed of these inventive spaces featuring statement stone, accent colours and glorious wood, showcased in a host of creative guises. Inspiration starts here...
To treat a kitchen island as a simple extension of an existing scheme is to lose out on its transformative potential. Try mixing materials, introducing curves and sacrificing some of the storage below for a bold, sculptural structure.
WOOD THREE WAYS
There’s no denying that wood is a wonder material: with its myriad species, shades and finishes, it hardly feels like a single substance at all. The kitchen is an opportunity to showcase panels at scale, with the precise craftsmanship involved in bespoke timber cabinetry offering plenty of flexibility.
When it comes to wood done well, the most exciting modern iterations are finding creative ways to highlight natural texture: think the undulating knots of one sizeable slab carried through a series of cupboards, or recessed panels fronted by gridded frames in a contrasting grain. Matt stains, from blackened larch to a chalky whitewash, are an on-trend antidote to the varnished variety.
Above left: Bespoke dark-stained oak in-frame cabinetry with Kinnekulle limestone countertops by Nordiska Kök, from £10,800 including shelves; ‘Base’ dining table by Mika Tolvanen for Muuto, from £825, Chaplins; ‘Evo’ tap in ‘Grottesco’, from £396, Tapwell
Above right: Bespoke walnut kitchen with black granite countertops, Quincoces-Dragó & Partners
Wallpaper is usually banished from the kitchen. A shame, we say – it works fantastically as a foil to this room’s obligatory hard lines and surfaces, granting a sense of synergy and flow between spaces in the house. Graphic, geometric pattern is a more transitory alternative to tiles, or choose a botanical print and leave the upper wall cupboard-free for an impactful frescoed feel. Subtle edging, using an extension of the same material as the countertops, adds a protective transition.
While brass and copper have reigned in the kitchen of late, silvery metallics such as chrome, mirror and stainless steel are fast gathering momentum. High-shine cabinets are a particularly effective iteration of the trend – they’ll add polish while bouncing light around the room and suggesting extra space. Sleek and streamlined is the mantra to remember (ditch handles for maximum effect), but that doesn’t mean the rest of the room should adhere to the same futuristic feel. Balancing the look’s inherent drama with a mix of materials, like beautifully patterned floor tiles, will help prevent it feeling too clinical or cold.
The benefits of a kitchen island are numerous – many have a triple duty as a breakfast bar, worktop extender and storage concealer – but they can also act as a canvas to showcase a striking material in a sizeable slab.
While islands are no longer limited to simple, monolithic forms, styles that eschew obvious cupboards or ornamentation provide the most effective backdrop for highlighting stone’s strata, whether onyx, terrazzo or Carrara marble. A wall of cabinets in a darker tone will give a feeling of depth as well as help frame a central design.
Right: ‘Maro’ embossed ebony veneer cabinetry with ‘Coffee Brown’ marble island and splashback, from £80,000, by Eggersmann Design, eggersmanndesign.com; ‘Tara Ultra’ tap by Dornbracht, from £726.12, majorelleinteriors.com
SUNNY SIDE UP
Sunshine hues are surprisingly liveable, but sticking to a single shade – and choosing it wisely – is key. With punchier colour, the nuance of tone becomes ever more significant – yellow in the kitchen can be energising and zingy, warm and buttery or rich and earthy. Gloss will add a slicker, contemporary edge, while matt finishes feel fresh and modern when paired with a countertop in a contrasting hue.
For those wary of wall-to-wall colour, a kitchen island or a stretch of low cabinets are a subtler way to introduce a stronger shade, and neutral shades on walls and splashbacks can offer balance to its natural zest.
Left: Oak-edged five-cabinet kitchen in ‘Giallo Kashmir’, £1,502; oak worktop, £1,040; hand-turned oak handles, £9 each; ‘Phoenician’ tap by Perrin & Rowe in ‘Chrome’, £372, all Husk
Right: Painted cabinet fronts in ‘Rembrandt Golden Brown’ with wooden countertops and solid brass handles, to fit Ikea systems, from £57, &SHUFL; ‘Fusion Square’ tap by Quooker in ‘Patinated Brass’, £1,590, Appliance City
Slabs of marble are synonymous with a polished, luxurious feel, but there’s an increasing call for varieties with depth of colour and complex, unique veining. Among the most distinctive strains of the stone is panda marble – so named for its high-contrast combination of brilliant white and broad, swirling waves of black – which offers a striking alternative to the classic, subtly streaked countertop.
A neutral backdrop will showcase the material’s statement strata to best effect, but its crisp, monochromatic makeup can take vibrant pops of colour, too. Utilise sparingly and offset with panels of stained wood, or use several slabs to unify an island with a work surface or splashback.
We’ve previously reported on the rise of fluted wood in kitchen design, and now wider vertical strips are proving popular. Much like the modish pencil tile, narrow slats offer a flexible way of fronting curved cabinets, smoothing corners or softening the solid form of a central kitchen island. In unfinished wood, they feel orderly yet organic.
Man-made materials, however, offer ultimate flexibility in form – playful executions of the idea include undulating cabinet fronts, which appear striped when cast in shadow and grant a sense of movement and flow.
Left: Bespoke kitchen with Corian-fronted units in smoked
oak, concrete worktop and splashback, price on application, Jake Moulson
Right: Bespoke kitchen island and splashback in ‘Statuarietto marble’, price on application, Neil Cownie Architect; ‘Potter DS’ extruded ceramic pendant in ‘White Glaze’, price on application, Anchor Ceramics; ‘Icon A69.08.V2 Kitchen Mixer’ tap in ‘Aged Brass’ by Astra Walker, price on application, Lavare
The clever balance of form and function has granted the industrial kitchen enduring appeal. Now, a more sophisticated spin on the trend is emerging, tempering the look’s more utilitarian tendencies with sleek, luxurious materials and a firmly monochromatic palette.
Try swapping the obligatory open shelving for a glass-fronted cabinet, simple bar stools for seats or a poured-concrete floor for high-shine herringbone. The visual texture of fluted or reeded glass helps soften the warehouse feel of Crittall frames, while bifolding internal doors add flexibility and privacy to an airy, open-plan space.
This article appeared in the April 2020 issue of ELLE Decoration.
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