When the owners of this 18th-century English farmhouse set about turning the uninhabitable building into a home, they knew that challenges lay ahead. But when it came to designing their new kitchen, the original beams, the sloping ceilings, and the discovery of an old staircase and even a well figured in the perfect marriage of old and new. The goal was to design “a contemporary kitchen space that was functional, stylish, ergonomic and sociable while highlighting existing period features,” says Sarah Goldsmith, designer at Contour.
Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: A family of four
Location: Cheltenham, England
Size: 196 square feet (18.2 square meters)
Designer: Sarah Goldsmith of Contour
The owners of this Grade II-listed farmhouse were clear from the outset as to what they wanted for their new kitchen: a modern design that would contrast effectively with the home’s original features.
“They asked for a muted palette of dark grays and other natural colors, and were keen to use texture within the design,” Goldsmith says. “So we set out to design a space that would juxtapose a subtle, understated contemporary look within a traditional country farmhouse.”
The owners opted for matte laminate cabinet doors with an aluminum grip rail instead of pulls to enhance the streamlined look.
Kitchen: Leicht via Contour
The space was originally a series of interlinking rooms, which included the old kitchen. The team ripped out the old kitchen, and took down doorways and a large wall, which created an opening that now leads to the new kitchen’s dining space. The opening can be seen on the right-hand side of this picture.
“The age of the building and its listed status put considerable constraints on the kitchen design,” Goldsmith says. “Certain features had to be incorporated, including a well that was discovered halfway through the renovation, an original set of stairs that had been boxed in behind a wall, ceiling beams and an original farmhouse door.”
A stunning layered lighting scheme was worked around the original ceiling beams. It features pendants, spots placed around the ceiling beams, and a flexible LED strip above and below the tall cabinets and underneath the peninsula, which makes the peninsula look as if it’s floating.
“At night, the LED strips create an ambient mood, while the pendant lights above the peninsula’s breakfast bar give a focal point and direct lighting source,” Goldsmith says.
A simple breakfast bar incorporated into the peninsula is a key element of the new kitchen. It is topped with a textured ash to contrast with the suede-finish quartz surfaces elsewhere in the room. The cooktop is on the peninsula so that the owners can cook and chat. The cooktop has built-in ventilation.
The ceiling slope and the fact that the original ceiling beams had to stay intact limited the number of upper cabinets. “Most of the storage had to be housed either below counter level or in the bank of tall units that we designed,” Goldsmith says.
The tall bank of cabinets is packed with appliances and neat storage solutions, such as a LeMans corner unit and a pullout pantry.
Ovens: Neff; cooktop: Bora; countertops: Dreis, Silestone; breakfast bar: heart ash in river-washed finish: Spekva
This water well, which is behind the breakfast bar, was discovered halfway through the renovation. The owners decided to make a feature of it, so lights were installed and it was covered with a glass top that you can walk over.
This period staircase was discovered during the renovation too. It was originally boxed in behind a wall, which came down during the project. “The staircase couldn’t be removed, meaning the width of the kitchen couldn’t be increased and there wasn’t an option for a completely open-plan layout,” Goldsmith says. “But it’s now a fabulous decorative bookcase and really gives an insight into how the building looked originally.”
The cream-colored floor tiles create a striking contrast to the dark stairs and cabinets.
Porcelain tiles: Wessex, Mandarin Stone
Before: This is what the kitchen looked like pre-renovation.
After: Stripped back to its former glory, an original farm door leads to a new laundry room.