Taking on a home renovation to create the perfect kitchen is almost always a memorable experience – for the good, bad and the ugly (I’ll mention here that it’s almost always worth the pain in the end!). But for Sarah Silvey and her family, it signified a dramatic shift in their lifestyle.
They’d been living in the Middle East for some years and had got rather used to the spacious, open-plan home style out there, so coming back to the UK was a case of downsizing or taking on a home renovation. Well, at least until they decided to knock down a dated bungalow on a plot of land once owned by Sarah’s family and build their forever home in its place. It’s probably best if I don’t compare the weather between Worcestershire, where the property is located, and Dubai and Oman where the family used to live… let’s move on, shall we?
Before long, Sarah and husband Tom, who have two sons Oscar and Felix, and Nelly the dog – got AM Architectural Design on board for a new two-storey, five-bedroom house, with the key open-plan kitchen and living area taking up most of the ground floor.
“I had an exact layout in mind, which was inspired by our time spent living in the Middle East where we had an open-plan villa that was filled with natural light and great links to the outdoors,” Sarah tells me as we chat about the project over the phone.
She wanted the kitchen to be an in-frame design with a central island and a long bank of wall units behind, but without any corner cupboards, plus a pantry and laundry room. “While living in Muscat, we had a kitchen with an island which I loved, so couldn’t go back to not having one.”
Finding a kitchen company to meet their requirements took some time, as many firms they approached wanted to change the couple’s ideas. In the end, they agreed to work with Classic Interiors, who had also been recommended by their architect. “Gareth Davies at Classic Interiors listened to our brief, designed the layout we’d specified and made suggestions on how to improve it without drastically altering the design,” Sarah says.
“He recommended the best size of island to incorporate the sink, prep and eating areas; a hardwearing white Dekton quartz worktop to complement my choice of painted cabinetry and he worked out the best amount of worktop overhang for a balanced look. Plus, he included a tall unit on the far left of the room that doubles as a desk.”
Although the couple’s choice of cabinetry has a traditional influence, Sarah requested modern finishes in stainless steel, including a butler sink, boiling-water water tap and side-by-side fridge-freezer. She also introduced a contemporary colour on the island. “I tested so many pots of paint on photographic paper, seeing how it looked in different lights before choosing Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio – a warm red shade,” she says. And the name just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
Complete with a large island incorporating deep drawers and cupboards, and with space for a separate laundry and pantry, Sarah now has plenty of storage and room to house large appliances. “I have an awful lot of cooking equipment, so having places to store it all away was essential,” she recalls. “My favourite new piece has to be the Everhot range cooker.” Me? I quite fancy decamping to the clever desk nook as my new office – so long as there’s some cake left.
Photography: Paul Craig
Featured image: Inspired by the open-plan kitchen-diner Sarah had enjoyed when she and the family lived in the Middle East, she designed the space with clear sightlines throughout, making it great for keeping an eye on the kids and when entertaining. The L-shaped room benefits from plenty of natural light thanks to windows and large bi-fold doors.