House tour: A pink and grey kitchen in a self-build home

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?

Sarah chose Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio to paint the island, and Pavilion Gray for the wall units. She tested the colours on photographic paper to see how they’d look in different lights. “I liked friends’ kitchens who had grey with dark blue, but I wanted something unique,” she says. The walls are painted in Manor House Gray, also by Farrow & Ball.

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.

Although the house is a new build, Sarah wanted to achieve a cottage-style look for the kitchen. Large-format grey stone floor tiles replicate a more traditional flooring style and work well as a base for the in-frame wooden kitchen. Elsewhere, oiled oak furniture and doors – leading to a utility room and living areas – add to the traditional aesthetic.

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.”

Oak is used cleverly throughout the open-plan scheme to tie the zones together, including an overhanging section of worktop, fitted alongside a white Dekton surface.

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.”

With its striking shade, the large central island acts as a stylish design statement as well as a practical area for cooking, washing up and casual dining. Deep drawers either side are perfect for storing pans and stacks of crockery. The stainless-steel sink provides a modern contrast to the classic painted Shaker style units.

Although classic in its design, the butler sink is made from stainless steel which brings the look right up to date. Grooves have been scored into the work surface to allow excess water to drain back into the sink.

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?

With colour an important consideration, Sarah was pleased with Gareth’s idea to paint the inside of the cabinets in the same shade as the island, playfully connecting the design.

Large appliances were chosen to suit the proportions of the space. And as Sarah loves to cook and bake, she was sure from the start of the project that a generous fridge-freezer and spacious range cooker were key.

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.

Sarah asked designer Gareth to incorporate a work space into the kitchen, which has been achieved with a discreet but clever tall unit, in the same painted finish, to store a computer and files. When the doors are closed, the desk area blends in with the rest of the kitchen.

You may also enjoy: 10 amazing colourful bathroom ideas

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.

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