Elegant and minimalist, it may be modest in size, but Julia and Ben Sugden’s seamless kitchen works like a dream. (And I think it looks dreamy, too!)
After handling press and public relations for kitchen company Roundhouse for eight years, Julia Sugden had long wanted a new scheme for her own home. “A bit like buying clothes, I’d learned that picking up something on the spur of the moment and wearing it only a few times was not as good as paying a little more and wearing it for infinitely longer,” says Julia. “The same applies to purchasing a kitchen – I knew that if my husband Ben and I waited and saved up to invest in a beautifully made and expertly planned design, it would last for years and we’d be completely thrilled with it.” A smart move, if you ask me. Here, she tells KBB writer Amelia Thorpe the story of how, with a little patience, they achieved their dream space…
What was your vision for the new kitchen?
“Ben and I were approaching retirement and thinking about how to upgrade our house to enjoy it for the years ahead. Our old kitchen was in place when we bought the property in 1992 and had originally been installed in 1986. It had been custom-designed for the former owner, a chef, and was very well made – but it had finally begun to look rather tired. Some of the doors were dropping and the lacquer was chipping. At the same time, Roundhouse launched its Studio collection, a modular range of furniture with less flexibility than the bespoke offer, but with the same quality and at a more accessible price point. We decided it was now or never to get our new kitchen sorted.”
How did you create the space?
“We decided to take down an internal wall which divided the kitchen from the living-dining area, creating a more open-plan feel across the ground floor and allowing more light to flow through. This means that Ben and I can talk to friends and family at the dining table while cooking, which was previously not an option. We also replaced the Georgian-style French doors to the garden with panelled powdered aluminium ones. They have larger panes of glass for more light and a better garden view – plus their look is more in keeping with the style of the house, which was built in the 1930s.”
What was on your wishlist?
“Both Ben and I are keen cooks, so we knew we needed robust furniture, a practical layout, and integrated appliances that would see plenty of use. At the same time, we wanted a sleek look that would make the most of what is quite a compact space, measuring just under 4.6m-long x 2.7m-wide. We loved the understated Pearl Grey finish in the Studio collection, which we felt would work well in our scheme – mixed with some other finishes, to add some texture and interest.”
What about the style of cabinets?
“We discussed different options with the Roundhouse design team, but we all came to the conclusion that the existing layout of sink, hob and ovens worked so well that there was no advantage in changing it. Once we had removed the internal wall, however, we did need to move the position of the fridge-freezer – which had previously been tucked behind the entrance door – to the end of the tall run, closest to the doors, so it did not obstruct the walkway. A combination of wide, deep drawers and cupboards creates lots of storage, while the tall cabinet includes a double-doored Fulham larder with more drawers, shelves, door racks for spices and condiments, and sockets for small appliances. The sweep of base units on one wall provides plenty of work surface, while opposite we were able to include a breakfast bar. I love the contrast of the warm, natural oak against the pale grey of the cabinets, and against richness of the grey bronze finish of the wall unit which conceals the extractor above the hob.”
Tell us about the finishing touches…
“Barstools in the breakfast area make a great place for coffee or drinks, and I use the shelves for attractive displays and plants which make the room feel homely. There are LED strip lights fitted below the oak shelves on both sides of the room, which cast a soft, warm glow in the evenings. For what is essentially a galley kitchen, we feel it is a beautiful space. But probably the acid test for its success is the fact that we had our adult sons Fred and Henry, as well as Fred’s girlfriend Jenny, return to live with us during lockdown and the kitchen stood up to a mega amount of use. I know that if you were to come back in 10 years, it would still look wonderful.”
If you have a small kitchen, why not check out some more inspiration in this article on small kitchen ideas.
Photography: Mary Wadsworth