A red kitchen island in a self-build home

red kitchen island

Taking on a home renovation to create the perfect kitchen is almost always a memorable experience – for the good, bad and the ugly. However, 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.

How the red kitchen island and self-build home came about is a story involving an international move. The family had 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?!

red kitchen island
Sarah chose Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio to paint the red kitchen 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.

A two-storey, five-bedroom house

Sarah and husband Tom have two sons, Oscar and Felix, and Nelly the dog. Before long, the couple got AM Architectural Design on board for a new two-storey, five-bedroom house. The key open-plan kitchen with red kitchen island and living area would take up most of the ground floor.

“I had an exact layout in mind,” Sarah tells me over the phone. “This was inspired by our time spent living in the Middle East. There we had an open-plan villa filled with natural light and great links to the outdoors.”

silver fridge freezer
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. The red kitchen island adds a pop of colour. Elsewhere, oiled oak furniture and doors – leading to a utility room and living areas – add to the traditional aesthetic.

The kitchen had to be an in-frame design

She wanted the kitchen to be an in-frame design with a central red kitchen island and a long bank of wall units behind, but without any corner cupboards. In addition, she wanted 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.”

red kitchen island next to oak table
Oak is used cleverly throughout the open-plan scheme to tie the zones together. These include an overhanging section of worktop on the red kitchen island, 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, recommended by their architect. “Gareth Davies at Classic Interiors listened to our brief,” Sarah says. “He designed the layout we’d specified and made suggestions on how to improve it without drastically altering the design.”

“He recommended the best size of island to incorporate the sink, prep and eating areas. Then he also suggested a hardwearing white Dekton quartz worktop to complement my choice of painted cabinetry. And he worked out the best amount of worktop overhang on the red kitchen island for a balanced look. In addition, he included a tall unit on the far left of the room that doubles as a desk.”

Designing the red kitchen island

large silver fridge freezer and Belfast sink
With its striking shade, the large central red kitchen island acts as a stylish design statement. It’s also 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.
red kitchen island with oak worktop overhang
Although classic in its design, the stainless steel butler sink brings the look right up to date. Grooves in the work surface to allow excess water to drain back into the sink. The marble effect worktop looks great next to the red kitchen island.

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 red kitchen island. “I tested so many pots of paint on photographic paper, seeing how it looked in different lights. I finally chose Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio – a warm red shade,” she says. And the name just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Matching the inside of the cabinets to the red kitchen island

white painted cabinetry
With colour an important consideration, Sarah was pleased with Gareth’s idea. He suggested painting the inside of the cabinets in the same shade as the red kitchen island, playfully connecting the design.
white painted cabinetry by range cooker
Sarah chose large appliances to suit the proportions of the space. And as she 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.

So, Sarah has a large red kitchen island incorporating deep drawers and cupboards. With space for a separate laundry and pantry, she 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.

white painted units
Sarah asked designer Gareth to incorporate a work space into the kitchen. This 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.

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.

So, did you love our feature on this red kitchen island? Then you’ll also enjoy 10 amazing colourful bathroom ideas.

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