Building a kitchen is like building a house in miniature. Almost all of the things that you have to pay attention to when designing and building a house you also have to pay attention to when designing and building a kitchen including joinery, plumbing, electrics, finishes and, not least, functionality. Just as it is possible to design a house with immense kerb appeal that is a nightmare to live in, so it is possible to design a kitchen that is a joy to photograph but impossible to cook in. Get your head round good kitchen design and you’ll have no problem building a house. Trust me!
I began work on the kitchen of The Orchard before we even had planning permission, and I was busy making the cabinets during the many months of preparation before we finally started on site. Unfortunately it took a lot longer than I had anticipated to get to the point when we could install them: they languished in a garage for 18 months. However, when the parquet floors went down last November, we were able to line up the cabinet and the appliances and begin stitching everything together.
As there are so many components to a good kitchen, it’s vital to pay attention to all the details of how they interconnect. Kitchen fitting is not rocket science but a bit of care is needed if you want a result that is going to look good and last. I did, however, get slightly carried away. The design of our kitchen is a U-shaped galley which extends out from the wall and so requires a finish on the outer side of the cabinets that face the rest of the living space. The finish I designed and built, which was able to go round a substantial curve without any obvious seams, is a series of 6mm wide vertical walnut fins. Every fin was an individual L-shaped piece of walnut that I screwed into place by hand with tiny brass modelling screws. It took forever but the result is something special – and certainly out of the ordinary.
The worktop, also walnut, and the appliances were all supplied by Bromley and Ellis in south London – a firm that has thrived despite all the internet competition. There’s something to be said for having a supplier who you can talk to, discuss ideas with, and work out solutions, especially when they are just as competitive as all the online providers.
Now that the kitchen is finished and fully operational, I feel like the house ought to be almost done. But that’s what I think after every big corner is turned. Unfortunately, however, my ‘to do’ list remains as long as my arm.