It’s estimated that we spend 3 years of our life in the kitchen. So it’s no surprise that kitchen design is a critical part of a home restoration’s success.


Having embarked on a huge project of restoration and extension on a Lake District family home, I wanted the kitchen to be glamorous, spacious, practical and stylish. I also wanted it to compliment the tone of the rest of the home. My aim was to create a light-filled open plan scheme.

As always, the way my clients aspire to use a space is the key to unlocking any design scheme. Here, the priority was entertaining. I was therefore keen to incorporate a large island into the design. This would make the guests feel included and enable the clients to remain connected to the fun and conversation when cooking and preparing food. Two bar stools to one end provided for casual interaction or an informal dining experience.

The capacious central island workstation sitting at the heart of the room created a real focal point. I paired this with stunning tulipwood furniture. The pale shade of the hand-painted cabinetry combined beautifully with white walls, ensuring the room felt bright and spacious.

In contrast, the striking Volga blue granite worktops were chosen to add an element of contrast and to provide a connection to the Lakes landscape. They echoed the colours found within the lakes, streams and rivers that abound in the area. The granite worksurface also tied in beautifully with the Falcon range cooker and its extractor hood.

The solid oak butchers block that tops of the drum cupboard added a warm contrast to the scheme and echoed the woodland view from the kitchen windows. I’m always seeking opportunities to make a direct connection with nature, and to re-enforce biomorphic forms in my designs.

Meticulously planned and handcrafted

I’m a meticulous planner and thoroughly enjoyed researching the craftsmen and architects of the 1930s and their Art Deco designs. They comprised clean, geometric lines and decorative materials. My ‘New Deco’ kitchen scheme was shaped by exceptional craftsmanship and natural feature materials including, granite, tulipwood, oak and limestone.

The Grade I listed building Blackwell designed by the renowned architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott is very close to this home. Blackwell is one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts & Crafts architecture, a practice that is inspired by the natural world, whilst embracing traditional craft skills. I chose to celebrate this arts movement as it aligns with so many of my design ethos and used it as a design direction in this kitchen.

The handles provided a modern contrast to the painted cabinetry, they are supremely tactile, comprising of leather and chrome and a standout feature in the design.

I also commissioned a bespoke round dining table, the top of which was Volga blue granite sitting on a large painted cylindrical column and oak feet. These elements connected into those of the kitchen cabinetry. The table allowed for daily family meals and gathering as the very large formal dining table was positioned elsewhere in the property.

Lighting is always a key consideration and I sought to include as many lighting features as possible in the design. Plinth lighting, LED spotlights under the wall units, and recessed ceiling LEDs were managed through the intelligent lighting control system. Having different light sources allowed for the creation of different lighting schemes, which really came into their own in the evening. It’s the time of day when more ambient lighting is required.

Opting for a round bowl sink on the island allowed for a specific space in which to rinse and prepare vegetables. Design should be playful, so this had a fun dual purpose of becoming a wine/champagne chiller to be filled with ice when the family hosted parties.

Another element of fun was introduced through a custom chalkboard. Created in response to the busy household’s request for having a place to write down shopping lists, it doubled up as a place to scribe messages.

Carefully designed for practicality and visual impact

Having visited one of Tom Howley’s showrooms in Cheshire, I was impressed by the quality of their craftmanship and their expert design skills.

Meeting my expectations can be a challenge, but the team at Tom Howley exceeded them on this project. My strong design brief was met with great enthusiasm, their designs were inspiring, and I was absolutely thrilled with the result.

It’s so exciting to be guided through the process of creating a perfect kitchen. The showroom proved the perfect place to browse specifics – the details of the cabinetry and the appliances. And all while indulging in a coffee or two (made from the specific Miele integrated coffee machine that I chose to incorporate into the design!).

Tom Howely’s whole home furniture solutions combine bespoke craftmanship with original design to create the epitome of luxury living. I chose to use their furniture solutions in the study and master suite too, creating a seamless flow from one room to the next. The use of esteemed materials and intuitive design really elevated this project.

My choice of appliances

A large fridge was housed within the pale painted cabinetry, as was a coffee machine with a warming drawer below for cups and mugs – perfectly positioned for regular espressos, lattes and Americanos. They reflect the importance of appliances in an effective design. I’m very happy to share my choices with you here:

Miele – washing machine, dryer, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, coffee machine.

Falcon – dual fuel range cooker and extractor, wine cooler.


Credit to

Bespoke kitchen, Tom Howley www.tomhowley.co.uk