After selling the family farming business, Helen and Nathan Clarke found themselves with a little time on their hands. Time enough, they felt, to tackle the renovation of the Lincolnshire farmhouse they had inherited from Helen’s grandparents and lived in since they were first married in 2002. ‘The kitchen was stained from a water leak and the cabinets were starting to look very tired,’ says Helen. ‘I’d hankered after a traditional painted kitchen for years, because I felt it would perfectly suit the period style and countryside setting of the house, so this was my chance.’
The couple decided to widen the room by stealing some space from an under-used corridor, moving an internal wall in the process. They visited kitchen suppliers to select the new design, getting as far as placing a small early-stage deposit on cabinetry from a nationwide supplier. Then they found themselves in Lincoln and wandered into the Krantz Designs showroom. ‘The Krantz name had kept coming up when we asked our friends for recommendations and as soon as we stepped over the threshold, we could see why,’ recalls Helen. They met designer Maria-Elianna Constantinou and quickly established a good rapport. ‘We were impressed by the bespoke nature of the kitchens and the fact that anything was possible,’ adds Helen. ‘It made us re-think our approach – whilst we had been happy enough with the kitchen we had chosen from the first supplier, we decided that, on a project of this size, we should select a design that was absolutely right.’
Rather than only running furniture in a U-shape around the walls, Maria-Elianna’s design introduced a focal point island with integrated dining table, ideal for family meals. ‘This instantly created a heart to the room,’ says Helen, who was also able to work with Maria to create extra bead detail to enhance the timeless appeal of the cabinetry and to design custom storage arrangements specifically suited to the way she likes to coo
So inspired were Helen and Nathan by the success of the kitchen, they also commissioned Krantz Designs to create a new utility-boot room, then set about further renovations throughout the property. ‘For years, we had felt frustrated at being unable to fulfil the potential of the house,’ says Helen. ‘The kitchen has re-ignited our love for our home and been a hugely satisfying project.’
At its heart, the square-shaped kitchen has an island with sink and prep space, complete with dining area with curved banquette seating and table suited to a family of four. The Everhot cooker is framed by a faux chimney breast with bespoke mantle, flanked by storage, while a symmetrical breakfast cupboard and pantry with integrated fridge and freezer complete the design.
ISLAND DINING AREA
The size and square shape of the room made it tricky to include both a large island and separate dining table with sufficient circulation space around the furniture. ‘By merging the two together, there is room for the family to eat together in comfort,’ explains Maria-Elianna. ‘Helen and Nathan wanted to avoid a long row of bar stools, so the curved banquette seating and bespoke circular dining table make a more sociable design as the family can see each other whilst they chat.’
To introduce character to the room, it now includes a faux chimney breast, built to house the large Everhot cooker. ‘The mantle is designed as another key feature of the room, specially engraved with the name of the house as a personal touch,’ says Maria-Elianna. ‘It also serves to conceal the built-in extraction unit.’ The mantle legs include handy pull-outs for spices, condiments and oils, while the glass splash back reflects light and enhances the spacious feel of the room.
COLOUR AND FINISH MIX
‘I wanted a contrasting colour for the island, because I was keen to avoid a sea of muted shades,’ says Helen, who chose a soft black with blue undertones to stand out against the gentle grey of the wall cabinetry for a traditional and timeless finish. The furniture is factory spray painted for a sleeker sheen than a hand-painted result, bringing the farmhouse kitchen look up to date. ‘The walnut table and chairs introduce richer tones and sense of texture, and are echoed in the drawer linings, while brass handles and taps create a touch more period character and warmth,’ notes Maria-Elianna. ‘Pretty floral fabrics add a further level of harmony to the overall look.’
Photography by Paul Craig
Written by Amelia Thorpe