Several extensions, and a seven-month renovation of the kitchen area later, Sarah and Huw Jones have transformed their 1950s bungalow in Wales into a light filled space. Inspired by the design of Mark Wilkinson’s New England kitchen (mwf.com), they have created an open plan living, cooking and dining area, complete with an oak beamed frame, and a Purbeck stone fireplace, housing a double sided Belgian Stûv.
‘Like many families we found ourselves practically living in our kitchen, which was tiny at the time,’ explains local businessman Huw. ‘So we knocked down all the central walls in the bungalow hallway and created one large space out of the four rooms.’ With eight windows, plus Velux skylights, the area is now flooded with light and in summer Sarah and Huw and their children eat with a view of the garden.
In the winter, this area is transformed into a snug. A fireplace installed at the side of this snug area acts as a screen, creating the illusion of a hallway, which is accentuated by the change in flooring from limestone to Ted Todd lacquered white oak floor.
Sarah and Huw knew what type of kitchen they wanted to maximise their use of the large room, and when they visited the Mark Wilkinson showroom in Leamington Spa, the New England model was ideal. They worked closely with the design team led by Ben Spiero to create a kitchen with granite work surfaces, a free-standing central island with a Carrara marble top and wooden cabinets hand-painted in MW41 Sancerre from the Mark Wilkinson eco paint range.
‘Huw and Sarah wanted a kitchen that suited the style of the coastal town they live in,’ says Ben. ‘The New England kitchen works wonderfully with the layers of oak beams and the dry stone wall effect of the fireplace. It just looks as if it grew there.’
‘One feature that makes the room so individual is the engraving on the canopy over the Aga,’ says Ben. ‘It reads Llareggub, a reference to Dylan Thomas’ work, and reflects their personality and Welsh culture.’
Sarah and Huw sourced everything other than the kitchen units and cabinets, often using local suppliers and craftsmen. A delicate colour scheme has resulted – pale-blue painted units, subtle pinks on the silk lampshades of the Bella Figura chandeliers, and grey, blue and yellow natural tones in the stone fireplace and limestone floor.
Despite its spaciousness, the room has an intimate, homely feel and is an ideal setting for dinners and parties. Lighting and insulation has been carefully considered, too. With its underfloor heating, the kitchen has also become a fi rm favourite with the family’s dog, Dylan; and there are 55 LED lights, spaced in a tier arrangement across the ceiling and beams, which can be dimmed remotely from an iPhone, or iPad. ‘There are also spaces in the fireplace to fit tea lights in small coloured glass holders,’ says Huw. ‘At night it looks truly magical. I’ve already ordered the Christmas tree from Norway – the space will really sparkle at Christmas.’
Sarah enjoys cooking and in the first month of the kitchen’s operation had already put the Aga to good use with a dinner for 20 people. The Kohler sink has been designed with home cooking in mind – at 1.2m long, it has a walnut chopping board and ceramic tray that can be slotted along the top, level with the granite. This makes it ideal for preparation, as Sarah and Huw can simply take the removable ceramic pots filled with chopped ingredients over to the Aga and tip them into the pan. Th ere is also a built-in pantry next to the coffee machine with spice racks, an old fashioned marble butter and cheese shelf, and signature Mark Wilkinson sliding drawers.
‘It’s a great space to cook in, with beautiful views into the garden,’ says Ben. ‘Standing at the sink you can look out on to plane trees with parasol canopies, followed in the distance by a formal clipped yew garden and a summer house.’
The finished kitchen is as adaptable as it is well crafted – as suited to a quiet family night in or a large drinks party. ‘I am the fussiest person in the world and I don’t think there is any one else who could have created a kitchen like this,’ says Huw. ‘The biggest problem we have now is that we don’t want to use the rest of the house because we like being in here too much.’