When Alison and James Dewhurst moved into their new period home, they soon realised the kitchen they had inherited – cramped and with no space to move around – was not suitable for their young family. During a top-to-bottom renovation of the house, they decided, therefore, to convert the garage and create a large open plan kitchen. This gave them room in which to spend time with their children, as well as reinstating some much needed character to complement their 1920s Warwickshire property.
Alison knew she needed considerable storage space and it was the exceptional design of the popular pantry larder that attracted her to Harvey Jones (harveyjones.com) and inspired a meeting with designer Mark Igoe. Mark’s career at the company goes back 12 years and he was more than qualified to lead the Dewhursts’ project, which, he recalls ‘began with a garage that had two large metal doors – and that was it.’
To create the classic look she envisaged, Alison decided to incorporate several specific features. ‘I knew I wanted an Aga and large overmantel to be the main focus of the kitchen,’ she says, ‘and the first thing you see when you enter the room.’ A sociable central island with seating and space for food preparation was another priority, as were the butler sink and spacious, open plan feel of the entire area. This formed Mark’s brief and the Harvey Jones Original kitchen fitted these requirements perfectly. ‘We liked its delicate detailing and the large range of finishing touches to choose from,’ says Alison.
A mix of two neutral colours on the cabinets and pantry makes the most of the dappled light that filters through the windows from outside. Shaded White and Pigeon, both by Farrow & Ball, produce an elegant effect, while the work surface on the island is durable as well as attractive. The warmth of the wood is echoed in a handcrafted wall-mounted plate rack, which sits above and to the right of the double sink, and in the chopping block and pantry larder interior.
In addition to the Aga, Alison chose a separate hob and stove, which were integrated into the island unit, and are convenient for quick meals and catering for large numbers. With entertaining in mind, Alison and James chose an American-style fridge-freezer and its size and shape balance out the pantry larder on the opposite wall, while its colour echoes the cream of the Aga. Lighting is recessed in the ceiling, within the pantry, above the Aga and below the cabinets to give a soft understated effect and the overall design is both sophisticated and comfortable.
Over a period of six months, from the first meeting with Mark to the completion of the project, Alison and James’ garage was transformed from an empty shell into an attractive, multi-functional room that has changed the way the Dewhursts use their home. Alison says the relationship they built up with the design team was crucial. ‘Mark had a clear idea of what we wanted from the very beginning of the process,’ she explains, ‘and at every stage he communicated each element of the design to us. The kitchen is where we now spend nearly all our time as a family and is the most important room in the whole house.’