WE ARE on-board with open plan, multi-functional kitchens, but most of us still like to shut everything away at the end of the day.
Yet designers are now shunning Identikit spaces.
One is Johnny Grey, who has created kitchens for ITV chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette, popstar Sting and theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh.
Inspired by his aunt, Queen of British cuisine Elizabeth David, Grey wants us to embrace the unfitted kitchen.
“Open shelving breaks up the continuous line of kitchen units and lets you mix everyday objects with pots and pans, cookery books and even works of art,” says Grey, whose kitchens are priced from a whopping £75,000 (RM40,6248).
“Modern kitchens and minimalism can be very dreary. The unfitted kitchen encourages householders to make use of their family furniture and treat the room as a creative place for everyone.”
Another designer, Craig Matson, chief executive officer of Roundhouse Design, agrees. “A kitchen needs to look like an extension of the living and dining area and so the furniture needs to be in keeping with the rest of the house and not like a clinical kitchen used only for preparing and eating food.”
Roundhouse’s industrial-style, open-shelving unit costs £5,000 and gives the kitchen an unfitted look.
Grey’s kitchens, though designed for a seamless cooking experience, look like living rooms. His dresser, which costs £10,080, is made from elm wood with a corian back (johnnygrey.com).
His hanging pantry, priced from £7,600, is a modern answer to the once traditional cupboard off the kitchen. The stainless steel upright tube, inspired by Indian steel drums, can be hung on the wall. “It has an authentic wobble and rattle, but offers 1.8 m of shelf space,” he says.
The trouble is we all want practicality, which doesn’t always work with a standalone kitchen.
“That’s why we mix and match fitted and unfitted so the kitchen has the appearance of being freestanding,” says Craig.
“The most obvious is an island which looks like it could be a standalone, but houses lots of fitted appliances and the sink. Roundhouse bespoke kitchens start at £35,000 (roundhousedesign.com).
The late Mark Wilkinson was known for his standalone kitchen cabinets. His best-selling is still the larder with wine racks, drawers and shelves priced from £29,400.
“He favoured a sharing, unfitted layout, shunning the usual kitchen work-triangle concept in favour of living areas,” says spokesman Richard Moss.
“All the items can be unscrewed and removed if needed. Some of our clients take their kitchens with them when they move.”
Of course, you needn’t spend a fortune. A carpenter can put up shelves and you could follow Elizabeth David’s lead and source dressers from antique shops.
She believed a kitchen should be a living room you can cook in. Built in the extension of her Chelsea home in 1946, hers was inventive.
In the post-war period, timber was in short supply, so she used furniture found in antique and junk shops.
Three dressers formed the backbone along with a 17th-century dark cherry armoire from Lyon and a low sliding-door food cupboard.
“Every piece was loaded with objects,” Grey recalls. “The fridge was banished to a corridor. There was a table and a chaise longue; and at the end French doors led to a tiny outdoor area. The focus of the kitchen was a scrubbed pine table.
“There was always a distinct aroma of Disque Bleu cigarettes mingled with the smell of something delicious cooking on the freestanding gas stove,” he says.
It was full of character and beautiful furniture, each piece with a function.
“The room was clearly dedicated to cooking, eating and writing, but there was a logic to it,” he says. “All the objects on the shelves related to cooking. The key was that preparation was mostly done on the table in the middle of the room.”
Proof you can happily mix cooking, eating and socialising in one unfitted space.