MERSEA | Island living
When our client Liz fell in love with the views of the River Blackwater from her 1850’s river-facing cottage she wanted a kitchen which incorporated these views along with the airy atmosphere of the riverside. The beautiful and classic hand-painted cabinetry of the Davonport Mersea kitchen created the elegant, contemporary farmhouse ambience, and the oak breakfast circle in the middle of the room acts as the point of transition from kitchen to diner, helping to achieve a sociable but spacious room.
“The original kitchen was a real cottage kitchen and I loved it but it had two issues areas; firstly the washing machine was awkwardly located in the kitchen; second, there was no designated ‘get together’ family space without getting under the cook’s feet!” With a clear idea of the look she wanted to achieve, Liz undertook some serious renovations, including giving the kitchen a complete make-over. The entire kitchen design began with the stunning view, also factoring the chimney position and central steel post. Having knocked through into a back hallway to create a fabulous but ‘blank canvas,’ 9 x 8 m breakfast room, Liz undertook careful planning and consultation to ensure she achieved her desired result.
“I wanted a kitchen that was bright and airy and was the ‘heart’ of the household. I hated feeling banished to the kitchen whilst everyone else chatted merrily in the sitting room so wanted a family seating area in the same room to feel part of the banter while cooking. We also wanted to make the most of the garden and feel we were almost sitting outside in the summer time. Bi-fold doors on two walls fold right back to give us just that feeling. There’s a seamless meeting of interior and exterior and it’s a great space for entertaining.”
When it came to actually designing, building and installing a kitchen to fill the new room, the on-site joiner suggested Liz contact Richard Davonport as someone who specialized in bespoke, hand-crafted kitchens. “As soon as I met Richard I knew I had found someone who was incredibly passionate about his work and paid tremendous attention to detail. A guided tour of his Colchester factory where I was able to see other bespoke kitchens being hand-crafted confirmed him as the only possible choice. The kitchen is contemporary with clean lines and crisp detail, but the use of natural colours and products helps marry it in with the traditional woodwork and oak beams in the old part of the house. He also had some excellent ideas regarding a surround for the Aga and the dresser.”
Liz’s desire for the seating and dining areas to have direct views of the beautiful garden dictated the position of the kitchen within the room. The recess in the chimney lent itself to the Aga and the central post made for a natural corner hosting an island arrangement. The solution to the post was solved with cladding, and once clad, it echoed the curved lines of the round oak breakfast circle perfectly. “Richard designed and built a mock fire surround with oak mantle and ‘secret’ cupboards in the uprights – ideal for spices and oils. The eyelevel oven and microwave are incredibly practical when cooking for the hordes, as is the two drawer fridge and two Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers which are far more economical, I would never go back to a single cabinet dishwasher.”
Liz felt that Davonport’s ‘Mersea’ Shaker style with a delicate chamfer frame was the perfect choice to achieve her desired look of a kitchen that was ‘contemporary yet timeless.’ With a handmade entrance hall door, anything modern would not have worked, but while Shaker is still contemporary, the look also says experience, so was the ideal choice. When it came to choosing the colours for the units Liz chose Sanderson’s Silverflake for the walls; Farrow and Ball’s Cornforth White for the wall units; and Lamp Room Gray for the island units. A grey green slate had been used on the outside of the house and she wanted to bring the soft, earthy colours inside. “The contrast is subtle and gives depth to the kitchen area, perfectly setting off the pewter Aga and my fantastic granite worktop.”
“We couldn’t be more delighted with the end result. We have a light and airy room where I cook while chatting to the family. We spend hours watching wildlife and river-life and love sharing the space with friends. I can’t wait for the summer to open the bi-fold doors and spread out onto the deck for barbeques – the outlook and all day sun make it a room I never want to leave.”