Kitchen of the Week: A Fresh Take on Classic Shaker Style
aving renovated and added on to their semidetached Victorian house in London, Johnny and Gillian Martin teamed up with Jamie Blake of Blakes London and set about designing their kitchen. The couple had two key considerations. The first was that they wanted a big, freestanding oven range that would help them cook for sociable evenings with friends. The second was the sofa. The couple loved their handsome blue sofa, but it was big. Really big. “It dictated which way round we designed the kitchen,” Blake says. “Once we knew where the sofa would fit in, the rest followed.”
Kitchen at a Glance Who lives here: Johnny Martin, who runs a custom building business, and his wife, Gillian Martin, a lawyer Location: London Designer: Jamie Blake, Blakes London
Johnny and Gillian were interested in Shaker style, but Blake steered that classic look toward something more contemporary. “There is more detail in here than in a standard Shaker kitchen,” Blake says. “We have designed curved edges to the cabinets and added end panels that look similar to those you’d find on a door, rather than the typical tongue and groove.” In addition to creating the custom cabinetry, Blake built a custom dining table to make the room warm, sociable and unique.
There are three zones in the space: one for cooking, one for eating and a casual living area for watching TV. The latter features a large Long Island sofa from Sofa.com, which, due to its size, partially dictated how the rest of the space would be configured.
“The back wall was the natural home for the fridge,” Blake says. “Positioning it here means we could have the oven and a long run of units along the left-hand wall and extending right behind the sofa.” There is a full pantry built around the Fisher & Paykel ActiveSmart refrigerator.
Blake built the table onsite for Johnny and Gillian, who love to entertain. It’s made from a piece of zinc-wrapped medium-density fiberboard. “The raw zinc ages nicely, and it’s already full of stains and tiny dents,” he says. Blake then bought four turned legs and built the stretchers onsite before putting the table together. The legs are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue, a color used throughout the house. The pendant lights are from Wayfair.
Blake designed the cabinets and had them made in poplar. “If you want to see grain, oak and ash are good choices,” he says, “but we wanted a very flat finish, and poplar is ideal for this.” The cabinets are all painted in Pavilion Gray by Farrow & Ball. Blake fitted mirrors at the backs of the glass-fronted wall units. “It’s a little trick to create depth,” he says. “It makes it look as though you have loads of glasses when you only have six.”
Along one wall of the living area, Blake created a custom unit containing log storage for the wood burner. “The oak has been finished with a dark stain,” he says. “It looks a bit like shoe polish. When you wipe it off, the stain remains in the grain and really picks it out.” The cupboard is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue.
Door-like end panels, rather than the typical Shaker tongue and groove, help this kitchen feel individual. Blake chose a white quartz countertop called Cimstone. “It stains less than Corian and scratches less than marble,” he says. “Pale worktops are very on-trend, and this is a reasonably cost-effective way to install one.”
Quality materials have been used throughout this kitchen, even inside the cabinets. “We used walnut inside the cupboards,” says Blake. “A true Shaker kitchen might use oak, but we loved the dark, elegant look of walnut.”
Large porcelain tiles are warmed by the underfloor heating that runs throughout the ground floor. “The tiles have a rustic, hewn finish, which adds detail at floor level,” Blake says. The range is from Britannia, with a range hood above and a microwave oven, both from Siemens.
Blake designed coving by the window to conceal the curtain rail, and now lush gray curtains hang here. “It means you can block out the sun if you want to watch TV, but the curtains also add some softness to the space, which is mainly full of hard, practical surfaces,” he says.