Case study: An element of surprise

Olive & Barr created a handmade kitchen with a few surprises in a barn conversion for clients who enjoy entertaining friends and family

The homeowners put full trust in the design team to bring their vision to life. In addition to the initial priorities, we wanted to ensure the kitchen felt like an extension of the existing building, while also making best use of the large windows, charac­terful beams and beautiful landscape. 

A well-designed layout is crucial to making the space function to its full potential, with appliance placement playing a fundamental role. To begin with, our team of designers created a fully bespoke mantle to frame and draw attention to the beautiful six-sided AGA. 

A large island with plentiful seating and storage was a must. With this in mind, we built an extra-large island for guests to gather around and ensured the dining area was considered throughout the planning, to make the space feel connected and sociable. Glazed base end units were incorporated within the island, which allowed the homeowners to showcase their glassware. It also added a reflective and delicate look that contrasted beautifully with the oak wooden shelving and units painted in Farrow & Ball Railings. The island provides a centre point to the design, allowing the homeowners to add decorative details and personality, such as the overhead lighting feature. 

For the worktop, the clients were very clear – they wanted a Carrara marble worktop to contrast against the dark cabinets and complement the surrounding natural materials of wood and stone. A popular choice for many, its high-quality and visually exquisite properties set it apart from other natural stones and, paired with the dark cabinetry, polishes off the look. 

Hidden wine cellar

Rather than using traditional tiles for a splashback, we opted for an antique mirror that bounces the light around the room, complementing the chrome hardware as well as reflecting the abundant green garden. These unique elements add further character to the kitchen, creating pockets of interest within the design scheme. 

Not forgetting that the clients wanted something unique with an element of surprise, we were able to build a ‘secret’ door into the wine utility room, which boasts a custom-made solid oak entrance and wine rack. The doors sat discreetly next to the fridge, so once closed, they were cleverly disguised as a larder. This meant the homeowners could minimise clutter, while concealing a secret passageway, which makes for a great surprise when hosting guests.

Installer comments

As the kitchen was part of a large extension, it allowed us to carefully plan the space from scratch. The sheer scale of the room commanded a grand, imposing kitchen. It was our priority to ensure this was what was achieved. 

Like most renovations at the time, there were unavoidable delays to the barn extension due to the pandemic, which inevitably impacted the kitchen install date.

The building work was of a high standard throughout the renovation, which undoubtedly helped with the installation. The true craftsmanship is shown in the scribing of the cabinet end panels to the original stone walls, matching the profile perfectly.

Fitting in the utility space is always more of a challenge due to the lack of space, however, once these hurdles were overcome, we knew it was worth it, especially when ‘wow’ moments are created. The design of the disguised doors and bespoke wine rack was certainly one of those.

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