Case study: Subtle sophistication

Martin Baptie of Baptie Design explains how he turned a kitchen that was originally part of the old Edinburgh hospital into a simple sophisticated space in which the client could escape the city rat race.

In a room that was formerly part of an old Edinburgh hospital, the client had particular ideas about turning the small awkward space into a kitchen in which she could escape her busy life and relax.

THE PROPERTY: The property was originally part of the old Edinburgh hospital, and this presented the main obstacle with the design. Like many period properties, the kitchen area was awkward and located at an offset angle. The design needed to make the small space feel much bigger.

THE CLIENT: A house-proud single professional who works long, busy shifts in the heart of Edinburgh. The client was looking for a simple, sophisticated space to escape the rat race and relax in.

THE BRIEF: The client wanted a multipurpose space, which didn’t look like a kitchen and worked as an open-plan living and dining area. Easy-to-access units were requested, as was an abundance of drawers to make the room look bigger. The kitchen design had to pay careful consideration to the awkward space, which was located at an offset angle to the rest of the room. The small area was difficult to work with due to many interruptions, including large windows surrounding the room.

The building’s heritage meant the shape of the open plan living area, which was to include the newly designed kitchen, was slightly unconventional. The kitchen design had to take into account an obscure angle that was offset from the rest of the room. Further difficulty was encountered due to the large windows surrounding the room that interrupted the space.

The client wanted sophistication – a place where she could come home at the end of a busy day and relax in a multipurpose space that didn’t feel like a kitchen. Afterall, the client was happy with the open plan aspect of the room, we just needed to maximise space and make it feel bigger.

To achieve this, we decided to create a drawer-focused design for the whole kitchen, including the dishwasher. By simply offsetting both the top and bottom drawers during the installation, we could set the lower drawers back which offered more floor space at low level. All the bottom drawers have a push-to-open mechanism so the client, at her request, can be “lazy and open the drawers with my slippers on.”

By introducing solid oak plinths and using the oak to cantilever the top drawers, the crisp white kitchen feels more like bespoke furniture and doesn’t look like a typical kitchen.

Owing to the shape of the room, we placed part of the kitchen around the corner where there were no windows and then located the oven housing within a pocket door system. Naturally, it felt like the best option was to then clad a pull-out larder with wood slat panelling to continue the look of bespoke furniture. To create a dresser feel to the tall run of units we used contemporary cornice detailing, which sat above additional storage space with wood slat to match the larder design.

We ordered the drawers direct from Nolte – to be supplied separately – and the natural oak used to form the offset detail proved to be more sustainable, offering greater value for money than a bespoke, hand-made fabrication from a factory – a process that would have pushed the project over budget for my client.

To finish off the sophisticated look and relaxing feel of the new space, a variety of lighting options were used, from recessed lights across the whole area to the under-cabinet strip lighting and cylindrical feature wall lamps.

Installer Comment

Baptie Design’s architectural background meant the design for the space in this older building was going to be sympathetic. One key task during the install was to increase the floor space by having the lower drawers of the kitchen set back a little. I had to ensure the drawers fit uniformly in a space that wasn’t uniform.

It was a shrewd idea to order the drawers separately so I could work around the awkward space and give the kitchen its look of bespoke furniture. For example, finding room for the hot tap’s water tank within the kitchen’s drawer system was tricky, but I managed with some careful customisation. Hand-made fabrications are expensive, so using natural oak for extra detailing saved the client money and was more sustainable.

About Baptie Design

Baptie Design was created to provide a variety of architectural and design services, specialising in kitchens and bathrooms, to extensions and other construction projects. Martin Baptie is the founding director, lead creative designer, and project leader.

After qualifying as an architectural technician and undertaking extensive training in CAD, Baptie found his love and passion for design and has never looked back.

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