The clients wanted informality, a hint of country and sophisticated materials. Here’s what their designers dished up
Photos by Shannon McGrath. Answers by Kate McMahon and Rob Nerlich, directors of mcmahon and nerlich
Full article on Houzz.
Who lives here: A semi-retired couple who were downsizing from a significantly larger residence
Location: Malvern, Victoria
Room purpose and size: A kitchen and dining room with French doors to a courtyard. The area is 32 square metres in total.
The clients were looking for a relaxed setting to reflect their love of fine art, cooking and reading, extended family entertaining and events. They wanted something informal with a hint of country, but with quite a sophisticated and beautiful material palette. The budget didn’t permit a radical transformation to the rear facade, yet we had to improve the indoor-outdoor flow.
We began by prioritising the large island bench. Freeing it of services meant it could provide a generous preparation area and become the centrepiece for relaxed social interaction, with leisurely cooking prep and glasses of wine over a long lunch or dinner. We also had to accommodate a freestanding Lacanche cast-iron range, which provides a hint of country charm and complements the French doors.
Key design aspects
- The stone is the feature element and the hero of the kitchen.
- The remaining materials were selected to respond to the ‘hint of country’ in the brief, with a contemporary feel.
- We introduced a third set of French doors to improve the indoor-outdoor flow and balance the facade. Together they work to provide the look the clients wanted.
Colour palette: A custom deep- blue based on ‘Blue Lobelia’ from Dulux was the only colour applied. The balance of colour comes from the remaining natural materials themselves.
Materials palette: Arabescato Vagli stone features on benchtops and splashbacks and is complemented by the warmth of the Victorian ash shelves and the deep-blue cabinets. The engineered-timber floor was selected for a touch of country style.
Key pieces of furniture/fittings
The Arne Jacobsen for Louis Poulsen AJ Royal pendant light above the dining table is from Cult. The feature kitchen pendant and spotlights are from Darkon. The timber table is by Mark Tuckey, while the dining chairs are from Danish Red in Armadale. The black steel planter boxes are from Redfox & Wilcox.
Thinking behind the arrangement of furniture/fixtures: Everything is organised around the generous island bench, the kitchen is complemented by the adjacent timber dining table to provide a place for the family to eat, read, study, relax and converse. Open timber shelves increase the practicality of the high overhead cupboards and allow for display of glassware and objet d’art.
A significant part of the brief was to house the clients’ enormous book collection. The dining room wall is fully lined with the cantilevered timber shelves, which work with the Mark Tuckey timber table. The marble is also used as shelving, with the cabinets dividing the kitchen and living room fashioned into a full-height bookshelf, and a hybrid marble-timber bookshelf in the end of the kitchen island itself.
Vertical elements such as the integrated refrigerator and pantry are located together opposite the French doors, and appliances and sink arranged along a long bench to the rear. A frameless, flush range hood is perfectly concealed behind the overheads. The pantry doors open to reveal hidden additional bench space, complete with sensor lights and marble. Deep overhead cupboards imply a continuous surface, elegantly resolve the junction with the pantry, and create a recessed appliance area.
Challenges you worked around
The clients wished to negotiate with a particular builder, which caused some challenges with budgets at a late stage, however, everyone pushed through these issues in good faith to obtain a great outcome.
Why do you think this room works?
We love this room because it is a deep response to the personalities of the clients and their design commission. For a semi-retired couple in a conservative suburb of Melbourne, most designers and clients would err on the side of restraint. Yet our clients had a real appreciation for art and literature and immediately responded to the artistic provocation of this incredible Arabescato Vagli marble, as well as the resonance of the deep blue. We presented it to them and they loved it.
The design is contemporary in nature, but with all the timber and marble elements balanced, the centrepiece of the island bench and the introduction of the triple French doors, it still references a hint of country with a relaxed and informal setting.