Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kitchen classic

A modern take on a farmhouse kitchen makes the welcoming heart of Lisa and Ashton Ward’s busy and sociable home

So small was the galley-style kitchen in the house Lisa Ward and husband, Ashton, had just bought, they honestly wondered how the previous owners had managed. ‘It was absolutely tiny and was soon earmarked to become the study instead,’ recalls Lisa. ‘We decided to re-think the layout of the house.’ And when she says ‘re-think’, she means it. Lisa and Ashton went for a total overhaul of the 1950s-built home in Berkshire. ‘We wanted to keep the character of the property, so we retained the frontage with its beautiful old red clay tiles but about two thirds of everything else went completely,’ she explains. ‘Now it’s an old house with a new build and a much more spacious feel.’

Key to that spacious feel is a very large and open-plan kitchen, dining and living room, with a large roof lantern and French doors to the two acre garden (the next phase of their extensive renovation project - it is currently being landscaped). ‘As much as I wanted to go with a sleek, all-white and very glossy kitchen, I knew it just wouldn’t fit with our family,’ laughs Lisa, full-time mum to Barnaby, 8, and Matilda, 6, and owner of three Dachshunds, Stanley Baxter, Henry Hudson and Ruby, not forgetting Poppy, the Springer Spaniel, Rambo the 13-year-old goldfish. ‘Wet dog tails, muddy paw prints and scooters speeding around are better suited to a room that can cope with a little wear and tear and a few knocks,’ she says.

Having owned a Mark Wilkinson kitchen before, the couple headed there for the new design. With a background in property development, Lisa says she has learnt to know what she likes. ‘I wanted a modern farmhouse look, which was quite clean and uncluttered -but with nothing gimmicky,’ she says.

A solid oak door leads into the pantry storing essential items

There are no prizes for guessing the favourite dog breed in this household. Ruby gets comfortable in the family seating area.

The island is topped in solid oak with White Spring granite, which copes better with water than wood, used to ‘zone’ the sink area

Simple framed cabinetry, hand painted in greeny-grey Fernlea, creates the traditional farmhouse look that Lisa had in mind, it’s clean lines and unfussy detailing adding the contemporary twist. ‘I like the heritage feel of the colour and it is very calming and soft,’ she says. There was a moment when I thought I should go for a vibrant pink island or something like that, but I knew I would quickly get bored of it – this is timeless.’ The large island serves as the main prep surface, with an oak breakfast bar area. To complete the design, Lisa and Ashton chose a custom-built Lacanche cooker. ‘We chose a combination of both gas and electric ovens, with four gas burners, a wok ring and a griddle, so we could still have cooking options if our unreliable gas supply was turned off,’ explains Lisa. ‘We also liked the design of the Lacanche.’ They added hand painted tiles to create another focal point.

‘The kitchen really works for our family. It’s great when we have big parties, or when it’s just us at home,’ says Lisa. Of course, ‘just us’ in the Ward household often means countless other four-legged friends. ‘I often look after my friends’ dogs,’ reveals Lisa, ‘I know – I’m animal mad – but I do think dogs make for calmer, nicer people. But whatever the mix,’ she says, ‘the kitchen always feels good.’

Mark Wilkinson Furniture also designed and supplied the furniture for the utility room which was made to match the kitchen

The vintage telephone is in good working condition


The butler sink and mixer taps echo those in the main room