A traditional kitchen extension

Judith and Shaun Orpen bought their historic farmhouse knowing that it required significant improvement and extension work – it was the ideal opportunity to build their dream kitchen

TODO alt text

The problem

‘It was a case of the ideal opportunity rather than a problem when we bought this farmhouse.

‘It had an adequate kitchen, but there was a collection of outbuildings close to the house and, though the property is listed, planning permission was already in place to demolish these and build a large vaulted, oak-framed extension.

‘As we are both very keen cooks, the chance to build our dream kitchen was irresistible.’

Fact file

The owners: Judith and Shaun Orpen, both management consultants, live here with their daughters, Sarah, 11, and Charlotte, nine

What we did

‘Our priorities were to create a spacious kitchen with lots of natural light and plenty of working space. The planning approval that was already in place, with a few minor tweaks, would allow us to achieve this, we realised.

‘After researching oak frame suppliers, we employed Border Oak to build our extension. The company provided us with a project manager responsible for the day-to-day logistics on-site. We had built an extension to our previous home and so knew what to expect with this type of project; consequently, there were no nasty surprises. We were able to use the old kitchen throughout, apart from a few days when we were without water, so the disruption was manageable, too. Our project manager did a great job juggling all the different trades to ensure our project ran smoothly.

‘There was a minor incident at the very beginning of the project, while we were on holiday. The old storage barns were dismantled to make way for the oak frame and we had agreed the materials could be burnt in our field, apart from a few beams that we were salvaging for use in the extension. A firebreak was made and hoses were brought up as a safety precaution, but the field caught fire when the wind suddenly changed direction. Fortunately it was extinguished before any damage was done. On the plus side, the fire provided us with an excellent starting point for our wild flower meadow by eradicating all the weeds!

‘The extension took shape really quickly. We had put a great deal of research into the early stages of the project, which helped us avoid disruptive changes during the build. It was great to watch everything finally coming together.

‘I really enjoyed choosing and helping to design the kitchen. We approached Underwood Kitchens to make bespoke units for us and the results are fantastic. I wanted a traditional finish to tie in with the extension, so decided on painted units. Having a wall of glass running down one side of the kitchen presented a configuration dilemma, as we couldn’t build units against the windows. The large island unit is a great solution to this and has become our favourite area as it’s such a social space, doubling up as a breakfast bar. It contains a preparation sink, warming drawers, a chopping area and even built-in weighing scales, as well as plenty more surfaces on which to work. We allowed ourselves to go slightly over budget with the beautiful work surfaces in Madagascan granite. The stone has such impact, echoing the colours of the kitchen beautifully.

‘As it’s such a large space, we chose to have underfloor heating beneath warm limestone tiles. I found decisions like this easy to make, but then took three days to decide on the colour for the walls as the light in the extension changes dramatically throughout the day.

‘I wanted to have the dining table at the end of the room, by the glass doors, to make the most of the views. Lighting the room had to be thought out carefully, too. Five pendants over the island light the main food-preparation area, while uplighters highlight the oak beams and a chandelier defines the dining space.

‘Our favourite new appliance is the boiling-water tap from Quooker. The Aga was essential, as we both enjoy cooking and entertaining. We had back-up conventional ovens built into the island as well, but they are barely used.

‘The new extension has made a huge difference to family life. It’s a great room for us all to congregate in and the old kitchen has been turned into a snug. Our extension provides such a lovely bright and spacious room, which ties in really well with the rest of the farmhouse.’


Building work*£90,000

*Including the kitchen extension’s oak frame, but excluding the plumbing, electrics, plastering and decoration, as these were part of the family’s larger project refurbishing the whole farmhouse and building a new oak barn.