When Alice Acton moved back to her family’s ancestral manor house six years ago, with her husband Jeremy and their three children, the kitchen consisted of a pine dresser, table, chairs and cupboards, all dating back to the 1980s. It had lasted well, but two years ago the couple decided it was time for a new, properly planned kitchen.
‘It’s quite a large room, which is lucky as we entertain a lot,’ says Alice. ‘So when we revamped it I wanted the sort of kitchen where you can cook but still be a part of things when you have guests.’
A beautiful handmade kitchen was the solution. ‘I didn’t want a sleek modern design – I wanted traditional but with a modern twist,’ recalls Alice. ‘So the cabinetry is classic but painted in three shades, which along with the granite worktop creates a more contemporary effect.’
Alice and Jeremy made a feature of the stone and brick that once formed the exterior wall of a 17th-century falconry mews, and added a sense of fun with a quirky Vietnamese horse’s head from Homesense. The electric pewter Aga is on all the time so the kitchen is the warmest room in the house. Midelwood built the housing for it, and the tiles above, which feature a tiny butterfly design.
The glass cabinets above the farmhouse sink contain some treasured plates showing the family crest. Alice and Jeremy decided that as the room was for entertaining as well as cooking, it needed good lighting so asked Rupert Little of David Little to design it to be soft and golden. ‘We didn’t want anything harsh and we’re delighted with the result,’ Alice says.
The work took two months, as it also involved rewiring and replastering, new glass in the sloping roof and a new floor. Alice’s mother lives in the other half of the manor house, so while the work was completed, the family used her kitchen.
Now it’s finished, it works really well. ‘I love having the Aga and island together as I can have a glass of wine with friends while I cook.'
Keeping the overall look traditional to suit the historic building, but adding a contemporary twist, the units and island were handmade by Midelwood and painted in Mylands’ Mid Wedgwood, Hawkesmoor and Broken White, topped with Bianco Latino granite from the Bristol Marble & Granite Company. The flooring is concrete moulded faux flagstones, from Traditional Flagstones – a fraction of the price of real stone.