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Profile: A Glass Fronted House Worthy of The Stunning Scenery That Surrounds It

A walnut veneer island provides warmth against the polished concrete surfaces of this kitchen
   EKBB Magazine  |  written on: 08-09-2021 10:30am

Perched at the top of a hill with sweeping views across the Gower Peninsula, the location of Jane and Michael Stevens’ home was always going to dictate the design of their kitchen – and indeed the rest of the house. “The outside space is critical to the house as a whole,” explains Jane. “And the typical weather conditions of West Wales mean it’s often more comfortable to enjoy the landscape from inside the house, so bringing the outside in was essential.”

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Polished concrete flooring, stainless steel worktops and white gloss cabinetry all bounce the light from the wall of glazing around the inside of the space and emphasise the surrounding scenery

Quick View

- Owners/residents: Jane and Michael Stevens

- Designer: Jason Shephard, design manager at Kitchen Architecture

- Style: Contemporary, minimalist

- Kitchen feature: Sleek design features and rustic materials work together to complement the real showstopper in this contemporary kitchen – the panoramic views across the Welsh coastline

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The hob centred in the middle of the island is between two sinks at either end of the unit. This creates balance while also meaning two people can easily work side by side without getting in each other’s way

With a wall of glass looking out onto the UK’s first officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the dramatic countryside becomes the main feature, with everything about the design set up to complement and prioritise those incredible views. “My husband and I both enjoy cooking,” says Jane. “So, we wanted to feel that the kitchen was a place we could spend a lot of time in as well as enjoy some of the best views from the house.”

Their brief to designer Jason Shephard of Kitchen Architecture was clear – work with the surrounding outside space, while sticking to the contemporary style of the newly built home. Everything about the kitchen, from the location of the cabinetry to the materials, was chosen with the surrounding landscape in mind. “The island was specifically chosen and orientated to allow us to look out of the kitchen at the outside space while we’re working,” says Jane. The rustic combination of finishes – concrete, stainless steel and walnut – all allow the scenery to speak for itself, blurring the boundary between the inside and outside space.

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Behind the island, the back wall of tall kitchen furniture is finished in white gloss, again contrasting with the concrete and helping to reflect the outside space into the room

While the landscape and minimalist approach defined the design of the space, Jane and Michael knew they needed to ensure this was still a high functioning working kitchen, where they could live and entertain in comfort and style. This is achieved with the addition of two hidden rooms behind the kitchen. “Ultimately it means we can get messy here without compromising the minimalist look at ‘front of house’,” laughs Jane. The result is a dramatic space worthy of the stunning scenery that surrounds it.

Q & A – Jason Shephard, design manager at Kitchen Architecture

- What was your initial brief for the design?
The clients had a clear idea of what they wanted to create. It was to be a statement house but equally somewhere they could comfortably live and make the most of the views. They wanted a sociable kitchen with clear views outside. It was to be totally uncluttered, with just some table seating and then a living space at the end of the room.

- What were some of the challenges you faced during the design process?
The biggest was to make sure the proportions worked. It’s a big space and the 5.9 metre island dwarfs anything we’ve got in our showrooms. We also needed to make sure the space flowed and functioned, for example, making sure the ovens were raised to a good height, creating enough set-down space, and putting the dishwashers near to the cutlery and crockery drawers, etc. It was important the design didn’t compete with the architecture of the space, so we needed to keep the shape and appearance as simple as possible.

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The tall wall of furniture behind the island conceals a multitude of useful storage options, as well as a highly functional breakfast and drinks area

- What do you love most about the kitchen?
The fact that the space is very much at one with the outside is key to the success of this design. Keeping the materials quite industrial and rustic and having those reflective elements helps to transfer the outside in a little bit more – you’re very conscious you’re on the top of a hill over the Gower Peninsula, which is absolutely what the clients wanted. What gives me most satisfaction is when the clients say they still love it and enjoy working in the space.

Credit: Paul Craig (Images), Molly Forbes (Words)
Published: As featured in EKBB Magazine, Issue 250, February 2017

Also read:
Profile: A Dark Victorian Terraced House Becomes a Scandi-Style Haven

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