Ah, reclaimed wood. Its rich, deep colours, and wizened, knotty patina that tells of a grand, chequered past. If you are thinking of planning a new kitchen, investing in a well-designed wooden one means that it will only improve with time and wear; but for instant character, working with old wood can't be beaten, as this design by Maria Speake of is testament. Constructed from entirely reclaimed wood - sourced from places as diverse as the Victoria & Albert Museum and a school science lab - she talks us through its execution....
'You walk straight through the front door in to this space, which spans the full length of the house and works as a dining room, a living room and a kitchen. The design had to have longevity, so wood is great because it can be adapted relatively easily with a lick of paint. The owners have four small children, so they were a huge consideration. It had to be smart, but also homely and child-proof.'
'The layout of the kitchen is particular to each individual. We quiz clients at great length about silly details like whether they rinse their plates before putting them in the dishwasher. Always put the fridge in a place that can be accessed without blocking anything else, and make sure the island is never in a thoroughfare. You want people to be able to easily get to the places they need to go. This settles the space.'
'The worktops are made from reclaimed science lab tables, and the fronts of the cupboards are covered in a white laminate, which gives a different energy to the space. On the kitchen wall we used green tiles from .'
'The beautifully made Victorian mahogany cupboards were once storage for the museum's textile collection. The glass panels in the doors can be left empty, or filled to change the look.'
The Glass'In honour of their previous incarnation, we filled some of them with pages from hand written archive books rescued from a defunct Savile Row tailors. Each one has a swatch of felt attached and the details of the person who ordered it.'
'We used modern lighting designs, which work beautifully next to the reclaimed elements. I feel it's important to have a mix of old and new, to stop the scheme from looking stuffy. In the kitchen we have used directional ceiling lights which are great for cooking. In the dining area the light had to be more diffuse, so I used a combination of hanging 'Pukeberg' lights from and 'Funnel' wall lights (pictured), which are great. You can actually paint them the colour of the wall so they blend.'
The Dining Area
'The teak on the walls behind the dining table subtly divides the space, and along with the lighting, creates a grown-up, atmospheric area for eating. However even better than that, the dark wood is virtually indestructible, and is much more resilient than a painted wall when grubby little hands go wandering. The panelling extends down in to a built in bench. The table is made from a combination of science lab worktop, with legs made from old stair banisters.'
'You come straight in to this part of the house from the street, so I knew that whatever I put on the floor would have to work hard. I chose a combination of reclaimed wooden boards, and tiles in tonal greens. There are random ones dotted about the room with letters printed on them representing the children's names. The combination of the wood and tiles distinguishes the kitchen from the living areas.'