Classic kitchen right at home in a traditional Mt Eden villa renovation

In recent years there has been a strong trend for renovated New Zealand villas to have something of a split personality. The front retains all the traditional character features, while the back has a thoroughly modern extension, with a minimalist kitchen to match.This major villa renovation did not go down that path.

Rather, the owners chose to retain the classic feel and look right through the house. Sure, they opened it right up to the outdoors, but they asked designer Shane George of Kitchens By Design to keep the kitchen in character. “This is a beautiful home in Mt Eden – it’s quite a statement house that has been completely renovated,” George says. “The owners wanted a kitchen that would fit in. They wanted something not too fussy, that was more of a plain English kitchen.

“The clients had images of kitchens they liked in the classic style. It couldn’t be too ‘country’ – that look wouldn’t have worked here.” In keeping with the style, the cabinetry features frame-and-flat-panel doors and drawers with a two-pot lacquered finish.

“The choice of colour was very important,” says the designer. “We didn’t want it to look too stark as white kitchens can do. So the palette is soft greys and whites. The island is a slightly darker grey and the Caesarstone engineered stone benchtops are white with subtle grey veining.”
To introduce a little texture to the mix, the splashback features glossy, textural brick tiles.

George provided a galley-style layout for the kitchen, with a long island work bench. To maintain the classic feel, appliances are integrated within the cabinetry wherever possible.

The designer also created a bulkhead that resembles a wall above the overhead cabinets. “The bulkhead helps to make the kitchen look as though it has always been here. Because the original ceiling is very high, having a bulkhead also avoids the typical dust trap you get when cabinets finish short of the ceiling. And it was a good way to hide the ducting from the commercial-grade Schweigen hood above the oven.”

Zones were provided to simplify food preparation and clean-up. Breakfast foods, for example, are kept within the perimeter cabinets by the window, so the family doesn’t need to go into the scullery where most of the grocery items are stored.

The scullery, which is directly behind the kitchen, is like a mini kitchen, complete with second sink, dishwasher and plenty of bench space and storage for small appliances, cookbooks, wine, foodstuffs and baking equipment.

The cut-outs in the open drawers emulate traditional pantry drawers. Other traditional features in the kitchen include tongue-and-groove boards at the back of the scullery and island. These have a double groove that provides added detail in keeping with the villa character.

View the article on  |  Colleen Hawkes

Key Design Points

  • A pared-back approach to classic design avoids a fussy look and works perfectly with modern lifestyles.
  • Rooms with extra-high ceilings can benefit from a bulkhead above the cabinets – it avoids a dust trap and stops the cabinetry looking too modular.
  • Having zones for food prep, breakfast foods, baking and clean-up helps to keep a kitchen organised.
  • Stark white cabinets can be too harsh in an older home – try very light soft grey tones instead.