Kitchen Culture (for kitchen connoisseurs)

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For most people the creation of a slick, contemporary home with sleek surfaces, vogue materials and a minimal colour palette is almost unthinkable when you have a busy family life evolving around four growing children. Yet, for Chris and Belinda Coleman there was no compromise on style. Instead, they turned to Gordon Russell of London-based architectural and interior design consultancy, Detail, who has earned an enviable reputation for creating innovative, cutting edge interiors.

"They wanted clean, cool and contemporary" Gordon explains. "The brief was to create a family environment, which allowed constant interaction between parents and children, and a social place where they could entertain guests. In effect, they wanted a clean space that would function on several different levels at several different times."

To make way for this multifunctional space, Gordon began the process of opening up the rooms on the ground floor to create an open-plan interior complete with breathtaking kitchen, modern dining zone and a cosy lounge for relaxation.

"Initially the space was divided into three separate rooms. The conservatory was originally a separate room, while the kitchen was once a guest’s room. We also knocked through to the adjoining lounge to create one huge space," Gordon explains.

With the structural work identified a blank canvas was created, and immediately Gordon’s eye was drawn to the vast conservatory windows, which framed the breathtaking landscaped gardens outside like living works of art. This visual focus added resonance to Gordon’s design plans. He created a layout with three essential elements- a storage zone running along the back wall; a central island with long, sleek proportions and a funky dining table positioned within the imposing glass conservatory.

"With this layout any cook working at the island unit has full view of the dining table and can look out beyond, through the windows and into the gardens," Gordon says. "And, of course, the idea of an island unit is to provide a place to prep food where you have an open space in front of you rather than a blank wall. This is very important if you want to feel comfortable whilst working in the kitchen."

The cunning layout also provides a social setting where the family can come together at meal times and entertain a constant stream of visitors. "The island unit doubles as a breakfast bar," Gordon elaborates. "There are four children in the family-so effectively they can be lined up along the long counter like an American diner. Additionally, the dining table provides seating for 12, so there’s plenty of extra room for guests."

To cater for the Coleman’s taste for cool, contemporary style, decedent dark woods were teamed up with chunky slabs of concrete and flashes of stainless steel. "Dark woods such as wenge and walnut are very popular at the moment," Gordon says. "However we selected rosewood, which has a rich, luxurious undercurrent of red, along with a deep grain which gave us a tremendous depth and warmth."

Gordon used this wood lavishly to create a bank of units, packed with pullout storage, along the back wall. It was also used to encase the stunning island unit which is framed by a thick terrazzo counter, extending to the floor at each end. "The concrete work surface was made specially for us. It has flecks of blue and tan marble chipe within, which again, gave us depth and texture," Gordon adds. "As this material is moulded off site it came ready-made with the seamless sink and draining grooves in the countertop, making it very functional."

Moreover, the stone is incredibly durable and, in the unlikely event of damage, can be repaired in-situ. In fact, all the materials used in this design not only have a jaw- dropping visual impact but also are tough enough to withstand the demands of busy family.

The slick dining table, designed and produced by detail for example, is made of polyester lacquer- the hardest synthetic lacquer — which is applied in multiple layers and burnished back many times so that you end up with fantastic depth. "It’s not just a coat of paint, it’s very durable," Gordon laughs. "Electric guitar bodies are covered in this material."

The hardest working areas in the kitchen are highlighted in stainless steel. Above the hob, a stainless steel splash back stretches across the wall and rises up to meet a bespoke boxing system, designed by Gordon to hide the extractor and its’ ducting system. "I detest those triangular chimneys," Gordon says. "This is much sleeker and enhances the clean, linear lines that define the space."

Stainless steel also frames the integrated combi-oven, boasting a deep curved door which Gordon describes as "very sexy" while he absolutely raves about the Sub Zero refrigerator that site within the cabinetry. "It’s the Rolls Royce of refrigeration- the design; the way it opens; how quiet it is-it’s fantastic," he enthuses.

The finished room is testament to Gordon’s exceptional talent in balancing form and function. The spacious open plan interior becomes one multifunctional space with defined zones for work, rest and play. But what do the family think of their sleek, chic home? "Their reaction was one of total joy," Gordon says, "there was a lot of hugs and kisses and words like ‘we love it- it’s fabulous’. So you could say we’re all delighted with the finished results."