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Kitchen Tour: A Pared-back, Elegant Room Full of Practical Design

An attractive island unit sits at the heart of this chic yet functional family kitchen in Dublin

Houzz UK Editorial Staff. I’m a freelance journalist with more than 13 years’ experience… More

A large, light-filled extension provided the perfect blank canvas for this stylish family kitchen. “The owners wanted something that was both functional and beautiful,” says kitchen designer Richard Burke. Following some thoughtful planning and clever design, the result is a contemporary take on a classic style that subtly enhances the room.

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Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here A family with four children
Where Blackrock, Dublin
Size Approximately 7.5m x 6m; part of a detached house, around 20 years old
Designer Richard Burke of Richard Burke Design
Photographer Rory Corrigan

It was during the planning stage of this family’s two-storey extension project that kitchen designer Richard Burke was brought in. The clients asked if he could transform the large, light-filled room into a beautiful, well-functioning kitchen, and add an adjoining utility room.

“The Aga and the island unit were the couple’s two major requirements,” says Burke. “So I designed the rest of the room around these, placing them as the central components of the layout.”

Dome pendant lights, Hicken Lighting.

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Burke offset the larder and built-in oven unit, which can be seen on the right of this image, and planned a symmetrical layout around the Aga and island. “It’s a large room, so it was important that everything fitted proportionately,” explains Burke. The symmetrical design makes everything feel balanced and calm.

“We wanted the attractive mantel above the Aga to be a dominant feature,” he adds, “and the central placement of the island draws your eye towards it.”

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The working side of the large island houses a set of pull-out chopping boards, a four-section bin and a dishwasher, as well as a double Belfast sink.

“The chopping board storage is practical, but it also adds some character,” says Burke. “It’s nice to warm up the painted cabinets with a hint of natural timber.”

A wall of glass, consisting of French doors and tall windows, brings masses of sunlight into the space, while the skylight adds to the room’s brightness.

Burke chose a combination of neutral tones for the colour scheme. The dining chairs and table legs have been painted in the same shade as the main cabinetry to tie the two zones together. In the centre, the island stands out in a summery blue.

Back wall painted in Elephant’s Breath; main cabinetry and dining suite painted in Strong White; island unit painted in Parma Gray, all Farrow & Ball.

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The fridge-freezer sits inside custom-built housing, with cornicing that matches the rest of the kitchen. A walnut shelf above the fridge is the perfect place to store recipe books.

The door to the utility room is in-between the larder and fridge. “We deliberated whether to swap the door and the fridge over, so as to keep the units all together,” the designer says. “But in a busy household, it made sense to leave a gap between the two. People can now access the larder and fridge separately without getting in each other’s way.”

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The larder is a useful space, with three drawers below a pull-out shelf. Another shelf above offers plenty of space for cereal packets and tall bottles, and a wine rack and door shelves add to the functionality of the cupboard. “I believe pantries should be both practical and beautiful,” says Burke. “I like them to be thought of as a piece of furniture in their own right.”

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The sandstone worktop has been given a square edge along the back wall and a bevelled finish on the island. It adds character to the island and ties in with the moulded skirting board (pictured below).

Tongue-and-groove panelling along the wall gives the units the look of a dresser. The worktop continues up the wall with an upstand to protect the wood. Behind the Aga are classic, understated metro tiles.

Tiles, Tile Style.

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Most of the units in this kitchen contain drawers rather than cupboards. “Drawers are a much better use of space than cupboards, as you can access the whole area.” Burke explains. “Often with cupboards, you only use the front part and neglect the things stored at the back.”

Burke made the window seat from poplar wood, and painted it to match the cabinetry. It provides a pleasant place to sit, and also hides the radiators.

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Walnut is featured throughout the kitchen, inside the drawers and cabinets, on shelving and even on the floor. The engineered floorboards, with a lacquered finish, contrast beautifully with the light walls and woodwork.

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Either side of the mantel, Burke fitted glass-fronted cupboards with interior lighting. “The lights look great when they illuminate the walnut inside,” he enthuses. He decided to carry this along the whole wall by including smaller versions of the glass-fronted cupboards above the larder. In the evening, the lit-up cupboards provide a cosy glow from one end of the room to the other.

Downlights in the ceiling offer practical lighting, while pendant lamps above the island add personality to the space.

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Simple cupboards on each side of the oven are a perfect place for spices, oils and any other essentials you’d need while cooking. Burke has made full use of them by attaching extra shelves to the inside of the doors.

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This handy charging drawer consists of a shelf that sits above a charging unit. “I usually find out what the client’s needs are first, and design the recesses accordingly,” Burke says.

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The utility room leads the way from the back door into the kitchen. A walnut seat provides somewhere to take off shoes and covers a useful drawer.

The vinyl flooring is a practical alternative to tiles, and is extremely easy to clean.

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