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Kitchen Tour: Classic Cabinetry Sets Off This Historic Forge

An elegant and light-filled kitchen has become the centre of family life in this 500-year-old former forge

Houzz UK contributor. Freelance interiors journalist with over 20 years’ experience… More

At more than 500 years old, this historic, Grade II listed forge has been lovingly converted into a stunning family home, but the owners required a new, spacious kitchen for all the household to enjoy and where they could entertain guests.

“The clients wanted a classic kitchen design to reflect the heritage of the building,” explains Peter Humphrey, design director and founder of bespoke kitchen company Humphrey Munson, “but one that also had all the modern conveniences for family life.”

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Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here A professional couple with two children
Location Hertfordshire
Kitchen dimensions 27.5 sq m (5m x 5.5m); part of a 500-year old, Grade II listed former forge with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms
Designer Peter Humphrey, design director and founder of Humphrey Munson

Photos by Paul Craig

The clients love to entertain and required a spacious kitchen with an open-plan dining area. They decided on Humphrey Munson’s classic-contemporary Nickleby kitchen with painted, solid wood cupboards.

“It’s a light, bright and airy space and the kitchen has a really welcoming feel,” explains Munson.

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The original kitchen was located in a room to the rear of the building; this has since been updated and turned into a utility room. The new kitchen was shifted into an extension that was built some years ago and then updated as part of the project.

“You go through the front door into the hallway, where there’s a large original fireplace,” says Munson. “Then the space opens out into the kitchen with a dining area off it. This configuration suits the house so much better. The kitchen is now the heart of the home.”

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With windows on two sides and bifolding glazed doors running the length of the kitchen, the room is filled with masses of natural light.

“The amount of glass and therefore lack of wall space dictated much of the design,” Munson explains. “Having a focal point was a key consideration, though, so placing the false chimney at the centre of the far wall worked really well.”

Walls painted in Jasmine White, Dulux.

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At the centre of the layout is a large island unit (1250mm x 2450mm) with space for eating, a wine cooler and plenty of storage. It’s painted in Humphrey Munson’s own colour, Twill, which is a slightly darker shade than the perimeter cabinetry.

“Two different colours were chosen so the island has a more distinctive look,” explains the designer. “The other cabinetry was deliberately kept light so the space felt really bright and airy.”

Wine cooler, CDA. Stools, Cox & Cox.

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Original timber beams, incorporated into the design, add a characterful nod to the property’s heritage.

“We had to take the vaulted ceiling into account when designing and building the false chimney,” Munson says, “but we’re a bespoke kitchen design company, so this wasn’t a problem.”

Pendant lights, Jim Lawrence.

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All the worktops are made from a dark brown quartz with an extra-matt suede finish.

“It’s a natural quartz surface that has an intense colour, with flecks in darker shades of brown, and is treated with an antibacterial protection,” he says.

Gris Amazon worktop with a suede finish, Silestone.

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The simple and understated in-frame Nickleby doors are made from tulipwood, a type of North American poplar that Munson claims is the best wood for painted furniture, as it’s smooth and knot-free.

They are painted in another of Humphrey Munson’s own colours, Linen, with polished nickel cup handles and knobs.

“The neutral colour palette gives the kitchen a really calm and uncomplicated feel,” says the designer.

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The false chimney is fitted with a stainless-steel range cooker and creates a focal point in the large kitchen.

A mirrored splashback enhances the feeling of space and adds just a little hint of low-key glamour.

Delphi range cooker, Britannia. Integrated cooker hood, Miele.

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As most of the wall space is taken up by windows and glazed doors, the only wall cupboards are built either side of the range cooker.

“These are worktop cupboards. The one on the left has the coffee machine and space for teas, coffees, mugs, cups and saucers,” says Munson. “The one on the right is used as a mini pantry for storing everyday cooking items, such as condiments, herbs and spices.”

Smooth, matt limestone slabs in pale creamy tones are warmed up with underfloor heating.

Pavilion Limestone Honed flooring, Humphrey Munson.

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Tall refrigeration is integrated behind matching Nickleby pantry-style doors for a classic, uninterrupted look.

Integrated column fridge-freezer, Liebherr.

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Painted, in-frame kitchen doors create a simple and understated design, perfect for modern living.

“The inner panel is recessed. It’s a classic English furniture design adopted by the Shakers, and we fit ours with a quadrant bead for added detail,” says Munson.

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At the opposite end to the chimney wall, Munson utilised the end of a run of units with a built-in microwave and a tall, single pantry cupboard for keeping dry goods all in one place.

Microwave, Siemens.

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The sink area looks out onto the front of the property. It includes a classic, bridge-style mixer tap with lever handles and a separate boiling-water tap.

Io sink mixer, Perrin & Rowe. Design boiling-water tap, Quooker.

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The mirrored splashback has an antique effect to it, which creates a soft reflection.

“It’s great when you’re cooking, as you can carry on conversations with your back to guests at the range cooker,” says Munson. “It’s super-easy to clean and doesn’t show up marks because of the antique finish.”

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The drawers are made from solid oak and traditionally constructed using dovetail joints.

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Bespoke bench seating and panelling near the back door is painted in Humphrey Munson Cobbles.

What do you think of this classic painted kitchen? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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