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Kitchen Tour: Timeless Style and a “Mega Island” in County Kildare

Handcrafted cabinets, pale worktops and an extra-long island give this beautiful family kitchen in Ireland timeless appeal

Houzz Contributor. I’m a London-based journalist with years of experience writing… More

An organised kitchen tends to be a stylish one, so when these homeowners decided to redesign their kitchen in a modern property in Naas, County Kildare, putting everything in its right place was top of the list. With the help of Keith Fennelly of Woodale Designs, they now have plenty of storage in the form of beautifully crafted cabinets and a large island perfect for busy family life.

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Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here A school principal, a company director and their grown-up children in their 20s
Location Naas, County Kildare
Size 8.5m x 6m; part of a two-storey house built in 2005 with 6 bedrooms
Designer Keith Fennelly of Woodale Designs

“The homeowners wanted practical storage above all else,” says designer Keith Fennelly of this kitchen revamp. “They didn’t have a particular look in mind, it was more about functionality.”

There are certainly cupboards galore in this handcrafted space. However, the finished design also has a warm, timeless look that’s as inviting as it is practical. Modern touches, such as the metal pendants, meanwhile, help to keep it firmly in the 21st century.

Check out more photos of open-plan kitchens on Houzz

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The needs of a bustling, extended family were central to this kitchen’s homely design, featuring a palette of warm woods, soft greys and off-whites. Key is the stylish, extra-long island that doubles as a breakfast bar – now the epicentre of family life.

“They’re a very close family and everyone sits around the island at night,” says Fennelly. “It’s also where all the food is prepped, so it was important to have plenty of worktop space and practical storage.”

The worktops are made of white Silestone, with a contrasting curved length of oak for the breakfast bar. There were two reasons for the contrast, says Fennelly. “One is that the stone slabs had a maximum length of 3160mm when cut. The other was that I think it’s nice to have the option of sitting at a section of the island where your arms and hands aren’t touching cold stone. It also breaks up what could have been a large slab of stone with no other feature.”

Bar stools, John O’Connell Furniture.

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The existing dark kitchen was turned upside down to make way for a fresh new layout, says Fennelly. Fitting in this mega island meant demolishing a wall to create more space and light.

Woodale was consulted before the homeowners reconfigured the space, which previously included a separate laundry room. “The biggest challenge was helping them visualise their home without this,” explains Fennelly.

The kitchen was originally 2m shorter, with the laundry room situated where the Aga is now, says Fennelly. “The wall at this end meant I couldn’t fit the length of island I needed for a family and grandkids. As the house is large, with another laundry room upstairs, I suggested moving everything up there.

“The homeowners jumped at the idea when they saw the design, immediately hired a builder and got the advice of a structural engineer to help remove the wall.”

Get expert tips on lighting your kitchen island beautifully

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The island features a handy second sink, integrated into the worktop for a sleek look. It’s close to the Aga, which is useful for filling and draining pans and so on. The kitchen also has a waste disposal unit for getting rid of waste food and general offcuts.

Read this professional guide to managing a kitchen renovation

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There’s a good reason for the breakfast bar’s distinctive shape, apart from comfort and character. “The kitchen passage narrows on this side, with three steps leading down to a TV area. This design meant I was able to create a larger walkway,” says Fennelly.

Electric oven, Miele.

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Customised pull-outs provide a home for stacks of crockery. “Any drawer can be customised to suit a homeowner’s needs,” Fennelly says. “For years, drawers were used only for pots and pans. We’d encourage clients to use them also for food storage, plates and bowls and not limit a drawer to one particular thing.”

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The kitchen is a lovely, bright space now, but before, says Fennelly, “It was actually quite dark. Increasing window widths or heights wasn’t an option, so we added more lighting.”

A trio of metal pendants above the island adds extra light at night, while there are practical downlights above the sink.

Lights, Hicken Lighting.

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This is the long view looking down the kitchen from the steps leading down to a TV area. While not everybody has an ultra-roomy kitchen like this, the basic design ingredients could be copied anywhere – oak floor, pale quartz worktops, metal pendants and palest grey Shaker-style units.

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Woodale designs and manufactures everything in-house, with all the cabinets carefully crafted. “The kitchen cabinets are oak, and the doors and everything else are solid poplar wood,” Fennelly explains. “This wood takes paint well and has few or no knots.”

Main units painted in St Remy; island unit painted in Smokey Joe, both Helen Turkington.

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If you have the space, a roomy larder cupboard is a must, says Fennelly. It shows beautifully how doors can easily conceal those elements that often clutter up kitchens, such as toasters and coffee makers.

“We designed this in a way that it acted as a work centre for the kitchen. By closing the door, the family have clutter-free worktops.

“A large, double-door larder can hold all the household food, and we always try to add power sockets for toasters and juicers to limit how many appliances are on view,” he adds.

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This might be a relatively recently built house, but a traditional black Aga and the handcrafted, painted wooden units successfully create an inviting, country-ish feel with plenty of character.

“The Aga is the main cooking area of the kitchen; the electric ovens would be used in the summer,” says Fennelly.

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Shaker-style cupboards and traditional handles give this kitchen timeless appeal. The white Silestone worktops blend with the pale units for a lovely light look. Design details, such as skinny open shelves for a few cookery books, add personality and a dab of colour.

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Clever storage solutions, such as this pull-out rack for oils and vinegars, make everyday life in the kitchen more pleasurable and easy. “There’s nothing worse than rummaging around in a small cabinet to find the spice or oil you want,” says Fennelly.

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Another smart pull-out, this one is designed to house baking trays.

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Every good kitchen needs a blackboard for shopping and to-do lists.

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A pull-out chopping board – what a good idea!

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Luxe knife drawer anyone? It’s all about the details. “The drawers are all oak lined with velvet,” says Fennelly.

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Floor-to-ceiling storage is a great way to make the most of available storage in a kitchen. Because this room is so large, the cupboards don’t cramp it.

Choosing a light grey paint is a smart move, meaning the units appear to “retreat”, along with the pale worktops.

Internal lighting, in a different tone, and glass doors at the very top of the cupboards create a neat feature that breaks up the long wall of doors.

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The island incorporates ample storage for drinks. “The owners love their wine,” says Fennelly, “so we fitted a Liebherr wine cooler in the back of the island.”

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Shimmery botanical wallpaper adds a glamorous feel, and helps the dining area and study space feel separate from the kitchen – though they occupy one huge, open-plan space and add interest to the otherwise neutral room.

The island has been painted an elegant darker grey to contrast with the main cupboards.

Having one type of flooring throughout – here a pale oak – helps keep things smooth and flowing, a handy trick when one room serves so many purposes.

White oak engineered
wood flooring, Trunk Surfaces.

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Two mini armchairs provide a breakout spot for relaxing with a coffee or a glass of wine.

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You don’t have to tuck your office away upstairs – downstairs can make more sense. “The owners wanted a mini office in the kitchen. It’s an area they use for post, keys and general home and office work,” says Fennelly.

“The worktop is solid oak in the same whitewashed finish as the [wooden end of the] island, and the paint colour is Irish Linen. I wanted to give this area a different look, so I changed both the colour and the height of the units here.”

Units painted in Irish Linen, Helen Turkington.

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Upholstered dining chairs provide a comfy spot for big family dinners, and an alternative to perching at the breakfast bar. The purple hue adds a subtle, “eveningy” contrast to the rest of this bright room.

TELL US…
Have you gone for an open-plan kitchen-diner like this? How does it work for you? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments below.

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