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Kitchens for Listed Buildings

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Designing for Historic Homes

Whether you live in a humble Victorian house, a Georgian mansion, or a Scottish castle, finding the right kitchen style for your building is essential. Kitchen design is a very personal thing, especially when it comes to old homes. Some people prefer to complement the property’s architectural style, while others don’t mind having a more modern-looking space.

I’ve always liked the kitchen to be in harmony with the building. If you take this route and choose your units correctly, they shouldn’t date. There’s nothing worse than walking into a kitchen and it screams, “Help! I need a refurb!” Although having said this, I’ve seen many period properties with ultra-modern extensions, and in this instance, a modern kitchen looks perfect.

It’s difficult to know what to do about your kitchen. We all want mod cons, but I like that period feel too. Nowadays, kitchens are the social centre of our homes. Sure, people had dinner parties 100 years ago, but food preparation was hidden behind closed doors and was a job for the servants. Life is different now. We’re not embarrassed to invite our friends into the kitchen while we cook. That’s one of the best parts of preparing a meal: cooking while a friend keeps us company, sipping a glass of wine!

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I’ve put together some tips on what to look out for when designing a kitchen in for your period home.

Fitted or Unfitted?

Traditionally a period kitchen was free-standing with practical furniture pieces put together over several years. Today most people like fitted kitchens, they are easily cleaned (no crumbs under the furniture) and you can fit more units in a smaller space.

With freestanding kitchens, the look is more relaxed, more individual, and more original, and furniture can be moved around or even replaced if you find something that is better. Old homes with their wonky walls can make fitting cabinets more difficult, whereas freestanding furniture works well.

Our top tip: Combine both ideas!

Fitting the cooking and washing-up areas works well (for practical reasons). Then certain parts of the room can be ‘period designed’ these parts can either be freestanding kitchen units or even antiques. Or if your heart is set on a completely fitted kitchen, then you can design your units to look like freestanding pieces (but they can be fitted).

Mix and Match

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As I said before, many kitchens in historic buildings have been developed over time. In the past it was expensive to recreate paint colours, so many pieces of furniture were painted in colours they had on hand. Or simply left as wood. 

Our top tip: Use different colours.

One colour for all cabinets came in when we started to mass-produce kitchen units. Even If you would like to keep your kitchen uniform, pick out an island or table in a different colour. 

Cabinet Detail

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At The White Kitchen Company, we like to design with classic and timeless styles. We create most of our historic looks using our Shaker Kitchen style (simple basic units) and our period English beaded cabinets. 


classic handles

For a truly period look, choose your kitchen cabinet handles wisely. Handless designs, although they are stunning, are not the ideal style for a listed building. Instead, you should opt for pulls or knobs as these will complement the style you are looking to achieve.

A beautiful example of the perfect handles for your period home is Cotwold’s ‘Georgian Cabinet Pulls’ as seen above in our client’s new kitchen. Inspired by Georgian interiors, they look extremely elegant and offer a timeless aesthetic. 


appliance cupboard

I’ve always lived in listed buildings and one of my dislikes in a kitchen is appliances. Now, I’m not talking about cookers and sinks as they can ‘add’ to the room. But washing machines and tumble driers, these items I think should be tucked away from sight. I have such a phobia about them, I even dislike them in utility rooms, which is weird. 

When I design a period utility room I think of an old wash-house, scullery or an old boot room. These rooms can be absolutely gorgeous and a credit to a listed building. 

Larders and Pantry Cupboards

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I love larders! Two of my homes had their original larders, but recently I designed a kitchen which didn’t have one. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze one in at the end of a utility area. A simple ‘plank’ wood wall and door sectioned off a tiny area which surprisingly made a great larder and felt much larger than expected. 

If you don’t have the space for a traditional larder, then you can add a full-length larder cabinet or a worktop pantry cupboard to your period kitchen design. 

If you have a listed building and would like help designing an appropriate period kitchen. Give us a call at 01604 435835 – we are always on hand to help.

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