This is my story of designing our renovation of a century-old lakehouse in Ontario. Each month, I’ll offer a new chapter on the challenges and solutions, and a peek at our progress. You’ll be able to see the actual house come together on new episodes of our video series The Lakehouse.
I first fell in love with the English country kitchen during long stays as a houseguest in Dorset in the south of England. My great friends had the quintessential country kitchen with the big Aga hob, larder, huge antique dresser filled with dishes and, of course, the country work tables where we sat shelling peas, rolling dough and chatting away the hours.
When it came time to design our lakehouse kitchen, my inspiration file of photos, plus those fond memories, were ready to go. First came the layout. For me, it’s always lower cabinets, sink wall, stove wall, and fridges around the perimeter of the room, leaving the center free for a farm-style work table. Add a separate pantry or larder for food and small appliances, plus a big glass-fronted cabinet for dishes and linens, and you have my perfect combo that I’ve had in every kitchen that I’ve loved best.
Next come the style details. I knew I wanted a classic painted kitchen with Shaker-style lower cabinet doors. A visit to the NYC Plain English showroom two years ago was so inspiring; I was instantly smitten. You have to go and see the quality of the cabinetry, the saturated hues in those drab English paint colors and the attention to detail — like the fridges that were totally hidden behind tall closet doors. I was familiar with “panel-ready” fridges, where cabinet panels are attached to the fronts of appliances. But “integrated,” I learned, is a different approach, where you build your “closet” and then hide your fridge in behind for a seamless look. In fact, in this style of kitchen, the stove is really the only appliance that’s featured front and center.
More inspiration came from deVOL Kitchens, another London-based custom shop whose Haberdashery line inspired the glass-fronted display cabinets I’ve planned to sit on our counters, flanking the kitchen sink.
Courtesy of deVOL Kitchens (glass-fronted cabinet)/Plain English (blue cabinets with ladder)