If you love the laid-back nature of the English country kitchen, hereâ€™s how to get the look
The super-modern, stripped-back kitchen might look beautiful in the brochures â€“ and if youâ€™re disciplined enough to keep an all-white room (theyâ€™re always soooo white) spick and span, it can look fabulous in real life, too â€“ but if you crave something a little kinder to the chaos of daily life, you probably already have a soft spot for the quintessentially English country kitchen.
The relaxed liveability of the painted cupboards, wooden worktops and stone slabs so familiar to this style exudes an irresistible warmth and charm, but thereâ€™s room for gentle updates, too. So harness the rustic look and make it work for the 21st century home with these 10 country kitchen must-haves.
Big up a ceramic sink
A staple ingredient for every English country kitchen is a big, beautiful ceramic sink. Be it a Belfast, butler or farmhouse, these robust, practical workhorses are spot-on for washing sizeable pots, pans and trays, as well as scrubbing your veggies.
The large, double-bowl design in this clean-lined kitchen demonstrates how this classic fixture can look fresh and up to date in a more modern rustic setting.
Who can resist the charms of this delightful and inviting space, with its mishmash of freestanding furniture, quirky industrial lighting and rows of gleaming copper pots and pans (stalwarts of the country style)?
Add in the slouchy leather armchair, and this is where youâ€™ll find me all day long â€“ be it whipping up a light lunch or sitting back with a good book.
Plump for panels
Thereâ€™s a simple, puritanical beauty to tongue-and-groove boards. Perhaps itâ€™s because this classic cladding tool conjures up a whimsical, bygone era when life was lived at a gentler pace.
Whatever its appeal, tongue-and-groove panelling makes for the most easy-on-the-eye wall treatment in the classic country kitchen and, when paired with a pegged shelf painted to blend in, transforms into a practical feature to boot.
Centre with an island
This great hunk of an island unit is the star player in this country kitchen, which, you might not be surprised to learn, belongs to a professional cook. It has all the ingredients of a kitchen thatâ€™s ready for whipping up a culinary masterpiece, from the bespoke table/workstation/storage unit crafted from solid English oak to the beautiful beast of a copper range cooker and velvet-smooth Italian black basalt surfaces. This is a marriage of kitchen eye-candy and function at its very bestâ€¦
Join the Aga saga
It is perhaps the classic Aga range cooker that epitomises the quintessential English country kitchen so succinctly.
This British-made, heritage appliance has armies of fans, but has moved with the times, too, and these days comes in a vast line-up of enamelled shades to suit all kitchens â€“ from glossy black or cream to pretty rose, pistachio or lemon. There are also compact models, electric versions and even Agas that can be controlled by an app, so you get the perfect blend of modern technology and traditional cooking techniques rolled into one great-looking piece of kitchen kit.
Rough it up
Iâ€™ll never get bored of weathered materials and rustic finishes in the kitchen, which is lucky, as both are staples of the classic country look.
The well-worn patina of a wooden table offers an irresistible mix of character and beauty that simply gets better with age and regular use (and letâ€™s face it, we canâ€™t say that about many things in life!).
Seek out old scrubbed oak tables and a mix-and-match array of chairs (painted, distressed, bare or even metal), and dive into reclamation yards for vintage floorboards, salvaged stone tiles and old sinks and taps for a look that has all the flair and personality of a country space.
Be a Shaker maker
A simple, Shaker-style kitchen is a thing of beauty and should stand the test of time. This relaxed and refined style is perfect for the country kitchen, particularly when painted in a palette of chalky, vintage hues (from dove grey to oatmeal and buttermilk) and finished with pewter knobs or handles.
Beautiful, handcrafted versions of the Shaker kitchen offer a robust, in-frame construction, where the door is set within a frame. Or seek out more purse-friendly, off-the-peg alternatives that have a Shaker-style door attached directly to the carcass.
Try a mix-and-match kitchen
There is something incredibly charming about the unfitted kitchen and, historically, country kitchens were made up of separate pieces of furniture, such as a washstand, linen press, chunky range cooker and pantry cupboard.
Putting together a complete kitchen of freestanding pieces can be tricky to achieve and generally needs a big space. But you can still create the same bespoke, laid-back ambience by punctuating a built-in design with a standalone larder unit or Welsh dresser painted in a contrasting shade.
Youâ€™ll never find everything hidden behind closed doors in a country kitchen so, for someone like me â€“ not the worldâ€™s tidiest person â€“ mixing cupboards with open shelving is the ideal compromise.
Of course, we all need ample cupboard space for storing food and equipment, but equally, the country kitchen loves to show and display its wares, be it rows of shiny pans, stacks of pure white crockery, or vases ready to be filled with flowers from the garden.
Fit a stone floor
A textural feast of weathered stone pavers is the finishing touch to the rustic-look kitchen. By keeping the cupboards pale and neutral, this kitchen can afford to go all out on a patchwork of bronze, sea green and charcoal stone tiles for a statement floor with durability and design clout in one.
For an added touch of luxury, install underfloor heating so your tootsies are warm all year round.