A generation or two ago, kitchens were routinely re-done in bright colours — and there's something in colourful kitchen design even today, suggests Giles Kime.
There was a publishing genre in the early 1980s that involved gathering a lot of women with impeccable taste and photographing aspects of their home to create books entitled The English Woman’s Kitchen/Bedroom/Garden, and so on. The rooms were blessed with a deeply reassuring quality derived from the fact that they had evolved over a few decades — and from their owners’ unshakable but unspoken belief in their own aesthetic instincts.
They had a distinctive, sometimes eccentric charm that you didn’t get in interiors magazines of the time, the focus of which tended to be polarised between a fixation with dried flowers at one extreme and the swaggy confections of interior designers at the other. The exception was my alma mater, The World of Interiors, that ploughed a lonely, but lovely furrow with a thrilling mix of faded palazzi, shabby châteaux and cutting-edge Modernism.
Forty years on, these books — also looking a little faded — are a reminder of a time when interiors were perhaps more devil-may-care than they are today. What is particularly remarkable is the considered use of colour, not in a way that was intended to shock the neighbours, or to keep abreast of trends, but simply as a source of simple pleasure, together with scrubbed-pine dressers and industrial quantities of French porcelain. It was bold injections of vibrant hues that gave their welcoming rooms a distinctive feel, particularly in kitchens, where jaunty table cloths and dressers in, say, Mediterranean blue or crimson, added significant joie de vivre.
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There are cheering signs that colour is once again rearing its pretty head in the kitchen. Everhot, the Cotswolds-based manufacturer of range cookers has added a new Pillar-box Red to a rainbow of colours that already includes Mustard, Sage and Aubergine. None is driven by fashion, but is simply very pleasing.
Cabinetry is getting a similar treatment with bespoke kitchen specialist Tom Howley’s addition of two new colours to its range: a lovely, lovatty green called Serpentine and Dusky Pink.
Last year, Plain English entered the fray with a colourful collection that included a jewel-like Medlar Jelly and vibrant grassy Moygashel and Mouldy Plum. Although some of these new shades are vibrant, most have a subtlety that is unlikely to scare the horses. Most important, however, is that they create a kitchen that is very much your own.
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