What modern kitchens can learn from early-Georgian simplicity

Arabella Youens takes a look at a design in a Dorset farmhouse that is inspired by the simplicity of Georgian joinery.

There’s something unashamedly wholesome and reassuringly solid about the work that goes into a Plain English kitchen. Words such as ‘honed’, ‘jointed’, ‘waxed’ and ‘hammered’ are used to describe the labouring that takes place by hand at the company’s home at Stowupland Hall, a Grade II-listed Georgian house set deep in the Suffolk countryside.

The company was established in 1992 by Katie Fontana when she couldn’t find a plain enough cupboard finish for her own kitchen. With an eye on the simplicity of early-Georgian joinery, she and her business partner, Tony Niblock, produced their first design, ‘the long-house kitchen’.

Twenty five years later, the founding tenets remain strong: nothing produced is off-the-shelf and every piece is custom made with the promise that all the cabinetry will fit the space perfectly. This kitchen is in a Dorset farmhouse that dates back to the 18th century.

The owners have chosen the Spitalfields design with Folgate doors — evocative names from an area of London close to Katie’s heart. Centre stage is the Georgian precursor to the kitchen island: a preparation table topped with wide-plank Pippy Oak and painted in Little Greene’s French Grey Pale 161.

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Fundamental to this traditional design, with its contemporary and uncluttered finish, is the wall of full-height numbered cupboards that disguise all manner of goods, machinery and essential storage, painted in Paint and Paper Library’s Blue Blood, which contrasts strongly with the rest of the cabinetry, which is in Little Greene’s French Grey 113.

One of the company’s signature additions is the painted ladder set on a runner — critical for reaching the top row of storage cupboards.

www.plainenglishdesign.co.uk; 01449 774028