How to seamlessly blend the old and new when transforming old rooms into country kitchens

Charlotte Hughes has created a family kitchen that looks as if it has evolved over time.

While working at Christie’s and later for the dealer and TV presenter Paul Martin, Charlotte Hughes has developed a passion for antiques. Today, she weaves them into schemes that successfully blend the old and the new to create distinctive rooms with a timeless feel.

When it came to reorganising her own house in Gloucestershire, the first project was to move the kitchen to the space previously occupied by the sitting room, a job that involved removing plasterboard partitions to take the room back to its bones. ‘The 1980s hadn’t been kind and lots of the original features had been stripped out. I needed to add them back,’ she explains.

To distract the eye from steel joists across the ceiling, Charlotte added oak beams sourced from Timberpride in Tetbury and chamfered off the edges to soften them. On the floor, she laid a weathered ‘Medieval Bourgogne’ limestone from Boniti; it’s covered with an antique rug picked up at a country-house auction.

‘I tend to shy away from a fixed island when I want a kitchen not to look too kitchen-y’

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All the cabinetry was made in oak by her in-house joiner: ‘I wanted a finish that was more unfitted and not too new.’ To achieve that, Charlotte dispensed with kickboards and painted the doors with an undercoat of pale pink and then a top coat of Farrow & Ball’s French Gray, which was then rubbed back and waxed.

At the centre of the room stands a 19th-century charcuterie table from France: ‘I tend to shy away from a fixed island when I want a kitchen not to look too kitchen-y.’ A pair of steel-frame barstools with oversized Champagne-style cork seats adds a playful note. A fender and armchair around the fire provide a convivial space for sitting and chatting: ‘Wherever possible, I like to keep a open fire in an eat-in kitchen—it creates a wonderful ambience.’

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