The country kitchen in 2020
This one is in Hampshire, but the first thing to say is your country kitchen is a state of mind not a strict category. It’s a friendly hub, food and drink optional but recommended!
Our kitchens are a collection of unfitted furniture, antique pieces, a generous table, somewhere soft to sit, plus a culinary zone. This can be chef-grade, or more-low key. We were interested to see that food writer Tim Haywood is happy to go with standard appliances in quite a pared down arrangement for his new kitchen. He tweeted that he prefers a simple induction slab to a chef’s range, with a standard fan-assisted oven. We agree that now that the kitchen is a living room in which you cook, there is less need for a big display of firepower via your appliances. Our family of six was fine with a very normal four-ring hob, for example, though there were times when large pans had to jostle for space.
Another element of the modern country kitchen is colour. Our own kitchen at 30 years old was recently a candidate for a colour-based makeover. We went for strong lipstick pink on the island while staying with Farrow & Ball’s Arsenic on the walls. The effect is bright and cheery. We culled the child art, mostly pottery animals that had collected dust, on the dresser and tidied away the foreign coins, rubber bands, hand salves, small tools etc. Emotionally resonant objects sometimes need disciplining.
Use of unpainted wood is a country hallmark. English hardwoods like oak and ash are perfect for the main furniture. Antique pine blends beautifully with these new wood grains. We also like to use fruit woods such as cherry and apple. Apple is pale and hard in texture, sometimes freckled and with tiny knots. It reflects light in a soft way. Available in small sections only, it makes cupboard door frames but also provides calm visual interest in veneers on door panels.
Cherry is a favourite of mine, particularly English cherry which is full of variation and comes in a warm range of colours from reddish to light chestnut. Its smooth grain makes fine tabletops – as in our kitchen and the servery part of the central island. Olive is another lovely, magical wood. We use olive veneer on furniture panels. Grains are strong, colours vibrant.
Wood does not demand the same constant level of cleaning as shiny manmade or metallic surfaces. It even contains antibacterial oils that are retained long term within the wood and help control germs on counter tops. Pine is a well-known disinfectant. We can all benefit from this gentler type of hygiene, giving the chemicals a break in our kitchens.