Functional kitchen takes shape in the imagination.
THE saying "best laid plans" springs to mind because - as with most building projects - the work at East Lodge hasn't progressed as smoothly as we would have liked.
I was hoping to wax lyrical about the beautiful new orangery and stunning glass atrium roof over the kitchen of East Lodge, near Corbridge. But there seems to be no rushing some things - final planning permission - being one of them.
We haven't been twiddling our thumbs, however. The fireplace has now been re-built and looks magnificent. It has been constructed using reclaimed herringbone bricks and the result is sort of French colonial meets Northumbrian rustic.
Of course, we allowed ourselves a little time off for the festive season, but any other spare time I've had, has gone into designing the kitchen at East Lodge. I've been researching materials, appliances and playing with the space in terms of layout, colour and light.
One thing for sure is that it's going to be a large, functional space. As well as accommodating all the usual kitchen paraphernalia, it will also be a dining/entertainment area.
The main focus will be a large farmhouse table - which I'm hoping to have built using reclaimed oak.
Situated directly under the glass atrium roof it will be complemented by some of our own high backed dining room chairs upholstered in antique leather.
I'm sure this part of the kitchen will become more than just a dining area and the table will function as a traditional farmhouse one, playing host to a wide range of domestic/family activities.
The kitchen is essentially split into three areas and I've gone for a triangle figuration when planning where all the essentials go. This provides easy access between the dining area, cooking section and the space housing a whole host of kitchen/entertainment gadgets.
This bank of stainless steel appliances, including a fridge/freezer, microwave, coffee maker and such will also be lit by stainless steel uplighters. The cooking section will consist of a stainless steel cooker with French canopy extractor overhead and a small prep sink. These will be flanked on each side by honed Lakeland slate work tops.
This green/blue slate - direct from the Lake District - is nicely "faulted" with natural imperfections and is honed so it is beautifully smooth and will look stunning next to the stainless steel cooker and sink.
The main sink will be housed under the "netty" window and this is where one of the most important pieces of kitchen equipment will also live - the dishwasher. I'm toying with the idea of having two - not as daft as it sounds - it means that you are not constantly putting dishes away as you can use them straight from the dishwasher.
For the floor, I've decided on light-coloured random limestone flags. As well as looking great, they are lovely and cool to walk on during the summer and in winter - with a bit of underfloor heating - they will be just as pleasurable.
The kitchen units will be hand crafted in wood and painted a dark colour to contrast with the floor and walls. I'll probably go for shades of grey, which will complement the green/blue of the work tops and stainless steel appliances.
In summer, the kitchen will have the added benefit of an extra room. French windows lead directly on to a paved terrace which will provide an al fresco dining area complete with table and chairs, antique wall lights and patio heater for when the sun goes down.
There's no doubt that the light will flood into the kitchen at East Lodge. With the glass atrium roof and French windows, it will come in from all directions and bounce beautifully off all the natural stone and slate and stainless steel.
This light may become too much in the full sun, so I have opted for pinoleum blinds for the atrium roof. This will create a colonial feel and give the opportunity to filter the light to create a softer atmosphere.
At night they will also cut out the blankness of the dark sky and create a warmer feel. Curtains across the French windows will be suspended from an oak pole, which in winter will add to the cosiness of the kitchen.
And that, as they say, is that! Fingers crossed, I will be able to report on those major changes at East Lodge next month.
* Andrew Bottomley is a furniture designer and interior designer. His furniture company, Hepple Ltd, and interior design business, Compleat Interiors, are based in Hexham, tel (01434) 605378 or log on to www.hepple.co.uk