Cook's Cottage

Cook’s Cottage is a perfect ‘chocolate box’ 17th Century cottage in Dorset. England. Over half of the largely rural county is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its picturesque landscape featuring broad elevated chalk downs, steep limestone ridges and low-lying clay valleys is sprinkled with traditional cottages like Cook’s Cottage. The cottage itself is approaching 400 years old, which in itself brings its own challenges of strict planning regulations, limited space and extremely ‘wobbly’ walls.

In order to install a new window that would bring more light into the dark and compact space, homeowner Chloe decided to renovate the kitchen. Having decided a local company with experience working with similar period properties in the area would be the best approach, Chloe approached bespoke kitchen makers Guild Anderson to help optimise the space.

One of the first decisions the team made was to reposition the AGA that resided beneath where the new window would be situated. As this would be the only window in the kitchen area, Nick Anderson (Founder and Kitchen Designer at Guild Anderson), felt the sink really should go there. ‘By and large, we’re not slaves to the old mantra that a sink must go under a window but typically we put them in windows because it will be the only place in a kitchen where top cabinets cannot go.’ said Nick. He also recommended installing a beautiful Shaws Ribchester 1000 with its distinctive fluting on the front apron. Although the kitchen is relatively compact, from a practical perspective, Chloe wanted a large sink. This also suited the scheme from a design perspective, as the iconic sink creates a strong focal point for the space. The glossy white fluted fireclay sink certainly draws your eye as soon as you enter the room. 

For the kitchen itself, they decided against the typical country kitchen cabinetry that you might expect to find in a traditional 17th Century cottage. Instead, they settled on a more elegant Georgian-style kitchen, with elements of the popular ‘Cottage Core’ aesthetic coming from the decorative touches and Chloe’s own collectables.

The design team at Guild Anderson embarked on the challenge of creating a bespoke kitchen in their Wiltshire-based workshop; a  kitchen that, while limited in size, would still contain everything the owners’ required to be practical for their needs. Part of the challenge of the smaller space was creating a freestanding, loose look that was perfectly in keeping with the rest of the home. Chloe recalls, ‘We didn’t want to have everything hidden away, we wanted to showcase our mugs and pretty tea caddies, so Nick designed our cabinetry to be a mixture of open shelves and storage with reeded glass doors, we have the perfect amount of storage; the pan drawers are a revelation and we particularly love the narrow little cupboard for chopping boards. Best of all Nick has managed to create a greater sense of space with the clever use of narrower cupboards and the shortening of the island.’

There are some really simple, but highly effective touches in this kitchen, that balance out the feel of the space. ‘Controlled amounts of texture and pattern can really add interest to smaller spaces’, said Nick.

In this case, texture and patterns come from the bright, dappled Arabescatto Marble worksurfaces that contrast with the dark Farrow & Ball Studio Green hand-painted cabinetry.

The elegant reeded glass in the high-level cabinetry also contributes texture, proving a much more interesting alternative to conventional glass. The Armac Martin ironmongery also adds a period-correct sense of quality and craft and perfectly complements the deck-mounted satin-brass Ionian tap by Perrin & Rowe.

Nick adds, ‘Cook’s Cottage is one of our favourite kitchens from last year; it’s also the smallest. Small kitchens are quite complex; you have a lot to pack in. The age of the cottage was also a challenge; the walls were incredibly wobbly, which presented a good challenge for our fitting team’.