When Claire and Matthew Bishop moved from London to a rented cottage in a rural village near Hornsea, it was part of an experiment to see whether they could settle in the area. They left the bright lights of the capital for East Yorkshire, and Claire in particular was concerned about adjusting to a radical change in lifestyle.
Matthew, who has a housebuilding company in Hull, grew up in the area and travelled back regularly for work so, for him, the move was a little less strange, but former pharmacist Claire says: “When I told my customers in London that I was going to live near Hull, they said ‘what do you want to move there for?’, which was a worry plus I couldn’t imagine not having a coffee shop on every corner, but as it turns out I love living here and can’t imagine ever wanting to move back to London. This area reminds me of back home in Ireland. The people are so lovely and friendly and I felt especially grateful to be living here during lockdown.”
Matthew adds: “It is a fantastic place because we have countryside on the doorstep and we are close to a beach, plus the Wolds are nearby and the Dales and North York Moors are in easy reach.”
The couple were renting their cottage from Matthew’s mother who agreed to sell it to them, which is when plans for a side extension and makeover of the rest of the house began. It’s also when the property market began heating up before hitting boiling point, meaning Matthew was extra busy, so the longed-for extension was put on hold for two years.
They couple had saved long and hard for the work and lived in a caravan in the garden for a year while the extension was It was the most important part of their dream home and was designed to house a large open plan kitchen-dining-living space to suit their love of entertaining and Matt’s passion for cooking. They opted to place their order with Ilkley and Skipton-based the Secret Drawer after being impressed with the craftsmanship and attention to detail.
“We visited other bespoke kitchen makers but when we visited the Secret Drawer, I knew immediately that they were the one for us,” says Claire. "The quality and the attention to detail is incredible. I remember opening and closing the drawers and saying ‘this is like putting a piece of Galaxy chocolate in your mouth and letting it melt’.”
The couple each had their own must-haves. Matthew wanted plenty of work surface, a state-of-the-art cooker and a seating area around the island. Claire longed for a large pantry and she got it and more besides. What was the old kitchen was turned into a pantry with a sink, Fisher & Paykel fridge-freezer, a cheese cabinet plus countertops and shelves for storage.
There was also space for a temperature-controlled wine room. The pantry is accessed via a secret door, which is designed to look like a tall cupboard. While it’s fun, it’s also aesthetically pleasing.
The cooker is a Chemin by French maker Lacanche, chosen because, as the brand boasts that it is a “serious cooker for serious cooks”. The island has an oak breakfast bar and shelves and is topped by a large, white granite worktop. It also has two dishwashers, a sink with a Quooker instant hot water tap, a bin and a fridge drawer. A cabinet for storing glassware and crockery is strategically placed close to the dining area.
“What I love best about this kitchen is that the design has been really well thought through so it’s such a pleasure to cook in,” says Matthew, whose favourite cookbooks include those by Delia Smith and Tom Kerridge and Nadiya Bakes. Tom’s chocolate and cherry custard pie is a must-bake, along with Nadiya’s Brownie Showstopper.
Claire is delighted with the cabinetry colours, which she chose based on her rural walks. They are a mix of Dove Tale by Farrow & Ball, which is a warm grey, and Musk Pink by Zoffany, while the range cooker is in a co-ordinating plum. The walls are painted in Just Walnut by Dulux. The flooring is limestone and the Stowe three-light glass pendant above the island is by David Hunt from Cotterell & Co.
The kitchen is now the heart of the home. “It was a big investment but this is a kitchen for life,” says Matthew. “We will never have to buy another one as it won’t date and if we want a change we can repaint it.”
The Secret Drawer has showrooms in Skipton and Ilkley. Visit www.secret-drawer.co.uk for details.
Emily Chew, senior furniture designer at the Secret Drawer, says sales of bespoke wood kitchens are booming, not least because they are completely bespoke so use of the space available is maximised.
They also offer longevity as they never date and you can easily ring the changes by repainting them. As for cabinet colours, Emily says that dusky pinks are popular, as are smokey blues and dark greens, but topping the chart is timeless off-white. For handles, aged brass is on trend.
Booth-style seating instead of a breakfast bar is fashionable and, says Emily, it can add a pop of colour and change the acoustics. Boiling water taps by either Quooker or Zip are now standard, as are plumbed in coffee machines, while dual-temperature wine fridges – one for red and one for white – are useful but not as useful as a fridge drawer, which is climbing to the top of the must-have list.
Everything you use most is kept here, while the fridge freezer is hidden away in the pantry/utility room. Prices at the Secret Drawer start at about £32,000 including VAT for cabinetry. Appliances, worktops, handles, sinks and taps etc are extra. The full cost of everything usually starts at £62,000 and the average price is £100,000 to £110,000.
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