French apothecary inspires a modern take on traditional cabinetry design

Stephen Green, Founder and Partner of HollandGreen, shares the design intent for his own kitchen.

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When Stephen and his partner stumbled upon the Oxfordshire town of Wallingford, they were delighted by its vibrant spirit.

Some months later, when a classic double-fronted Georgian town house came up for sale there was really no question – it was perfect. The traditional black railed frontage and pillared entrance led into an elegantly proportioned residence, which had remained structurally unchanged for nearly two centuries.

“It was an unpolished gem,” Stephen, Founder and Partner of HollandGreen, explains. “Relatively untouched by its previous owners, and with structurally very little to do.” The couple were resolved to stay true to the property’s character. Their approach was to keep the original fixtures and fittings wherever possible, uncovering and celebrating the beauty of the property’s interior architecture. In the kitchen the striking high ceilings, long sash window (looking out onto a classic Victorian timber-framed greenhouse) and original slate floor tiles provided the perfect foil for traditional, made-to-measure cabinetry.

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The most striking thing about this kitchen reincarnation is that it truly belongs. The cabinetry, manufactured from scratch using solid timber, could have been in situ for as long as the house itself. Stephen designed the layout to hug a central garden-facing breakfast table. “A window seat tucked beneath the wonderful Georgian sash window was pivotal to our plans, as it forms an important connection with the garden,” he says. “It is wonderful to sit in the kitchen, looking out over to the Victorian greenhouse with its doors open, a view of the roses and the vines behind.”

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A warm textured wall finish (Bauwerck’s Almond Flower lime paint) was carefully chosen to balance and enhance the statement Farrow & Ball Emerald Green cabinetry. The strong green not only cleverly connects with the gardens beyond, but is reminiscent of brightly painted shutters found across southern France – again reflecting a strong Mediterranean influence.

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The statement cabinetry piece is a chunky bespoke sideboard, for which the design inspiration was taken from the traditional French apothecary. The open shelving houses glass jars of culinary staples, as well as Stephen’s dietary essential – Jelly Babies! An original enclave was repurposed as a breakfast niche, incorporating a pull-out toaster shelf. The deep bronze cabinetry handles, knurled light switches and a ‘living’ bronze patinated tap set could have adorned the room for decades rather than just a few months!

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A long-time Barr Group design collaborator, we were delighted when Stephen asked us to create his kitchen. “Having worked in a professional capacity with Barr Group many times over the years, I have an appreciation for the quality of their work and their customer service,” he says.