When cooking together at the island, Paul and Sue can interact with guests in all directions – towards the seating area and dining space and out to the garden
The island is flanked by a wine rack on one side and a wine cooler on the other
iewing his future home for the first time, Paul Reeve was struck by the two lime trees at the double-gated entrance. ‘It had the most amazing kerb appeal – I was sold before we even stepped inside,’ he says. Built in 1984 by a local master stonemason, using material salvaged from a nearby barn, the house offered both modern comforts and traditional charm. ‘The look is almost Jacobean, but the structure is new, with benefits you don’t automatically get from period homes, like double glazing and central heating,’ says Paul. Unfortunately, while the decor was nice enough, the interior lost points in terms of space and flow. For Paul and Sue, who love to entertain at home, the small kitchen and separate formal dining room just didn’t work, but it was the orangery that eventually set major renovation plans in motion. ‘You couldn’t get to it from the kitchen or dining room, and you had to trek right through the house to enjoy the garden views,’ he says. The solution involved the removal of several internal walls and the addition of a small extension. ‘We ended up with one, much larger L-shaped room. Crucially, the 112
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kitchen was at its heart,’ says Paul. ‘We thought we wanted a bespoke kitchen but when we popped into our local builders’ merchants and met in-house kitchen designer Sue Crewe, we were blown away by her spatial planning skills. She showed us we could get everything we wanted using cabinets from a set range.’ By far the biggest challenge was deciding exactly how to arrange the newly achieved space to ensure Paul and Sue could cook together, without getting under each other’s feet. With the designer’s help, the couple settled on a long island unit, stretching nearly four metres, with a separate butcher’s block at one end. The usual advice is to allow a one-metre-wide walkway between an island and perimeter units or walls to ensure smooth traffic flow. ‘We increased the distance to 1.2m wide, which may not sound significant but it meant we could pass each other with ease,’ says Paul. They also went off-piste with their colour palette. ‘Most of the options these days tend to be very neutral but we wanted a bit of colour. The blue shade feels fresh and uplifting,’ says Paul, who can now happily say that the inside of his home more than lives up to the outside.