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Solid, rustic materials are re-invented to create a sharp, contemporary design for this kitchen


Creating a new kitchen using natural materials might conjure images of a classic, conservative workspace. However, an unusual treatment of surfaces and the occasional metal counterpoint can result in a very different outcome.

This open-plan kitchen forms a central hub within a contemporary new home, designed by architect Christopher Wilson of Wilson & Hill Architects.

"The house features a generous use of natural materials with an emphasis on horizontal lines and the kitchen's design continues this theme," says Wilson. "American white oak is used throughout the home as well as in the kitchen. The wood is used in an hierarchical way. American white oak veneer is used for the kitchen cabinetry, while American white oak timber is reserved for the island bench and as flooring throughout the home."

Much of the contemporary look of the kitchen is down to the quarter cut finish of the cabinetry veneer.

"This produces a straight grain effect, which we have used horizontally. A crown cut veneer would have produced a more conventional, wavy grain," says Wilson.


To further stress the horizontal nature of the space, cupboard handles are recessed and run the width of the doors, creating long, nearly continuous metal strips.

These metal handles, together with stainless steel toekicks and appliances provide counterpoints to the wood surfaces and honed granite benchtops.

"The kitchen forms part of a busy family's life. The surfaces, therefore, had to be easy to maintain," says Wilson. "For this reason, matt black granite benchtops and a white glass splashback were chosen."

With the matt, black benchtops absorbing light the architect introduced recessed lighting around the coffered ceiling to create a light, airy feeling.

"When the work surface lighting is turned off, the room is still welcoming from surrounding spaces," says Wilson. "In a sense, the space doubles as an ambient lighting feature when not in use."

First published date: 18 February 2005

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Credit List

Architect/kitchen designer Christopher Wilson, NZIA, Wilson & Hill Architects (Christchurch)
Main contractor Ryan Builders
Cabinetry Alsop Joinery
Window and door joinery Vantage from Hagley Aluminium
Cabinets American white oak veneer
Benchtops Honed black granite from Trethewey Granite & Marble
Flooring American white oak from Ryan Builders
Wallcoverings Resene
Lighting Accent Lighting
Splashback Armourclad glass from Pilkington Glass
Sink Franke
Taps Forma from Smail & Co
Oven, hob, ventilation Miele from Asmac Appliances
Dishwasher Bosch