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Sixties revamp – kitchen by architect John Mills

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Wood island top in kitchen renovation

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Modern lifestyles are very different to the way we lived in the 1960s and nowhere is this more evident than in the kitchen. And it's not just the high-tech appliances that have changed. The very way the family lives and interacts has changed forever.

Architect John Mills needed to take all this into account when he redesigned the kitchen in this '60s house.

"The original U-shaped kitchen was literally a dead-end space that took up a lot of room and was well past its use-by-date," Mills says. "But we did need to acknowledge the '60s aesthetic. The house has a lot of simple timber detailing, and we needed to be respectful of this – we didn't want to overcook the kitchen."

Mills added a large terrace to the kitchen, replacing a small, narrow deck. He then treated the kitchen and terrace as one large space. With the wide bifolding doors open, the size of the kitchen is doubled. The centrepiece of the entire space is a large, organic-shaped island with a highly polished swamp totara wood benchtop.

"The curves of the timber benchtop reflect the way you move around the kitchen – they are much more friendly than a rectilinear island top with hard-edged corners," the designer says. "The island was designed as a piece of furniture, which can be seen from almost everywhere in the house, so it needed to look good. The 60mm thickness of the benchtop helps to give it a real sense of substance, and the black-painted boards on the sides provide a visual link to the house exterior."


Other key features of the kitchen include a large dark marble splashback that contrasts with the white Melteca cabinets.

"The material palette is limited – there is so much texture and flavour to this kitchen, we didn't want to add too much," says Mills. "Rather, it was an exercise in simplicity and attention to detail."

First published date: 06 October 2013

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Credit List

Architect John Mills, John Mills Architects (Wellington)
Builder DA Lyons Building Contractors
Kitchen manufacturer Style Joinery
Cabinetry Gloss Melteca
Hardware Hettich Pro Decor
Benchtops Timber by Kings Fourth Generation Woodworking Co
Sink Mercer Primer
Splashback Marble from Trethewey Stone
Paints Resene
Oven Westinghouse, available from Kitchen Things
Ventilation Smeg, available from Kitchen Things
Refrigeration Mitsubishi
Dishwasher Fisher & Paykel, available from Kitchen Things
Bar stools Kartell Spoon from Backhouse