With its unfitted dishwasher and free-standing fridge, Twig Hutchinson’s London kitchen could be straight out of the 1970s. Yet this is how she designed it when she renovated this year, with an island, also unfitted, and a larder cupboard that she found in a market for half the price of a new one.
“I didn’t want my kitchen to look clinical and monotonous,” explains Hutchinson, a brand consultant and interior stylist. “It’s so much more characterful to have a mixture of old and new and it’s more cost effective, too.”
The room is nothing like the sharp and sleek kitchens seen on television shows such as Selling Sunset and Grand Designs, with their walls of hidden storage, shiny quartz surfaces and glass splashbacks.
But post-pandemic, we want something rather different from our kitchens. According to Adrian Bergman, design manager at British Standard by Plain English, which makes traditionally crafted off-the-peg cupboards, the pendulum is swinging back towards “loose-fit” kitchens.
His clients will buy a selection of shaker cupboards, that come in a range of standard sizes, and then add personality with lamps, antiques and rugs. “People are conscious of being more sustainable, and after being locked down in their homes, they want their kitchen to say something about their life: a lamp picked up in Morocco or a rug from a flea market in Dorset. There’s a new appetite for reclamation yards and house clearances,” he says.
Indeed, Hutchinson was determined that the room would reflect the personality of her family, a mood that the interior designer Simone Suss of Studio Suss has been witnessing among her clients, too.
“During lockdown, we realised how essential kitchens are to our wellbeing,” she explains. “We baked, cooked and ate more meals together; it’s not surprising that our relationship with them has changed. We now want to feel an emotional connection, and surround ourselves with things that give us joy. They’re not simply a place to go and wolf down a meal.”
This wave of kitchen nostalgia has led to Shaker doors, previously the reserve of Cotswold farmhouses, making a comeback, along with warm, retro paint colours – green-blues, deep pinks, yellows – hand-made tiles and wooden work surfaces with plug-in appliances on show.
“They’re more traditional, more raw,” Suss says. “People are being more daring about using antique door handles and deeper paint colours. My own handleless units suddenly look so dated.”