High Drama in Black: Classic kitchen by Olive & Barr


Designer Al Bruce is the founder of Olive & Barr and started his career as a cabinet maker before moving into the kitchen industry. He was previously sales director at one of the fastest-growing kitchen companies in the UK. He took the plunge and launched Olive & Barr in 2019 with the aim of manufacturing high-quality, good-value handmade Shaker kitchens at an affordable price.

Q: What were the stand-out priorities in your brief from the client?

A keen cook, our client wanted to create a very practical working space as well as a sociable space for entertaining. I knew that the design for Deerfold Cottage would have to be a marriage of traditional and contemporary ideas state of the art appliances coupled with a timeless Shaker-style kitchen cabinetry with compatibility to original Shaker designs. We were asked to include an island to provide a focal point to the kitchen layout, a bank of full height cabinets to provide the required amount of storage, and specifically, to include pan drawers rather than cupboards, simply for their ease of use.

Q: How did you set about answering that brief, were you working within a specific budget?

The initial design went out to our client with a detailed quote that breaks down and addresses every aspect of the kitchen plan. From that point the customer was able to instruct us accordingly, taking away some aspects of the initial design, and replacing with other ideas and suggestions. I think its very important to be realistic with the budget from the outset, and understand that its possible to adjust some concepts to save costs in one area to allow more budget in another area.

Q: Can you explain the reasons behind the choices of cabinetry and work surfaces in this project

Our traditional in-frame, Shaker-style kitchen set the style and tone of the room. Venatino quartz worktops gave our client the luxury look of marble, but realistically, it is easier to look after. The white work surfaces provide a striking contrast with the dark charcoal grey of the island, which is a look our client very much wanted to achieve.

Q: Was there any building/renovation work involved?

No, it was quite a straightforward project as far as we were concerned, the clients builders had already completed and built the new kitchen space, we just had to provide a beautiful kitchen making the best possible use of the new room.

Q: What design elements do you think make the scheme so successful?

The use of our own dark charcoal grey paint colour, (Nightcap) on the island really makes it stand out and is mirrored by the larder cabinet on the left side of the room. The L shape run on the opposite side is painted in off-white (Rosaprima) which allows the room to still feel light and airy. I think a balance of light and dark works well, contrasts add interest.

Q: Now the project is finished, what aspects are you most pleased with?

Adding a kitchen island is almost always a great idea, and in this case has made the kitchen a sociable space for entertaining. Our client loves the fact that she can be cooking and her guests can chat to her whilst sitting on a bar stool and enjoying a chilled glass of wine (from the integrated wine fridge in the island!). She loves the huge work surface for prepping and the pan drawer units have made it an extremely practical working kitchen Its vital to remember that a kitchen has to be practical and convenient to work in.

Q:What is your best advice for someone who is planning a new kitchen?

I always point out a couple of indisputable facts If you want to change the layout of an existing kitchen completely, remember that moving the cooker or altering the plumbing is going to impact the budget considerably. Also although many of our customers want an island, practically it will need at least one metre of walk-through space between the island and wall or cabinets, so in some cases, a peninsula might be a better choice.

Q: Do you have a secret style signature that you find you use in most of your kitchen projects?

Kitchen islands are a must-have if the space allows and larder cabinets are also very popular. Belfast sinks are still high on our request list, they work particularly well with Shaker cabinets and give an instant country cottage charm. Quooker tops are also becoming increasingly popular with our clients, as they can provide chilled and sparkling water as well as hot water.

We Love: Well the entire project is fabulous, we are particularly taken with the wine chiller and wine rack placed next to each within the island. Totally practical and very stylish. The wide sink below the three-section window is another delightful design detail too

Shaker kitchen cabinets, Venatino quartz work surfaces and chrome handles by Olive & Barr, www.oliveandbarr.comor call 0345 154 0151

Belfast sink by RAK Ceramics

Tap by Grohe

American fridge-freezer by Samsung

Integrated ovens and microwave, Neff

Castile tumbled limestone flooring, Beswick Stone

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