Style meets function in this barn kitchen conversion - Grand Designs Magazine
barn conversion kitchen in west sussex with timber beam ceiling and dark kitchen fittings

Style meets function in this barn kitchen conversion

This barn in West Sussex has been converted into a traditional English kitchen with clever storage

By Rachel Ogden |

Family kitchens need to be more than just a place to cook – style meets practicality is key. This was the challenge faced by Middleton Bespoke design director Jasper Middleton when the opportunity arose to create a kitchen in a converted barn. Keen not to overwhelm the striking space, he designed a new style of kitchen instead of the more Georgian-inspired cabinetry Middleton is known for.

The barn dated back to around the Forties. For the conversion, large doors were added along with reclaimed panelling and a vaulted ceiling. ‘The barn’s narrow width was a big challenge – we had to compress the gap between the island and the main long run of cabinets to 90cm instead of the standard one metre,’ explains Middleton.

barn conversion kitchen in west sussex with timber beam ceiling and dark kitchen fittings

Photo: Middleton Bespoke

Simply styled units stop the furniture from being the focal point in the barn. ‘Showing restraint in the design with clear lines, Shaker doors and open legs gives the silhouette of the cabinetry an almost 2D appearance and allows it to become part of the space,’ says Middleton. ‘While the look is contemporary, there’s a nod to the barn’s heritage: the exposed timber wall is made from reclaimed wood in the same material as the French doors – these set the tone for the kitchen.’

Classic paint colours used across the cabinetry are also in keeping with the building’s history, and the use of dark hues also creates visual interest. The island is painted the same colour as the back feature wall, creating a floating appearance and reducing the impact of its size in the relatively small space. Similarly, the splashback doesn’t extend all the way up to the roof’s pitch. Instead, a gap has been left for a painted band of lighter colour, making the ceiling seem higher and less angled.

west sussex barn conversion with modern kitchen

Photo: Middleton Bespoke

Inside the barn-to-kitchen conversion, the cabinetry is equally clever with its use of space, with the long run housing most of the essentials, leaving the island free to be a workstation.

‘I like to design kitchens with specific destinations in mind,’ explains Middleton. ‘The glazed larder cupboard to the right of the Aga is the food zone with dedicated sections for herbs and spices and deep drawers for larger items, such as cereals and bottled water, along with the storage of the glazed unit for dry goods. The larder to the left houses crockery and a coffee machine. Below, flock-lined pull-outs provide space for teas and coffee capsules with further drawers for wine and the best cutlery.’

Appliances have been kept to a minimum to maximise capacity. ‘An Aga was an important feature when we designed this kitchen,’ he continues. ‘The three-oven cooker creates the comfort and reassurance of a homely kitchen and the white lends a contemporary edge. It’s electric, so extremely efficient, and as it’s room-vented, it can sit anywhere in the space without relying on an exterior wall for a flue that non room-vented models would require.’

West Sussex Kitchen Barn Conversion

Photo: Middleton Bespoke

This is complemented by an integrated undercounter Gorenje fridge for day-to-day groceries, which has been mounted in a specially jointed frame that conceals its location behind the right-hand single door. A Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer sits in the island – allowing it to be open legged without showing the appliance’s base. Above the dishwasher, a housekeeper’s drawer stores cleaning essentials. Another space-saver is the 3-in-1 tap by Perrin & Rowe that provides filtered and boiling water.

‘It’s well known in interior design that something that looks simple is anything but,’ concludes Middleton. ‘A kitchen is a complex space incorporating cooking, eating and socialising, so to achieve our take on the English kitchen, it needed smart, unfussy solutions. I think we’ve avoided the hard, unfriendly nature sometimes seen in modern designs.’