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Every kitchen tells a story – in this case it's the tale of an 1830s farmhouse evolution


Most kitchens are remodelled several times in the course of a lifetime, but on occasion even the best intentions cannot make a space work.

The kitchen in this two-over-two plantation house, which was built in 1832, was located in a lean-to at the rear. The owners say the lean-to was probably added on to the original house around the turn of the last century, but it had long since passed its expiry date. The solution? A new two-storey addition to replace the lean-to, providing bathrooms on the top level and a new kitchen on the ground floor.

Designer Matthew Rao says the kitchen had to respect the era of the house, but also reflect the ongoing needs of the clients.

"We wanted the kitchen to fit with the period of the house, so we developed a story line – an implied evolution. Parts of the kitchen were designed to look like they could be original elements, while others are like found elements that could have been cobbled together over the years – the last thing we wanted was a modern, fully fitted kitchen."

To this end, the perimeter cabinets feature pine wood that has been treated with three layers of paint wash and given a distressed finish. The sink cabinets are also stepped back slightly, to convey the sense of symmetrical hutches on either side of the window. The overhead display cabinets have glass sidelights, which help ensure the room is light and airy. The island, however, features natural pine Shaker doors with a well-worn patina.


Most appliances have been integrated into the cabinetry. However, several stainless steel elements, including a modern take on the traditional butler's sink, are on display – recognition of the kitchen's 21st-century role.

To minimise the impact of the cooking centre, the island features a downdraught rather than a hood, and a dark soapstone benchtop ensures the black induction cooktop is unobtrusive.

First published date: 28 August 2009

Credit List

Kitchen designer Matthew D Rao CKD, Rao Design Studio, Inc (Atlanta, Georgia)
Kitchen manufacturer Draper-DBS
Cabinets Pine, painted and distressed
Benchtops Calacatta Gold marble and soapstone from G&L Marble & Tile
Sink Kindred
Taps Dornbracht Tara Classic
Flooring Wide-plank pine
Refrigeration Sub-Zero
Oven and microwave Miele
Cooktop Wolf
Warming drawer Dacor
Ventilation Wolf
Dishwasher Miele
Ceiling fans Matthews Fan Co