old house new home Cornwall

Old House New Home: Burnt Cedar And Copper

Although I must have styled a good few kitchens, and certainly looked at and written about at least 50 during the process of writing ‘my cool kitchen’ the past few weeks have given me the great opportunity of actually designing and making one.

As part of the new C4 Architecture/design and interiors show ‘Old House New Home’ with George Clarke, I partnered up with super talented Hastings based craftsman Robin Johnson to create a bespoke kitchen.

The project was for an elegant late Regency/Early Victorian beautifully proportioned flat on St Leonards sea front. With wonderful high ceilinged rooms, original mouldings and two huge sash windows looking straight out over the sea, whatever we added needed to reflect its beautiful shabby grandeur.

burnt cedar and copper kitchen

Inspiration was there to be found. I wanted to create something elemental, monumental, simple and sophisticated. Something that wasn’t burdened by un-necessary detail, but instead spoke clearly and loudly in its form and materials choice.

Looking to the local tall black fishing huts, mixing in a bit of my long term love for the work of Donald Judd, and inspired by the idea of the elements and the heat of cooking the Japanese method of ‘Shou-sugi ban’ of charring wood to preserve and creating deeply black textural surface to the doors was an inspiring start. The copper work-surface, kick-plate and splash-back would be distressed too, creating a weather beaten and textural finish like no other.

The kitchen was in two parts. An alcove based section containing the sink, integral fridge and super cool black gloss ‘Everhot’ oven. And a monumental sized island unit with open shelved storage along the length.

With part nervousness and part excitement I looked at the samples Robin produced, with levels of burning and tarnishing from subtle to mega. The mega won out, an instant decision that the richly blistered charred surface was fab, and the copper too; burnished and weathered. This was not a time for any weakness, but instead a time to be beautiful and brave

Robin had the skill and the nerve, thank goodness. It pays to be brave. He sums it up perfectly, “Working with materials such as Cedar and Copper offered huge scope to create something truly unique to fit in with, yet totally contrast, the exaggerated elegance of the room. By keeping the shape simple, the detail of the finish becomes more evident.”

I loved this kitchen, its process and the result. Hope that you do too.

George Clarkes Old House New Home




“Situated in a regency town on the south coast I wanted this kitchen to have a strong sense of place combined with a bold, creative design.

The proportions and inherent elegance of the space were crying out for something elemental, monumental, yet simple and sophisticated …. something that wasn’t burdened by unnecessary detail but spoke clearly and loudly through its form and the choice of materials.” Jane Field-Lewis


Picture credits: Simon Eldon