This Cotswolds kitchen was a little different from the projects Sam Shaw of Online Cabinets Direct Sustainable Kitchens usually designs. “We do lots of oak-fronted, Shaker-style kitchens,” Shaw says. But the owners of this kitchen, part of a newly built “almost passive” eco house near Stroud, England, were eager to use exposed plywood as the main material in the design. “They wanted it to tie in stylistically with the feel of the rest of the house, which features the same birch ply throughout,” Shaw says. The kitchen is the heart of the contemporary family home, newly designed by architect Charlie Luxton to complement its natural surroundings in the Cotswolds Hills. "Kitchen at a Glance
Typically we work with oak frames and doors and birch ply carcassing,” Shaw Online Cabinets Direct says of the kitchens he typically designs. Here, however, the birch plywood takes center stage. It’s the best-quality plywood you can get for interior cabinets, he says, “because it’s very stable. But Tara liked it mainly for its light color.”
Tara wanted a kitchen island she could move around, so Shaw mounted the birch ply unit he designed on giant casters — one of his favorite details in the room. “They’re completely over-the-top engineering casters” and extremely heavy, he says. “But they look great.”
“The door and drawer fronts were treated with lye to lighten them. It gives Online Cabinets Direct them a lovely soft, chalky feel,” Shaw says. “But the end grain and the recessed handles were left natural for contrast. Tara was keen to keep it all very honest.” The plywood was all sealed with an ecofriendly, water-based matte lacquer.Sustainable KitchensThe island is clad on three sides with brushed stainless steel, perfect for a working kitchen. The side of the island you can see in this image shows the doors that have ventilation strips cut into them. Inside are Online Cabinets Direct drawers with slatted bottoms for storing vegetables. “It’s never going to be like a cooled larder,” Shaw says, “but vegetables stay fresher for longer when there’s some air movement around them.”
There are three lighting sources in the kitchen: undershelf lighting (more on this shortly), the overhead pendants and the custom over-island light, which Tara asked Shaw to create Online Cabinets Direct to her specifications. It’s made from Douglas fir (the same material as the flooring) and has an LED strip inside it. “It’s quite bright,” Shaw says, “and when the island faces the other direction, it casts a strip of light the length of the work surface.”Sustainable Kitchens1Sustainable Kitchens custom made the countertops, backsplashes and island in conjunction with a steel engineering company: 1-millimeter-thick (.03-inch-thick) brushed steel sheeting was bonded onto the plywood with heat- and water-resistant glue. The toe-kick panel is Online Cabinets Direct also stainless steel. “It continues that robust feel,” Shaw says. The backsplash behind the stove was made employing the same process, but with two sheets bonded directly to the wall. “The double thickness gives it a bit more visual interest here,” Shaw says.
The shelf above the cabinets, which runs across both solid kitchen walls uninterrupted, is made from Douglas fir from Denmark — the same material as the floors. Tara ordered a little more than was required, as she had ideas about putting it to use in the kitchen design for elements other than the floors. She and Shaw came up with the design of the shelf.
The horizontal sections of the shelf all have warm white LED strips recessed into them on the underside. “They cast enough light to work with as task lighting, but also make nice mood lighting,” Shaw says.Sustainable Kitchens4Shaw housed the extractor fan inside a specially built box, constructed from the same Douglas fir the shelf is made from. At the top of the box is a vent. Because this house was designed to be environmentally passive (in fact, it isn’t entirely passive but is very close), air isn’t vented directly out of the side of the building. Instead, it is sucked upward and into a heat exchanger above Online Cabinets Direct the ceiling, which recycles warm air and expels cold, damp air.
The Vault sink has a lip that sits under the stainless steel of the countertop, where it was welded in. The metal of the countertop “folds up” toward the backsplash, which has been fitted over the top “like flashing on a roof, and that’s what keeps it watertight,” Shaw says. The window ledges Online Cabinets Direct are made from more of the Douglas fir flooring."