Labour of Love: A 19th century home gets a brand-new kitchen ideal for entertaining
By Benevides and Associates
If the kitchen is the heart of a house, the kitchen at Villa Mont Clare, an historic Grade 2 listed property, is not only the heart but also the dominant personality in this spectacular and uniquely decorated family home.
Opened up and extended, the kitchen at Villa Mont Clare is not only larger and more open-plan, but the owners can now enjoy a view through their living room across to Harrington Sound. The kitchen now connects through to all the downstairs living areas, the laundry, a new basement, and the outside patio and BBQ area.
Designed in the French country style, the kitchen is contemporary in its functionality yet traditional in feel, and therefore in keeping with the fact that the house is historic. All the cabinetry has been crafted to look more like furniture than contemporary kitchen cupboards, and at the kitchen’s centre is a large wooden farmhouse table with both a bench and chairs, around which you can picture family and friends enjoying food preparation, informal meals and just generally having fun and living their lives.
Inspired by British company, deVol Kitchens, the cabinets are painted in a light creamy taupe colour, customised by Rowe Spurling Paint, and considerable thought and care has been put into the small details such as the crown moulding, the pulled-out baseboards, inset cabinets, marble countertops and antique-style brass fixtures and fittings. With the exception of the integrated sub-zero fridge, country-style hood above the CornuFé 110 range, and a corner cupboard, the walls in the main part of the kitchen are free of cabinets. Instead, floating shelves allow the owner to display attractive and eclectic artwork, china and candles along with other kitchen collectibles and memorabilia. Large windows allow a mass of light into the kitchen, and under one window is a welcoming window seat adding further to the cosy, comfortable feeling, providing a great spot to read a book or enjoy a drink while someone else cooks something delicious.
There is no shortage of storage, however. A strikingly blue floor-to-ceiling china and glass cabinet occupies a small section of otherwise unused wall space, and the wide corridor linking the kitchen to the outside eating area has built-in floor-to-ceiling cabinets to hide away any clutter. Double doors at the end of this corridor lead out onto a bricked patio with a wooden pergola and BBQ, table and chairs from which you can enjoy the spectacular garden, water fountain, statues, newly constructed pool and water view.
As is fitting in an historic house, wood is a significant feature in this newly renovated kitchen and provides an opportunity for connection with other parts of the house. The existing English pine floors were stripped down to the original and are matched throughout the ground floor. This is enhanced with matching wooden beams in the ceiling and a new spiral staircase in a far corner that looks as if it has been there forever. The staircase was custom made by the superb carpenters at Strikeforce, using reclaimed wood from an old house in New Jersey. It leads to a newly dug down basement, which includes a wide, floor-to-ceiling wine storage and display area that is a work of art in itself. It has traditional square racks, shelves for larger bottles and display racks so you can clearly see and appreciate the labels. A sommelier’s dream!
This area leads into the games and family room, and a hidden heat pump water heater as well as Xypex on the walls protects the room, and the wine, from the damp and humidity that is the hallmark of most Bermuda basements.
The owner is an artist and self-trained carpenter with a natural flare for colour, display and texture, and the contrasting yet complementary materials she has used really make this kitchen stand out. In one area, for example, she chose a marble backsplash which matches the countertop but in another, traditional backsplash tile that both contrasts with and matches the black range beneath. Similarly, spotlights in the ceiling contrast with spherical wall lights over the countertops and a low-hanging, decorative pendant above the table.
The kitchen isn’t just a joy to look it; it made our judges feel very much at home. “It has character and thought. It has life there,” they agree. “The contrast of materials. You have the unfinished wood table alongside exquisite marble countertops. It feels very relevant today. It has personality, character and thought. It feels like the heart of the home.”
They particularly enjoyed the deeply personal nature of the kitchen design and the clear collaboration between the owner and the designer, adding that it is “very bright, has a nice flow and an eclectic nature to the artwork and fabric, which speaks to the expression of an individual who knows what she likes.”