Vintage Eclectic Retro Kitchen Design | SpaceCraft Joinery | Projects


Margaret Peter

The thinking we put into Margaret and Peter’s rectory kitchen is there in black and white.

Price guide*: $30K - $35K


Carcase/Internals: Melamine high moisture resistant interiors/shelving in 16mm White by Laminex  Door/Drawer/Panel/Kicker: Doors, frame detail and drawer fronts in 2 pac satin Laminex New Antique White by Redwood [Traditional frame and door detail]  Feature: 13mm round moulding to curves of rangehood overhead in Solid Blackwood by Wood ‘n’ Doors   Wine rack: 16mm Black texture Melamine by Polytec   Floating shelving and curved open shelving: Wilsonart Black traceless by Steedform   Drawer Hardware: Intivo Blumotion soft close drawers by BLUM from Wilson & Bradley   Top: Stone with matching hob in Essastone Lava Black 20mm Kickers: Black Wilsonart Black traceless by Steedform   Handles: Atticus round knobs by Hepburn Hardware in Carbon matt black   Cutlery Insert: Stainless steel cutlery insert Wilson & Bradley Stainless steel Wilson & Bradley   Hinges: Soft close by BLUM from Wilson & Bradley   Oven: 60cm dark multifunction pyrolytic oven by Electrolux EVEP616DSD 596W x 572D x 597H from Spartan Electrical   Flue: Easyflu 150   Cooktop: iQ300 Induction hob 60 cm Black Siemens EH675LDC1E 51 x 602 x 520 Spartan Electrical By client   Rangehood with external kit: Sirius SL906L520 from Spartan Electrical   Sink: Oliveri Santorini Large Single Bowl Topmount Sink Oliveri ST-BL1551 560W X 500D X 200H Spartan Electrical    Dishwasher: Fully Integrated Miele dishwasher G6660SCVI from Spartan Electrical   Fridge: 50’s Retro Style Aesthetic fridge – Cream Smeg FAB32RCRNA1 1926H x 600W x 720D from Spartan Electrical   Tapware: Oliveri Pepe Swivel Kitchen Mixer Tap PT2010C-ST-BL from Spartan Electrical    Splashback: Tiled in Snow 73H x 300W Metz Tiles   Flooring: Cork by client

*Price guide includes: cabinetry and tops. Exclusions: appliances, tiling, electrical and plumbing.

The Brief

...the existing kitchen space was small and poky, with no connection to the rest of the place...

Like many Melburnians, Margaret and Peter were wooed to the windows of real estate agents while holidaying in South Australia. After all, who wouldn’t be tempted by everything places like the Fleurieu Peninsula has to offer, including the relative prices of the property? So it was that a few years ago, they found their perfect SA get-away: an Anglican rectory built in 1856 on The Strand in Port Elliot.

Of course, when we say ‘perfect’, that does need an asterisk. Truth be told, after the intervening 150 years, the old girl was a little past her prime when they took the keys. So, instead of lazy days sunning themselves on the glorious shores of Horseshoe Bay, every time they high-tailed it over the border back here, it was to don the overalls for another working bee.

But, for someone like Peter who spends long weekdays as a consultant to the banking/finance industry, it’s been a joy to invest himself in this labour of love. Especially given that his partner is an artist and a fashion designer/maker, revealing itself in the vintage/eclectic style that has remade this remarkable home.

Today, the couple split their time between Melbourne and Port Elliot, where Margaret has opened a little boutique/gallery at the front of the house, called The Little Department Store. You can check it out at here. But while you’re browsing Margaret’s wonderful wares, the real wonder is the development of their home.

When they came to SpaceCraft for help, the existing kitchen space was small and poky, with no connection to the rest of the place. Hence, Margaret and Peter had sensibly decided to relocate it into the living area, which would then provide access to a proposed deck. This also meant the old kitchen space could eventually be converted into a bathroom/laundry.

Margaret’s vision for the kitchen was “something a little different”. (You came to the right place.) In this case, a vintage/eclectic style kitchen. As she’ll readily admit, her style is a joyful mishmash and, although she does love mid-century Italian design above all else, she didn’t want the kitchen to reflect just one period; it had to combine all the things she loves.

Now, some people think they can pull that off. But there’s a fine line between inspired chic and pure madness. Given Margaret’s artistic eye teamed with our Nathan’s creative flair and practical nous, however, there was no doubting this would end up firmly in the chic department.

Margaret’s wish list included some vintage-style frame detail on the cabinetry and, initially, some beaded glass, although that idea was later canned. And that’s a good pointer for anyone: you should always feel free to shoot for the stars with your ideas, just as long as you know when to come back down to earth. Especially when we’re talking budget.

Our Design Resolution

...vintage frames for the cabinetry led to the playfully curved-radius edge on all the doors...

From the brief, you might imagine a cacophony of colour. But to pull all the disparate elements together, Nathan counselled a harmonious monochromatic colour palette of black and off-white: ebony and ivory, like the keys of a piano. Margaret’s idea of vintage frames for the cabinetry led to the playfully curved-radius edge on all the doors and drawer fronts. The ‘artworks’ that adorn them are the black Atticus knobs designed by Hepburn Hardware in Currumbin, Queensland.

The showstopper, though, is undoubtedly the rangehood, which conceals a Sirius extraction unit. Its half-round blackwood ribbing picks up on the curvaceous theme and warms the room even when the oven isn’t on. Behind the door, Nathan’s added shallow shelving for spice storage. And on the front is that magic vintage clock. Margaret found her “little touch of Melbourne” at the Smith Street Bazaar in Collingwood: a mid-century brass-and-perspex T&N wall clock made in Germany. Uncannily, the clock face matches the two-pack paint on the doors almost perfectly. We’d love to say that was our idea but it just happened serendipitously. Che sera sera.

Another quirky touch (quirky or quercus?) is the cork flooring, which is a brilliant, renewable but underappreciated medium. (Next time you break a glass on your kitchen floor, you may well recall this article.) But why have a plain cork floor when you can have one that’s hand-painted in a grid pattern of warm, muted tones? A corker of an idea.

The dishwasher, on the other hand, was definitely something no-one wanted to make a feature of. So, it’s been fully integrated into the cabinetry behind one of those curvy doors.

Whilst off-white is the predominant colour, black makes all the serious statements. Like the custom-made cookbook shelves with cylindrical wine storage nooks on the far right that balance out the curved open shelves that resolve the left-hand return. There’s the black traceless shelving, which sits either side of the rangehood. Plus, the black kicker that grounds and frames the space. And not forgetting, the black appliances and fixtures, including:
• the large single-bowl top-mount Santorini sink and Pepe swivel mixer-tap, both by Oliveri;
• the Electrolux pyrolytic oven and Siemens induction hob; and
• the Essastone Lava Black tops and stone hob.

After hearing how much black there is in the kitchen, it’s somewhat surprising to see it in situ and appreciate the balance of the palette. Margaret was tossing up between black and off-white for the fridge (which was what suggested the black-and-white scheme in the first place). In the end, the mighty SMEG retro-style fridge in off-white was the perfect fit for the space and design style. And the ‘Snow’ tiled splashback from Metz in Melbourne softens the texture again.

As the song says: ebony and ivory, living in perfect harmony.

There was one moment in this project that did disturb the harmony, however. Margaret and Peter’s plans were literally white-anted at the midway point, discovering the pests whilst digging out an old cellar. After a short delay for treatment and probably one or two less bottles to go into said cellar, we all got back on track with no further problems.

The couple’s final touch was to add a set of French doors out onto a deck, where the cellar can also be accessed through a trap door. It’s created the most gorgeous outdoor dining area in the shade of an old tree.

One idea Nathan did have was for a built-in island-cum-dining table but Margaret and Peter opted for the flexibility of a vintage dining table instead. And that just shows two things about kitchen design. First, it’s your home and you have to be happy with every detail, as you’re the ones who’ll live with it every day. And second, flexibility is your friend, whether we talking about how things work or the designer you’re working with.

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