When Sarah Griffin and her husband Steve moved into their converted barn in Hampshire 15 years ago, the property came with a kitchen that wasn’t quite right. It was all-white with a disjointed look, yet the couple knew they would have to live with it for a few years as it was brand new, so they bided their time and waited.
The six-bedroom, five-bathroom home has two wings either side of a central atrium with glass windows from the ground up. The couple have four daughters, one of whom still lives at home as the others have all grown up and moved away, and it was only once the existing appliances, which included a range cooker, started slowing down that Sarah and Steve knew the time had come to change.
“I spent a couple of years researching what I wanted,” says Sarah. “I looked at different bespoke kitchen companies, but they were never quite right. I needed something fully custom made for the high ceilings and wanted furniture that was maybe locally made, too.” It was only after searching online that Sarah came across Higham Furniture, with its showroom in Fulham, London. “I loved their handleless Shaker look, as it’s very refined, clean lined and with the right combination of traditional and modern to suit this house.” Sarah then realised that the Higham Furniture workshop was in Denmead, only 15 miles from her house, which sealed the deal.
“I was able to visit the workshop,” explains Sarah, “and I was blown away. Tim Higham showed me their process and what makes them so different is that they manufacture the kitchens on site and then build and assemble them there too, in order to make sure every detail is perfect before installation. Even the appliances are fitted in this pre-build process.” This stress and hassle-free approach was exactly what Sarah and Steve were looking for.
Once she had selected the cabinetry, it was time to pick the appliances. Sarah and Steve have always had Miele for their laundry appliances so when it came to choosing their cooking kit, they knew it had to be Miele. “We went to the Miele Experience Centre in Abingdon, Oxfordshire,” says Sarah, “which was absolutely brilliant. First because it was a real treat to be cooked for by a chef and second because we were shown all the different styles of cooking and the appliances available. It really helped to refine what I wanted. We walked round with a piece of paper and chose everything on that day. I knew I wanted a steam oven but I also wanted it to be a fan oven when needed, so I chose the Miele DGC 7440 XL steam combination oven with the Miele H 7464 BP pyrolytic oven. I never knew that a warming drawer could double as a slow cooker, so that was really interesting to learn and we selected the Miele ESW 6214 gourmet warming drawer. By the end of the day we had a list with all the model numbers and the finishes of the appliances we wanted.
In the old kitchen, the range cooker was against the back wall so in the new design, Sarah wanted the space to look more like a reception room that happened to be a kitchen. The island was to be the star of the show with Miele’s ovens, warming drawer and KM 7575 FR induction hob with PowerFlex cooking areas for maximum power output.
“The Miele appliances are fantastic,” says Sarah. “They come to temperature so quickly, which I really appreciate as my old range cooker was getting slower and slower. It makes a huge difference. Also, I’d never used an induction hob before and I love it. I love how quick and responsive it is. I can also keep it completely clean if anything does boil over. I cook a roast every Sunday and now, with the new appliances and my boiling water tap, the prep only takes 30 minutes whereas before it used to take hours. It’s also been lovely to see my daughters become more confident with cooking and enjoying it more when they come to visit.”
Having their day out at the Miele Experience Centre really helped Sarah hone in on her appliance choices. “A couple of friends have induction hobs but they were a bit of a mystery to me. Seeing it demonstrated by the chef at Miele made all the difference. It was a lovely way to spend the day with plenty of time to look around.”
The kitchen flows seamlessly into a utility room, which is furnished with cabinetry painted in the same colour palette and finished with a stacked Miele WKB 120 freestanding washing machine and TWH 620 WP tumble dryer, which the couple already owned. “In the last 20 years we’ve only had a few models as they really do last. The Miele appliances are such good value for money and even if they do need servicing, that can be done rather than having to buy new. This space isn’t an embarrassment anymore; it’s a lovely area to work in.”
The overall colour scheme for the kitchen and utility brings a sense of the outside, in. “It helps to connect with the garden,” adds Sarah. “Our windows and central atrium are all in oak and I wanted elements of oak but not completely throughout. The colours reflect the décor in the rest of the house – greys, blues and greens – and as soon as I saw the handleless Shaker design I was so clear that I wanted something that didn’t look like a purely functional kitchen.” The palette features a combination of Little Greene’s Slaked Lime Deep, Pompeian Ash. “Alexander the designer at Higham knew exactly what I wanted. We had our design appointment in London, during which we chose 95% of what we wanted because he absolutely understood what we were saying. It was all a really lovely process from start to finish.”