I recently had the pleasure of completing a set of visualisations for a local cabinetmaker in Aberdeenshire, who designs beautiful kitchens, interiors and furniture using locally sourced hardwoods. Lethenty Cabinetmakers, which has been around since 1980 and flourishing ever since, is a real old-school joinery. As well as sourcing, cutting and milling their own hardwoods from a collection of local estates with whom they have built up working relationships, Graeme and his team also season, air dry, prepare and finish their work in-house, so every aspect of the design is under the control of the client, with an expert hand to guide things in the right direction. Bringing a design to life during the initial phases is really important, as there are so many cases where the client struggles to appreciate exactly what they are getting, and how the design will look when complete. Reading plans and architectural drawings is not something everyone is familiar with, and as Graeme's kitchen design for his client involved many bespoke elements, we decided the best way to translate his ideas into a readable form was to create a few visuals of the kitchen as it would appear when finished.
The first visual I created shows the overall design, as you would see it looking in from the lounge. From left to right we have the kitchen area, with built in iroko shelving, a large integral fridge/freezer unit with microwave oven, a belfast sink with wall mounted storage cabinets and shelving, a large Aga range with over mantle, and an island. To the right is a custom seating area which Graeme is building with the client's own elm, source from several trees felled on his ground. The table is also a custom design, and features a spindled base.
As with many of Lethenty's designs, the style is traditional and classic, but the lively grains of the elm and richness of the iroko give it some visual excitement. The cabinets and units are finished in a bespoke colour chosen by the client, and the purpose of the visualisation is to show how these finishes look together, and see if they are complementary.
Graeme also had the brilliant idea of incorporating various task lighting into the design of this kitchen, as well as focal lighting under the small shelves to the left. All of this calls for a nice night-time shot, to show exactly how the proposals will look on a cosy winter evening.
Showing exactly the same view in both day and night time makes it easy for everyone to picture how the lighting is going to be integrated into the design, and what a difference it will make to the appearance. Unfortunately many designers overlook the power of well considered lighting, and I'm delighted to say Graeme is not one of them! There is task lighting, feature lighting, accent lighting and - as it has all been designed in from the start - it is seamless.
Many people are familiar with the 'work triangle' layout used in kitchen design. Its aim is to make the flow between the fridge freezer, the oven and the sink work well. Getting the food, washing and preparing it, and cooking it should be easy and quick to do, and this kitchen certainly does that. The grand element to the left integrates the fridge freezer, larder cupboards and the microwave oven together, whereas the sink, Aga and associated work surfaces are well laid out.
The bespoke seating booth was a really unique part of the project - especially as it uses the client's own elm, sourced from some trees he felled himself! As elm needs around a year to acclimatise and dry before being milled for manufacture, this part of the design is still far off, but these visualisations were most instrumental in developing the design, and helping picture how it could be improved.
Initially Graeme had a sketch design of this area, along with the overall scale and the seating layout, but seeing the visuals helped explore some other ways to look at it. For example, the extended worktop behind the seats was formerly carried on at the same height as the existing iroko top, but seeing how it looked Graeme came up with the idea of raising the chair backs higher up, to give more back support and a more graceful proportion that is reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh chairs. There was also the idea of incorporating a small drawer into the area beneath the chairs to give extra storage, and the visuals were easily amended to show how this could look.
As Graeme and his team have been shortlisted for a Trades Award this year (under the Home/Building Improvement, Interiors category), you are bound to see a lot more about them over the following months!
Until next time,
Jamie C. Cameron