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Small kitchen? Some modern inspiration

We've covered the beautiful, brutalist(ish) Barbican buildings and flats here before – in an awe-inspiring architecture tour Abi and I took, as well as in various noses around some of the interiors of the flats there and at nearby Golden Lane. 

On the tour we learned that, no surprises, the flats with original interiors and fittings were not only more valuable but also pretty rare. Sadly, although part of the kitchens in nearby Golden Lane Estate (by the same architects) were Grade II-listed in 2001 – more of which below – these ones aren't. Thus much ripping out has ensued.

However, the kitchen in the flat pictured above – currently for rent with The Modern House agency – has created a good-looking and sensitive modern version. The designers, Mills Power Architecture (also responsible for the swishy new loos at the Southbank, pictured left) have created something loosely in keeping with the original aesthetic, which also very cleverly makes good use of the small space.

It maximises use of every bit of wall – the shelf high up above the sink area makes great, attractive use of otherwise dead space: the tops of kitchen units are so often giant dust-catchers, when they could add valuable storage either by having cupboards up to the ceiling, or useable shelf-space. The former of course makes rooms look taller, too, as it doesn't break up the wall. The the strong orange splashback here, and corresponding door, not only make this a brighter space (white walls in a space with little natural light tends to look dingy rather than airier) but also turn the cooking area into a clear "zone" in the open plan space, but with clever subtlety.

Love the worktop/bench with shelves and bottle-rack built-in. You'd have to be tidy to make neat use of the gap under the bench though – I'd shove recipe books in it for fear of turning it into an ugly, cluttery dumping ground for kitchen debris. Or have a nice pull-out box made, using the same cut-out handle design on the kitchen doors and drawers, in which to hide the inevitable unsightly tat.

Mind you, you'd probably spend more time looking in the opposite direction. Check out the vast window/door...

In case you're interested, below is one of the original Barbican kitchens, designed by yacht builders Brooke Marine for the Barbican architects, Chamberlin Powell & Bon. The firm commissioned them specifically because they knew they would make good use of the limited space.

This picture and the one above via Stefi Orazi*

Image: LMH Design (whose founder was involved in the original Barbican Estate design)
So sexy. How could anyone have the heart to rip out a beauty like this? I'm hoping that Mills Power started with a non-original – especially as they have added back in the unusual eye-level electrical sockets and switches. Not I'd imagine the most practical detail, but it looks great and hints at further reverence for the genuine article.

And here is a comparably compact kitchen at the Golden Lane Estate. *Interestingly, the kitchens here – at least the partition section – are Grade II listed. This one pictured is in Crescent House. Where the Barbican versions have stainless steel worktops and white laminated cupboards with sliding glass fronts, Golden Lane uses wood.

Good, isn't it? The suspended display shelving is so slick (though probably only works with glasses on it, as shown here, in order not to block out the minimal light). The window-light is a nice design feature too, as is the under-unit lighting, giving the impression of floating cupboards as well as creating a cosy evening den. All work well to create a sense of space where there is little. And what's not to love about a dining hatch – especially one that's Grade II listed?

See more of the original Barbican interiors in this previous post and find the full property details at

Post by Kate 

*with thanks for additional information to Golden Lane resident and graphic designer @stefiorazi whose very nice shop sells these beautiful tea-towels, pictured right, featuring graphic illustrations of Barbican kitchens

1 comment :

  1. wow this is amazing kitchen interior design it was so elegant .. i really appreciate this post.

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