Best in class: the modern country kitchen

Forget knotty pine. There’s a fresh new look to the easy-going farmhouse kitchen

 Traditional design reimagined with the  oak look Corva at  Cash and Carry kitchens

Traditional design reimagined with the oak look Corva at Cash and Carry kitchens


There is something appealing about a homely kitchen that channels a bit of country but it’s a look that had been overdone, possibly as a result of our rural heritage, and fell from favour. But trends are cyclical and as the handless kitchen becomes ubiquitous, those with a sense of the next big thing have returned to the warmth of an all wood design. Cash & Carry Kitchens has upped its design and presentation game with fresh new imagery that reimagines this traditional design with its oak look Corva. This design works because it is set into a double-height space with an exposed stone gable wall and a vaulted ceiling with roof light. A concrete-look floor adds a much-needed injection of modernity. Prices for this design start at €4,000.


Trellis patterned floor from Fired Earth
Trellis patterned floor from Fired Earth

The painted in-frame kitchen is now considered a classic but the new way to work this design is to play with colour and not to make all the units the same shade. This wall and below counter units in this design by UK-based Martin Moore, has been painted in Stone II from Paint & Paper Library with a much punchier colour, Little Greene’s Basalt on the island, a hue that is also picked up in the Trellis patterned floor, a collection by Fired Earth that features a Lattice print, €111 per sq m to order from the Dún Laoghaire-based store. The splashback is a simple metro style from Domus tiles. Prices start about €40,100 for this style, ex delivery. Instead of traditional wood countertops opt for a stone top.,

Exposed pipes

HD BIC Modern country kitchen Neptune
A modern country kitchen from Neptune

Old farm kitchens often had exposed pipework and taps usually by necessity rather than by design. It’s a look that kitchen designers like Neptune have chosen to make a feature of, adding personality to a room. Pictured is its Henley design in a classic oak finish and costs about €24,000. The addition of black stone countertops that give it a modern twist. That and the decision to add an island with an industrial feels rather than a matchy matchy solid unit that would dominate the room. The Carter, a blackened steel framed shelving unit, costs about €3,590, offers accessibility to all cookware and helps create an interesting atmosphere where you can get a sense of the owner’s personality in the bits and pieces on show.

Modern taps

Chrome finish basin set with red wheels from the Union collection from UK fabricator Crosswater
Chrome finish basin set with red wheels from the Union collection from UK fabricator Crosswater

The Belfast sink was once part of the furniture in every Irish home. Now its presence divides homeowners. Many who fitted them, having fallen in love with the aesthetic have found them to be impractical and only for show. But if you find yourself washing a lot of pots by hand, it’s a kitchen feature that can prove its worth. It is a really smart option in a utility room where you can use it to soak garments for handwashing. It’s also a smart alternative to clogging the family shower if you have a small dog that needs regular washing. Online store Heatwise is is selling a new design for €249 but you can also find originals on Done Deal from as little as €100. Architectural salvage yards are another place to try. Whichever style you opt for bring in a little modernity with your tap choice. This three-hold, deck-mounted, chrome finish basin set with red wheels from the Union collection costs about €670, ex delivery, from UK fabricator Crosswater.;

The half-door

The half door is back: Benjamin Moore Paint
The half door is back. Photograph: Benjamin Moore Paint

Another country style worth reinventing is the half-door. Carlson does a range that is draught-proof in a way the originals were not. It is available in alu-clad and triple-glazing options and is a great back door option that will allow you to keep poultry without them wandering into the house, one of its original uses, if you happen to keep chickens or are just still dreaming about it. It also allows the fresh spring air to circulate while keeping small kids where you can see them. Prices vary as the door is only available as part of a five-piece minimum order but worth considering if you’re going to change doors and windows. The one pictured is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Lucerne, stocked at MRCB, and has a two-third top to a one-third bottom, a different proportion to the Irish traditional design. The units surrounding the sink are painted in Smoked Oyster.;

Flagstone floors

A lightweight lookalike tile that feels like ancient limestone from Lapidicia
A lightweight lookalike tile that feels like ancient limestone from Lapicida

A flagstone floor is considered the original country kitchen. Lapicida, a brand famous for its antique stone floors reclaimed from historic buildings, has been working with a porcelain manufacturer to create a lightweight lookalike tile that feels like ancient limestone. It can work on floors and walls and is frost-resistant so you can weave your indoor and outdoors together using the same material underfoot. It comes in four tones: a cool ash grey; mocha brown; soft cream and sand, and in three sizes and can be ordered direct from its Harrogate showroom where it costs about €81 per sq m, ex delivery. Another option is Tilestyle cool concrete-look tile by Terratinta, €101 per sq metre.;

Pantry designs

HD BIC Modern County Kitchen Porter and Jones
A pantry from Porter and Jones

The pantry cupboard is another traditional staple although these days the units are as beautiful to look at inside as well as outside boasting top of the range stone worktops, custom-sized chopping boards, door shelving and all sorts of other detailing including soft-close doors.

The exterior of this design by Porter & Jones is painted an almost black colour, Scree by Paint and Paper Library in an eggshell finish, it has solid walnut wood internal drawers, concealed lighting that switches on when you open the doors and a honed Lisoia marble worktop. Prices for this design start from €4, 000.

Lived-in look

Easy and accessible open storage from Ikea
Easy and accessible open storage from Ikea

When asked about his messy desk, Albert Einstein is said to have remarked; “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” The same principle can be applied to a kitchen: the very essence of a county-style set-up is that it feels more homely and lived-in and has stuff visible. These Udden trollies, €50 each, from Ikea will let you see where stuff is and their portability means you can wheel them out when necessary and out of harm’s way when no longer needed. Pot racks too are back in vogue – all the better to show off your handmade in Belgium Falk Culinair copper pots.;

Pots of colour

Add some colour to your stove with these lipstick red round and lidded casserole dish at Argos
Add some colour to your stove with these lipstick red round and lidded casserole dishes at Argos

A couple of enamelled cast-iron casserole pots on a stove with some wooden chopping boards may be all you need to bring a little country living to your set up. Kildare Village has a Le Creuset shop and is one of the best places to stock up on fashion colours of this French design classic. The lipstick red round and lidded casserole dish is part of Argos’ Heart of House collection, and comes in two sizes, €49.999 for the 27cm diameter and €43.99 for the 21cm size.

The pops of red along with warm colour of the wood boards, in this case bamboo butcher blocks, from Argos, soften the austere look of a minimal kitchen. The 3cm thick boards come in two sizes, priced €22.99 and €12.99.;