The Owl Logo for  Shere Kitchens - beautiful kitchens handmade in Shere Guildford Surrey


Luxuriously dark cabinetry, light worktops and walls with a spacious feel - this is a cool take on a classical kitchen design. Custom made for a couple with a keen eye for design, who work hard, know how to relax and absolutely adore their pups. Their kitchen renovation was part of a whole house restoration. 

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Designed for a cottage nestled beautifully in the rolling chalk hills of the leafy Surrey Hills, this kitchen is named The Dene. It felt apt as ‘a dene’ describes a deep wooded valley of a small river; and going off on a creative tangent, we think a magical mix of dark and light.

The kitchen that was here originally had an Island with a supporting pillar running through the middle of it. It felt awkward, cramped and didn’t provide good storage, comfort or style.

By working together from the outset, we were able to develop the design collaboratively as our clients explored their options with their architects. We love a challenge and Mike especially enjoyed drawing on his renovation experience to consider the best way to layout the kitchen, walk-in pantry, utility and downstairs WC. The initial discussions included everything from the fridge / freezer positioning to utility provisions, radiator locations and hat & coat storage.

Space and flow

With busy careers and two pups the brief highlighted two main aims. Firstly, to create space to enjoy the kitchen, for cooking and relaxing. Secondly, to provide customised storage so that everything has a place to help keep the space tidy.

The main kitchen area is where the culinary magic happens with space to unwind.

The home bar for gin and wine lovers, includes wine racks, antique mirror, glazed shelves for the gin collection and two fridge drawers for wine and mixers. Designed with pocket doors it can be left open to admire the beautiful bottles, or closed – maybe for Dry January?! It’s positioned cleverly next to their outdoor ‘lounge’ area complete with comfortable chairs and an outside rug.

The larder cupboard has spice / oil racks, baskets and boxes at the bottom for treats. There are electrical points inside so the coffee machine is plugged in here and ready to serve that morning espresso.

Being able to keep the kitchen tidy was important so we created a ‘home for everything’ using drawers within drawers, an Oak baking tray divider, pan drawers with lid holders and integrated chopping board and tray spaces.

The ovens, warming drawer, induction hob and downdraft extractor are positioned together with the plenty of prep worktop space. The cooking section is aligned with the washing area including Fisher and Paykel dishwasher drawers, beautifully glossy white ceramic sink and boiling water tap. With a slim Oak shelf above for displaying favourite things.

The Island serves as a breakfast bar as well as a sweet spot for a casual supper. There is a Zebrano wood knife block inset into the Island worktop so that their Global knife collection is on hand for food prep by the hob and oven.

The table and chairs are painted in the same colour as the cabinets and upholstered in black and white, with bench seating by the window including drawers for dog toys conveniently by the doors to the garden.

The second part of the design is the walk-in butler’s style pantry.

This area was designed to keep the kitchen ‘clutter’ out of the main area. And it is a brilliant area to stack all the dirty dishes when entertaining as it’s completely out of sight. The cabinetry is an a classic ‘u’ shape and houses the fridge, freezer, cupboards for large appliances, oversized dishes and one for the mop and bucket. The tall cupboards with bi-fold doors are for food storage, and you can see from the photos that everything is beautifully kept – rice, pasta, popcorn, quinoa all in lovely named jars. It’s an organisers dream come true. There is also a sink for washing vegetables and oodles of prep surface.

Colour palette

The cabinetry is hand painted in Farrow and Ball ‘Off-Black’. Dark and inky, it just lures you right in, timeless and deeply refined. With the cabinetry being grand in proportion too, with detailed cornicing it creates a really bold statement in this space.

It can be daunting to go for a dark shade of black, blue or green, but you can see the drama of the cabinets is perfectly matched with plenty of natural light, the white walls and warm Oak floor tiles.

The white patterned Domus ‘Biscuit’ tiles bring texture and playfulness. The worktop, Caesarstone Ocean Foam, is a white quartz with speckles of grey crystals. In a classic polished finish it lets the rest of the room do the ‘singing’ while providing a clean light reflecting practical surface for preparing and enjoying food and drinks.

The floor tiles bring the warmth. No two tiles have the same pattern so they really do look like wood, but are better suited to the pups as they don’t scratch and are non-slip.

Lighting Design

The slim black framed windows with doors onto the garden flood the kitchen with natural light and warmth during the day. But atmospheric lighting into the evening was important too, so we incorporated custom lighting in the glass cabinet, gin cabinet and pantry.

“It is so well integrated and was a really important thing for me, along with all the smart lighting in the room, and Mike did a great job with it all.”

It was such a pleasure to make this kitchen. They wanted to work with a local company and we feel so lucky they picked us.

“We feel very lucky to have found Shere Kitchens. Their designs were excellent, the quality is superb and nothing has been too much trouble the whole way through the process. The whole service really is bespoke, and very good value for money. From the very beginning they have listened to everything we wanted and have made great suggestions on how to achieve it. It has been an extremely positive experience working with them and we would thoroughly recommend them.”

Mr and Mrs H, Guildford, Surrey