Charlie Smallbone’s Guide to Freestanding Kitchen Furniture

Charlie Smallbone’s Guide to Freestanding Kitchen Furniture

We all want our homes to have ‘soul’, and nothing adds this indefinable quality to a design quite like a beautiful piece of freestanding furniture.

Charlie Smallbone, the founder of Ledbury Studio, reveals why a well-designed freestanding piece both elevates and personalises a kitchen. He also talks about which freestanding pieces work best and why.

Charlie Smallbone of Ledbury Studio
Charlie Smallbone.

Why add a freestanding piece into a fitted kitchen design?
When the space is available, the opportunity to include a freestanding piece is not to be missed. Everything from armoire-style storage cupboards to pantries and breakfast cupboards offers a wealth of practical storage and flexibility. Our pieces incorporate work surfaces and space for smaller appliances such as mixers, toasters, microwaves and coffee machines. You can also include racks on the back of the doors for oils and spices – or whatever you need to store.

Which key freestanding pieces work best?
When I started out, I used to buy and sell antiques, and an item that always set my pulse racing was a housekeeper’s cupboard. Found in grander Victorian homes, the combination of its size and the sheer amount of storage available led me to assess that adapting this piece for the modern kitchen would answer many of the storage and functional dilemmas faced in today’s kitchens. This is how I came to design our Housekeeper’s Cupboard, which works equally well as larder, pantry, breakfast cupboard or crockery store. It can hold small appliances and includes a stone worktop to add to the functionality.

Freestanding kitchen unit Smallbone

Do you consider a kitchen island to be a freestanding piece of furniture?
Yes! This important part of the kitchen is actually a hugely practical piece of furniture on a very large scale. By locating functional elements such as the hob or sinks onto the island, it is possible to maximise the social impact of a space, as we can carry on conversations facing towards family or guests rather than away from them. To me, this has been a key point in the overall evolution of kitchen design.

Which elements shouldn’t be freestanding?
I think that ovens tend to work better within fitted furniture. This is because they can be positioned at a height that suits the user. Also, you can build practical storage around them, offering easy access to things like pans and oven trays. With built-in ovens, you are then free to place the hob wherever it best suits the layout of the kitchen.

Any final words of wisdom?
Get a good designer to help you! Anybody who thinks they can do it themselves is most likely underestimating the complexity of designing a kitchen that functions well and looks fantastic. Work with a designer who you really like, and you enjoy spending time with. Designing a kitchen is a collaborative process, and you will benefit from having the professional input of somebody who really understands and is passionate about the process.

Ledbury Studio kitchens start from £50,000.

Read more home and interior articles in our dedicated section here.

Charlie Smallbone’s Guide to Freestanding Kitchen Furniture 2


Editorial Team

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