Transitional Kitchen Design: Charlie Smallbone Defines Three Key Ingredients

Transitional Kitchen Design: Charlie Smallbone Defines Three Key Ingredients

The clean-cut lines of a contemporary kitchen create a sleek look but can also make the space feel cold and impersonal. By layering in rich texture, you create a transitional design that blends modern and traditional, resulting in a kitchen bursting with warmth and character. For this guide Charlie Smallbone reveals three components that define his transitional style.

Combining materials isn’t new, but Charlie Smallbone, the founder of Ledbury Studio, has harnessed it to create his signature look. Initially experimenting with texture via aged and patinated sheet metals, he’s now also working with a host of other materials: think carved natural timber, exquisite veneers with metal inlays and antiqued glass. The result is a look that celebrates the contrasts.

Below are Charlie Smallbone’s three components, which define his transitional style:

The Ledbury Studio Hackney kitchen

1. Major on Metal
“The warm, tactile quality of metal means it has long been used in the kitchen, albeit for smaller elements such as brassware. When I founded Ledbury Studio, it was with the idea of broadening the application of metal and taking it beyond traditional uses. To create our instantly recognisable copper-fronted kitchen cabinets, for example, sheet copper is individually aged and patinated to create a beautiful verdigris effect. Used in this way, it combines the traditional warmth of copper with an on-trend aesthetic.”

Above: The Hackney kitchen features copper on the tall cupboard adding a point of difference to a very contemporary kitchen; Below (left and right): In the Stroud kitchen, copper features in several places, including a panel on the end of the island and as cladding on the fridge-freezer and pantry.

A montage of three images showing Ledbury's use of wood

2. Work with Wood
“One of the best examples of a transitional kitchen is our Marquetry collection. A contemporary adaptation of a technique that’s been used on finely crafted furniture since the 15th century, the collection features cross-laid veneers applied by hand in an intricate design. These are then accented with liquid metal inlays. The effect brings a traditional look bang up to date and is simply stunning!”

Above and below: Ledbury Studio’s Marquetry collection is shown here with Anigre (an African hardwood) veneers inlaid with aged bronze, with custom-designed aged bronze bar handles.

A montage of images showing how marble can make a statement

3. Make a Statement with Marble
“Marble worktops are a defining characteristic of the traditional kitchen, and I regularly incorporate them into my designs. Over time, the marble develops a patina that reflects its long life and adds depth to the overall design. To elevate the feeling of luxury that a marble worktop evokes (and to add a contemporary spin), a waterfall worktop in marble never fails to be a show-stopping feature. Rather than the traditional flat slab of stone sitting on top of an island, the countertop ‘flows’ over the sides to the floor for a dramatic look.

“Another contemporary take on traditional marble is featured in our Camden kitchen project, where the star of the show is the island top. Designed by Lara Bohinc of Bohinc Studio, a selection of Italian marbles – in shades that complement the muted colours throughout the kitchen – are inlaid into an aged-brass edge trim. The effect is unique and very personal to the homeowners.”

Above and below: The beautiful worktop of Italian marbles designed by Lara Bohinc can be seen on the island of the Camden kitchen, which also features fluted oak on the island and decorative oak doors.

Two images showing the inlaid marble worksurface

The Ledbury Studio showroom is open by appointment only. Prices for a Ledbury Studio kitchen start from £70,000. More information on the company and its services can be found at

A completed transitional kitchen design from the company

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Editorial Team

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