Counter culture

For every trend there is always a counter-trend, swimming against the tide.

Recently, as kitchens become more sleek, glossy and minimal, a new trend is emerging for hand-made, free-standing, and matt, flat coloured units. It is the opposite of bling.

Industrial chic by Blakes Kitchens

The look can still be pared-down and minimal, but the colours are muted and they’re the opposite of shiny. Think Farrow and Ball meets below-stairs Downton Abbey – understated and elegant.


At the forefront of the trend is British Standard by Plain English, whose fabulous motto “sensible cupboards at sensible prices for people with exceptional taste and modest means” says it all.

British Standard cupboards by Plain English
British Standard cupboards by Plain English


The ethos is about capturing the classic days of British craftsmanship with an emphasis on quality and simplicity. Perhaps inspired by more austere times, or an answer to the austerity years we’ve been experiencing since 2008, it’s hard not to be seduced by the beauty and flexibility of creating a more basic, component kitchen rather than a fully-fitted, fully finished style.

Plain English's Osea kitchen
Plain English’s Osea kitchen

If you’re looking for a quality kitchen that bridges the gap between a Shaker or country style wooden kitchen and the urban, minimal modern style, then the new utilitarian look might be for you.

It looks great in industrial, rough-luxe kitchens, with exposed piping, industrial lights where the filament, flex and wiring is a feature in itself, stripped walls and raw finishes such as concrete work surfaces and butler or even stone sinks.


John Lewis of Hungerford has also tapped into the trend, creating a range of mid-century inspired designs, with clean lines and matt finishes called Pure. And John Lewis’ Windsor kitchen in a chalky, midnight blue also nods to the style.


John Lewis's Windsor kitchen
John Lewis’s Windsor kitchen

The brand has its own homeware trend called Modern Restoration with kitchen and home accessories in this vein, while Loaf also does a great range of raw, rustic and industrial style interiors. Even George Home at Asda has distressed Tolix-style chairs, apothecary units as storage and reclaimed railway sleeper-style plank tables on metal legs.



And while it’s modern, I’s not so on-trend as to date any time soon – which is the most you can ask of any kitchen.

Modern Restoration by John Lewis
Modern Restoration by John Lewis

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