A French kiss

This sunny, Bedford kitchen takes inspiration from French elegance, the nearby sea breeze and a stunning range.

"It all started with a beautiful range," says Sappho Griffin of the stunning appliance that inspired this renovation. One-half of henhouse---creators of handcrafted furniture and custom kitchens---Griffin came onto the Bedford kitchen project mid-demo, after two walls had been taken down to open the small space to a dining area and front room. It was a bit of a mess, yes, but with one look at the France-built La Cornue range---which is "built like a Cadillac or a Porsche"---it was easy to imagine what it could be.

"They really wanted a feeling of an unfitted kitchen, like something they'd find in manors or chateaus they'd seen in France," says Griffin of the well-travelled homeowners, who'd fallen in love with a La Cornue showroom kitchen in the UK that ended up being the jumping off point for henhouse's design.

To allow for the range to be the star of the show, Griffin kept the rest of the kitchen on the quieter side, hiding all other appliances and kitchen clutter behind handcrafted cabinetry and freestanding pantry, and keeping the paint palette soft and mellow to match "moody Halifax" instead of Provence.

"Our kitchens are furniture-like," she says. "We make sure the kitchen is an extension of the home---not only who lives there but the architecture of the home. I take care to make sure cabinets are a piece of furniture. It's built to last forever."

The classic looking, hand-finished woodwork won't just physically last forever...it's timeless style-wise as well, echoing a vintage look even though it's been custom designed for this room. Soapstone counters provide a clean complement to elegant table-style island and cupboards, and warm yellows and watery blues seal the space with a homey kiss.

"I just find it very soothing. It's such a great gathering spot, it's so warm," says Griffin of her finished product. "It'd be a great place to work in, or entertain."

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