“Five thousand square feet of brutalism,” is how Justin Hooper and Charlotte Seddon lovingly describe their new home. The couple—he’s a creative director at an ad agency, she’s a floral designer, and they have two children—had previously lived in a West London semi-attached Victorian. But they’re both midcentury modernists and they shared an extreme rehabbers’ dream of finding an industrial fixer-upper, “the more dilapidated, the better.”
They set their sights on the Scottish Highlands, where they have family, and drew a circle on the map around the Inverness Airport, which would enable them to be long-distance commuters. Spotted by Charlotte on UK real estate site RightMove, the HMS Owl, a World War II air squadron control tower, fit the bill: it had been left derelict for decades and Justin and Charlotte took on its restoration—and much of the labor—as a passion project: “The most important thing for us was to preserve the raw, bruised, but not broken feel of the building,” Justin tells us. Having had a Plain English kitchen back in London, they turned to the company’s off-the-rack line, British Standard, to create a canteen for their kitchen-less quarters. Take a look at the charmingly spooky results.
Justin and Charlotte painted the four-story tower matte black and sunk half of their renovation budget into reintroducing Crittall windows: During the war, the company had supplied its steel-framed designs to British military buildings, including the HMS Owl. Get the low-down on steel factory-style windows in Remodeling 101. Photograph by Peter Moore, Geograph.
“Intrigued by the curiosity of the Owl and its severe structure, we were keen to design a kitchen that was in keeping with the spirit of the wartime control tower,” report the British Standard crew. That’s a classic Aga Cast-Iron Cooker in the center of the action. The bridge faucet is a Lefroy Brooks.The refrigerator is an under-the-counter Bosch (and there’s also a Fisher & Paykel full-size fridge in the adjacent utility room. (For ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: The Best Under-Counter Refrigerator Drawers and 10 Easy Pieces: Compact Refrigerators.) They gathered most of the furnishings at local auctions. The hanging factory lights, Justin tells us, are Czech and came out of a Bristol night club. For similar industrial lighting, see Reborn in the USA: Soviet Lighting from Fixt Electric. The building was little more than a concrete and brick shell when the couple purchased it. They sealed the ceilings and floor, leaving them “as pitted and raw and full of history as the day we first visited.” Follow their journey on the British television series Restoration Man.
Thinking of going dark in your kitchen? Here are some more ideas:
- Steal This Look: A Black-on-Black Staff Kitchen in San Francisco
- Kitchen of the Week: A Culinary Space by Garde Hvalsoe
- Kitchen of the Week: A Kitchen in a Rescued Billiard Hall, London Theater Designer Edition
And take a look at two more British Standard designs:
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 26, 2017.