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Revolution Road: A Ground-Breaking Kitchen in London

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Revolution Road: A Ground-Breaking Kitchen in London

June 11, 2014

The National Trust has yet to come calling, but we wouldn’t be surprised if someday Alastair Hendy’s kitchen is declared a landmark. Located in the East End loft that he built in 1987, the celebrated chef, shop owner, and food photographer was among the early adopters of professional appliances and industrial detailing at home. Featured in print and on television the UK, Hendy’s kitchen design helped spark a worldwide trend that continues–he’s one of the people to thank for your lab lighting and powerful stainless-steel range. And though now showing its age a touch, Hendy’s kitchen chugs on, filled with made-to-last equipment and smart, easy storage solutions.

Photographs for Remodelista by Matthew Williams.

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Above: Hendy at his worktable. The two-story loft is set in a converted industrial building in Hoxton and has a living room that overlooks the kitchen. “When cooking, I can easily communicate with friends upstairs–and this saves the kitchen from actually being in the living area,” says Hendy. Note the cast concrete work counter and vintage Anglepoise hospital lights (“£2.50 back in the day when no one valued industrial”).

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Above: The stainless-steel-topped island is used for food prep; when the meal is ready, Hendy pulls up stools and it becomes the dining table. “Everything in this space was chosen for efficiency and ergonomics,” he says. The floor is concrete slab made for outdoor use and purchased from Travis Perkins. “Concrete in the kitchen was radical back then, particularly for work surfaces,” says Hendy. “I chose it for its brutalist/industrial quality and also because it’s incredibly soft and luxurious (when polished). It has an honesty and sensitivity, and costs little.”

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Above: The vintage wood and metal stacking stools came from a college science lab via the Ardingly International Antiques Fair in Sussex.

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Above: When installed, this Zanussi range and broiler had almost never been seen in a domestic setting. It’s topped with a hive-shaped, industrial-sized steamer from a trip to Singapore–”great for making dim sum or a shoal of sea bass for a party.”  Hendy buys his appliances from Nisbets on Shaftesbury Avenue.

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Above: Under a concrete counter top, Hendy had a steel frame made to hold old steaming drawers from an oven. They’re filled wth his kitchen essentials, from dish towels to twine.

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Above: A collection of trays from Hue, Vietnam: “I found then in the fish section of the market filled with live eels in shallow pools of water. I use them as vast platters.”

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Above: The worktable came from a school. Hendy added the stainless steel top (over crumbling melamine), painted the frame eggshell white, and added new handles.

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Above: A yellow brick-walled scullery off the kitchen is for storage and washing up; food staples are stored in an adjacent pantry. The stainless steel restaurant trolley holds, among other things, the electric tea kettle and toaster. A dentist’s lamp, visible in the top right, lights the butler’s sink. “The scullery and pantry have gone out of fashion but I think they’re of utmost importance,” says Hendy. “Rip out all those fitted cupboards and have a walk-in area; it’s much more efficient and if positioned correctly, food is kept properly cool.”

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Above: Resting on the sink’s hot water pipe, a baking tray serves as an ad hoc shelf.

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Above: Scrub brushes hang from S-hooks on the sink’s exposed piping.

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Above: A cabinet from Habitat holds Hendy’s all-white dinnerware. “Food always looks great on plain white. The food then does all the talking. I can’t abide patterned plates.”

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Above: Everyday flatware is tidily kept out in the open in a ceramic dish.

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Above: Surface-mounted galvanized steel conduit (for light switches and outlets) surrounds a medicine cabinet used for spice storage

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Above: For maximum use of space, Japanese-style custom-built stairs with built-in drawers.

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Above: A steel-framed glass brick wall–a sign of the eighties–divides the kitchen from the bedroom area. It maximizes the light from the kitchen yet provides privacy.

For an even closer look at Hendy’s revolutionary kitchen ideas, turn to the Design Ideas chapter of our new book, Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. Also don’t miss our posts: Hendy’s Home Store in Hastings and Hendy’s Home Store Kitchen in Hastings.

For more Kitchens, browse our Photo Gallery for hundreds of ideas, and have a look at 5 Quick Fixes: In-Counter Compost Solutions on Gardenista.

Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose your kitchen sink and faucet in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Sinks & Faucets.

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 17, 2013 as part of our Handyman Special issue.

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