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Kitchen of the Week: An Undulating Wood Kitchen in Melbourne, Curves Included

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Kitchen of the Week: An Undulating Wood Kitchen in Melbourne, Curves Included

March 10, 2022

This is the story of a postponed remodel that turned a humble Victorian house in an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, into an unexpected international design star. Long owned and occupied by two sisters who work in government and public health, the Bent Street project, as its known, was in need of upgrading. Back in 2013, the sisters had begun working with eco-minded designer Kim Kneipp. “It started as a styling role,” says Kim, who runs her own five-person Melbourne firm. “We rearranged all of their spaces and I designed library joinery to consolidate and showcase their books. They were so happy with the results that the conversation progressed to transforming the entire place.” The plans, Kim tells us, got promptly shelved: “they found out that their house was going to be compulsorily acquired for the building of a new freeway.”

Five years passed before she heard again from the sisters: they had just learned they weren’t going to lose their house after all—and were ready to move ahead. At the time, Kim and her team were neck deep in projects for the Peninsula Hot Springs, a spa resort—”I wasn’t even available to meet with them for another 18 months.” They waited and Kim returned. Using the look of those 2013 timber bookshelves as a starting point, she enacted a remarkable space-enhancing, wood-crafted transformation (scroll to the end to see the Before shots). Completed during the pandemic, the project has been celebrated in the Australian design press and well beyond as the little house that could. Here, we’re spotlighting the elegantly orderly, Art-Deco- and Arts and Crafts-inspired kitchen that now serves as command central.

Photography by Lisa Cohen, courtesy of Kim Kneipp.

the curved island is faced with half dowels of tasmanian oak and has a counter  9
Above: The curved island is faced with half dowels of Tasmanian oak and has a counter of recycled messmate, an Australian hardwood.

The existing kitchen in the same location had no natural light source, limited storage, and was so crammed, it only had elbow room for one person. The sisters are avid cooks and kombucha brewers; they share their house with a roommate and visiting nieces and nephews, and wanted a space for everyone to gather.

kim, who has started referring to what she does as &#8\2\20;design acupunct 10
Above: Kim, who has started referring to what she does as “design acupuncture,” removed a divider and reoriented the kitchen so that it overlooks the courtyard and is open to the pantry/laundry (direct access was created by “cutting a hole through the existing wall”).

The existing wooden floorboards were patched with matching recycled boards, sanded, and finished with a water-based sealant. The terracotta pendant light is by Melbourne artist Claire Lehmann of Studio Lehmann.

  the combination pantry and laundry room is tricked out with streamlined  11
Above:  The combination pantry and laundry room is tricked out with streamlined storage in a verdant green. The cabinets have a “2-pac” finish that looks like laminate but is actually akin to car paint (read about it here) ; the counters are recycled wood.

Kim describes the sisters as “incredibly sporty, adventurous environmentalists—neither of them own a car; they cycle everywhere.” She says that for them, introducing better storage in every room was “integral to achieving a more balanced interior.”

the upper kitchen cabinets—for items that aren&#8\2\17;t in daily us 12
Above: The upper kitchen cabinets—for items that aren’t in daily use—are accessed by a library ladder that slides on a brass rail. The lower cabinets have a veneer of  Eucalyptus Pilularis, also known as blackbutt. Kim got the sisters to “improve their eco credentials” by replacing their gas range with a Fisher & Paykel induction cooktop and electric oven. The backsplash mosaic tiles are Inax’s Yohen Border design from Artedomus.

Admiring the hanging setup? See 13 Kitchens with Utensil Rails.

the fridge is concealed behind an integrated wood door. all of the kitchen cabi 13
Above: The fridge is concealed behind an integrated wood door. All of the kitchen cabinetry is the work of ZP Woodworks.
the made in australia brass faucet is from consolidated brass tapware. the pain 14
Above: The made-in-Australia brass faucet is from Consolidated Brass Tapware. The painting is by Rohan Fraser. See more kitchens with art on display in our Trend Alert.
the island is fitted with a concealed fold out bar. for more textural kitchen i 15
Above: The island is fitted with a concealed fold-out bar. For more textural kitchen islands , see Trend Alert: Kitchens with Fluted Detailing.
floor to ceiling bookshelves—kim&#8\2\17;s original contribution to  16
Above: Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves—Kim’s original contribution to the house—line the back wall of the dining area.

Before

the courtyard—and barbie—were just yards away but separated from  17
Above: The courtyard—and barbie—were just yards away but separated from the postage stamp kitchen.
in addition to being &#8\2\20;dark and pokey,&#8\2\2\1; the space could 18
Above: In addition to being “dark and pokey,” the space could only be accessed from one side. A counter divided it from the living area, which was filled with kitchen overflow.
the laundry closet was a tad crammed. in the upgrade, kim concealed the washing 19
Above: The laundry closet was a tad crammed. In the upgrade, Kim concealed the washing machine behind cabinet doors and built in drying racks.

More of our favorite kitchens from Down Under:

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