space of the week

A Georgian Kitchen, ‘Fairy Rack’ and All

A British bespoke-kitchen-design company downsized a kitchen in Crown Heights for the perfect fit.

Photo: Courtesy of Plain English
Photo: Courtesy of Plain English

Anyone who’s been compiling tear sheets from their treasured issues of World of Interiors must have breathed a sigh of relief when Plain English opened its first U.S. showroom here in New York City last April. The bespoke-design company has been producing its take on the traditional Georgian kitchen since 1992, when Katie Fontana and Tony Niblock started the company in an old tannery in the Suffolk countryside. As the business grew — a second business, British Standard Cupboards, launched in 2012 — operations were moved to a nearby Georgian farmhouse, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was the image of this Plain English–designed kitchen, seen above, that inspired owners Lorri Sendel and her husband, Mats Hakansson, who’d purchased an 1895 Queen Anne–style townhouse in Brooklyn, to contact the company to create a pared-down facsimile of the most beloved room in an English country house.

The small room off the dining room at the back of the house, with beautifully framed windows overlooking the garden, was chosen as the site for the new kitchen, seen here with its Butler sink and a cupboard known as the “fairy rack,” a term referring to the storage beneath the sink where the cleaning products are stored, such as the English-made Fairy dishwashing liquid. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The owners wanted an Aga stove, so Plain English designed the counter space to incorporate a mini Aga, just 24 inches wide, which still allows plenty of working space on the oak countertops. “Space around objects, even in a small confined room,” Merlin Wright, design director of Plain English, says, “gives the feeling of luxury.” Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The view from the kitchen into the dining room with its original wallpaper intact. The owners bought the townhouse three years ago and did a meticulous restoration of period details. The dining room and kitchen maintain the original oak paneling. The two standing cupboards are designed for storage, the one here on the left for condiments and packaged goods … Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
… While the one on the right houses the fridge and freezer. Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
The dark, moody, soothing palette embraces the warmth of the kitchen in colors ranging from Plain English’s Army Camp to Little Green Paint Company’s Dark Lead and Invisible Green for an aesthetic that felt like “it had always been there,” Wright says. The Plain English Spitalfields cupboards were painted in LGPCo’s Invisible Green. Antique brass handles and drop handles finesse the aesthetic. “It’s funny,” Sendel says, “but I feel like I am far away when I am hanging in my kitchen.” Photo: Genevieve Garruppo
A Pared-Down Kitchen Fit for an English Country House