When Ed Waghorn invites you into Rabbit Hill he says “Welcome to the sixties!”.
Rabbit Hill is a substantial – palatial – seaside bungalow with superb views over the surf at Polzeath in North Cornwall, sumptuously appointed in luxurious (and tasteful) 60s style. It’s the old family home, shared now by the Waghorn families as a holiday home but also made available to rent for ‘friends and friends of friends’. This would probably include Celtica customers.
If you are a Grand Designs addict you’ve probably come across Ed and Rowena Waghorn and family. They have built (are continuing to build) one of the most imaginative ever Grand Designs houses on a hill with positively Elysian views over the Herefordshire countryside. They are lovely, friendly and hugely talented people – truly living the arts and crafts life. Ed is bursting with ideas, infectious enthusiasm and energy. It was going to be an interesting project.
Rabbit Hill had a charming original 60s kitchen. It had been progressively altered over the years as the house guests’ high expectations regarding appliances and lifestyle had changed. The newer furniture wasn’t of the same pedigree as the original. So now it was all looking a bit cobbled together and a bit tired.
The new kitchen had to be at one with the house – and the house, like the family, is special. For instance, I had never seen a living space entirely lined with hardwood. Quality and individuality – even quirkiness – are the key notes.
Quality we could certainly do and Ed, who trained originally as a furniture designer, would provide all the individuality. This project is a true example of the customer in charge of design. Ed created many excellent hand drawings which we translated into CAD.
The glass fronted warming oven had been there forever – the holding bay of generations of Cornish pasties – and it had to be included in the new kitchen. It did not lend itself to easy integration with modern furniture standards. A special cabinet was built, bridging the corner – no interruption to the supply of excellent pasties at precisely the right temperature.
Ed wanted carousels in the corner cabinets. Shall we say, we have our reservations about carousels. However, house guests have better things to be doing than poking around in the back of closed end cabinets – they need to get on the beach. Ed didn’t want the bought in factory made standard wirework or plastic carousels. They were to be birch plywood like the rest of the furniture – objects of beauty.
We decided that the carousels would be enclosed in a wrap around cabinet – a bit like the Mondo carousel – but with substantial differences. The full story of the carousels will be a blog post on its own.
Stainless steel worktop with an integrated sink in a one piece L shape was specified for the messy side of the kitchen. Getting it into the restricted space without bending it was scary but between the three of us – Bruce, Ed and me – Ed directing – it went in without a hitch.
Stainless steel is always good. Let’s have more. And laminate – the great kitchen innovation of the fifties and sixties (actually invented long before) – we love it. It’s a fantastic material – always provided you stick it on a good substrate (like birch ply).
Not even the handles escaped the granularity of Ed’s attention to detail. The handles are beech, partially inset into the laminate faced plywood doors. Not satisfied with how they came from the factory Ed wanted the handles drilled out to receive laminate inserts in multiple colours. There was a scary hour or two with the drill press but, yes, I still have all my fingers.
Ed’s daughter Marnie made the beautiful ceramic surrounds for the sockets and light switches. I’ve no doubt we’ll be placing orders for some soon.
However, the best thing that has come out of this project is that we have new friends – like minded with a lots in common and Ed has agreed to do more designing for us. I’ll write more about this soon but, in a nutshell, if you live in the Hereford to Birmingham neck of the woods and you want an extremely talented and conscientious designer for your kitchen (or any other furniture), Ed’s your man. Call us.