5 design tips to steal from a Sussex kitchen brimming with rustic charm

This English countryside home dates back to the 17th century, but its kitchen has some very modern ideas

A kitchen with blue-grey island with reclaimed wood-topped breakfast bar, exposed wooden beams on a white ceiling, and white quartz worktops over pale grey cabinets
(Image credit: The Main Company / Photography - Chris Snook)

In the heart of the English countryside, a 17th century detached family home now has the versatile, and historically sympathetic kitchen its owners dreamed of. 

‘The brief was to design an open-plan social space that remained in keeping with the era of the property,’ said Alex Main, Director of The Main Company. ‘To achieve this we installed a large kitchen island with additional breakfast bar seating and kept the décor light and airy.’

As part of this full property renovation in rural Sussex, The Main Company were charged with creating kitchen ideas for an open-plan space that would serve as the family’s communal hub. 

We took a tour of the space and talked to Main about how they created this charmingly rustic kitchen with modern touches and sustainable secrets. 

1. Get raw with reclaimed wood

A kitchen with dark grey-blue island in open plan space with reclaimed bark oak floors

(Image credit: The Main Company / Photography - Chris Snook)

Using unpainted wood will usually lend a touch of rusticity to any kitchen – but for a farmhouse feel that is as good for the world as it looks, choose raw, reclaimed wood. A more sustainable choice than newly sourced lumber, it also lends a historic feel to new kitchens. 

As well as exposing beams and adding accents through wooden shelving and surfaces, The Main Company also installed a reclaimed barn oak floor that runs through the kitchen and into the living room. The floor’s uneven tones and grains create a true farmhouse kitchen feel.

2. Ensure your island is versatile 

A kitchen with a blue-grey island and reclaimed wood-topped breakfast bar with leather and metal bar stools

(Image credit: The Main Company / Photography - Chris Snook)

The kitchen island ideas were a huge part of the design for this space – not just to create the kind of social atmosphere the family craved, but as a key functional aid. As well as the reclaimed timber-topped breakfast bar that reaches around its corner, the island also houses ample storage, both a Caple wine fridge and a wine rack, a Lanache oven and an integrated glass hob. The island is not just a communal center for the space, but is the kitchen’s beating heart. 

3. Bolt on a boot room 

A kitchen with a mudroom nook with blue-grey boot bench and reclaimed oak paneled walls

(Image credit: The Main Company / Photography - Chris Snook)

‘One of my favourite parts of this design is the bespoke boot room,’ said Main, discussing the mudroom ideas they added to the top corner of the L-shaped kitchen space. ‘We supplied reclaimed cladding, which not only created an impactful feature wall but perfectly complemented the more rustic, traditional elements of the property, including oak beams, metal accents and exposed brickwork.’

Using a nook like this for a deliberate purpose is a great way of creating natural flow in an awkwardly shaped space, and allows for a brief, boot-removing repose before entering into the throng of the kitchen. 

4. Create depth with tones of grey 

A kitchen with blue-grey island with reclaimed wood-topped breakfast bar, exposed wooden beams on a white ceiling, and white quartz worktops over pale grey cabinets

(Image credit: The Main Company / Photography - Chris Snook)

Grey kitchen ideas are a huge trend at the moment, and this room is certainly in the loop. Not one, but two types of grey are used for the shaker-style cabinets in this kitchen – a dark blue-grey ‘Basalt’ and a pale ‘Ceviche’, both from Little Greene. Not only are these color choices perfectly contemporary neutrals that ground the space in the 2020s, but their tonal nature helps add depth to the kitchen’s design. 

5. Mix rusticity with sleek modern touches 

A kitchen with white and grey quartz worktops, stainless steel faucet, and reclaimed wood shelves

(Image credit: The Main Company / Photography - Chris Snook)

As well as the paint choice, this rustic kitchen is given balance through the use of numerous, but subtly deployed modern kitchen ideas. The brushed stainless steel Quooker tap matches the glimmering metallics of the large Fisher & Paykel fridge-freezer, as well as the high tech Westin extractor fan that has been installed in the ceiling above the island’s hob. As well as these more obvious mod cons, the rustic textures of the wooden accents is balanced out by the seriously slick worktops, made from Omega Stone’s Westminster White quartz. 

Kitchen design / The Main Company 

Photography / Chris Snook

Ailis Brennan
Contributing Editor

Ailis started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. She then spent three years at the London Evening Standard, covering restaurants and bars. After a period of freelancing, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures, she started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing her to fully indulge her love of good interior design. She is now a fully fledged food PR but still writes for Homes & Gardens as a contributing editor.