August 19th, 2011
Warning: Some people have strong reactions to this article. Read at your own risk.
I went to see a new flat. Bright, shiny, spacious, secure, built to Lifetime Homes standards with a wide hall, wide bathroom door.
Me – “Why does the bathroom door open outwards, is that to do with Lifetime Homes?”
Him – Long pause. “No, that’s because there isn’t enough room in the bathroom to accommodate it”.
I could put bookcases along this wall the hall is so wide
Point made, although I accept that some people consider it to be safer for the bathroom door to open outwards in case the person inside passes out against the door making it difficult if not impossible to get to them.
The two bedrooms are large enough and light enough, although the walls and ceiling are white and the carpet light beige which I suspect has been done to reinforce the impression of size. The ceilings are 8′ which I can’t complain about, if I can just touch them then it’s 8′. So far so good. Nice ensuite in the larger of the two bedrooms, as large as most bathrooms I’ve seen in three bedroom houses.
I like the recessed balcony but not the full height windows (privacy)
Then we came to what I supposed was the living room. The largest room in the flat, extending the full width of the structural bay, and containing an L shaped row of kitchen units completely ruining the effect.
Every time I look at this it stinks – it’s appalling – it’s not a kitchen
“Why no separate kitchen, surely it can’t be the cost of the walls?” I asked. “How much do two walls cost out of £300k?” I continued.
There was a pause.
“The bedrooms and the rest of the apartment are spacious. The space for a kitchen has to come from somewhere” – he replied.
LDS have ruined the living room. For want of a kitchen
I paraphrase. I wasn’t recording the exchange.
“Do any of the flats on the entire development have a separate kitchen?” I pressed on.
“No” was the succinct answer.
So there you have it. Berkeley Homes are not providing separate kitchens in any of the flats on any of the phases of Kidbrooke Village.
A fellow blogger has written about Claredale Street and I have quoted part of his blog here:-
“She said that only after you move in do you begin to notice the small niggles. She wasn’t a big fan of the open plan layout with the kitchen and living area combined because of the noise and smells from the cooking.”
Claredale Street article
Who stole my living room?
I would advise you to fit the biggest extractor you can, recirculating fans are next to useless. Open plan kitchen/living areas are all the rage now but, personally, I would never knock walls down to achieve one. My daughter lived in a brand new, upmarket open plan maisonette up to a couple of years ago.
It had an externally vented extractor hood but the heat & smell in the living area were close to unbearable in summer & in winter you got severe condensation as well & if you opened windows you freeze to death. The whole place also stank of your last meal for hours on end & even next day; fashionable or not I’d never have open plan in a million years.
You haven’t heard the punchline yet. The window fouls the tap (in photo above), so in order to accommodate the window opening the tap folds down into the sink. You couldn’t make it up.
More photos on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/singleaspect/sets/72157627547170996/
UPDATE: 7/9/11 Berkeley Homes have read my post, maybe they’ll consider installing kitchens now and not ludicrous ensuites, this is a home not a five star hotel.
It’s not that I’m against open plan kitchens when done properly. But this is no such thing. They might as well have put a toilet in the middle of the living room and called a guest facility. It is totally out of place. If it were an L shaped living room and the “kitchen” was in the stub with a breakfast bar across then ok, at least an effort would have been made towards a separate kitchen.
In this case not only is the kitchen not spatially separate from the living room there is no way without building walls to make it so. The kitchen units have been dumped in the living room.
This from the RIBA:-
8 sqm is the single bedroom you’re missing. It’s the space for a new arrival to the family, the space that means the kids have a room of their own or a spare room for a guest to stay over. It’s the space that could take the kitchen out of the lounge and the sounds and smells that go with it.
If they hadn’t put that large ensuite bathroom in it would have left about 8 sqm for a kitchen and the existing bathroom off the hall might have been used by both occupants of the flat, what’s wrong with that?
This obsession by developers to provide a separate shower and toilet for every resident is what’s killing good house and flat design.
UPDATE: Seven months on looking at the pictures and reading again what I wrote then I haven’t changed my mind. I couldn’t live there as it is. You have what amounts to the kitchen in the living room. It’s an unfinished job, a bodge, a compromise, a failure of design.
If I had to live there and had no other choice then I would build a wall perpendicular to the glass wall a few feet out from the solid wall, thus creating a galley kitchen which drew light from two sources, the balcony and the small window over the sink. I would put a 1/3 width sliding door in the wall to allow for an open plan option but equally allow for separation.
No I wouldn’t. I’d buy somewhere else.
UPDATE: 14/11/12 I look at this article about once a month, when I notice from the stats that people are reading it and looking at the photos. Then I stop once again to think and reconsider, do I really like this flat? The answer is always the same. No, I don’t.
I would enjoy the plush entrance lobby, the large bedrooms, the wide hall inviting display cases and book cases along its length. The 8′ ceiling height and the utility room off the hall. Then I would get to the largest room in the flat and want to cook something, and want to watch T.V. and want to sit on the balcony, the large open space would stink of cabbage, the steam from cooking would affect the atmosphere in the “lounge”, and I would hate the fact that I could never close off one to truly enjoy the other.
The full height balcony windows are initially attractive but I would feel obliged to fit opaque film half way up them for privacy since I don’t want my living room on display to people in the park, nor do I want to be obliged to close the curtains just because the light is fading and the room becomes a goldfish bowl.
The whole thing is so ill thought out it beggars belief and so over a year since my first visit I still wouldn’t live there if you gave it to me. There is much better housing to be found in London and it isn’t at Kidbrooke, not on this “estate” anyway.