A multi-functional Suffolk kitchen on the Irish coast

A multi-functional Suffolk kitchen on the Irish coast

Our Suffolk kitchen collection was the perfect fit for TV cook and food writer Donal Skehan and his long list of ‘must-haves’


When Irish food author and TV cook Donal Skehan set out to create a kitchen for his new home, it would be fair to say his list of requirements were longer than average. For not only did he need a smart, functional kitchen for his young family to enjoy, but it also needed to be photogenic “from 360 degrees” for all the food and recipe ideas he films in the space.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, this new kitchen would be a stepping stone towards a more substantial cook space that he and his wife Sofie planned as part of major renovation and extension works on the 1930s cottage. “So, I was sold the minute the Neptune design team told me that the cabinets are individual pieces of furniture and could be repurposed at a later date,” says Donal. “It felt really sustainable.”

It was the property’s jaw-dropping coastal location just outside Dublin (the sand dunes come up to the garden wall) that first attracted the couple to the cottage. And while they had begun discussions with architects about how they might eventually create their dream family home, while respecting the legacy of the original building, they also needed a workable kitchen for the foreseeable future. That was when they turned to Neptune.

“I was very clear that I didn’t want to put in a new kitchen only to rip it out again when we did the extension,” says Donal, “and not many kitchen companies could offer me that surety. To add to this, we needed a kitchen that would cater for family life in the morning, and then could be cleaned down for recipe testing or filming for the rest of the day. I needed a workhorse kitchen!”

Useability and spatial planning – right down to the well laid out spice drawers – was also important for Donal, so he was attracted to the adaptability of the Suffolk collection as well as its meticulous details such as the concealed bins, the backlit cupboards which “help when I’m digging around for ingredients” and the pantry cabinet with its adjustable shelves, “useful, depending on what equipment I’m working with, such as  a microwave or slow cooker”.

While Donal had precise cabinetry specifications, he and Sofie also had an idea of how they wanted the layout to work. “We had planned to position the kitchen table centrally in the room, but the design team suggested flowing it out from the kitchen with a fitted Buckland bench seat which has been much more successful,” says Donal. “It made the space feel more welcoming.”

Deciding on a colour scheme proved harder, however, not least because the kitchen would be featuring regularly on Donal’s video stream. The couple initially toyed with the idea of Burnt Sienna painted cabinetry before finally plumping for Cactus which proved “a game-changer, it fits so well with the cottage aesthetic.”

Luckily, the installation process was less arduous. “As a new homeowner, going into these projects with builders and decorators can be daunting,” admits Donal, “but we had an exceptional experience with the Neptune team. Everything we wanted was discussed and translated into what we see now.”

 A few months on and the family are enjoying their new kitchen, gradually adding personal touches as they settle in. “I have great intentions to be more modern, but at my core, I love vintage pieces,” says Donal who collects Irish ceramics by Fermoyle and antique tableware. “I bought the kitchen table at an auction 15 years ago, so to see it make it to our final home and fit in so well is really pleasing.” But for this busy working cook, it is the Suffolk kitchen’s tried and tested useability that wins out. “All the functional details in the kitchen have made life easier, and you don’t get to experience that until you are in the space and using it.”

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