Headland House kitchen

Enviably positioned on a headland on Waiheke Island in New Zealand with views in all directions, this house was the 2013 winner of Home of the Year. Designed by Stevens Lawson Architects as a series of pods that, in their grouping together, create another intermediate space in between these distinct silos. It is in this casual and organic transitional space that most of the living of the house occurs, and here too is the cleverly camouflaged functional kitchen.

Designers. Architect: Stevens Lawson Architects
Kitchen manufacturer: Wackrows
Materials Cabinetry: Grey-stained cedar
Benchtop: Honed granite
Handles: Custom Stevens Lawson


Concept Design

Gary Lawson and Nick Stevens always design the kitchens within their houses because it is important to them that the kitchen doesn’t become an alien insertion into the space. Rather, Gary explains that they try to weave the kitchen into the DNA of the architecture. The broader aspects of the house – in this house the organic pod forms and the stepped cedar boards – are distilled into details.

At the far end of the kitchen is a generous window with a view to the northeast, looking down along a small beach. The kitchen is filled with morning sun before other areas of the house, lending a subtle diurnal directive of how to inhabit the space. As the sun swipes along the surface of the cabinetry, rich shadows and highlights are created along the ridged cedar, lending more depth to the materiality.

Seen from the exterior, the three curved pods are all clad in a consistent skin of vertical rough-sawn cedar that are irregularly stepped to create texture and shadow over the surface. As you move inside the house, this cladding continues seamlessly to the interior, clearly defining the three discrete spaces of the lounge, main bedroom and veranda.

Within the Y-shaped space in between these pods where the living, dining and kitchen are placed, the layout of the kitchen developed from thinking about how the kitchen would be used.

Gary says, “Of course you think about relationships between the sink and the oven and the fridge and things that you go to regularly. But its probably more about thinking about the kitchen socially, how it will work. In a house like this, which is about relaxation, you’re going to have people sitting around the kitchen interacting and talking at all times of the day. It’s about making the kitchen easy to use for big groups with a pantry where you can just dump mess.”

Of course you think about relationships between the sink and the oven and the fridge... But its probably more about thinking about the kitchen socially, how it will work.


Developed Design

You wouldn’t realise that there is a large pantry tucked in behind the kitchen. In the same way the doors leading into the main bedroom or lounge have been concealed within the striations of cedar, the pantry also has a hidden door. This allows the rigor of the cedar to not be disjointed with standard, flat doors in jambs. The handles of the cabinetry were also seamlessly integrated into the vertical cedar boards.

In the same way, the kitchen island mimics the curved forms of the pods, embodying the big ideas in a small way, and it too is clad in the same ribbed cedar. Here again a clear nod to functionality in the straight edge of the island creating the working bench, with the island curving around underneath the cantilevered bench to form bar seating.

As the cedar continued across the back wall of the kitchen, there was a significant amount of time spent on finding the best compromise between the client’s desire for cleanability and durability of the surfaces and this visual uniformity of the pods’ ridged skin. In this area the timber needed to be sealed, but coatings on top of a bandsawn strip would look, as Gary describes, like it was dipped in syrup.

The alternative, entirely smooth-planed planks, would have been obviously different and disrupted the seamless skin. The architects and clients went through ten different options of various surface textures and coatings before finally arriving at a sanded back version of the bandsawn cedar – a de-nibbed surface that was then coated with a polyurethane to make the timber cleanable, but also virtually identical in look and texture to the rest of the wall.


Detail Design

This is a kitchen that is all about the detail. Particular care has been taken to make the appliances and cabinetry integrate into the form and materiality of the house. It is not just the placement and general layout of the appliances that received attention here, but consideration was paid to the tiniest detail of how far the DishDrawer™ handle would jut out, the exact shape of routing of the custom handle pull, and how to minimise the separation between cooktop and oven. What has resulted is a kitchen that is not just aesthetically pleasing, but works at the minute tactile level as well.


Products &

  • 760mm Single Pyrolytic Built-in Oven

    Fisher & Paykel large capacity ovens are visually impressive at 76cm wide, deliver outstanding performance. Ten cooking modes including self-clean and AeroTech cooking system make it the ultimate in cooking technology and convenience. Combine all this with its clean lines, stylish machined metals and electronic illumination, and the 76cm Single Built-in Oven strikes the perfect balance between form and function.

  • 900mm 5 Zone Induction Cooktop

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