The Chef's Kitchen

Chefs Natalia Schamroth and Carl Koppenhagen worked with architect Andre Hodgskin to design the renovation to their well-positioned but run-down villa. Later in the process they worked with designer Natalie du Bois on the kitchen fitout. “The kitchen is our life, really,” explains Carl. So it was obvious that these two chefs would have strong ideas about how their home kitchen should look and operate.

Designers. Designer. Natalie Du Bois
Kitchen Manufacturer. Hewe Kitchen & Interiors
Materials Benchtop: Honed Pietra del Cardosa quartzite
Cabinetry: Birch plywood
Backsplash: Olive mosaic tiles from Middle Earth


Concept Design

Originally the kitchen was a pokey little thing at the back of the house. One of the first decisions they made was to move it to the front of the house and make it a central feature in a relaxed open plan living space. You might assume that cooking for hundreds of people during the week would put them off entertaining from home, but then, what are eight people for Sunday lunch when one’s used to dozens?

Their kitchen was all about sociability and everything has been designed to allow multiple people to cook together in the space or chat with friends while tending the stove. Carl and Natalia’s absolute requirement for the kitchen was that it needed to be functional with plenty of bench space and room to work. Big, deep sinks and semi-professional appliances mean that while this is a domestic kitchen, it’s robust enough to handle intensive cooking.

Beyond utility, the couple also had clear ideas about the look and feel. Owners of the much-awarded Engine Room restaurant, their approach to food and cooking is all about seasonal produce. There is no artifice to their food; theirs is food that you immediately understand and can’t help but devour – perfectly executed riffs on traditional dishes and clever tweaks of classics. There is an honesty and unpretentiousness to their cooking, and they wanted their kitchen to reflect this approach.

Nothing too glossy, nothing too precious. They were after a slightly rustic but contemporary space that was refined, but not perfect, which also connected easily to their garden outside.

Helpfully the kitchen was positioned so that alongside the kitchen are wide bifold doors that let out onto the deck complete with outdoor table and a wood burner oven. In the corner fig trees fill up the windows with greenery; in summer, they can lean out and pluck a fig straight from the tree.

Plywood with a delicate grain was used for all the cabinetry with routed cutaways instead of handles, handmade and hand-glazed olive green tiles form the backsplash behind the sink, and dark grey sandstone on the bench helped to anchor the space.

The cooker is integrated into the island, which means Carl and Natalia don’t need to turn away from their guests as they cook.


Developed Design

The chefs still see the three points of the kitchen triangle - the fridge, the cooktop, the sink - as important, but they admit their own kitchen is more like the working square once you include the second fridge unit of the CoolDrawer™. This kitchen has different zones that all work together. At the core of the kitchen is a generous cooking zone complete with a Fisher & Paykel 120cm Duel Fuel Freestanding Cooker. In behind, a wide deep sink is joined by a 60cm Double DishDrawer™ to create a washing up zone. The ActiveSmart™ Fridge, and alongside, a walk-in scullery create a storage zone. A CoolDrawer™ at the end of the island near the table marks out an entertaining zone.

The island is the central element to this space. At 3.6 metres long, it is substantial enough to allow meal prep to happen alongside cooking, while guests gather and share a drink. Hovering lightly above, a plywood shelf sheaths over the top edge of the VentSurface™ Island extractor, providing handy storage for the couple’s large pots and pans and also shifts the scale of the kitchen within the high-stud space.

The couple chose the grunty semi-professional 120cm Duel Fuel Freestanding Cooker because gas was what they were used to and comfortable with. Carl says, "It's habit, I guess. We understand it." He explains there is an unconscious ritual in lighting the gas, heating the pan and adjusting the flame that they enjoy. The cooker is integrated into the island, which means Carl and Natalia don’t need to turn away from their guests as they cook. The dual ovens mean these chefs can have different dishes baking simultaneously.

Because the couple work nights in their restaurant, most of their dishes are only a few coffee cups and plates for toast which means the DishDrawer™ gives them the flexibility for small loads during the week, but can also handle large crowds when they entertain.


Detail Design

Natalia and Carl demand a lot from their appliances. They are used to the power and responsiveness of their restaurant kitchen, and yet they wanted an elegance and subtleness for their home kitchen. They found this balance in the semi-professional range of Fisher & Paykel products, which live up to their expectations while also fitting in seamlessly into the domestic environment. The details to make the appliances fit seamlessly into the cabinetry and benchtops balance precision with their authentic and rustic aesthetic.


Products &

  • 900mm CoolDrawer™ Refrigerator with Stainless Steel Door Panel

    The CoolDrawer™ has been designed to change from refrigerator to freezer at the touch of a button. It is built on the concept of distributed refrigeration, combining ActiveSmart™ Technology with a drawer-based design that can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, home or entertainment area. The CoolDrawer™ provides five temperature settings to deliver total flexibility — freezer, chill, fridge, pantry and wine modes, merging intelligence with convenience.

  • 680mm ActiveSmart™ Fridge – Bottom Freezer

    Our sophisticated fridge/freezer with the Active Smart system is where art meets science. You'll enjoy the sleek lines and effortless temperature control while your family enjoys fresher, more nutritious meals - whatever the season. Fisher & Paykel is the essence of gentle food care, with sizes to suit every family.

  • 1200mm Freestanding Cooker

    The ultimate appliance combines the convenience of two multifunction ovens with the control and precision of an integrated 6 burner gas cooktop, while the unique design and clean lines in glass and  stainless steel compliment the style and elegance of any modern kitchen.

  • 1200mm VentSurface Rangehood Island

    VentSurface has been designed to provide a simple and efficient means of removing steam and cooking odours from the kitchen through automatic adjustment.

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