Darren Farquhar Maggie Beer Bethany Sando

The cook and her kitchen

Using just three simple ingredients, Farquhar cooked up the perfect kitchen for celebrity chef Maggie Beer.

Photos: Avenue De Saxe

Author

Gabrielle Chariton

Maggie Beer is one of Australia’s most admired cooks, and a celebrated South Australian. She visited Farquhar in Norwood after receiving a recommendation from her architect to consider the design of a kitchen as part of a renovation project. 


‘Maggie had a kitchen design sketched out on a piece of paper and a clear vision for her space,’ says Bethany Sando, design and sales manager at Farquhar. ‘After a walk through of our showroom and a review of the many products and finishes on offer, Maggie knew exactly what she wanted.’


Maggie is a regular fixture on television and in lifestyle magazines, and her farmhouse kitchen in the Barossa Valley is almost as familiar to Australian viewers as her lovely smile is. However, Maggie’s second home is an apartment in Adelaide. While she doesn’t live there permanently, she was looking for a more modern solution for its existing kitchen. 
Maggie Beer
Maggie Beer is one of Australia’s most admired cooks
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete surface white cabinetry
‘The main thing she wanted was plenty of bench space’
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
‘The apartment was built in the early 2000s and the kitchen was very dated. The walls were cream, there was a metallic splashback. It was U-shaped and quite poky,’ explains Bethany, who worked with Maggie on the design of her new kitchen. 


Maggie’s brief to Farquhar was clear, but by no means prescriptive. ‘The main thing she wanted was plenty of bench space,’ Bethany says. ‘While storage wasn’t as much of an issue because it’s a second residence, she did prefer drawer systems over cupboards, because they’re more functional.’ In terms of aesthetics, Maggie was looking for a sleek, streamlined space – something very different to her cosy country kitchen. 
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete surface white cabinetry
'She did prefer drawer systems over cupboards, because they’re more functional’
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete surface white cabinetry
The cornerstone of the look is the irresistibly tactile Caesarstone Rugged Concrete
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
The existing kitchen/dining area was the antithesis of this, so Maggie’s architect suggested blocking in a doorway and reconfiguring the layout to create a lighter, galley style space. ‘We ran with that; moving the kitchen to a different spot to create that longer, more open space,’ Bethany says. The resulting layout is simple, yet elegant – the kitchen flowing seamlessly into an adjoining dining area and balcony for effortless entertaining. 


‘In terms of the layout design, it was really driven by the bulkhead that houses the services, which brings the ceiling height down to 2.4 metres [from 2.7 metres] in one section of the room.’ Bethany utilised the space under the bulkhead for the tall cabinets and wall ovens. Where the ceiling went back up to 2.7 metres, she skipped overhead cupboards altogether, instead installing a single stainless steel display shelf above the benchtop. This smart design element adds definition, visually enlarges the space and conceals the rangehood. 

The entire space is striking in its simplicity, with minimal built decoration: no door hardware, no fussy tiling, just a powerful palette of only three materials

The island includes a good amount of storage and transforms the space into a social hub, which was important to Maggie. ‘It really does lend itself to people congregating around,’ Bethany explains.

In the adjoining dining area, Bethany created a bespoke buffet which incorporates additional storage and integrated display shelving. Apart from adding character and warmth, the buffet also functions as a drinks station (it’s where the coffee machine and wine fridge live), and allows Maggie to minimise benchtop clutter in the ‘cooking’ part of the kitchen. 


The entire space is striking in its simplicity, with minimal built decoration: no door hardware, no fussy tiling, just a powerful palette of only three materials, which Bethany says she and Maggie devised collaboratively. 
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete benchtop white cabinetry
Bethany created a bespoke buffet which incorporates additional storage and integrated display shelving
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
Maggie Beer Bethany Sando
‘Maggie was an absolute pleasure to work with’
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
The cornerstone of the look is the irresistibly tactile Caesarstone Rugged Concrete, which is used for the benchtop and splashback.

‘When she walked into the showroom, the Caesarstone Rugged Concrete caught Maggie’s eye and she was sold on that straight away,’ Bethany says.

‘And she knew that she was looking at a white kitchen, wasn’t keen on gloss and wanted it to be durable. So we consulted with her on the different products available and we ended up with Farquhar’s TOUCH anti-fingerprint laminate in white for the cabinetry. It has a really soft, satiny feel to it and is a bit more durable than some other products in the market.’ 
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete benchtop stovetop

‘When she walked into the showroom, the Caesarstone Rugged Concrete caught Maggie’s eye and she was sold on that straight away’

The sparing use of stainless steel adds polish and elevates the overall aesthetic. Bethany designed a simple, geometric stainless steel leg for the island, to tie in with Maggie’s existing dining table and the blade shelf that sweeps across the rear wall. 


The inclusion of integrated display shelving allows Maggie to add pops of personality and colour, Bethany says. ‘She’s able to put her own spin on things and make the space truly hers, with artworks and cookbooks and the little quirky pieces that she [owns]. It brings the kitchen to life.’


The kitchen was completed within three months – ‘quite a quick turnaround, given the space was completely gutted and the kitchen location moved’ – and Bethany adds Maggie was ‘thrilled’ with the result. ‘She spoke about how it’s really easy to use, she’s got the bench space that she wanted, it’s functional and clean and fresh, so she’s really happy with it.’ 
Maggie Beer Bethany Sando
Maggie was looking for a sleek, streamlined space 
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete benchtop tapware
An elegant palette of only three materials
Photo: Avenue De Saxe
HIA member Farquhar, a third-generation family-owned company, was established 40 years ago and has grown to become a leader in the Adelaide market – designing and building quality kitchens ‘bringing family and friends together’. Being chosen to renovate for one of Australia’s most famous cooks speaks volumes of their reputation and capabilities. 


‘Maggie was an absolute pleasure to work with,’ Bethany says. ‘She was really open to listening to what we suggested as professionals, to take our guidance on products and design ideas, and to trust our expertise.’
Maggie Beer kitchen renovation concrete benchtop white cabinetry

design details

Designer: Bethany Sando, Farquhar
Location: Adelaide

Materials:

  • Benchtop and splashback: Caesarstone Rugged ConcreteTM 4033
  • Cabinetry: Farquhar Touchin Alpine White
  • Oliveri Santorini White Large Bowl Undermount Sink  
  • Tapware: Oliveri Pepe Swivel Mixer in Brushed Chrome  

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