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Kitchen of the Week: A Noir Canteen in a Repurposed WWII Control Tower | Loungtastic

Mueller Investigation Results

Five thousand square feet of brutalism,” is how Justin Hooper and Charlotte Seddon lovingly describe their new home. The couple—he’s a creative director at an ad agency, she’s a floral designer, and they have two children—had previously lived in a West London semi-attached Victorian. But they’re both midcentury modernists and they shared an extreme rehabbers’ dream of finding an industrial fixer-upper, “the more dilapidated, the better.”

They set their sights on the Scottish Highlands, where they have family, and drew a circle on the map around the Inverness Airport, which would enable them to be long-distance commuters. Spotted by Charlotte on UK real estate site RightMove, the HMS Owl, a World War II air squadron control tower, fit the bill: it had been left derelict for decades and Justin and Charlotte took on its restoration—and much of the labor—as a passion project: “The most important thing for us was to preserve the raw, bruised, but not broken feel of the building,” Justin tells us. Having had a Plain English kitchen back in London, they turned to the company’s off-the-rack line, British Standard, to create a canteen for their kitchen-less quarters. Take a look at the charmingly spooky results.

The HMS Owl is situated on Easter Ross Airfield, 22 miles north of Inverness and near the shores of the Moray Firth. The three-acre spread was used by the Royal Navy during WWII as a base for torpedo-carrying aircraft and was last in operation in the late 1940s.
Above: The HMS Owl is situated on Easter Ross Airfield, 22 miles north of Inverness and near the shores of the Moray Firth. The three-acre spread was used by the Royal Navy during WWII as a base for torpedo-carrying aircraft and was last in operation in the late 1940s.

Justin and Charlotte painted the four-story tower matte black and sunk half of their renovation budget into reintroducing Crittall windows: During the war, the company had supplied its steel-framed designs to British military buildings, including the HMS Owl. Get the low-down on steel factory-style windows in Remodeling 101. Photograph by Peter Moore, Geograph

The recently installed kitchen—in what had been the officer’s mess—is far from new looking. In keeping with the exterior, the couple went with a crepuscular matte charcoal for the cabinets, left the storm-ravaged brick walls exposed, and kept signs of 21st-century life largely under wraps.">
Above: The recently installed kitchen—in what had been the officer’s mess—is far from new looking. In keeping with the exterior, the couple went with a crepuscular matte charcoal for the cabinets, left the storm-ravaged brick walls exposed, and kept signs of 21st-century life largely under wraps.

“Intrigued by the curiosity of the Owl and its severe structure, we were keen to design a kitchen that was in keeping with the spirit of the wartime control tower,” report the British Standard crew. That’s a classic Aga Cast-Iron Cooker in the center of the action. The bridge faucet is a Lefroy Brooks.

The kitchen is fitted with British Standard poplar-faced cupboards in Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black, offset by wood counters of 30-mm-thick (1.18-inch) iroko finished with teak oil.
Above: The kitchen is fitted with British Standard poplar-faced cupboards in Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black, offset by wood counters of 30-mm-thick (1.18-inch) iroko finished with teak oil.
The refrigerator is an under-the-counter Bosch (and there’s also a Fisher & Paykel full-size fridge in the adjacent utility room. (For ideas, see 10 Easy Pieces: The Best Under-Counter Refrigerator Drawers and 10 Easy Pieces: Compact Refrigerators.)

For a moodily cohesive effect, the couple extended the Off-Black to parts of the brick walls. For a moodily cohesive effect, the couple extended the Off-Black to parts of the brick walls.
Above: For a moodily cohesive effect, the couple extended the Off-Black to parts of the brick walls.
They gathered most of the furnishings at local auctions. The hanging factory lights, Justin tells us, are Czech and came out of a Bristol night club. For similar industrial lighting, see Reborn in the USA: Soviet Lighting from Fixt Electric.

Anglepoise Wall-Mounted Lamps, originally used by map readers at the tower, were installed to light the cabinets and counters.

Above: Anglepoise Wall-Mounted Lamps, originally used by map readers at the tower, were installed to light the cabinets and counters. The building was little more than a concrete and brick shell when the couple purchased it. They sealed the ceilings and floor, leaving them “as pitted and raw and full of history as the day we first visited.” Follow their journey on the British television series Restoration Man.

A vintage medicine cabinet serves as a liquor cupboard.

The four of us are collectors, and the nearby beaches are a place to find crazy bits and pieces, including bones,” says Justin; he thinks the vertebrae came from a sheep."> “The four of us are collectors, and the nearby beaches are a place to find crazy bits and pieces, including bones,” says Justin; he thinks the vertebrae came from a sheep.

Above: “The four of us are collectors, and the nearby beaches are a place to find crazy bits and pieces, including bones,” says Justin; he thinks the vertebrae came from a sheep.

The family is now living in the HMS Owl and they offer a room in the restored air control tower on Airbnb; follow @hmsowl. As for Justin, he now spends a few days a week working in London and points beyond: “We are pioneering the future, living in the wilderness and working in media.” Photograph by Charlotte Seddon.">

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Kitchen of the Week: A Noir Canteen in a Repurposed WWII Control Tower | Loungtastic