Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get That Look: Downton Abbey - The Kitchen



I thought the return of Downton Abbey on PBS was a good opportunity to resurrect the long running Get That Look series on my blog. I thought we'd start with the most important room in the house (both then and now) - the kitchen.

The entire series was shot on location at Highclere Castle in England, with the exception of the kitchens and below-stairs rooms as they are no longer in service. These spaces were re-created on a sound stage and I do think they did a great job of capturing these bustling work spaces.

Kitchen Maid Daisy, Cook Mrs. Patmore teach youngest daughter Lady Sybil how to cook in preparation for nurses training to support the WW1 war effort. Note the clean white and black tile on the rear wall of the stove with gleaming copper pots keeping warm.

Electric lighting only comes below stairs in Season 2, so the show lighting is naturally quite dim. Between that and the fact that the kitchen was often bustling with activity, there aren't too many good shots of the kitchen set. These pictures above and below were shot on set by two BBC "reporters" who dressed up in period garb to interview some of the cast. These are actually the best, most well lit photos I've seen of the kitchen. Above is hot chauffeur Branson, BBC reporter, head lady's maid Miss O'Brien (looking much nicer here than when in character!) and kitchen maid Daisy.


This is a great shot of the work table and cabinetry behind. Note the new electric lighting suspended above the work area. Prior to the electrification of downstairs, they would have made do with gas light and natural light from large kitchen windows.

Great detail shot of period appropriate products and the ever necessary Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management.

Note the large window in the above and below photos, not to mention the depth of the walls. These shots show lots of kitchen utensils and the gorgeous copper!


The architecture of the windows enhances the natural lighting, which was all important in the kitchens of the day.



From Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1915 edition. I'd say the set decorator's of Downton Abbey have got it right.

I've always had a fondness for "scullery" looking kitchens with big work surfaces, natural lighting and a used look. This image above is one of my all time favorites which I pulled from a magazine many years ago but have lost the source information.

My love of copper in kitchens goes back to a trip to France and a visit to the Chateau de Chenonceau - the kitchens were amazing. (note the curved ceiling!)


These were my main inspirations when I did this condo kitchen makeover a couple of years ago.


(Photo by Michael J. Lee, courtesy of Country Woman magazine)


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Additional links for Downton Abbey: Kitchen


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