Structural Integrity

A spine of cabinetry connects the various spaces in our Best House Aotearoa 2022.

Structural Integrity

A spine of cabinetry connects the various spaces in our Best House Aotearoa 2022.

“I really didn’t want to introduce new materials specifically for the kitchen,” says designer Kristina Pickford of the approach she took in her home at Ōtama, the winner of our Best House Aotearoa 2022 award. “It had to feel like it flowed into the rest of the house, and that it wasn’t a standard kitchen in a defined material and space.”

The house, designed by Pac Studio’s Rory Kofoed, is long and thin, stretching across a falling piece of land, with different functions and spaces housed on different levels. “You kind of have to plan to the east-west axis,” says Kofoed, “and that was kind of the commanding view, so it was a logical position.” 

As a result, the house runs lightly down the hill, each room a few steps from the next. It’s a complex arrangement that easily could have become disjointed: instead, it’s connected by a spine of warm, honey-coloured eucalyptus-veneer cabinetry that runs the entire southern length of the house forming bookshelves, storage, kitchen cabinetry and thresholds to service pods at the rear of the house, as well as the front door. 

Visually, it both unifies and defines the house’s various spaces – and practically, it provides an enormous amount of storage in an open house. Throughout the living and sleeping areas, and even into the laundry and bathrooms, Blum Movento runners, with sides framed using the same eucalyptus veneer, provide maximum storage space and stability. 

In the kitchen the joinery feels at one with the rest of the house - but it is also deeply practical. A tall bank of cabinetry, featuring solid timber pull handles and integrated appliances, provides ample storage, including several shallow pantry cupboards above the stairs.


There’s a small cutout for the cooking area, set on its own stainless-steel workbench that sits proud of the cabinetry, sculptural curves on the corners in the event you bump into it. Here, there’s an induction hob and a single gas Pitt wok burner, with its knob integrated into the bench top. Extraction is set high into the cabinetry frame, and the cooking space is also defined by a window that looks right into the kitchen garden behind. 

Pickford was adamant that the kitchen island needed to be different to the spine, so instead it draws on Japanese farmhouse kitchens. Built from Lawsons cypress with a stone bench, it has a crafted feeling, more a piece of furniture than a piece of cabinetry – though it, too, features Blum Movento drawer runners with solid timber sides. 

Capping it all off is an antique Belgian chocolate table, which defined the width of the island and has created a casual, loose feeling.

This story was produced in association with our Here Awards sponsor Blum.

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