BIrish-born designer Christopher Peacock began his career in the early 1980s in Terence Conran’s London furniture store. He later moved across the pond and founded his eponymous Christopher Peacock Cabinetry in 1992. It all grew out of a kitchen show in a small shop in Greenwich, Connecticut, which led to a storied career.
Though his company makes all manner of furniture—from bathrooms and dressing rooms to mudrooms—Peacock is best known for pioneering many of the trends that are permeating kitchen design today.
This year marks Christopher Peacock’s 30th year in the design business and in this exclusive space paper town In the interview, he looks back, reflects on his accomplishments and looks ahead to what’s next.
As we spoke and reflected on the massive shift that has taken place not only in kitchen design but also in home design over the course of Peacock’s 30-year career, we both realized how these design changes have empowered women.
You see, large properties in Europe have always positioned their kitchens (sculleries) well out of sight. Servants were to remain behind the scenes – to such an extent that many houses even built separate corridors so servants never met family members or their guests. Like the necessary barn or stable, the kitchen space was a work area. Out of sight out of mind.
In fact, the Oxford definition of scullery is “a small kitchen or small room at the back of a house used for washing dishes and other dirty household chores”. And that’s the way it’s always been.
As homes were built in America, these age-old design cues lingered. Kitchens were closed off from the rest of the house. When America’s suburbs were rapidly populating in the 1950s, the kitchen was just an efficient place for a housewife to put dinner on the table and do the dishes. While the master of the house enjoyed pipe and slippers.
The so-called “women’s work” remained largely in the back room and in secret.
“When I started my career, kitchens were very utilitarian, with no beauty,” says Peacock paper town.
Of course, cooking and cleaning are no longer considered “women’s things” and the kitchen has become an integral part of the household. They are no longer hidden out of sight. Instead, open kitchens are the norm today.
“I’ve seen this change in lifestyle,” says Peacock. “Today, the kitchen is essentially a living room where we cook. Kitchens are the focal point of most homes today and often set the tone for the rest of the home’s design, not the other way around.
“Therefore they must be eternal and timeless.”
Peacock is credited for bringing a European edge and charm to previously dull American kitchen design. His cabinets touched on the builder’s basic suburban sensibility and introduced the “furniture look” to American kitchens. It was a style he grew up with, so it wasn’t new to him, but it proved to be a revelation for the industry.
“I grew up in England, surrounded by England,” says Peacock. “Most homes had a story, so naturally rooms and kitchens evolved, adding found furniture over time.
“It’s not something I can take credit for. It’s just what I knew. The kitchen is a workhorse of a room where people unload their groceries or their dishwasher, kids do their homework, and people entertain friends over a glass of wine.”
Researching how a space is used is part of discovering how it must function, Peacock believes. That’s why he and his team of designers pursue a holistic design approach.
“The process begins when I drive to the house and continues as you travel into space,” says Peacock. “When people come to us, they come with a vision of how they are going to live in this space.
“But we have to know how family actually lives in it. What happens there on a Saturday morning? And how is it used on a weekday? So if we leave, it just works for them.”
Peacock remembers a story from his early days. “One of my first installations was in Greenwich, and it set the tone for everything that came after,” he says. “I met a client who wasn’t known for being warm and fuzzy and I remember being so nervous about whether he would like what I had done that I was determined never to be like that again.” feel.
“I think that’s why I’ll always try to surpass myself with every design.”
In the wake of the pandemic, Peacock says he’s seen a steady rise in previous clients requesting minor updates to their 20-year-old kitchens he designed. Mostly a fresh coat of paint or updated hardware, but the designs and their functionality remain timeless and loved by homeowners.
“We don’t build cabinets that are meant to be thrown away,” says Peacock. “It’s meant to last a lifetime.”
Peacock’s kitchens mean beautifully handcrafted, British-inspired furniture. It’s all American Made – in the heart of West Virginia.
With currently 10 showrooms in America, Europe and Asia, Peacock still has plans to further expand its existing reach.
With North Texas experiencing massive growth, it’s no surprise that Peacock’s Dallas showroom goes quite well. While his next showroom is slated to open in Spring 2023 in Palm Beach, Fla., he also has Arizona (maybe Scottsdale) and Seattle in his sights as future outposts. Another showroom could be on the horizon in Texas, says Peacock paper town.
“I love Texas,” says Peacock. “People there are very well traveled, so it’s a demanding clientele.
“I did two projects in Fort Worth many years ago. It was during the Christmas season and I was so impressed with how much care and effort people put into displaying and decorating their homes. I knew it would be a good fit. So Fort Worth was actually the catalyst for entering the Texas market.”
Christopher Peacock sees the future
How did white kitchens become Christopher Peacock’s trademark?
When he opened his first showroom in Greenwich, Peacock said everything he saw and designed was pretty, but also highly decorated – and with a rich color palette. That was the saturated style in the 1980s and 1990s.
“When I moved into my apartment, I felt the need to buck this prevailing trend,” says Peacock. “So I put up an all-white kitchen with a white subway tile backsplash, and it just took off – it still takes off.
“White kitchens are timeless, fresh and clean. And they’re easy to update as they complement any decor. But the whites are on the retreat.”
As far as color goes, we might see a similar reaction to the all-white kitchens starting to catch on. Instead of using all white, or even newer designs with four or five coordinating colors, Peacock is noticing a bit of a shift.
“The chic monochromatic look is coming,” he says. “Kitchens with often surprising hues like charcoal gray or even bolder emerald green are the next steps. All one shade.”
In addition, wood tones are making a comeback.
“We’re doing more and more where wood cabinets are the dominant material,” says Peacock. “Light woods are still popular – like walnut and oak. But I think the next big trend is really a style break. Elegant cabinets with more traditional moldings. Antique hardwood floors paired with clean closets. It will be a mix of styles.”
Whatever the style trend, Christopher Peacock seems to be one step ahead. He enters his fourth decade as a designer with as much passion as ever. That’s why homeowners and designers alike are following the leader.