Throughout my career whatever job I was doing I always had a reputation for ‘getting stuff done’. And as an interior designer I continue to focus on doing things right, doing them on time, and always on or under budget. I am also a tad competitive (possibly the worlds greatest understatement…) So when the owner of the John Dalton Building in Cockermouth set me the challenge of turning one of their new apartments into a show home in just 4 weeks I set myself the goal of doing it in 3, and I did. So who is up for an exclusive sneak preview before open house this weekend? Continue reading
I thought I was never going to be able to show you my new outdoor kitchen what with all this crappy weather. Technically there was nothing stopping me from showing you, but bare furniture, BBQ covers and a tarp over the pizza oven just ain’t that photogenic. But yesterday the sun poked its head out and looked like it might hang around so I did my best headless chicken impression and spent an hour dressing it up real pretty, while praying the rain would hold off just long enough for me to get a few decent pics. Which I did, just keep your eyes off the deck and ignore any leaves, muddy dog prints and chicken poo. There’s only so much I can edit out.
The Outdoor Kitchen Project
When we bought Holly Cottage in 2010 this is what this section of the garden looked like.
Phase I – The Summerhouse
After a few failed Percy Thrower style gardening attempts I realised that it was never going to be more than a dark boggy area where nothing would grow. But on the plus side you get a great view of the fells from there so I just built a summerhouse on it.
This also gave me the opportunity to give Mr W the bar I’d been promising him since we bought the house, especially since I’d turned the original planned location for said bar into a wetroom….
Now Mr W is retired and we both live in Cumbria we eat dinner together almost every night, and despite what you think about Cumbrian weather we do manage to eat outside quite a lot. Which is what led me to thinking about an outdoor kitchen. Originally it was going to be a simple cooking area on the patio behind the house with a pizza oven and space for BBQ’s. But then I had ‘duh’ moment, you know when you realise how dumb you’re being. I design internal kitchen, living, dining spaces for customers all the time, why not extend the deck outside the summerhouse and have all of this in my garden?
Phase II – The Outdoor Kitchen
So this was the extent of the deck before.
….and this is it now
I did spend ages looking at gorgeous outdoor tiles and synthetic decking, but my budget just wouldn’t go there so traditional decking it was.
Now I don’t know about you but when we eat outside it always involves half a dozen trips back to the kitchen for things we’ve forgotten. So when I started planning this I just asked myself what I would have in a regular kitchen.
So we have an oven and two BBQ’s which means we can bake, roast, fry or grill pretty much anything. My step-daughters partner baked a mean dessert for us recently made from croissants, custard and cream. Bloody delicious. Email me if you want the recipe.
The supplier of the pizza oven also supplied a stand for it. But it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the stand shown on their website and was quite frankly a piece of junk (I’m still trying to get my money back). So in collaboration with the landscapers Coombe & Sharpe we came up with a chunky rustic style stand made from sleepers.
A kitchen needs a sink and I found a huge Belfast sink in my local reclamation yard. It was very stained so I just tarted it up with a couple of coats of tile paint. The landscapers built me a stand to match the pizza oven stand, and Mr W added the tile splashback for me.
The tap is fed from a water butt that collects rainwater from the roof, and drains into a ditch in the field behind the garden. We can’t drink the water but to be honest the sinks main purpose is to be a massive ice bucket for parties as we only have a small fridge in the summerhouse. But I can rinse stuff under the tap and water my plants using it so it has a few other uses.
I probably put more thought into the fence than anything else. I wanted this to be an extension of the summerhouse structure, so the slats needed to be horizontal not vertical, and the same width as the horizontal planks that the summerhouse is made of so that it flowed. I also wanted gaps between the slats so I could hang stuff on it, and to let light through and glimpses of the greenery behind, while giving some protection against the rain but letting the wind through so it wouldn’t blow down. I won’t be painting the fence, I want it to weather so that it looks like silver birch. I wish I’d done that with the summerhouse and the original deck but hey ho you learn.
More importantly the fence is my kitchen cupboards and shelves with storage and containers for utensils, cutlery, plates, condiments and herbs.
Hell there’s even a magnetic knife rack.No more traipsing back to the kitchen for the bread knife just as you’re about to serve up the hot dogs…..
You can’t beat IKEA for kitchen paraphernalia. It’s all steel so it shouldn’t rust, but if it does it’s easily and cheaply replaced.
Just before I left London I was walking through the Kings Cross area on my way to an appointment when I came across this table on the pavement outside an office building next to a pile of rubbish bags. Long story short it was outside the Diesel HQ and this was an ex display table they were scrapping. A few smiles and a promise to return the next day with a vehicle and suddenly I was the owner of one very cool industrial style table. A bit of Hammerite and some outdoor varnish and voila one kitchen counter, or island since it can be moved.
I already had an outdoor dining table so I just moved this up to the deck in true open plan style so nobody has to leave the party to check on dinner.
If it’s just the two of us there are also a couple of adirondack chairs for me and Mr W to have pre-dinner drinks. Above these is possibly my favourite thing in the outdoor kitchen – the huge industrial style outdoor mirror made specially for me by the lovely and very talented Ursh of Refunk’d. I love the way it reflects the garden so that it looks like a window.
Obviously the sun is the main light source in an outdoor kitchen but this is a 24hr kitchen so we also have wall lights along the fence and the front of the summer house. There are deck lights all the way round the perimeter and on every step to prevent nocturnal accidents…. and these beautiful fairground lights which give off a surprising amount of light. I also have an abundance of candle lanterns.
Soft furnishings are what really makes an outdoor space look inviting, and in this part of the world you need a plentiful supply of throws and blankets if you want to use your space after the sun’s gone down. I also have a fire pit and a chimnea which we bring up onto the deck when it’s really chilly.
I’m still humming and haa’ing over outdoor rugs. I obviously want them but not sure how practical they are when I’ve got chickens and two dogs, and its where to store them when I’m not using them?? I do think the ‘living room’ looks a little bare without one though……
And this was the reason I bought Holly Cottage – the view.
So what do you think, did I miss anything?
As an interior designer I believe the relationships we have with our homes are no different to the relationships we have with our partners in some respects. They are rarely perfect, and always involve compromise. At Holly Cottage I traded lack of natural light for space, character and garden. Obviously Mr W is perfect…..as well as a reader of my blog *slaps leg and chuckles at her own wit*
And like our personal relationships, sometimes we neglect them. We get complacent. Treats don’t need to be expensive but we stop making an effort. And if this goes on for too long we forget what we fell in love with and start noticing every flaw. And sadly in both cases this can lead us to Rightmove.
The role of the Interior Designer
An interior designer wears many hats, a fellow interior designer once referred to us as ‘project managers and problem solvers with taste’ which about sums it up. But what a good interior designer can also do is make you fall in love with your home again. We’re like new buyers when we walk into your homes, but the kind that can see potential. That fresh pair of eyes and the ability to see what could be achieved is worth its weight in gold. Mr W would never have bought Holly Cottage if I hadn’t a hissy fit. I know, so unlike me….
And just to blow my own trumpet for a second, I am told I have a hugely infectious positive can-do attitude. You see gloomy 1980’s kitchen….
I see the smart modern shaker style kitchen you’ve dreamed about with space for the downstairs loo you’ve always wanted.
I’m a whirlwind of positive energy that will practically force you to fall in love with your home again. Remember that poky dark guest bedroom you had?
A distant memory since I turned it into a second sitting room overlooking the fields behind your house, with a sofa bed for guests and a new dressing area for you.
If I had a theme tune it would be Take That’s ‘Re-light my fire’. You complain about lack of wardrobe space in your bedroom and can’t see a solution that doesn’t involve swapping your marital kingsize bed for bunk beds…
I suggest we steal 60cm from the room next door and double your hanging space and save your marriage. You see unsurmountable problems. I show you the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I bought Holly Cottage the kitchen lacked storage and worktop space and had this huge void in the centre of the room.
So I built out the chimney breast and knocked a hole in it big enough for a new range cooker and added an island. Well I didn’t personally but you know what I mean.
You see a reason to move.
I show you why you should stay. I’m like Viagra for the house.
Got time for a couple more before and afters?
Go on, one more since you asked so nicely..
So if you’ve fallen out of love with your home and can’t see any way of getting it back don’t despair, get in touch and I’ll help you put the fire back into your relationship.
Amelia Wilson, Interior Designer and Passion Reigniter!
If we were playing Family Fortunes this would be the top four answers to the question Why do people procrastinate about changing their bathrooms and kitchens?
- Too much choice
But imagine if you could have someone do ALL the research, AND make all the decisions, AND deal with all the trades, how amazing would that be? Well you can. Employ me and you eliminate answers 3 and 4, which is why one of my customers called me last year and told me he wanted to do both his bathroom and kitchen before Christmas. Last week I showed you his new bathroom and today I’m going to show you his new kitchen. But not without showing you some before pics first……
The diabolically dated kitchen
So this kitchen had everything and none of it good – dated kitchen units, broken appliances, missing tiles, fusty carpet, bad lighting, and tired decor.
It also had some old fire damage, and damp walls caused by bad rendering outside and a leaking stop tap behind one of the cupboards. And if that wasn’t enough, when we ripped out the kitchen we found that the previous owners had concreted the middle of the floor but not under the units where we had old loose tiles on a dirt floor. In some old Victorian terraces they didn’t grout or seal the floor tiles so that any water could just drain into the ground…..and you wonder why pleurisy was so common.
The customer wanted a light, modern kitchen, but like the bathroom I had a limited budget to work with so this needed to be an affordable kitchen transformation. We had quite a few practical issues to deal with before we could fit a new kitchen. So to minimise costs we agreed the layout would stay the same and the washing machine and the fridge freezer would stay. We also agreed we would take advantage of the partnership I have with Cockermouth Kitchen Co.
Cockermouth Kitchen Co
I’m an independent interior designer and can work with any kitchen supplier I choose to, but I do have a partnership with Cockermouth Kitchen Co which we formed a year ago. I did this for a number of reasons:
- I like the style and quality of the kitchens and other products they supply
- They can offer affordable, mid-range and high end kitchens and their pricing is right
- They use the same great quality carcasses in all their kitchens available in a million colours and finishes
- They have really excellent fitters
- They’re a great team – and good relationships are important when your customers are spending a lot of money on a new kitchen
I can still work with other suppliers and shop around, but if a customer buys their kitchen from CKC they will refund the customer my design fee.
It’s a partnership that works for everyone. The customer gets a great product and a good deal. I get to work regularly with a trusted supplier who I have a strong relationship with (so I can call on favours when I need to). It works for CKC because I introduce customers to them and take some of the work away from them. Win win win. CKC also employed me to design their huge new showroom so I have somewhere to take customers to show them what they can expect when they work with CKC.
So without any further wittering from me, here it is, the affordable kitchen transformation.
The Affordable Kitchen Transformation
We chose a simple white gloss kitchen from the Porter range by PWS.
Quartz and granite worktops might be hardwearing and provide the greatest protection against scratches and stains but if you don’t have the budget you don’t have the budget and there are some very good quality laminates available now for a fraction of the cost. We chose a dark grey slate effect laminate worktop by Durapol.
Surprisingly one of the things that can rack up the cost when you buy a kitchen is the end panels that get fitted at the end of any run of cupboards, which you normally purchase to match the doors. The way to avoid this cost is to pick a carcass colour and finish that closely matches the doors so you don’t need to add the panels.
We installed new integrated appliances, including an oven, microwave, hob, hood and a slimline dishwasher.
We picked simple stainless steel handles and a sink with drainer and mixer tap in the same finish.
We improved the lighting by adding new ceiling spots and under cupboard lights and used simple pale grey metro tiles as splashback.
The walls are painted one of my favourite grey colours – Chic Shadow by Dulux. And the floor is a very affordable but hard wearing sheet vinyl from the Gripstar range by Tarkett.
I think the thing I was happiest to see go is those ugly vertical blinds, which we replaced with simple roller blinds from one of my favourite online suppliers Blinds2Go. In case you’re wondering why the blind is shut the wall outside needs painting and I didn’t want it to distract you from the shiny new kitchen.
A new kettle and toaster and a few matching accessories and we were done.
The average cost of a new kitchen used to be £15,000. But since the UK voted to leave the EU there have been price increases, even from UK suppliers. Because they have to source some materials from outside the UK I suspect this will raise the average by 10-20%. So I am very proud to tell you that even after all the additional plumbing, electrics, plastering and flooring work the final cost will be less than half the average.
Shockingly good value don’t you think? So if you’ve been thinking you can’t afford a new kitchen hopefully this has given you a few ideas as to how you could. And if you’re a local give me a call I’d love to help you.
Ready for the final instalment of Eleven Beautiful Kitchens? Well I say final, as soon as we’ve fitted the things that didn’t arrive on time I’ll be getting the professional photographer in and you won’t be able to stop me showing you a bunch more pics – sorry.
If you missed parts one and two you can catch up here and here. So, three to go and I’ve saved the stunner until last. No, don’t scroll down to the bottom, be polite and at least skim through the others.
Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – The Final Instalment
9. The Budget But Beautiful Kitchen
Not everyone has a big budget for a new kitchen so we have both affordable and high end kitchens in the showroom. But a low budget doesn’t mean poor quality or plain which is demonstrated in this kitchen which has simple Bardolino grey oak floor cupboards and worktop, which gives a seamless finish, with white oak effect wall cupboards. I forgot to take a pic but the lower cupboard carcasses are also Bardolino grey oak which looks really neat. The sink and all the appliances are white, including the hood which will be changed next week when the traditional style chimney extractor which was supposed to be there arrives *frowns and takes a deep breath*. The walls are tiled with simple white metro tiles but with black grout to give it a contemporary look. The drawer handles, cupboard knobs and the tap are chrome and white ceramic. The overall look being a modern take on a traditional kitchen.
10. The Marilyn Monroe Kitchen
I’ve named this kitchen after the late screen goddess because like Marilyn it’s bold with great curves, and it’s real name is Milton which isn’t half as sexy. This is actually the same colour as my own kitchen at home and we included these colours in the showroom because its so striking and it’s been in a magazine you know *smiles and nods proudly*. The doors have been colour matched to Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Clunch and look great with the black granite worktop between. The granite has a matt dimpled finish which I prefer to the polished sparkly granites you usually see in kitchens. Ever since we fitted this kitchen people have been doing a double take when they walk past the showroom and coming back for a proper look. We included this door style so that we could show off the great curved doors, and I picked the Moroccan style tiles to mirror those curves. There are supposed to be open oak shelves above the sink and more of those lovely tiles but we just ran out of time….
11. The BEAUTIFUL Kitchen
OK, so this is the kitchen that got the most votes at the weekend and I won’t lie it’s not cheap. If you’ve a reasonable sized kitchen expect to pay £20-25k for one of these, but it would last you a lifetime and give all your friends serious kitchen envy. It’s from the 1909 range by PWS and it is gorgeous. When I originally planned this kitchen it was going to be charcoal and light grey, but then I visited the PWS showroom in Durham and fell in love with Moleskin which is the colour on the floor cupboards and island – if you can’t see the colour in the pics imagine a really good malbec. It makes the veining in the marble effect silestone look purple too which was a pleasant surprise. This kitchen is packed with features; a huge larder with pull out storage, a curved apron front Belfast sink, a mantelpiece with built in cupboards, bookcases flanking the island, champagne and herb troughs in the island and a cloakroom feature. I was concerned that it might look a little stark with the light grey wall cupboards, white wall tiles and marbled worktop so I had the area around the stainless steel range tiled with black batik tiles from Topps which really stand out and look fabulous when you look between the two enormous pendant lights. There were supposed to be three pendants but one arrived broken, and on reflection I actually prefer it with two now. So take a look…..
So that’s all eleven beautiful kitchens. We also built two sales areas and a new reception area, but I’ll show you those when I have the pro’s pics.
This has been my biggest commercial project and I have thoroughly enjoyed it from start to (almost) finish. There have been times when I’ve wanted to kill someone. Others have also come close to killing me with my ‘diva designer demands’. My reaction to the wrong white hood in the budget kitchen not being my finest moment….But the comments from the owners, the suppliers, the team I’ve been working with and the customers has been worth it. Here are a few of my favourites:
It doesn’t feel like a kitchen showroom, it feels like a home”
“I wasn’t planning to change my kitchen for a while yet but your showroom has inspired me to start the process now and I’d like your help”
I was going to buy a new car in 2017 but after seeing your showroom I’ve decided to buy a new kitchen instead”
Now how’s that for positive feedback. Keep checking back for pics of the things that didn’t make the grand re-opening….and if you’ve got a mo let me know which was your favourite.
Ready for some more beautiful kitchens? If you missed yesterday, just pop back here to catch up and then come join us. In the meantime I’m going to apologise again for some of the pics, I’m an interior designer not a professional photographer. The pro will do it justice in a couple of weeks but I just couldn’t wait to show you these beautiful kitchens.
Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part II
5. The Man Kitchen
I named this one on Sunday after yet another fella in the showroom homed in and said it was the one for them because it was ‘manly’. There were female fans too but it was definitely a fave among the fellas, and not just because of the colour scheme, they also liked the pull out larders and the tambour unit with black glass door. If you’re not familiar with a tambour unit it’s basically a cupboard with internal plug sockets and a glass shutter door for people who don’t like having their kettle and toaster on display – apparently big with the fellas. Anyway my intent with the design was to show customers that you can have a natural wood kitchen without it looking old fashioned. The solid wood handleless doors look great against the black laminate worktop and wall panels. Even the sink is black. I particularly like how the grooves used to open the doors are lined to match the worktop.
I also wanted to show how you can lower the breakfast bar to dining chair level which makes it better for small children or vertically challenged people like me who don’t like to have their legs swinging. The Germans love to integrate everything and this kitchen has a very handy rail system below the wall cupboards with a range of fittings available including a knife block, utensil rack and shelves for storage pots or herbs.
The overall look feels a bit Japanese to me hence the faux bonsai trees. We also got a few enquiries about the shelf lights, which were a Homesense find so I’ll need to source something similar that we can offer customers. There should have been a square black ceiling mounted extractor but this was another late delivery….
6. The Corpse Green Kitchen
The colour of this kitchen is actually Copse Green but one of the fitters kept calling it Corpse Green, which might be accurate but doesn’t really sell it. When I was doing research for the showroom displays I came across a picture of a dark green kitchen on Houzz with a white worktop and black accessories which looked fab, and there’s nowt wrong with a little plagiarism in the pursuit of beautiful kitchens is there. This has some great pull out storage in the larder and in the corner unit. If you’re wondering why there is a pendant light hanging over dead space at the end of the counter check back in a couple of weeks and I’ll show you the raised breakfast bar that didn’t make it on time *scowls*, and the white glass splashback, also on its way…..
7. The Modern Cumbrian Kitchen
Steve is the CKC tiler and the split face tiles on this kitchen nearly ended our friendship. They aren’t practical in a kitchen, particularly not as a splashback, they’re not easy to fit and they’re not cheap. But god don’t they look lovely? This kitchen design is all about lines. The straight lines in the run of cupboards with high gloss handleless doors and the long in-line hob, the sharp lines of the wide rectangular extractor, and the horizontal lines in the impractical but beautiful split face tiles. The in-line hob is basically 4 cooking zones in a straight line. If you fit it at the back of your counter instead of centrally it gives you extra prep area in front of your hob and also means you don’t have pan handles hanging over your counter – a rather nice safety feature.
Cumbria is a very rural county with a lot of period properties and homeowners here often feel they need to have a traditional kitchen. So I also wanted to show that you can combine an uber modern glossy kitchen with more traditional elements like natural stone or stone effect features, in this case the wall tiles and the slate effect silestone worktop.
8. The Loft Apartment Kitchen
Now this is my favourite kitchen. I love rooms which feature raw materials in their decor, particularly loft or warehouse apartments with exposed brickwork, wood floors and steel girders. So in this kitchen I included wood, brick, metal and leather and it was hugely popular at the weekend because despite the steel features it looks so warm and inviting. People kept asking me if the walls were clad in actual bricks because the tiles which are from Topps look so realistic. The leather door handles were a little like marmite – you either loved them or hated them, but the point was to show people something they might not have seen before. Personally I love them, but then I also love marmite. We also wanted to show people that if you have a narrow galley kitchen you don’t need to have full depth floor cupboards on both sides, you can use wall cupboards on the floor one one side so that you can have storage and floor space.
So what do you think of these? Found a favourite yet? Three more to come and I’ve saved the best one until last…..
If you’re not already sat down then I suggest you take a seat PDQ because I’m about to show you some seriously beautiful kitchens. It’s been nine months since Cockermouth Kitchen Co was flooded (for the second time sadly…) but their new showroom is finally open and I couldn’t be prouder of what the team has achieved. As the designer I’ve been visualising this for months but it has still exceeded my expectations, and the owners. It flows, there’s space, light, colour, detail and personal touches…..but enough gushing, lets show you lovely people some beautiful kitchens, not all at once mind, it’s way too much to take in at one sitting.
Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part I
1. The Great British Kitchen
This kitchen was actually made in Germany by Schuller but the red, white and blue feels very patriotic hence the name. We had chefs cooking in here over the weekend as part of the Taste Cumbria food festival in Cockermouth and as the display is in the window it was all a bit Saturday Kitchen. It has a high gloss handleless design with a single run of dark blue cabinets behind a huge white island. Most of the appliances are wall mounted so they are easily accessed and cleaned and the ovens have slide and hide doors which I love. We did order a white ceramic hob for the island but we needed to fit a temporary black 13 amp one for the weekend cooking demo’s… *tuts like a diva*. The worktop is white silestone and includes a moulded silestone sink and a very fancy (i.e. expensive) white mixer tap with pull aerator and light which changes colour depending on the temperature of the water. Completely frivolous but very cool. Although I love the contrast between the indigo blue and white I thought the red accents would perk it up a bit. Please try and ignore the fact that our neighbours across the street are having a sale. At least their sign matches…
Not lots of pics I’m afraid as its really really hard to photograph such a glossy kitchen, so you’ll need to wait till the pro does his magic next month.
2. The Retro Kitchen
The owners were
really not happy very sceptical when I told them I was putting a brown and yellow kitchen in their new showroom. To be honest this colour combo usually reminds me of the nylon and knitwear outfits me and my poor sister used to wear in the 70’s so I surprised myself with this design. This is also a Schuller kitchen and the two things I wanted to show in this display were the slab door with unusual moulded edges and the integrated door handles. I picked a brown worktop and sink to match the doors to keep the look simple – there’s enough going on with those yellow doors right? The worktop has a matt marbled finish and is from the Dekton silestone range by Cosentino, and the Cristadur top mounted sink is by Schock. I think its the Ochre Catania tiles from Topps that really finish it off though, oh and my faux lemons of course. Please ignore the chimney extractor, this was a last minute addition when we realised the proper one hadn’t been ordered….
3. The Shaker Meets Industrial Kitchen
This is the third out of five Schuller kitchens we are displaying and I wanted to show that shaker style doesn’t have to mean traditional so I added a polished steel effect silestone worktop, industrial tiling, reclaimed wood lights and vintage swivel stools. I love the huge wrap around breakfast bar and round cupboard at the end. It also features my two favourite appliances, a dual temperature wine fridge for lovers of red and white wine (is there anyone that doesn’t love both?), and a 90cm wide two drawer fridge which I have at home. I can’t show you a pic of the fridge in action as it didn’t arrive on time so the doors are just hiding a hole right now…
4. The Late Bloomer Kitchen
I call it this because nobody in the team was loving this plain mid-grey slab door kitchen when it got fitted. And they didn’t love the polished copper handles when they arrived, “cheap looking” being the phrase most used (how very dare they). But when we fitted those handles they started to take notice. Then we added the polished copper tap, geometric tiles and copper accessories and bam! suddenly they got it. This is now a kitchen with impact. It also has a sleek Corian worktop with moulded Corian sink which is rather lovely.
So that’s all you’re getting for now, more to follow this week. I’d love to know if you have a favourite so far?
If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you’ll know I do a lot of work with Cockermouth Kitchen Company (aka CKC) and have designed their new showroom which is due to open in September *jigs about excitedly*. Getting the layout right was probably the biggest challenge. The main showroom is a massive 175 square metres but we needed to accommodate kitchens, customer service desks, displays for door samples, worktops, taps, handles and brochures, oh and some space for actually walking around….We also needed to use some of the space for the back office which will straddle the main showroom and the rear showroom – another whopping 100 square metres currently earmarked for bathroom and bedroom displays. It doesn’t look much from the street but it’s like the Tardis inside and I’m about to turn it into a retail space to rival IKEA.
Spatial planning is so important in retail as you’re never short of product to display and suppliers are vying to get their goods on show, but the space needs to flow and feel bright, clear and uninterrupted. After much hair pulling (and not just mine) I got there and the new showroom will have 11 complete kitchens, 2 customer service desks and plenty of room for samples.
headache challenge was designing the kitchen displays. Now I could have filled it with the top sellers but then it would basically be a white and grey showroom, not exactly gonna to draw the crowds in… But if you go the other way, i.e. multi-coloured mayhem, customers won’t trust you to deliver their dream kitchen. So there has to be balance. Give the displays in the window a little WOW to get them to look up from their smartphones and into the window, then once you’ve lured them inside show them something they’ll like but tempt them with a few other ideas. And it’s all about the complete picture. I go in some showrooms and their kitchens are so badly dressed its criminal. You know what I’m talking about, no lights or tiles, just the obligatory bottle of olive oil next to the hob, a jar of dried pasta and a set of cheap tea, coffee and sugar canisters. Inspiring? No.
This is the image that made me buy my own kitchen from CKC. It’s from the 1909 range that they offer and I just thought, if they can deliver this then I’m in.
Of course my own kitchen looks very little like this as I then got my interior design head on and started
racking up a huge bill incorporating features I’ve always wanted. Click the pic to read more on this.
The average kitchen costs £15k so its a big investment, and why most peoples kitchens are at least 10 years old. But the great thing about kitchens is that you can design a very simple kitchen that won’t date, and then style it with tiles, lighting, seating or accessories that are more easily changed when the time comes for a new look. Coming up with all that for the 11 new kitchens was a lot of fun.
“So what’s it all going to look like” I hear you shout (in my dreams..) All in good time my friends, all in good time. But here’s a sneak preview of some of the things you can expect to see on opening day.
So that’s enough teasers for now. It’s been a fabulous project. I’ve wanted to kill a few people along the way for omitting to tell me I can’t have certain items when I’ve designed the whole bloody kitchen round said items (you know who you are….). And not having the same floor space as IKEA I couldn’t have everything I wanted. And I keep seeing new things I want which is very frustrating. I saw this idea the other day, a splashblack and breakfast bar made from a quartz that has translucent patches that allow the light from LED’s behind and below to filter through. Bloody genius. *scowls furiously for not being clever enough to have thought of this, and no room in the showroom for it now*
So the countdown to opening day has started. Keep checking back for updates.
Sorry it’s been a few weeks since my last post but I’ve got that rather nice problem of lots of work right now. I’ve got a few projects in implementation, including The Swan Inn, which is really starting to take shape. I’ve been pillaging the local charity shops for accessories and dragged Mr W in there last night so he can see work in progress. Well I say dragged…. It was quite entertaining actually, I was like a mystery shopper quizzing all the regulars about what they thought of the changes without telling them I was the designer. Thankfully feedback was good or it
might would have ruined my night.. us designers are sensitive about our work you know.
I’ve also got three new design jobs on including a Victorian terrace, a Georgian farm cottage and an already very elegant stone townhouse. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy I’m taking a stand at the Lakes Hospitality Association trade show next week. To say the plan for my stand is ambitious is an understatement. It’s been like the Great Interior Design challenge at Holly Cottage, what with me making lampshades and hunting for accessories on eBay (including the fabulous hostess trolley below). Mr W has been painting furniture, papering plywood boards and fixing picture frames all week. Not sure what I’d have done if he hadn’t
become my house husband retired.
We also had some friends stay last week who were on route to Black Sail youth hostel (possibly the most isolated hostel in the country, but great walking and spectacular views). One of them has been running an amusing series of posts on Facebook entitled ‘Kitchen Mysteries’.
Kitchen Mystery No 1 – Tupperware
Why can you never find the matching lid for the plastic container you want to use? (Check out how organised she is tho, you open my tupperware cupboard and everything falls out).
Kitchen Mystery No. 2 – Herbs & Spices
Why is it that you can have a cupboard full of herbs and spices but never the ones you need for the recipe you want to cook? (Again, very organised, but she did used to work for Ikea and I think they make you take a course on storage).
This week I offer up my contribution, a problem that almost drove me crazy this month when I was working on a new kitchen design.
Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools
Why are retailers still selling ugly kitchen stools that belong in the 1980’s, without even pretending they’re retro?
Seriously, google kitchen stools and see the monstrosities that pop up. Like these. Yikes.
The Kitchen Stool Challenge
The biggest problem I have when I’m designing kitchens and looking for seating is height. There are lots of lovely bar stools on the market, probably because the designers of bar stools understand that there are bar owners that care about aesthetics. But I’ll be honest I’m not quite sure what some kitchen stool designers are thinking. Or maybe I’m just rubbish at my job and can’t find all the nice ones. But anyway, back to height. The difference if you’re wondering is about 10-15cm. If your breakfast bar is the same height as your kitchen worktops then you need a seat height of around 65cm for your kitchen stools, whereas bar stools tend to be 75-80cm. Fascinating eh?
Now you can raise your breakfast bar, which is what our American friends tend to do.
Then you could have these babies by Zeitraum. Well you could if £579 per stool isn’t an issue.
You can also lower the counter and use dining chairs. Personally I’m not a fan as it always feels a little like I’m sitting at the kiddy table.
But these two tone dining chairs from Design Icons would look fabulous, and they come in red, taupe, nougat, mustard, sky blue, black and white so you can mix ’em up if you like. Currently in sale for £137.70 each so a little more affordable than the bar stools above.
So what I have I managed to find for you lovely people that just want a regular counter level breakfast bar? Well thank you for asking, I’ll show you.
First up these lovely wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on Clippings.com. You have a choice of black, white, grey, blue or red. Lovely as they are though, at £270 each they’re not going to be in everyones budget. They also come as a bar stool or a dining chair so very versatile. If I could afford them I think I’d need to add a seat pad. I don’t want to think about the amount of my bum that would poke through the gaps…..
Adjustable seats are very handy if like me you’re a short arse. And if you like the industrial look then these from Industville are great quality and at £99 very affordable. I put one of them in the kitchen showroom I designed recently and they’ve been very popular.
If you need a bit of cushioning what about these glam girls? Available in black or white leather, and in two heights. They’re not cheap at $375 (£260 to us Brits) from One Kings Lane. Unfortunately they don’t ship outside the US but there are some suggested shipping companies on their website. Would look great if you’re going for the luxe look in your kitchen or if you had a retro bar.
I’m starting to wish I’d bought something with a backrest for my own kitchen though. I’m too old these days to perch on a stool that doesn’t have lumbar support. So I’m thinking about these beauties made by District Eight Design in Vietnam and available through outandoutoriginal.com. Just don’t tell Mr W as he thinks the kitchen is finished. When will he realise that your home is NEVER finished when you live with an interior designer?
When I was styling the showroom for Cockermouth Kitchens I bought a couple of these moulded plastic chairs from Cult Furniture. They come in 12 different colours (shown here in olive) and a choice of leg finishes. They are soooo comfortable and only £89 each.
So this is what ended up on the mood board for the kitchen I just finished. The homeowner wanted affordable, adjustable, cushioned, easy to clean and with a backrest. So they might not be your cup of tea but they met the brief (£99 for two BTW) and the customer loved them. Personally I’m not a fan of stools with a gas lift mechanism but I do like the leather and curves on these. A little Charles Eames-esque
So logging off now. I’ve got lists to make for the show this week. Can’t get half way down the motorway and realise I’ve forgotten the electric screwdriver or the pasting table…..
P.S I nearly called this post Stool Samples which had me sniggering for ages, but
Mr W the professional part of me wouldn’t allow it.
For those of you patient enough to endure my waffle about interiors…..and occasionally chickens and Mr W, you will have seen last weeks post 2016 Interior Design Trends, and be up to speed on my plan to share my pick of the interior design trends the big guns in interiors are predicting for 2016, along with a few of my own ideas and comments. So its week 2, and as I’m right into kitchens at the moment thanks to my partnership with Cockermouth Kitchens I thought I’d make this Kitchens week.
Before I get stuck in, there is a general theme at the moment that applies to both kitchens and bathrooms, which is to design these rooms to look more like living spaces. It’s easier to achieve if you’re lucky enough to have an open plan space that can incorporate dining and lounging areas. But it’s still possible to create a homely feel in a more compact kitchen by adding warm colours, soft furnishings, open shelving, feature lighting, artwork and decorative accessories. I particularly like it when I see old Persian style rugs on kitchen floors like these below.
1. Open Plan Kitchens & Larger Islands
So first on my top ten list – open plan layouts, which for obvious reasons continue to be popular They increase light and space, give you multi-functional areas and keep the family closer together (though some may see this as a negative….). Add an island and hey presto extra storage space, but if you have room you can really sweat your asset by adding a sink or hob, a food prep area and seating. Our chums across the pond are calling this a ‘workhorse’ island. The one below even has his and her sinks. Sounds like two places for Mr W to dump dirt dishes if you ask me…..
2. Contrasting Cabinets
Now number 2 isn’t a new trend, t’s just one that’s getting bolder with different finishes now being used not just contrasting colours. I would keep the upper cabinets lighter and play around with texture and darker colours on the lower cabinets for the best effects. My own kitchen is a combination of ivory (Farrow & Ball Ringwood Ground) and deep red (Farrow & Ball Rectory Red) and I love this combination of burnt orange and grainy brown.
3. Porcelain Worktops
I may not be getting any slimmer but worktops are. If you’re a fan of the minimalist look, porcelain worktops are now available as skinny as 3mm, and in a range of colours and finishes including wood, stone, marble and metal effects. They are also more heat, flame and stain resistant than other products on the market which is good news for foodies and red wine drinkers like me.
4. Deep kitchen drawers
According to a survey by Houzz ease of storage is the number one priority for those fitting a new kitchen. Deep kitchen drawers are great for small appliances and the dishes you use once in a blue moon (tagine anyone?), making them more accessible than if they were in cupboards. No more rooting around the back of a cupboard on your hands and knees. Personally I’m not a fan of dividers but these can also be used to organise the contents if you feel the need.
5. Black appliances
Tired of cleaning fingerprints off your shiny chrome appliances? Then you’ll love the new range of black stainless steel appliances from Samsung and LG. I covered these last week but they’re uber stylish so deserve a second mention. The sleek lines and mildly industrial look means they work well in both traditional and contemporary kitchens.
6. Gold hardware
The interiors metallic movement continues, banishing silver and chrome in favour of metals like bronze, rose gold and copper. I’ve got a bit of a crush on polished gold hardware, it really adds glamour to a kitchen or bathroom. I love this kitchen with its moody green cabinets, dark marble worktop and gold finishes.
7. White kitchens
When I was a kid white was what you used for undercoat and ceilings, but there are now as many shades of white as there are other colours, and all-white kitchens continue to be popular for their simplicity and bright, clean look. But they can look a little sterile so make sure you incorporate some colour. This can be anywhere in the scheme including your tiling, worktop, accessories or even a brightly coloured appliance like this fab orange fridge. I think it might be the Swan Retro Fridge available from AO.com, if not its very similar.
8. Creative use of LED lighting
It’s important to have good lighting in a kitchen but you want to avoid rows and rows of spotlights in your ceiling and use different sources. Lighting under your upper cabinets and shelving can provide both task lighting and softer light in the evening. But also consider pendants, particularly over seating areas and wall lights. Low level under cabinet lighting is easy to install using adhesive strips of LED lights. It creates a feeling of warmth and the low light stops you stubbing your toes when you raid the fridge at midnight. Top tip – make sure your lights are on different circuits so you can use them separately, and install dimmers where possible.
9. Raw materials
Kitchens are not pretty, wishy washy rooms, they’re full of heat, light, smells and noise, or at least they are when me and Mr W are cooking together. Which is why I think industrial looking raw materials look so great and are becoming increasingly popular. These materials look best when mixed together, for example concrete worktops with exposed brick walls, wood floors and steel appliances like in this kitchen, although it does look a little like the set of a cookery show….
10. Feature Tiling
We can’t talk kitchens and not talk tiles now can we, and tiling has definitely transitioned from functional to feature over the last few years, with bright colours. bold geometric prints and patterns like herringbone and chevron everywhere. A trend I expect to see more of in 2016 is creating zones in kitchens and larger bathrooms using flooring, either with combinations of tiles or mixing tiles with other types of flooring. This is a great way to minimise costs if you have your heart set on expensive tiles but can’t afford to do the whole floor. Just use them in part of the room and something more affordable around them. If you put different tiles under your table breakfast bar it can look like a rug which adds to the whole homely look I mentioned at the start.
So I think I’m all kitchened out. Off to my own kitchen now to put the kettle on. FYI it’s very cool is my kettle.It was designed by Heston Blumenthal and has half a dozen settings for different teas and coffee. Complete waste of money as I only use one setting but it does look nice…..