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Category Archives: kitchens

Designing The Right Worktop Theme

Designing The Right Worktop Theme

Worktops are a paramount part of any kitchen design and layout. They not only offer a practical function for the end user, but have significant aesthetic value that can often complete the overall kitchen design perfectly. When chosen poorly however, the wrong worktop in the wrong setting can often detract dramatically from the desired outcome or effect, so it's key to ensure the selection of the right worktop for the job.

With curved cabinetry becoming much more popular in recent years, worktops are becoming much more curved too, and with this new trend we are seeing the wider use of more interesting edge profiles such as shark nose profiles, waterfall profiles and everything in between.

Solid stone and many composite worktops are offered in a wide range of these profiles and can add value to the design when carried out properly, as well as adding a feeling of luxury and quality.

The use of the right profile with the right worktop choice adds an extra element that shows the process has been thoroughly thought through by the designer, and well executed by the installer.

But using the right profile for the right design and material is key.

The use of the well loved and more traditional ogee profile is commonly used with premium marble in traditional country style kitchens, a perfect combination most would agree, whereas the sleek sharks nose profile often lends itself better to more contemporary, curved kitchen designs.

The use of break-fronted furniture, integrated seamlessly with a solid stone, wooden or composite worktop adds a real feature to the kitchen space and allows for that portion of the kitchen to be a feature in its own right.

Combining worktop materials is also becoming a very popular choice for many consumers, which often sees more durable, easily maintainable materials such as granite, laminate or composites within the main work areas, and then more tactile materials such as oak or timber worktops in the breakfast bar, centre island or counter areas.

This combination of materials helps to create not only clearly defined zones within the kitchen space, but also design features that are pleasing to the eye too, adding value to the finished kitchen design.

If you're unsure of which combinations work best and what's possible, why not pop into one of our trade counters to see what's available and get some impartial advice on what might work well for your next project.

Forget Natural, Use Laminates!

Synergii Lunar Night

There's no doubt that people love natural stones such as granite or marble, but not everyone has an infinite budget and quite often a more cost effective solution is more suitable as it allows your customers to change the look of their kitchen more often without wasting very expensive items every time.

Wooden worktops are another popular item at the moment as consumers lean more towards the cosy, warmer tones in cabinetry, but again, these can often be expensive and not the easiest to maintain if you have a busy lifestyle.

So what's the answer?..... Laminate

Laminate worktops have come a long way in recent years, and can now offer a stunning range of styles, finishes and even textures to suit individual needs. Laminates are available in granite effect, wood effect and many other natural materials, and these days look much more realistic than you might think.

Texture is becoming big for laminate too and adds a sense of luxury and uniqueness.

Textured laminate worktops are very practical, easy to clean and wipe down, and don't cost the earth to buy. They're also much easier to fit and quicker to maintain, which is perfect for people with busy lifestyles or a family.

Another great thing about laminated worktops is that there are options to suit almost any budget. Our Fusion Laminate worktops for example are a superb and durable kitchen worktop product that caters to the standard price ranges expected for laminate worktops. These come in two thicknesses (28mm and 38mm) and are available in a wide variety of sizes, styles and finishes.

For those looking for something a little bit more premium, but still at a reasonable price, the Fusion Synergii range is a great option. With 38mm thick worktops being the norm, and a wide variety of finishes from black pearl, granite effect, marble effect, riverstone, wood block effects and 'Fizzy Beton' which provides a little sparkle, consumers are sure to find the right product for their requirements, and one that really looks and feels the part too!

The beauty of laminated worktops is that they are also perfect for heavy use areas, such as breakfast bars and centre islands, and can take the strain that everyday living often puts on kitchen worktops.

If you're in need of a little worktop inspiration, why not view our worktops online or visit our trade counter to see sample packs, which are also available to buy for demonstration purposes.

Choosing a Laminate Worktop

Synergii Lunar Night Worktop

The laminate worktop is quite often the super-hero of everyday kitchen design. Whilst it might not have the same prestige as granite or composites, laminate serves a very specific purpose within the KBB industry, and one that installers, specifiers, and consumers can rely on time and time again.

The laminate worktop offers not only a cost effective worktop solution, but one that is easy to work with and cut, with a wider variety of finishes, and the ability to stand the test of time, being able to resist scratches, bumps, scuffs, spillages and moisture, all with an absolute minimum of maintenance or hassle.

So what is there to consider when next choosing a laminate worktop for your next project?

Here's a quick guide.

Usage: The laminate worktop is great for a wide variety of uses. It is safe for food preparation and easy to keep clean, so works well for food-prep areas, general kitchen areas and breakfast bars and centre islands.

As laminate worktops can be manufactuered in a variety of sizes and can easily be routed, shaped, curved and joined, almost any shape, size and formation can be created to meet the needs of the kitchen design.

Looks: Whilst some consumers don't like the idea of laminate worktops in their kitchens, the technology used to manufacture them has come a long way in recent years, offering many benefits over other materials whilst providing similar visual and tactile qualities to items such as real wood or composite materials.

Laminate offers without doubt the widest range of colours, finishes, sizes and textures, meaning any look can be achieved, with textures and finishes available that give a more life-like feeling when interacting with the worktop. Certain worktops can also be made to specific colours or designs, meaning that total customisation can be achieved with little hassle and relatively minimal expense.

Maintenance: One of the key consumer concerns most of our customers get asked about on a regular basis is maintenance. With laminate worktops, maintenance is absolutely minimal, meaning that after a quick wipe over with a cloth and some antibacterial spray, surfaces are as good as new and ready for use once more.

Compared to other materials such as natural stone or wooden worktops, these pose a very practical solution for families, busy professionals and those consumers who'd rather spend their weekends enjoying themselves rather than maintaining their worktops.

Durability: On the whole, laminate worktops offer probably the best all-round durability of many of the worktops on the market today. The worktops are created using high pressure, meaning that materials are dense and highly durable. They are virtually totally stain resistant, and also resist moisture and chemicals very well, as well as being able to resist the occasional hot pan here and there, although heat and steam do tend to be the worktops main weakness.

As the materials are quite dense and also wrapped in a laminate, they resist items such as heavy pans, pots and kitchen utensils being dropped on them, making them perfect for any busy kitchen.

Price: In comparison to natural stone, composite or wooden worktops, laminate worktops provide a very cost effective solution for kitchen designers and installers. As a very rough guide, laminate worktops can often cost just 10% to that of a granite or glass worktop, whilst often providing a better all-round solution that is easier to fit and cheaper to replace over time as tastes and trends change.

Creating The Perfect L-Shaped Kitchen

High Gloss White L-Shaped Kitchen

Creating the perfect L-shaped kitchen takes careful planning, an understanding of how best to use the space provided and a good eye for design, ensuring the space looks inviting as well as working well on a functional level too.

The L-shaped kitchen has become more popular since the introduction of open plan living which usually sees a centre island integrated into the design, or sometimes a separate dining table instead.

The art of designing a good L-shaped kitchen is to ensure that the design works well with the golden triangle, whilst also making the space easy for multiple people to work in and around each other.

The beauty of an L-shaped kitchen design is that it is suitable for any kitchen style, size and design, whether that is large traditional shaker or a small compact contemporary, making it a great starting point for many kitchen designers.

A key component of making sure an L-shaped kitchen works well is to ensure it is clutter free. The reason for this is that the shape of the design is very open and visible from numerous aspects, meaning there are no small corners to tuck those bits and pieces away. Ensuring adequate and suitable storage is fitted is key in keeping clutter to a minimum, as well as including integrating appliances where possible to provide a more sleek, streamlined look and feel.

Planning on how your customer intends to use the kitchen also makes a big difference to the design too, so if they're a sociable cook, consider integrating a centre island with a built in oven or sink so they can face their friends and family whilst preparing the meal.

L-shaped kitchen designs also benefit from their openness that allows a natural flow from other rooms in the house, complimenting the open plan living style of many UK householders. By considering the other zones in the room, workflows can be better designed, decors and finishes selected that better match the rest of the home, as well as lighting schemes integrated to offer both task and mood lighting for a range of purposes and occasions.

As L-shaped kitchens are fairly open, try not to over-do the wall cabinets in the space. Maybe break up runs of cabinets with shelving, a central range cooker with surround, or just a break in the line of cabinets to make the space more interesting to the eye.

Whatever your next customer requirement, it's likely that an L-shaped kitchen could be suitable, and may very well be desirable. Considering the above can help to ensure the kitchen design works well and looks great, serving many purposes through one customised and well thought out design.

For more ideas about L-shaped kitchens and how best to design and install them, speak to our experts at HPP who can talk you through the latest products and space saving ideas to make your next L-shape kitchen both efficient and outstanding.

Creating Kitchens For a Growing and Ageing Family

Open Plan Kitchens

The recent issues surrounding house prices, mortgages and the general state of our economy has undoubtedly had an effect on how we live our lives.

It is now very common for parents to still have their children living at home up to, and past the age of thirty. One of the main reasons for this is the sheer cost of housing, and the difficulty for first time buyers in acquiring a mortgage.

As this change in our world has taken place, so too has a change in the way our homes are being customised and modified, which has had an impact on the kitchen and surrounding living spaces to accommodate this change in lifestyle.

Additional to the above, we are also seeing the opposite take place too, with parents moving into their children's homes in later life to help ensure their safety and wellbeing in their later years, whilst reducing their cost of living.

All these factors are having an impact on kitchen design, and we are now seeing a variety of design solutions becoming more mainstream to satisfy these changing and growing demands.

First and foremost, we are seeing open plan living within the kitchen and dining areas being more critical to this than ever before. By creating an open plan area, families gain more space from the room and are able to fit more in than if they had sectioned the space off with walls, this also brings a better and more natural flow throughout the home, making it seem larger and more spacious than it actually is.

This additional space allows for a larger dining area, often encompassing a breakfast bar too, and lower level seating, easier to use appliances and clearly defined zones for different tasks, such as mini office stations for working from home or kids homework, and entertainment zones for watching TV, listening to music or reading a decent book.

We're seeing a variety of much more obvious, and practical solutions too.

Items such as more accessible and space efficient storage is becoming common, with lift systems and corner units that make accessing the contents of cupboards and drawers much quicker, easier and safer for those who are less able, whilst also maximising the use of the space.

Electronic lift systems that also attached to doors and drawers aid those users who may either be disabled or frail, as the units move the contents of the cupboard to a more accessible location, preventing the need to stretch or bend.

Whilst not all families are in this situation, there is a significant portion of the UK market now finding themselves either already making the transition or considering it, meaning that creating a kitchen that can cater to multiple generations of a family is likely to grow in importance over the coming years, bringing new challenges for kitchen designers and installers.

Neat And Tidy Just Got Simpler!

Orga-Line for Antaro

It's the age-old question we all long to find the perfect answer for - how do we make the space work harder for our customers.

Well thankfully, our friends at Blum have come up with a superb solution to this question that not only works great, but also functions beautifully whilst looking luxurious and feels of a very high quality.

The new Antaro range of drawer runners provide a more compact design, meaning that up to 50% more space is available within the drawer unit than a typical 'standard issue' drawer unit.

The new space saving solution means that not only can more items be stored safely and neatly out of sight, but it also allows for a unique hidden drawer system by Blum, allowing you to visually have fewer drawers on the outside, but once opened, additional units are accessible, holding smaller items in a well structured and orderly fashion.

Whilst there's lots of emphasis placed on the look of the products (they do look fantastic), the functionality hasn't been ignored either. The units open and close smoothly thanks to the Blum BLUMOTION technology, allowing drawers to close silently even when excessive force is used.

Different combinations and formations are available too, meaning that the drawer unit can work anywhere in the home, and offer solutions to tricky areas such as under kitchen and bathroom sink areas.

The system is compatible with the ORGA-LINE range of Blum products too, meaning that organising and compartmentalising parts of your home storage is easy to achieve.

The products were easy to assemble and enjoyable to use, and are great value for money considering the engineering and quality of craftsmanship involved. To see them in action, why not visit one of our trade counters or view the video online.

15 Tips For Cool Contemporary

Contemporary Kitchen Design with Avanti

Contemporary kitchen design is still a very popular choice for the UK consumer and experience in this market sector over the years has seen a number of key trends emerging which highlights consumers' key needs, wants and desires for their ultimate contemporary kitchen.

We thought we'd highlight 15 key points for creating the ultimate contemporary consumer kitchen.

High Gloss

It goes without saying that high gloss is an absolute must for starting a contemporary kitchen. High gloss adds that cool, modern look and feel, and gives the space a clean uncluttered look; so make sure to include this in your next contemporary kitchen design.

Fit an Island

Open plan living is huge at present, not only for contemporary kitchens but most consumer kitchen updates and refits no matter what the style. Fitting a centre island helps to maintain an open plan feel whilst also helping to define the various zones within the living space and makes a great focal point for entertaining, preparing food and socialising.

Combine Colours

With the progression of high gloss decors, consumers can now select from a staggering range of colours. Combining two or more colours, usually with white acting as a base, contemporary kitchens can be created with a real wow factor and sense of individuality and personality, helping create a real sense of bespoke luxury.

Add a little curve appeal

Curves are growing in popularity as they become more readily available and accessible to the typical UK consumer. Adding curves to both base and wall unit design helps to create a more fluid, modern feel that allows the overall open plan living space to flow much easier.

Introduce Light

A key element of contemporary living is to introduce plenty of light to the design. The more natural daylight the better, so if sky lights, larger windows or folding patio doors are possible, make sure to incorporate them, otherwise, try using LED and low energy lighting to create a similar effect.

Use interesting finishes

The type of board available has come a long way in recent years so it's always a good idea to use a format that's slightly more unique and luxurious in the consumer's eyes. Wood grain effect boards, stainless steel and even concrete worktops can be great options for making the kitchen seem more unique and interesting.

Light up their world

Paramount to any kitchen design is a quality lighting scheme that serves a number of purposes. With contemporary kitchens, weird and wonderful lighting schemes can be developed that support the colour scheme of the kitchen design as well as setting different moods from task lighting to low level relaxing schemes and everything in between!

Triple lights

No matter where you look at the moment consumers are demanding and are being advised to choose triple lights over their islands and breakfast bars. These help create a focal point as well as useful task lighting.

Invest in clever storage

To achieve a real contemporary look the kitchen needs to be totally clutter free, so ensuring clever storage ideas are in place to keep clutter off the counter tops is paramount.

Built in appliances

Built in appliances help in ensuring lines are sleek, streamlined and fluid, so building in appliances behind a matching cabinet door helps to bring a cool contemporary look that is uninterrupted in its approach.

Contrast Old with New

If your next customer is fortunate enough to live in an old property with real character and charm, combining the original features of the building with the new contemporary look kitchen can achieve a stunning combination of old and new that adds to the contemporary look and feel to make it even more effective.

Invest in Energy Efficient Lighting

Investing in LED lighting and low voltage lighting is key to keep your customers' energy bills and carbon footprint to a minimum. Specifying the right lighting at the start of the project not only helps make the process run smoothly, but also helps create a contemporary look using the latest lighting technology available.

Make it SMART

Smart home technology is a growing area in the KBB industry as it allows for the automation of many elements such as lighting and heating, and even enables the automation of your cooker and other appliances from your smart phone, so to achieve truly leading contemporary kitchen design, SMART technology is a great route.

Create a feature

Having a central focal point to the space is key in creating the right impression, so the use of designer hoods, sinks or centre islands can often act as a key feature to draw the eye in the finished kitchen design. If space allows it, consider integrating a large, double sided open fire that brings the kitchen and dining space together.

Create a streamlined look

One key component of contemporary is a streamlined look. The use of handles on door and drawer units can often break this visual up, so consider handleless furniture, with either hidden handles or 'push-to-open' fittings that control the door from the internal of the cabinet either electronically or mechanically.

Driving energy efficiency in future kitchen design

Energy Efficiency Ratings

We all see in the daily press about modern society needing to be more environmentally friendly through better energy efficiency measures, but many in the industry feel that UK consumers are lagging behind our European counterparts in making the necessary changes to reduce our carbon footprint and the overall effect we're having on the environment.

The question is however, if consumers aren't doing enough to make the change, do distributors, retailers, designers and installers need to be doing more to push the new and more cost effective technologies their way?

In short, the answer is probably yes, but how to do this effectively can often be one of the main challenges.

Whilst the UK Government are putting measures in place to help consumers with schemes such as the Green Deal, free cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, much more work still needs to be done by all re-sellers of products such as lighting, technology and appliances.

So how do we convince the consumer that going 'energy efficient' is the right choice for them?

Well, the figures don't lie...

Over 95% of consumers stated that the cost of energy bills was incredibly important to them and often a cause for concern in a survey conducted by the National House Building Confederation, but how do we translate that concern into actual product buy-in.

It's simple. Show the consumer what they can save in an easy to understand manner. We've put together an example below showing a typical kitchen installation, which currently uses 10 x 50W GU10 light bulbs. The figures speak for themselves.

A typical household using 10 x 50W halogen light bulbs in their kitchen could easily swap these out for an LED alternative.

Whilst the cost of purchase is much higher for LED bulbs, they have a much longer life expectancy of around 18 years, so over that time could save the consumer thousands of pounds. Here's a quick calculation:

10 x 50W bulbs, used for approximately 180 hours per month (6 hours a day) at a cost of 13.5p per KWh = £145.80 per year

In comparison, an LED alternative would cost:

10 x 5W LED bulbs used for approximately 180 hours per month (6 hours a day) at a cost of 13.5p per KWh = £14.64 per year

We can see that over the year, the saving is considerable - a difference of £131.16 per year!

Transfer this figure over the 18-year life span, and consumers could save themselves a hefty £2,360.88, a great contribution to a new kitchen or bedroom further down the line!

The same kind of calculations could as easily be attributed to appliances and other items used around the kitchen and bedroom, and with hard facts and figures such as these, consumers are more likely to move to energy efficiency measures with much less resistance.

Bespoke Kitchen Furniture - Making it happen for your design

Blue Acrylic Duo Bespoke Doors.

Creating the perfect kitchen and living space often comes down to a clever design that helps each area of the home work together in harmony, without any awkward transitions or junctions that makes the spaces feel separate. This is one of the biggest reasons that demand for bespoke integrated kitchen furniture is becoming so popular within the industry, and often demanded by the consumer.

We're now seeing combinations of fitted furniture in living spaces that mimic the materials used within the kitchen design. This can often be a seated breakfast or dining area that joins onto the kitchen space, or something as simple as a country style dresser or entertainment unit; all of which would be made from the same materials as the kitchen in order to create a cohesive feel to the space.

With work and study playing a greater role in the modern UK consumers' lifestyle, integrated office and desk areas are also being incorporated into living spaces whilst being made out of the same materials as the kitchen to create one succinct, and well harmonised living space for the consumer to move through freely allowing them to feel truly at home.

The usage of styles, materials, colours and applications for fitted furniture varies massively from one design to another, as each is often built bespoke to how the consumer wants to live, and how they want the space to work for them and their lifestyle. With new materials such as precision embossed board and new innovative styles such as oak effect and mirror gloss, consumer demand is likely to increase thanks to the release of these innovative materials and finishes.

The concept behind bespoke fitted furniture is great for the consumer, as they don't have to buy off-the-shelf products that prevent them from using the space exactly how they anticipated. By going down the bespoke route, the consumer is able to specify to their kitchen or interior designer the exact format they would like, including storage, hidden compartments, design features, right down to details such as the type of drawer or hinge units that might be incorporated into the finished item.

The trend for fitted kitchen and living area furniture will undoubtedly increase as consumers are seeing this as a true progression of open plan living, and often value the ability to make one large space work seamlessly together, whilst still having well defined zones and areas that serve different purposes.

Give it some curve appeal

Avanti Quadro Alabaster Grained Paint Effect Roomset

Curved kitchen carcasses help to soften the overall appearance of any kitchen design as they are pleasing to the eye and allow it to move around the space in a more fluid and comfortable manner. The demand for curved kitchen furniture has increased in recent years, in part thanks to improved manufacturing processes bringing costs down considerably, and also thanks to increased demand for a more natural look from consumers.

The curved appearance helps to compliment natural styles such as painted oak effect kitchen doors and wood grain effects, but similarly, yet somewhat surprisingly for many, also lends itself well to more contemporary looks such as high gloss units and clear, handle-less design.

An underlying driver to the success of curved furniture has to be the increase in open plan living. With one room merging into the next and being much more open, consumers have often found the traditional square edged kitchen a little impractical, and not as aesthetically pleasing as required for an otherwise streamlined look and feel.

By introducing curves, the eye is drawn from one area to the next effortlessly, giving the feeling of a much more open space, and one which flows and merges seamlessly, ensuring the rooms have a certain coherence with each other.

Curves also offer benefits in terms of safety, something that is key to family buyers. By removing potentially dangerous right angled edges and replacing them with curves, parents can be more confident that their children are less likely to have a nasty accident by hitting themselves on a sharp edge if they were to fall over.

Worktops have also developed considerably, and now offer some outstanding laminate and composite options that can be curved and shaped to your own kitchen design without any compromise. These can be used for breakfast bars and centre islands too, meaning you can complete the look of your kitchen without the need to install natural stone every time.

The future for curved looks promising as we see demand rise, and I have to say, the finished visual does work perfectly with most modern homes and kitchen refurbishments.

With other kitchen items catching up with the trends too, we're now seeing some stunning new products such as curved kitchen islands, kitchen furniture, sinks and other fixtures and fittings, all of which will help to support and develop an already popular segment of the market.

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