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Perfecting Open Plan Storage

Open Plan Kitchen Design

Open plan living just seems to keep on growing in popularity, and why not. It creates a more sociable space, a more flexible living environment and a much better way of introducing light into your home.

But with this open plan scheme comes some challenges, such as storage. Where walls once would have existed to house shelves and cupboards, open expanses are visible instead, so this has brought about the need for some rather intelligent and space efficient storage designs, as well as a raft of new storage products and solutions that are more space efficient than ever before.

The key to effective storage in an open plan living kitchen is a well thought out design that utilises the space well, whilst ensuring the finished look isn't detracted from.

Space planning really does come into its own here, as the golden triangle has to be optimised, along with the right distribution of items such as pots, pans, cutlery and food storage.

A good designer will always look at the needs of the end user, the way they live, cook and use the space around them. This in turn offers an insight into exactly what products need to be integrated into the design, and what items need to be prioritised over others.

Keeping your fridge and dry foods within easy reach of your cooker just makes good sense, as does having your sink handy for draining hot pans or washing salad, so this should be built into the design, whether that's by using specially manufactured pan drawers, chef's pantry's or tall larder units, or another similar solution.

Drawers provide a much more ordered and usable space than many cupboards, so these provide a perfect solution to lots of smaller, fiddly items. Pans, cutlery, plates and dishes can all be stored neatly within a drawer unit, making them easy to access, and easy to organise too.

Split drawers, also known as a drawer within a drawer, offer a great use of space, as what would quite often be a wasted space higher up in the unit, becomes a perfectly usable, well organised compartment for smaller items such as tea towels, oven gloves or cutlery.

More modern drawers are now made to carry larger weights too, as are wirework solutions such as tall larder units and corner units, so sitting a lot of tins, fresh veg or drinks in a unit of this type won't be a problem.

Due to open plan living having little wall space, we are seeing a surge in demand for taller storage units, which maximise the use of what wall space is available, making up for the loss of units which would have otherwise been fitted to an apposing wall.

This makes accessing dry foods and other items quick and easy, and ensures that everything sits neatly within one space, making the experience of using the kitchen much more pleasurable and enjoyable.

Whilst open plan living doesn't lend itself well to clutter, it does lend itself nicely to a few open units or shelves which can be used to display certain items.

Bookshelves are becoming a more popular choice for centre islands and breakfast bars as they offer a handy space for relaxing after a long day, and look great when presented properly.

If space is that little bit tighter than you'd like within an open plan design, free standing furniture also offers a great alternative, as wheels can be incorporated into the design that will bare the weight being placed upon them, whilst allowing the easy movement of that piece of furniture, as well as the contents inside.

Worktop Profiles Explained

Worktop Profile Cross-sections

It's quite often thought that worktops come in only a few edge details, usually square edged or rounded edge, but the truth of the matter is that there are many options available, which can add that little extra design detail to your next kitchen project.

Depending on the worktop being chosen, you may have well over ten or fifteen options to choose from, so we thought we'd explain a few of these in more depth to show what's available, and what might work with a certain style for your next kitchen design or installation.

Square Edge - Quite popular with wooden worktops, the square edge option gives a solid look and feel, with clean and simple lines to suit almost any kitchen design. The style is also suitable for stone and composite worktops, where quite often a very subtle chamfer will be created to provide better durability for the worktop.

Pencil Round - Pencil round is a very popular option for most kitchen worktops and is one of the most widely used styles currently on the market. This style is quite often referred to as quarter round or double quarter round and is clean in its appearance and not overly fussy, leaving the rest of the kitchen and materials to do the hard work.

Bull Nose - The bullnose, or rounded edge design is considerably more rounded than pencil round for example, and is rounded on either just the top edge or both top and bottom edges. The rounding over is usually around 25mm+ and creates almost a complete curve when used at the top and bottom of the worktop. Bullnose worktops are perfect for use on curved cabinets as they help create a more fluid design with softer edges, resulting in a look that runs seamlessly around the kitchen space.

Chamfered Edge - Chamfered edge worktops use a small bevel to either the top side or the top and bottom sides of the worktop to produce a sleek timeless look and feel that sits comfortably in both contemporary and traditional kitchen designs. The chamfered edge also adds a level of practicality due to the removal of sharp edges, which are often otherwise prone to chipping and day-to-day damage.

Ogee Bullnose - The ogee bullnose is quite a premium and classical look that offers chunky curved edges with a good level of detail to ensure the worktop makes an impression and acts as a design feature in its own right. The Ogee Bullnose is most popular in natural stone worktops.

Sharks Nose - The sharks nose edge detail offers a sleek rounded look that sees the underside of the worktop recess towards the cabinet to provide a striking overhang effect at the edge of the worktops. Sharks nose edge detail is quite often popular in granite and composite worktops and is becoming more widely used by the trade.

Single Imperial - Single imperial offers a subtle rebate above a half round-over to create a smooth and subtle edge detail to worktops that works well in both modern and traditional kitchen designs. The single imperial helps add a feeling of quality to the worktop design whilst not being so detailed that it detracts from the rest of the kitchen.

Waterfall - Less commonly used than many of the styles discussed above, the waterfall effect creates a subtle lip on the top edge of each worktop that is pleasing to the eye and works well with both modern and traditional designs.

Single Spanish - A timeless look that is well suited to more traditional and classical kitchen design, the single Spanish is a good option for those looking for detailed edging that adds a feature and element of craftsmanship to the overall design.

Single Ovolo - Very similar in style to the single Spanish edge detail, Single Ovolo is great for more traditional kitchen designs where softer, more subtle edges are required.

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.

Getting a handle of the situation

Handle Board Collection One

It's quite often those little finishing touches to a kitchen that move it from being good to great, and kitchen door handles are no exception when it comes to finishing touches.

Whilst many consumers often leave choosing their handles to much later down the line, the truth is that the early, and correct selection of handles is paramount to the style your customer is wanting to achieve, and should be considered at length before making any final decisions.

There are many handles on the market, some that are better suited to certain styles and decors.

The use of long, wide bar and rod handles are a popular choice for modern kitchen designs and contemporary finishes, whereas more traditional kitchen designs may look to use a traditional door knob or something with a hammered finish to give it an aged, rustic appearance.

Bar and rod designs are perfectly suited to the ultra chic modern designs we see on the market today, and also offer a practical benefit too. Their design helps to spread the load of the door and make opening and closing much easier when compared to opening with a smaller door knob, this helps with the modern designs which we are now seeing using wider doors and drawers to what had traditionally been carried out.

If you're aiming to produce a traditional design however, you won't need to forsake practicality for aesthetics as there are many bar style handles available in superb hammered and weathered finishes that not only give a rustic and traditional feel, but the functionality that consumers now expect from a newly installed kitchen.

And what if you can't find a handle design to suit? There is another option that consumers are opting for more and more - no handles at all!

There is a variety of handle-less doors on the market at present that offer concealed handles known as 'J Pull', which integrate a recess into the board of the door which then acts as a concealed handle. For those wanting an even more minimalist look, there is also door hardware that allows kitchen doors to open simply by pressing the face of the door, which then automatically opens the door for you - no handles required.

If you're struggling for ideas to suit your next kitchen projects handle requirements, why not visit our handles range online.

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.

One Board, Many uses!

Sample pack from HPP

Melamine faced chipboard, or MFC as it's known in the trade is heavily used in the production of kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and office furniture and is made by printing and applying a decorative paper in a melamine resin. This is pressed onto the board in a matter of seconds, which is critical to the process to ensure the melamine doesn't set before it is applied to the board.

MFC board is great for many applications as it offers a variety of thicknesses from very thin such as 6mm, right through to 18mm, 22mm and higher.

There are various grades of board available, and those wishing for something very hard wearing should select a dense board as this is more durable, but heavier to lift. Denser boards also offer better reliability in terms of resistance to warping and twisting, but come with a higher price tag.

Low-density board is more common in low traffic areas and within domestic applications, and is much lighter to lift and easier to cut and maneuver.

The consumer market tends to have the wrong impression of MFC board, often thinking about the type of cheap, brittle board that was commonly available in the 90's, but the technology has come a long way since then, and with the development of new processes, edging systems, engineered embossing and a variety of decors, finishes and textures, the market has never had so much choice and real potential to do something very different and unique!

The possible applications for MFC are endless. We've seen customer projects carried out in recent years that are both innovative and functional. Our MFC board has been used for applications such as home offices, bedrooms, walk-in wardrobes, entire kitchen and dining areas, custom made furniture such as matching coffee tables, counters and country dressers, right through to media centres, cinema storage and even wall paneling for both domestic and commercial applications.

With such a wide variety of MFC board available, customers are able to create almost any look, texture and finish the end user demands, and with boards suitable for both domestic and commercial applications, the product offers reliability and quality at a competitive price point.

To find out more, check out our boards online https://www.hpponline.co.uk/cat/206/sheet-material or visit one of our trade counters to see the range of options available.

Edge Banding Explained

3D style ABS edging tapes - Designed to give a glass effect finish to panels and doors

Edge banding for panel products and doors adds not only a functional aspect to the door in terms of durability and protection from moisture and scratching, but also provides a beneficial aesthetic quality which can often be used to compliment the design of any kitchen or bedroom furniture piece.

Wherever edge banding is being used, it offers highly durable results that furniture makers throughout the UK can rely on. Whether it's being used for a piece of furniture for a home office, kitchen, bedroom or bathroom, there are multiple options available that can suit almost any type of application, so we thought we'd provide a quick overview of some of the materials available, and how they can be used to achieve a quality finished product.

The most popular types of edge banding tend to be PVC, ABS or melamine edge banding. These are all suitable for common household applications such as kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, but offer different levels of quality, durability and price points.

PVC Edge Banding

Probably the most popular type of edge banding, PVC edge banding is a highly durable option for sealing the exposed edges of boards that have been sawn to specific dimensions for custom furniture installation. It can also be used for either straight or curved applications, meaning it is highly versatile and suitable for a number of uses.

PVC edge banding is available in a number of colours, styles and sizes, all of which suit the wide range of board and doors available from HPP. Differing thicknesses are available for most ranges too, allowing a different design and aesthetic to be achieved depending on personal preference. Common thicknesses start from 1mm and work up to 2 and 3mm options also.

Melamine Edge Banding

Still a popular option, mainly due to its cost effective nature and ease of application, melamine edging is available for a wide range of board and panel styles. Whilst less durable than PVC edging, melamine is perfect for less heavy duty applications such as home offices or bedroom furniture where usage is infrequent and budgets are more constrained. A wide range of sizes, colours and finishes are available, and many can be simply heat applied to the sawn edges of melamine board leaving a clean, neat and tidy finished appearance.

ABS Edge Banding

ABS Edge banding is also ideal for a wide number of applications including kitchen applications where exposure to heat for sustained periods is likely. The product is resistant to heat and very flexible, meaning it can be used very close to hot ovens and hobs without distorting or peeling. It's flexibility means it can also be easily used for curves or custom shapes within any furniture design, making it a useful tool for intricate one-off furniture projects.

The product is also popular as it is eco-friendly and easily disposed of, meaning its impact on the environment is typically less than other equivelent products on the market. It is also robust enough for many commercial applications such as toilet cubicles, shop fit-out and retail displays.

Like the other types of edge banding, the ABS range is available in a wide variety of colours, sizes and formats, meaning you're sure to find the right product for your furniture design.

If you need advice on which type of edge banding is most suitable for your project, why not get in touch with one of our product experts who will be happy to help.

Oversized bedroom furniture - make a real statement

Hacienda Black & White oversized furniture

Great design quite often adds a 'wow factor', making people look twice to admire what's been created, and a great way of achieving this, providing your customers have the space is to create a very large statement with oversized bedroom furniture.

Creating a truly enormous piece of bedroom furniture helps to add an instant feeling of comfort, opulence and luxury, which after all, is what many consumers are demanding from their fitted bedroom furniture these days.

One obvious area to do this is through a bespoke, and very large bed. Quite often we see the bed being forgotten in bedroom furniture projects, but this can be a key component in creating a truly amazing design statement.

By creating something bespoke and unique, and preferably oversized, the bed can play a critical part as a centrepiece to the overall design, adding style, substance and a great visual impact, whilst complimenting the surround bedroom furniture, fixtures and fittings.

If your customer can't stretch to the full bed, consider designing an item such as an oversized headboard which is a great way to make the most of the space available, whilst emphasising the bed itself and making it the focal point of the room.

This could be anything from a chic paneled headboard to match the rest of the bespoke bedroom furniture, or potentially a luxurious upholstered piece that matches the soft furnishings instead.

This idea of making it big can be transferred into other areas too. Items such as large and extravagant walk-in dressing rooms are becoming very popular, which play not only a functional role, but add an air of luxury and quality to the bedroom design.

Fitted furniture, such as wardrobes and storage units are without doubt a staple for this market too, meaning that demand for larger, more luxurious styles and finishes are increasing, with most consumers now wanting floor to ceiling units with slick paneled doors and high quality hinges and accessories.

Demand in recent months for precision embossed materials has soared also, with the higher-end market demanding finely crafted fitted furniture, which is large and quite often clever in its approach, concealing audio visual units and everyday items such as toothbrush chargers, laptops, phone chargers and even mini home offices.

With people on average spending around one third of their life in bed, it's key to make the space not only functional, but a space to really relax and unwind in. Through the use of well-designed and well thought through oversized furniture, consumers are able to feel at home, be totally relaxed and immersed in true luxury without the need to ever leave the comfort of their own bedroom.

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