One of my most enjoyable recent projects was a compact Schuller kitchen design for Mr and Mrs Greaney. This wonderful couple moved into their brand new top floor flat on the outskirts of Cardiff in 2006 and immediately found the original kitchen, installed by the builder, was not what they had hoped for. As with many of the kitchens installed in new builds, priority is given to budget and very little thought is given to the design and functionality of the kitchen itself. When you consider the prices being charged for new build properties, it amazes me that so many builders seem to opt for such low spec kitchens. It’s almost as if they have been designed on the back of a napkin…with crayons.
Anyway, whatever the history behind Mr and Mrs Greaney’s kitchen, they weren’t happy with it. And after a couple of years of struggling, they knew something needed to be done. Originally, they hoped that replacing the kitchen unit doors would be enough to give the illusion of more space. However, I was able to come up with a better solution that ultimately proved to be a more economical route. My design generated more storage and made better use of the available space.
I was hugely grateful to have the opportunity to rectify the situation but I was immediately aware that I had a challenge on my hands. Besides the task of designing for a very compact room, I was also set a couple of limitations in the brief that did pose difficulties to both the design and the installation. Those ‘difficulties’ centred around the worktop and splash-back. Mrs Greaney made it clear that the original stone worktop and the splash back tiles had to remain in the new design. This was totally understandable. Worktops and tiling can add hugely to the cost of a new kitchen and I was only too happy to help Mr and Mrs Greaney keep the costs down.
The design brief was to come up with a contemporary look that utilised the space efficiently, incorporating a few clever features to add functionality. After deciding on Schuller as the manufacturer of choice, I set about creating a design that would transform this wonderful apartment. I achieved that with a three pronged attack. Firstly, I suggested a lighter finish to the door. The original red colouring added warmth but it did pull the walls in and added to the claustrophobic feel. The kitchen units we agreed on were Schuller Lima in Belfort Oak and Nova Stone grey matt finish. Secondly I took the wall units up to the ceiling. The lack of storage being offered by the original kitchen meant that containers and utensils were being balanced on top of the wall units, creating a cluttered look. Finally, I utilised as much wire work storage as the budget would allow. This helped to make it easier to access the depths of these cavernous kitchen units, right into the difficult to reach corners.
I also added a couple of clever little features that Schuller does so well. I added a small pull out breakfast table under the hob. This smart little feature fits perfectly with Mr and Mrs Greaney’s lifestyle. After cooking breakfast, they often pull out the table, unfold a couple of small chairs and enjoy their spoils right there and then. That’s something they never would have considered with their previous kitchen layout. Also, perhaps less enjoyable but equally useful was the pull out ironing board that gave them both a convenient and compact solution to storing large ironing boards in small spaces.
The installation itself was fairly straight forward and went as smoothly as could be expected. My installation team, headed up by Marc did a fantastic job. They literally managed to defy the laws of physics as they installed the new units without disturbing the original stone worktops.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr and Mrs Greaney for being the perfect clients. They gave me the creative freedom to come up with a design that really suited their needs. Also, they proved to be a great sounding board as we discussed the plans at every stage and adjusted the design at each meeting, refining every element to make it their perfect kitchen.
Take a look at the finished kitchen in the photos below (courtesy of South Wales Property Photography). I hope they inspire you and the next time you sit down with a builder offering to design your new kitchen, tell him to stop, take away his crayons and his paper and ask him to give me a call, I’ll be happy to help.
Categories: kitchen design