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Thursday, 29 May 2014 11:23

Cooking up a storm!

 Slideandslideweb

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4-5 stars based on 188 reviews


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Focus on what features will get your culinary juices flowing!

MULTIFUNCTION OVENS
They offer a variety of cooking functions to help you get the best results every time. For example they usually include different functions like fan cooking, grill, defrost, and keep warm, top or bottom heat or a combination of the above.

PYROLYTIC SELF-CLEANING
Now hands up who hates cleaning the oven? This to my mind is a feature well worth having; it heats the oven up to approx 500 degrees at which temperature all the grease and dirt just turns to ash and can just be wiped out (once the oven has cooled down).

STEAM COOKING
Steaming our food is known to offer significant health and taste benefits as it preserves the nutrients in the food. An upgrade to a pure steam oven would be a combi-steam oven; this will still speed up your cooking time, keeps all your food nice and moist but can still brown your meat!

COMBINATION MICROWAVE
This will combine the speed of microwaving with browned and crisp food. It has been proved that a joint will roast in roughly a third of the time it takes in a conventional oven.

WINE COOLER
As a glass of wine will no doubt need to be enjoyed whilst cooking takes place where better than to store it than in a built in wine cooler. These are now offered with two independently controlled temperature zones so that both your red and white wines can be stored at their ideal temperature.

SOUS-VIDE
A relative newcomer into the domestic kitchen appliance market is a ‘sous-vide’ oven this combines a combi steam oven with vacuum sealer which promises to provide gastronomic restaurant quality results.

 

Friday, 16 May 2014 12:55

How to Shine Bright!

Bathroomlighting3

Shedding some light on the smallest room in the house

Now hands up who amongst you has a solitary 60 watt light bulb hanging from their existing bathroom ceiling? Yes I thought so! So let’s talk about shedding some light on how to properly illuminate your smallest room in the house.

Whatever the size of your bathroom, well thought out combination lighting is always the best route forward.

Having decided on your main layout with your bathroom designer, for example position of bath, basin, shower etc. lighting becomes your next major decision.

Bear in mind that you will need different lighting requirements for different times of the day, for example the morning rush to get ready for work is very different from a long relaxing soak in the bath at the end of a busy day when a more subdued scheme is required.

It is becoming common practice for us to fit outside switches for the lighting rather than the old style (gets rather grubby) pull cords we are used to. A dimmer switch can then be added to aid changing the intensity of the lights.

Overhead lighting can be either ceiling mounted using LED or florescent or recessed ceiling down lights for a flush finish; this creates your ambient overall light.

The next important area is above the basin, this is your hub of operation in the bathroom.  In an ideal world using an illuminated mirror or mirror with independent lights either side rather than overhead illumination (which can create shadows) will aid shaving or applying makeup.

Adding lighting to a shower enclosure makes sense, just bear in mind whatever you choose needs to be suitable for a wet area IP65 rating, add feature lighting in tiled alcoves or even integral LED lights in the shower head to create a glimmering effect as the water flows.

LED lighting can also be used really effectively in the skirting level area of the room, when added to the bottom of furniture or bath panels it can create a lovely wash of light across the floor.  LED’s are so energy efficient and will not increase your electric bills.

Always use the warmer colour of LED lights rather than cool white as this will warm the feel of the environment and make your skin look better! Always a bonus!

 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 13:26

Case Studies - Adrienne

Adrienne

Workmanship that stands the test of time

Having met and enlisted the Modern Homes team to do her kitchen some 15 years ago, Adrienne says there was no question of who to call when she decided to update and expand her bathroom.

“We were very happy with the kitchen Tina designed for us, and well over a decade later, the workmanship has really stood the test of time,” says Adrienne. “For us, Modern Homes was the only choice for our new bathroom.”

img 1

After fitting a new combi-boiler, Adrienne’s airing cupboard had become dead space – which is when she called Tina about expanding her bathroom to use the newly available room.

“Tina came over and talked to me in depth about what I wanted, and which layout would make the best use of the space,” says Adrienne. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted, and Tina let us cycle through various combinations of flooring and tiles until we were completely satisfied with our choices.”

The bathroom is minimalist themed, and has been tailored and tweaked to fit Adrienne’s vision.

 img 2

“With Modern Homes, you get both extremely high quality workmanship and service,” she says. “Tina’s attention to detail is phenomenal, she really sees the bigger picture but also pays attention to the little details – equally Karl who fitted our bathroom is clearly an exceptional craftsman, we couldn’t be happier with the job.”

img 3

Although the focus was on style and space, Adrienne says her favourite features are the little touches of glamour and luxury incorporated in to the design.

“My favourite feature? Well when I’m in my extra-long bath, it’s the bath, but then it could be the power shower, or my specially lit mirror…. I love all of it!”

img 4

Adrienne says she is already showing off her bathroom and would certainly recommend Modern Homes to a friend.

“I would have no hesitation recommending Tina and her team, the designs are beautiful and the fact that one company manages every stage of the process makes it a lot less stressful, we wouldn’t go anywhere else!”

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014 00:00

Sinks and taps with style

Frankes Largo Workcentre

 

Sinks and taps with style

Sinks and taps are a key piece of your new kitchen and with the advent of modern technology; designs are not only practical but can also look attractive!

Even if your new kitchen design includes a dishwasher, your sink can still take a lot of daily wear and tear.

When it comes to size, remember the need to wash your roasting pans and grill pans from your oven - too many times I have seen clients struggle with silly round bowls that you can’t fit anything in!

Unless you have a fairly large room a double bowl option is not usually viable so the more usual choice is a bowl and a half, the smaller bowl is incredibly useful for rinsing and pouring things away whilst the main bowl is in use.

The material you choose can have a large impact on the longevity of your sink, currently stainless steel is still the preferred material, with great versatility on budget and styles. Always invest in a model which is 18% chrome and 10% nickel which will make sure it is tough and rust free.

More traditional kitchens can still benefit from the styling of a classic Belfast or ceramic sink and these are becoming more hard wearing and stain resistant than sinks of the past.

For an integral look use a granite or composite sink matching the colour of your worktop, particularly useful in smaller rooms to create the illusion of more worktop.

New to the block are wooden sinks and also glass surround sinks which can add a striking feature to a more contemporary design.

Taps have evolved enormously over the last few years with filtered water options, boiling water taps, pull-out sprays, LED indicating water temperature and for the water conscious amongst you taps with built in flow regulators and flow regulation measures. A note of caution is to ensure that you know what your water pressure is, nothing worse than a tap that only dribbles water at you.

Swivel spouts and even pot fillers can ensure that even the biggest saucepans can be filled easily, just make sure that your tap spout is positioned high enough for your biggest pan or vase.

Recently launched the Franke Largo work centre has all the style and functionality of a conventional stainless steel sink with the added convenience of two soft touch compartments. These can be used for storing washing-up items out of reach or as an area for disposing of food waste, and are plumbed so any excess water drains away to keep the area clean and tidy. The rear compartment is also removable allowing easy emptying of food waste. There is a pop up waste operated by a push button so that you can empty the sink without putting your hands in the bowl. Add to this a chopping board and strainer bowl and this makes this the ultimate workstation.

 

Wednesday, 09 April 2014 11:03

To cover or not?

lancaster-mdf-shutters-kitchen-full-height-300x226

 

To cover or not?

Having decided on your perfect kitchen, bathroom or interior layout now decisions need to be made on window dressings and with a tremendous choice available it can be a little overwhelming.

Windows provide a fabulous opportunity to add colour, texture and also ambience to your room with a product that can be changed easily in coming years.

Start with deciding on the practicality and ease of cleaning in the room; a sensible choice for kitchens and bathrooms can be a blind, a simple solution that is easy to clean when required.  Readymade blinds can be an affordable choice and most leading retailers offer an in store or online buying guide which will help measure your window and take you through the correct way of fixing.

If this appears too daunting many retailers will come to your home and I believe this can be a better solution as it is much easier to match colour schemes in the room.  Levels of service can vary greatly so shop around to find a company that will offer this personal service.

Newer to the market and  my personal current favourite are shutters, they offer such versatility, in terms of insulation, recent research has shown that interior shutters can reduce the amount of heat lost through your windows by up to 62%.  They offer complete privacy and allow you to control the amount of light coming into the room- there is nothing quite like the pattern of dappled sunlight coming though shutters to add light to your room.

Traditional timber shutters can also be finished in a variety of ways, painted, oiled or stained finishes, but there are some fabulous budget options now available, including special waterproof versions made of high quality polymer, very practical for bathrooms.

Curtains are usually the preferred choice for sitting rooms and bedrooms and can be used in a variety of ways.  Curtains can also be combined with a sheer roller blind for privacy and control of light, an updated more modern version of your Nan’s old net curtains!

So whatever your choice think outside the box and be brave, add colour, texture and pattern to complete your finished room transformation!

 

Monday, 24 March 2014 00:00

Worktop workshop

Page8-B-Vulcano

 

Worktop workshop

A new worktop is a huge part of your beautiful kitchen so it is imperative to choose one which suits your kitchen, budget and lifestyle.

We often design kitchens to be integral open spaces for living and entertaining so over the last few years the focus on worktop material has become more vital than ever.

The aesthetics are very important but we also work with our clients to discuss how they use their kitchens before recommending a product.  For example if they regularly use food with lots of spicy colours certain worktops may have a tendency to stain. Also some products can require regular maintenance and sealing, not to be advised in a busy family situation.

To help you we have devised the following guidelines:

As a rule of thumb never cut directly onto any work surface, always use a chopping board or butchers block onto the worktop when using any sharp implement.

Be sure to mop us any spillages with a clean dry cloth, liquids should not be allowed to pool on the worktop for any length of time.

Do not place hot, wet or very dirty pots straight onto the worktop. All worktops need extra protection particularly against heat and trivets or stainless steel hot rods should be purchased alongside your kitchen.

Wipe down all worktops regularly with a damp (not wet) cloth with warm soapy water, we never recommend the use of multi-purpose cleaning products which contain chemicals as these may also damage the worktop.

Budget

The cheapest option and one which most of us have lived with for many years already are laminate worktops prime example being Formica - these can start from as little as £30-40 per linear metre .We have a variety of colours to choose from which are now available in high definition print and a choice of realistic textures. With the addition of matching up stands and splash backs can create a stylish finish.

Timber worktops are both beautiful and practical and the natural anti-bacterial properties of wood make it one of the most hygienic surfaces available. Starting at £ 60 plus per linear metre this can be an option which works with both traditional and modern styles of kitchen well. The main disadvantage of wood is that it does require some maintenance. The surface needs to be sealed completely to protect the wood and sustain its properties and durability.  In addition, it will always need constant re-sealing which can become time consuming

Mid Range Options

A new choice in this area is a composite worktop which is fabricated by your kitchen installer Ranges include Maia and Encore. These are usually a blend of resins and natural minerals which are non- porous, easy to care for, hygienic and durable. A silky smooth finish along with near invisible joints can make this a luxurious addition to your home. Additional sink options with under mount bowls and drainer grooves bring a bespoke look which along with matching up stands, splash backs, decorative support panels and plinths can add the final design lead finishing touches to the kitchen. Prices start from £ 150.00 per linear metre.

Quartz Composites are engineered stone which have a high ratio of mineral to resin (usually about 93% quartz crystal), well known brand names include Silestone and Caesarstone.   The advantages again are non-porous easy to clean. They have a consistency of colour not found in natural stone and the high quartz content make them tougher to withstand scratching and more heat resistant (although as noted above we never advise putting hot things directly onto any worktop !) Prices start from £ 200.00 per linear metre.

Top End Options

Most ‘blow the budget’ options involve the use of an additional independent fabricator.

Your worktops are made especially for you with decisions made during the templating stage (when a set of tops are templated to the exact contours of your kitchen) with multiple choices available for finished front edges etc.

Most natural stones can be used including marble, granite, limestone or even slate, which all have a high quality finish and feel.  With no two slabs of a natural product being exactly the same you can be sure you are getting a unique look. Many stones will again however require regular sealing and maintenance.

Stainless steel looks great in a really contemporary setting or if a client wishes to create a semi-professional vibe to their room.  Stainless steel has migrated from a commercial application due to its hygienic and hard wearing properties and allows you to chop directly onto the worktop or place hot pans. It can also be produced without joins to be extremely hygienic. The down side can be it can scratch but over time the scratches just accumulate to give an overall brushed finish which actually improves the look.

Glass is becoming a popular choice it is strong but can scratch but can show water marks particularly if you are in a hard water area. They are now available in virtually any colour so can create a stunning bold look.

With prices starting from £ 400.00 per linear metre these options can be teamed with a more cost effective door style range to create a fantastic bespoke designer kitchen without having to rob a bank!

 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 12:45

Creating safe kitchen design

detergent basket1423-350

 

Creating safe kitchen design

With kitchens becoming an ever increasing part of our living and social space I believe it has become ever more important to integrate safety within the design.

Statistics show that most accidents happen in the home and this can be where the very young or elderly can be at risk.

When planning your new kitchen with your chosen professional designer it will be worth bearing in mind the following points.

A well-positioned hob is vital to gain as much worktop space as possible around the hob area.  This will stop saucepan handles sticking out over an edge or getting in a situation where handles get hot as they are over an adjacent ring. Look out for modern hobs designed with locks for ‘little fingers’.

New style induction hobs only heat the metal base of the pans that they come in contact with and stop doing so as soon as the pan is moved.  Even the saucepan handles don’t get so hot.  Some induction hobs even turn themselves off after a period of inactivity should you have forgotten to do so.

Always make sure that the hob is positioned near to the sink so that you don’t have to carry heavy pans of boiling vegetable water to strain across the kitchen to drain.

Eye level appliances can also keep little fingers away from hot appliances and food and many oven manufacturers have ‘stay cool’ oven doors.

Unfortunately lots of modern cleaning materials are very bright and sparkly (think dishwasher tablets) and can therefore be a magnet to small children. As it is not always practical to place these out of reach so it may be easier to fit a lockable storage compartment within a base unit.

Another danger can be the kettle which should always be cordless or have a short flex and be sited to the back of the worktop so there is no temptation to pull on wires.

Alternatively we now have hot taps available which are securely mounted to the worktop , have a child proof push and turn style handle and as an additional safety feature the water comes out of the tap in a fine spray rather than a solid jet.

Whilst the consequences of trapped fingers are usually less severe than burning or poisoning we have all felt the pain of doing something like this.  Quality soft close hinges to doors and soft close drawer runners are now common place and will help reduce this risk.

Non slip floor surfaces can also help, wiping up any spills immediately they occur and also discourage children from playing with toys in the main kitchen area. I can tell you from experience that there is nothing worse than the pain of standing on a sharp piece of Lego with no shoes on!

Above all talk to your designer to ensure that your beautiful new kitchen ends up a safe and happy environment for the whole family to spend quality time in!

 

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 14:46

A kitchen revolution!

Livingkitchen

 

We are having a kitchen revolution!

When I first started designing kitchens most of my customers couldn’t wait to get out of the kitchen and stop ‘slaving’ over a hot stove.  The room was almost always designed with one main person in mind who would be working in solitary confinement whilst the rest of the family socialised elsewhere!

How times have changed; we are now creating open plan living kitchens where clients can cook, socialise, entertain and relax all in the same space.

In particular, at the moment cooking of all styles is ‘hot’ and we have all rediscovered the delights of home cooking and home entertaining instead of eating out.

This culinary trend is reflected in our TV programmes.  ‘The Great British Bake off ‘ had over 9 million people tuning into the final which is the most watched TV in a decade, the previous record was a 2007 episode of Top Gear at 400,000 viewers.

So whether you aspire to be a domestic god or goddess or simply just to enjoy your kitchen more, a kitchen well designed with your particular lifestyle in mind will be vital.

Research has shown that we are at our happiest between 6pm and 10pm at night, which is often when we are in our kitchens, so let us help make your space a special place to extend that happy period throughout the day and make it a fantastic sociable room that caters for all member of the family.

Professional kitchen designers are experts in suggesting what storage items, gleaming appliances and fantastic kitchen gadgets will renew your interest in all things gastro. We are embracing a renewed passion for adding a dazzling array of colours into your interiors that will be guaranteed to lift your spirits, if not improve your culinary skills! And if all else fails we can recommend the latest in wine storage so at least you can open a bottle of wine as you order your take away!

 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 14:13

Splash Out

Aqualisa quartz remote-web

Advice on all things Showers

There can be nothing worse than either a shower where you have to run round to get wet or something that changes temperature if someone else in the house turns on a tap! With so many of us now having experienced a good quality shower in a hotel or holiday home how can we achieve this in our own home is a question we are often asked.

The latest designs of showers are high on performance as well as looking great but when it comes to picking the perfect model it is essential to make sure that it is suitable for your water system.

In a standard UK home this usually boils down to one of three systems

A high pressure or mains system A combination boiler or A gravity fed system

High pressure plumbing (mostly in new houses) will typically use an unvented hot-water cylinder and is supplied with water directly from the mains. The cylinder will provide large amounts of pressurised hot water so is ideal for high performance showers, large rainfall heads and the luxury of additional accessories such as body jets.

Combi boilers heat your hot water on demand (no need for a hot-water or cold water storage tank) Thermostatic showers will help maintain the temperature when the supply is interrupted elsewhere in the home.

Low- pressure or gravity fed systems are very common in older houses which then have a cold water storage tank in the loft which feeds a hot water cylinder usually located in an airing cupboard. In order to achieve a good pressure with this system a separate or integral pump is required to add a boost.

Once you have decided with your designer which system you have then you can select the style and design to suit your bathroom design and needs.

Fixed head options can be fitted to the ceiling or wall. They have the advantage of a more streamlined finish and they can be tilted to offer a more directional flow but can be restrictive as usually fitted to suit the tallest member of the household which doesn’t always suit everyone.

A more flexible option would be to consider a ‘dual ‘ model which features an overhead spray but will divert to a more flexible handheld shower head - much more useful for cleaning or having a  shower without washing your hair !

Digital technology is one of the biggest advances in showers over the last few years, this is where the shower valve and often pump is contained within a processor. The processor (about the size of a shoe box) is remotely installed in the loft or airing cupboard and has lots of installation and service advantages. The digital aspect also means that you can control the shower from outside the cubicle or bath with a separate button ( invaluable with large enclosures to operate the shower without getting soaked) Digital showers are very user friendly and easy to control often with push button controls much simpler to operate with soapy hands.

 

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 09:46

Trends to suit all tastes for 2014

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Trends to suit all tastes for 2014

2013 was an amazing year, but now the New Year is here it’s time to start looking ahead. If you’re thinking of a new kitchen this year, then read on and get inspired by my predictions for 2014’s biggest trends.

Natural colours and materials will be making a splash this year, with earthy tones and sustainable materials already becoming a significant feature of upcoming designs. Exotic timbers such as bamboo will be a major trend in 2014 kitchens, not just for the look but for the eco-benefits. Showcasing these natural materials will mean artistic use of stains and washes that allow the grain of the timber to show through the finish. One of the best uses of this trend is timber accenting in a light coloured kitchen, giving an earthy edge that isn’t overwhelming.

If you’re searching for a bolder look, think dashes of colour – coloured glass splash boards, and high gloss units set against a more neutral background.  For our brave and style savvy customers we will be recommending our brand new metallic gloss finishes to  bring a chic and unusual flavour to your kitchen. Textured, laminate finish doors will also be on the rise, ideal for anyone looking to make a subtler style statement.

Open plan living areas remain extremely popular, with the kitchen increasingly becoming the heart of the home for many. To achieve this, you need a certain amount of flexibility, so you can tailor your kitchen to each occasion and combine practicality with comfort.  Neutral base colours are advisable, from there you can accessorise with soft furnishings and unusual free standing pieces to suit each situation. Space is a must for multi-function kitchens. Conventionally kitchens were designed to group the most used appliances together, but that was based on a maximum of two occupants. With communal area kitchens, designers take care to space out appliances tailored to the way your household operates to avoid crowding and collisions.

If you have a small kitchen, there are plenty of fantastic innovations to help you maximize the space you have.  Pull out features and clever corner storage solutions are top trends for small kitchens, and electric unit doors are extremely popular with those who love their gadgets. Making the most out of a tighter space is made easier by the recent influx of ‘compact’ ranges and space saving appliances, so for 2014 get excited about making your small kitchen fabulous.

The app controlled kitchen is probably going to be the most important trend for 2014, with products entering the market that revolutionise how we operate in a kitchen. Time is at a premium these days; so many apps are designed as shortcuts to get things done quicker. For example, the Smart Fridge that connect to the internet and re-orders foods you run out of, or appliances that can be remotely controlled via smart phone – you can time the kettle to boil as you step through the front door. My favourite techno innovation for 2014 is ‘the self-healing door’, which means if a door is scratched or bumped, the technology within it will simply fix it back to its unblemished original self! Miraculous!

So that’s my forecast for kitchen trends 2014- I look forward to trying out some of these new products with you.