Friday, May 11th, 2012, Tips
I’m often asked if I would recommend solid wooden worktops. My answer is it depends on what type of person you are. And how hard you are prepared to work at keeping the worktop in great shape. I completely understand why people are drawn to solid hardwood worktops as they provide a natural beauty to your kitchen that is hard to beat. One of the main advantages of a wooden worktop is that while other work surfaces often age badly, wood gains in character, becoming richer and deeper in colour over time. It also has the benefit of being solid timber throughout. Which means any surface damage or scratches can easily be sanded away to reveal a fresh new surface.
However it is a bit of a Hollywood star amongst worktops and keeping it beautiful takes an awful lot of maintenance.
How do I treat my worktop?
A brand new wooden worktop is carefully sanded to a super smooth finish and will require a regular surface treatment to make it hard wearing and give it a long lasting and tough finish to keep it looking good through the years. The best finish for a solid wood worktop is oil. Simple to apply and easy to resurface it gives the wood a water resistant finish. But it takes 3-5 coats with light sanding or wire wooling in between and should be done every 3-6 months depending on use. Also bear in mind that the first coat of oil will dry very quickly in a few hours, while further coats will take longer to dry and may need leaving for 8 hours or more. So don’t make any plans for a big party that weekend.
Always mop up spills of water and other liquids straight away. Do not allow liquids to stand for any period of time. Get into the habit of wiping down the work surface around the sink and leave the worktop in a dry state. Do not stand wet pots and pans on the worktop and leave for any length of time.
Always stand hot pans on a pan stand or hot rods. Prolonged contact with metals such as iron and steel can cause black staining on the wooden worktop. So put the trivet away when you’ve finished with it.
Always use cutting boards to chop food. Do not cut directly on to your wooden worktop.
Maintain the oiled finish at regular intervals. You can’t over do this.
Sorry but these are too much like hard work for me! Speaking from experience as well as I used to have them in my kitchen and they got ruined through water penetration and staining. But everyone’s different and if you really like them then go for it. But make sure your eyes are wide open to the maintenance regime before you do.
Thursday, April 26th, 2012, Tips
Kitchens used to be the place where someone – usually Mum - slaved away while the rest of the family watched telly in the lounge. Well at least it was in our house – nice work if you can get it eh Dad?
Fortunately times have changed for the better and lots of our customers want an everyday dining area in the kitchen to suit today’s more informal lifestyle. Bear in mind that everyone in your family will need something different from a new kitchen – whether it is an Aga, a space to do homework, or even just to relax and watch TV.
The kitchen has become the centre of family life and is probably the area of the house where we spend the most money on replacement and renovation. So I thought I’d jot down a few tips on how to plan ahead for your new kitchen to help you spend your budget wisely.
1 Use a professional kitchen design company to plan the layout so you can make the most of the space you have. But don’t forget that it’s your kitchen to suit your lifestyle, so don’t be talked into the latest trend or idea for the sake of it. Made to measure units will maximize the space you have and reduce the need for ‘fillers’ between units.
2 Consider a separate utility space, where you can keep all your large appliances, oversized crockery and cleaning products. Your new kitchen should be accessible and easy to use with the minimum of clutter. Options for making the most of your space include magic corners, tall larders/cupboards and deep pan drawers.
3 If space allows, a proper kitchen table is worth buying. Invest in a good one as you will need to use it all the time and for different occasions.
4 The kitchen has taken over from the dining room as the place to relax and socialise. A breakfast bar or an island with stools offers extra workspace and acts as a barrier between the kitchen proper and any dining area.
5 Go to town with technology – it goes really well with traditional or contemporary furniture. Be brave with your choices. Chic new appliances, a good-quality oven and sleek yet practical storage units are essential. Fridge freezers with ice making and cold water are a real benefit if (like me) you have thirsty kids or have friends over for drinks and dinner.
6 Think about how you will use the space. If you are a keen cook, soft furnishings and detail will only take up work space and collect dirt. However, if you are more interested in the entertaining side, then you can be more decorative.
7 If you are happy with the existing layout of your kitchen but want a facelift, change your work surfaces. This will instantly transform and modernise a kitchen. Replacing cupboard doors or handles, substituting small round knobs for longer, brushed steel handles will also bring your kitchen right up to date.
8 Plan the lighting carefully, to give you the option to change the mood. Bright lighting for work areas and low level lighting is useful if you are going to eat in the kitchen.
Saturday, April 21st, 2012, News
We opened our new branch in Cheadle today and thanks so much to all the local retailers who made us feel very welcome. Thanks also to everyone who came and enjoyed a chat and a drink with us while looking through our unique range of kitchen displays. It was a lovely day with 3 appointments made for next week. Fab! But after all the champagne has been drunk and the nibbles nibbled I thought you might like to take a sneaky behind the scenes look at what went on to open the shop on time.
We saw these premises in early March
And when we went inside this is what we found.
Not a pretty sight. A lot of hard work ahead for Darren. 5 weeks to go until opening day. Gulp! Let the rip out commence.
Opening day 21 April 2012. Thrilled with the transformation!
Big thanks to Huw, Darren, Janet and Phil Stevens, Adrian the decorator, Bob my landlord, all our neighbours for endless tea when we didn’t have any power, Dale, Jason, Asad, Sam, David, Eric, Tony of Daisy Hill Electrics, John the Glassman and Mum and Dad. Thank you all so much for all your help and support. I know it’s a cliche but without you lot this wouldn’t have been possible. I really do appreciate it. Love to you all xxxxxxx
Friday, April 6th, 2012, Recipes
We just cooked this for dinner, it’s a beautiful recipe from Gary Rhodes and is one of my all time favourite fish dishes. If you’re watching your weight simply make the mash potatoes with skimmed milk only and use just one tablespooon of oil in the dressing – still tastes amazing!
PANFRIED SEABASS WITH CHILI SPRING ONIONS AND CREAMY POTATOES
4 x 175-225g sea bass fillets
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
a small pinch of five spice powder
3 tablespoons olive or sesame oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch of spring onions, finely shredded
1 red chilli, very finely chopped
plain flour for dusting
a knob of unsalted butter
450g large, floury potatoes, preferably Maris Piper, peeled and quartered
50g unsalted butter
75ml single cream or milk
salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked, approx 20-25 minutes, depending on size.
Drain off all water and replace the lid. Shake the pan vigorously, which will start to break up the boiled potatoes.
Add the butter and single cream or milk, a little at a time, while mashing the potatoes.
Season with salt, pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg according to taste.
The potatoes will now be light, fluffy, creamy and ready to eat. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To make the dressing, boil the soy sauce, mirin and five spice powder together, then remove from the heat. Mix with the olive or sesame oil and season with a twist of pepper, if necessary. Mix all of the spring onions with the chopped chilli.
To fry the sea bass, lightly flour on the skin side and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a frying pan with a little olive oil. Cook the bass on the floured side for a few minutes, then turn it over and adding a knob of butter and remove from the heat. The fish could take a little longer to cook, depending on the thickness of fillets.
Once the fish has been turned over, heat the dressing and add the spring onions and chilli mix. This must be warmed on a high heat and once the dressing is reaching boiling point, remove from the heat.
To present the dish, sit the seabass on top of a generous spoonful of soft mashed potato and spoon the spring onion and chilli around.
Monday, March 19th, 2012, News
Follow @gorgeouskitchen on Twitter and keep up to date with all the latest kitchen design trends, new products, hints, tips and recipes.
Tuesday, August 16th, 2011, News
After advising customers on the design and installation of numerous kitchens, I thought it was about time to sort mine out. Here’s the existing kitchen. Cupboards were fifteen years old and we’d put new doors and worktops on around five years ago.
So far so good. We managed to sell this kitchen for £500 on ebay so well worth thinking about if you are looking to replace a kitchen that’s not too ancient!
The two pictures above show the problem I wanted to sort out. An existing cupboard under the stairs and the position of the door from the hallway as well as the rad on the wall meant that a big chunk of space was being wasted in the kitchen. It also meant that we had to have an under the counter fridge which isn’t the best solution for a family of 5! I wanted to work out a way to make more of this space and I also really, really wanted to have a double fronted fridge freezer in the kitchen. So when I designed and planned the new kitchen I thought I just might get one in this space with a bit of crafty door shifting. First job was to block up the cupboard under the stairs and cut a new door under the side of the stairs in the hall. So builders in, Huw and the kids down to their uncles for the week! Time to get busy. Next job was to breeze block the existing kitchen door and cut a new doorway. This would let us use the space at the end of the kitchen more effectively and get the double fronted fridge freezer in that we really needed.
To this. Pull out larders either side of the new fridge freezer gave us bags of new storage and the wine rack gives Huw somewhere to stash his favourite Rioja. Not that it lasts very long : )
And here’s the rest of the kitchen. The lighter floor, worktops and walnut cupboard fronts work together with a beautiful handleless walnut door and purple glass splashback. I love it! What do you think?