The Process

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A new kitchen is an exciting and creative adventure; and, a very personal one. A venture that involves time, planning and relationship-building.

The first step - contact us. Come and see us. Come and see our showroom and see the cabinetry and quality of which we are proud. We love showing it! Get in touch with me - Crisi - I love to chat. Always have!

Step two: arrange a meeting with one of our designers, with any plans and ideas, mood boards or wish lists you may have. Or, if you live a little further afield, we can arrange for you to have a telephone meeting - all you need to do is send us any plans and ideas you might have.

Step three: our designers will develop an initial plan - a design and estimate based on your requirements - with suggested features, worktops and appliances, if needed. And, we will send these to you so you can mull over them at your leisure.

It’s getting exciting now!

Step three continued: when you’re ready, we invite you to our showroom or arrange another meeting to discuss the first draft. This is when we can discuss materials, additional options, amendments etc. This is primarily for showing you what we can achieve with your budget. If you are happy with our suggestion, we ask for a 10% cabinetry deposit based on the estimated cost - and….

Step four: we begin designing! We provide real-life, useful renders and plans throughout the design process, helping you to visualise your eventual kitchen. Based on discussions with you throughout, our aim is to design exactly what you envisage. And more. Plus, I’m at the other end of the phone to help with any questions you’ll have along the way, too!

Step five: as soon as the final design has been agreed, we ask for a further 30% of the final estimated cost. This secures the materials and workshop time - we like to work on one kitchen at a time so it can be given our fullest attention; and, the workshop feels its style from the first templates through to the painting room.

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Step six: your kitchen is being made. You are more than welcome to visit us and watch. Our current lead-time, from the final design agreement, is 8 - 12 weeks.

Step seven: once your kitchen is finished, it is checked by our designers before it is allowed to leave. Following this, our Installation team is ready, if we are installing. Or, for supply-only kitchens, our kitchen is ready to go.

Step eight: your kitchen is installed, surveyed and finished by our installation team!

Step nine: ta-dah! Sit back, admire and enjoy your new kitchen.

And, finally…

Step ten: this is where you’ll probably get an email or phone call from me, asking if I can come to visit you in your kitchen, for a photo-shoot. I get super excited about this.

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Keeping it organised!

So, that’s it for another year. The festivities have drawn to a close and we have now welcomed in 2019.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas?

I had a fabulous time celebrating with my nearest and dearest - consuming way too much food, as per.

Now it’s January, I’m interested to know, who’s got a classic – oh so cliché – case of: new year, new me?

Whether that’s being more organised, keeping healthy, or something more personal to you – January is the month that usually kick-starts a new way of thinking. We’re not sure we can help with everything, but when it comes to organising – especially in the kitchen – I think our team knows a thing, or two!

Here’s a few ideas & tips for creating your ideal bespoke, clutter-free kitchen.

 

1. Deep Drawer Storage

A real must-have for those of us who prefer to hide things away. Out of sight – out of mind. Sound familiar? However, effortlessly concealed deep drawer storage is definitely the right way to do it.

It’s that super-easy kind of organisation, that is totally satisfying, but with minimum effort.

And, because they are easily accessible, many of our customers choose deep drawer storage to hide away pots, pans, baking trays and dishes.

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2. Bespoke Cutlery Divider

Hands up if you have ‘issues’ with the cutlery drawer at home?

I think many of us suffer from being overly particular when it comes to cutlery organisation.  

It’s important – and, we understand.

Everything has it’s place, right?  But, there just never seems to be enough room and the drawer becomes more of a social gathering for random objects, than that perfectly organised layout that enables us to sleep soundly at night.

Our bespoke cutlery dividers are created with you in mind, designed to ensure space for all and the ultimate way to organise your drawers.

Also, have you ever thought about changing your standard and easily muddled spice rack, to a neat and sleek bespoke drawer rack? If you haven’t, then we definitely recommend it. We’ve really enjoyed creating more and more of these lately – our customers certainly know how to make life easier for themselves.

Top Tip

It’s best to keep everything you need to cook in drawers near the hob. Plus, placing your most frequently used items at the top is going to reduce any frantic cooking spillages, whilst searching for what you need.

 

3. Bespoke Plate Rack

I think this has got to be a favourite design feature of mine – organised, practical and very, very pretty. Who would have thought it would now be stylish to display crockery? But, it is all the rage and interior fanatics are all over the open-shelving trend. Freeing up your cupboard space and injecting splashes of personality – plate dividers create that ‘organised home vibe’ you are totally aiming for.

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 4. Magic Corner

A magic corner is probably one of the most essential tools to have in your mission for kitchen organisation. A magic corner makes access to a corner unit simple whilst maximising the space. They have the ability to bring the contents of the cupboard to you – without having to stretch or go in blind. Ideal for storing larger kitchen items – a magic corner is simply – brilliant. And, leaves your worktops clutter-free. Just imagine organising all that Tupperware - bliss!

Top Tip

Whilst tempting - try to overfill your magic corner – keep it neat & practical.


 4. Chopping Board Storage

Chopping on an oak chopping block is the best kind of chopping! But, having them perfectly and – oh so cleverly – integrated within bespoke cabinetry – certainly makes them more organised, accessible and adds a really beautiful touch to your painted kitchen.

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6. Larder

What’s great about larders, is that they can be designed exactly to your requirements! And, perhaps used as the perfect spot for hiding away a microwave or coffee machine? With shelves and drawers aplenty – larders are the ideal way to organise your kitchen.

You can even maximise space by having bespoke door racks and stocking them with yummy treats!

Top Tip

Store dried foods in clear containers/jars  - it’s simple, cost-effective and really rather stylish! For maximum organisation – get creative but drawing up some labels too!

 

7. Pull-Out Waste System

Recycling is important and it doesn’t have to be difficult.  A pull-out waste system, integrated into your cabinetry, is an effortlessly easy way to hide rubbish, and keeps it all in the same (and very tidy) place too! There’s just something about recycling that’s good for the soul – helping in your mission to become a king or queen of kitchen organisation.

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 That’s the real beauty of having a bespoke kitchen – a properly bespoke kitchen – you can choose the elements and features that are going to make your life easier, organised and of course – that little bit more beautiful.

The kitchen may be the busiest room in the house – but it certainly doesn’t need to be the most chaotic. Your kitchen should be an enjoyable living-space, which is why our team at Collins Bespoke design your kitchen around your lifestyle – to help you!

 

Happy New Year everyone!

Crisi x

Christmas Kitchen

The kitchen – a place where food is prepared and cooked, families gather and dancing to cheesy classics is a must (after a few glasses!)

So, why is it that this very important space, where memories are made, can often be neglected when it comes to Christmas decorating? Is it fair that year after year, our living-rooms are suddenly adorned with trees, tinsel, fireplace frills and ornaments, yet the kitchens misses out on an annual seasonal makeover?

Here at Collins Bespoke, we think the kitchen is the most-deserving of places to be beautifully decorated and at the centre of that warm Christmassy feeling at home. The kitchen should set the tone for the rest of the home, it is – after all – where the main event – dinner – magically appears from.

We’ve listed 5 of our favourite ‘Christmas Kitchen’ ideas, to create a fabulous family-festive atmosphere this year.

 

1. Bring the outdoors in

2018 has seen a love for indoor plants grow – massively. From Cacti and Succulents, to Aloe Vera and Cheese Plants – there’s no home interior enthusiast currently without a sizable, stylish selection. Christmas is the perfect time to change things up a little - and, introducing festive beauties such as: holly, ivy, mistletoe, sprigs and of course, a traditional Poinsettia, - is a wonderful way to remain super stylish whilst bringing a touch of Christmas to the kitchen.

Home-made wreaths - to be hung indoors - are another beautiful way of bringing the outdoors in, this year. Whether your style is vintage, modern or traditional - home-made wreaths are bespoke – a lot like us – and can be personalised to match your interiors. We love wreaths. They are natural and earthy. Plus, creating them is a fun activity to enjoy with the little ones.

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2. Christmas smells

Christmas is the time of year when all of our senses go into over-drive. We are completely overloaded by twinkling lights, festive flavours and nostalgic tunes. There’s just so much to take in. But, the scents of Christmas – for me – are on a whole different level of amazing!

The kitchen is an ideal spot to get creative with Yuletide aromas.  Cinnamon, mulled wine and gingerbread create the perfect Christmassy ambience, and - if you don’t feel like creating on the hob - there’s plenty of different ways to bring these smells into your home.

Scented candles are a lovely way to soften a kitchen, bringing both light and scent, whilst sending out calm and cosy vibes. Plug-ins are also a brilliant way to change the feel of a room – there’s just something about walking into the kitchen and smelling ‘Christmas Spices’ rather than last nights leftovers. Similarly – seasonal wax melts have the same soothing effect.

There’s a well-known disinfectant brand currently storming the supermarket shelves with festive fragrances, too. I’ve stocked up for this year – and next.

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3. Decorations

At Collins Bespoke – if you weren’t already aware - we just love extended-kitchen living. So, it’s no wonder that we love the idea of having just as many decorations in the kitchen – as there are in the rest of the home.

Why not introduce a few ornaments to window sills and worktops? Red - has and always will be – a beautiful Christmas colour. But, with tastes and styles changing, remember to work with what you’ve got. If you’ve an elegant Shaker like our lovely Dalmally kitchen below, it will really lend itself to more subtle touches of silver and white.  

Or, you could add a traditional focal point but popping a garland on your mantle (complimenting your wreaths and evergreens!)

Have you considered edible decorations, too? We tried this in our showroom – filling jars with sweets and chocolates – but alas, they were gobbled up pretty quickly by our hungry elves from the workshop. Home-made gingerbread houses, decorated with colourful sweet treats and taking pride of place upon a dresser, really can add a sprinkle of Christmas magic to the kitchen too!

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4. Music

Everyone has their favourite Christmas song. Mine is ‘Stop the Cavalry’ (I’ve just put it on) by Jona Lewie. I love nothing better than bopping around my kitchen to the  - ‘dub a dub a dumbs’ on Christmas Day. If you can’t perform silly dances – very seriously – at Christmas, when can you? Make the kitchen your stage. Play music from here. And, turn it up louder when cooking!

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5. Cocktail Spot

For my family - Christmas means - cocktails. And, even if your kitchen isn’t home to it’s very own bespoke drinks cabinet, it’s still possible to create a festive designated cocktail-making area. Find the perfect spot on a worktop, island or butchers table and wow your guests by popping some LED string lights into your favourite empty bottles - a mix of styles and sizes looks best - to give a dramatic but homely look. Add a chopping board, fruit, a pot of pretty paper straws, funky stirrers, plus your drinks and you’re ready to go! Why not dangle some lights from the cabinetry over the area too, just to make it that little bit more glam?

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From all of us here at Collins Bespoke, we hope you & your families have a really fantastic Christmas. Sending out the biggest thank you to all of our wonderful clients this year. We are so looking forward to 2019 and the exciting projects it will bring.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Crisi and all the team! x

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A new kind of Christmas

We are very nearly approaching the end of November, which (I think) means it’s just about acceptable to start talking about Christmas. This year, it’s kind of a big deal for me. And of course, my family.

Gone are the days where we would be sent to bed and bounce up the stairs with animated faces, our bellies full of butterflies and totally unaware that this was now prime time for sneaky carrot munching, secret sherry gulping and hidden mince pie nibbling from the grown-ups downstairs. My favourite illusion of all time. And, the most successful.

But, even though the years have passed us by and life has seen plenty of changes, one thing has always remained the same. Christmas was at home. My mother would always cook and the kitchen would proudly take on it’s important role as the central hub of happenings; the Christmas songs on repeat throughout the day spilling out - always starting with the nostalgic hum of carols, the fridge always perfectly ‘tetris-style-stacked’ with homemade goodies, the mouth-watering smells forever oozing and making tummys rumble with sheer excitement, home to the first toast of champagne for the day and the place where you’d always find my dear Grandmother drinking a cocktail, whilst peeling a mountain of vegetables. And, whilst we were all tucking into our favourite meal of the year in the dining room, it was the kitchen the Queens voice would softly flow from - encouraging us to hush so we heard at least a little of the speech, of course.

The kitchen; a place of tradition.

This year -  however - my mother isn’t cooking. And this year, we won’t be celebrating in the family home. This year, for the first time, my family and I will be spending Christmas at my house. It’s about time I took on the role as chief ‘Christmas Day Host’ and let my mother take a well-deserved step down from job. But, can I really follow in those very big, very traditional, very well-oiled footsteps? I think there’s something quite spectacular in nailing Christmas Day, it’s an art.  Can I get it right?

My partner and I have a good-sized kitchen, so that’s a start. There’s definitely enough room for Christmas morning ‘welcomes’, hugs and “let me take your jackets?”.  Plenty of space for after-dinner games around the table, very important cocktail making and festive Prosecco-fueled dancing whilst waiting for the (damn) potatoes to crisp. But, can I succeed in ensuring the same homely atmosphere we’ve had for the past 30 years? Can I carry on our much-loved traditions in a new space? Will my kitchen stand up to the test and provide my family with smells, sounds, and sights that have been an annual familiarity for decades?

I am slowly preparing myself, and by preparing, I mean decluttering my cupboards and rearranging my pots, pans, trays and cutlery. That’s important, right? Especially if the ladies in your family are as nosey as mine. Is this your first time hosting Christmas too? How are you prepping for the day? Is your larder full to the brim and stocked with all the festive must-have essentials? I’ve always quite fancied owning a larder, for both practicality and style. Though I know I’d forever be rearranging it, especially at this time of year. In homes up and down the country, I’m sure the very top of the larder is currently being used to hide chocolatey treats from little hands before the big day…

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I have to keep reminding myself that us newbies still have time. Time to stock up and time to write another list of ‘to-dos’.  But, I’m already waking up in the night thinking about synchronising integrated ovens and timing sprouts to perfection. Are you? It’s little things like that though, the synchronisation of integrated ovens, that are going to make this whole thing so much easier, right?

Yes, it’s going to be different this year. But, I have faith in myself, my home and my kitchen.  

Plus, I know my family do too.

After all, that’s what it’s all about. It’s the people you love that make Christmas, Christmas. Whether it’s family through blood or friends that have become family. That’s definitely the most important thing. And, that’s why I love working for a family run company – especially during the festive season. Here at Collins Bespoke, we believe in that family Christmas spirit too, so designing and creating beautiful kitchens - that are ready to entertain family life, is something we really take pride in.

Hoping all your preparations are going really well. It’s going to be great…(just don’t forget to enjoy yourself too!)

Crisi x

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Hygge for the Kitchen

How many of you are familiar with the term, Hygge?

And, if you are, are you even pronouncing it right? Before reading ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Meik Wiking, I had no idea that it was actually pronounced ‘hoo-guh’. Mind you, I’m still getting my head around the word Quinoa, so it’s no surprise really.

Apparently, the way it’s said and spelt really isn’t the important thing. It’s how it’s felt.

Hygge is all about feelings. It’s the Danish way to ‘live well’.  It’s an atmosphere. An experience; the idea of feeling totally safe, comfortable and ultimately happy in your surroundings. I’m pretty sure it’s my favourite word – I mean feeling. To me, Hygge conjures up cosy thoughts of blankets, oversized slipper socks, endless amounts of tea, Netflix-binging and delicious scented wax melts. It’s a warm place with the ability to sooth an anxious mind and calm the soul. I’m sure I’m not the only one who craves days like this, especially at this time of year. This is the Hygge season.

If you are like me, then you probably spent the weekend enjoying the delights of Bonfire Night. Because, Monday evening is not the ideal time to venture out in the cold after work, is it? Anyway, even going out in itself could have been considered a Hygge moment. Winter coats, gloves and your trusty bobble hat. That’s pretty cosy. Enjoying the company of your friends and loved ones, whilst having your first Mulled Wine of the year, I’d say that’s very Hygge. But, of course, tonight is the actual night. So, I reckon… give dogs a little break from the noise and have a Hygge night in, instead. Dim the lights, burn candles, pop on your PJs, grab some treats and set yourself up for an evening of calm.

At this point, you are probably imagining yourself curled up on the sofa -which is great. But, Hygge isn’t just about the living room. The kitchen is a perfect ‘happy place’ too. Surely, the hub of your home must encounter the most Hygge moments? Afterall, it is where that magnificent scent of coffee wafts from and the place where your autumnal soup gently simmers.

I’ve shortlisted my favourite Hygge concepts for the kitchen – enjoy!

  • Warm colours have the ability to transform any room from ‘just a space’ into Hygge Headquarters. In the kitchen, this can be achieved with beautiful painted cabinets or seasonal accessories.

  • Wood plays a huge role in the Hygge show. Wood in the kitchen makes us feel closer to nature; it is simple and natural, just like the concept of Hygge.

  • Styling your dresser with beautiful ceramics is sure to give you that warm Hygge glow.

  • Create a Hygge moment by adding a bespoke bookshelf and showcasing cookbooks.

  • Butler sinks are not only incredibly easy on the eye, but they also enhance that cosy farmhouse feeling.

  • The ultimate Hygge vibes come from comfort food, especially at this time of year. I can’t think of anything more Hygge than home cooking on an Aga. Can you?

 And finally,

Have you heard of a ‘Hyggekrog’?

According to ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ it’s the one thing that every home needs. It roughly translates as ‘a nook’ and is the place in a room where snuggling up under a blanket, reading a book and stargazing out the window happens. The more I read about ‘Hyggekrog’, I discover most Hygge lovers have found this special place in their kitchens, of course.

Enjoy your night in, I know I will.

Crisi :)

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Meet the team!

It’s been a while since ‘Collins Bespoken’ has last spoken. And, we can only apologise. This shall not happen again, promise. There have been some exciting changes here within our showroom, office and workshop lately; it’s the perfect excuse to start typing again. I have blog ideas aplenty and I’m so looking forward to sharing them with you.

But, to begin, I thought this would be a great chance for our wonderful customers, the current and the ‘yet to be’, to get to know our fabulous team here at Collins Bespoke.

We know it’s important!

It’s also been super helpful for me, Crisi, because I’m new here. Hello!

Let’s start with these two, Nick and Gemma.

Nick – Director, Designer & Operations Manager

Nick has been designing kitchens and making bespoke cabinetry for over 20 years. Nick’s unique ability to visualise and design very beautiful spaces, complemented by thorough and unrivalled practical knowledge have positioned him as a respected and popular designer. He designs and oversees all of Collins Bespoke’s projects.

 Things you should know about Nick:

  • Swim

  • Bike

  • Run

(That was nice and easy!)

Gemma – Co-Owner & Business Development Manager

Initially, Gemma worked supporting Nick and the Collins Bespoke team, administratively. However, her role grew along with the company and she now oversees the development of the business, its strategy and its marketing.

 Things you should know about Gemma:

  • Parenting

  • Bike

  • Run

Of course!

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Tom – Kitchen Designer

Tom has been working with Collins Bespoke for nearly four years. Having started out with a three year apprenticeship in bench joinery, Tom then moved on to furniture and cabinetry. You’ll now find him designing kitchens, whilst still getting involved with the action in the workshop.

Things you should know about Tom:

  • He enjoys clay pigeon shooting (and had to explain to me what that was!)

  • West Ham is his team!

  • Skiing & Ibiza, every year, is a must.

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Adrian – Workshop Manager

Adrian has been making cabinets since the age of 16. He has been part of the Collins Bespoke team for four years now; he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Things you should know about Adrian:

  • Las Vegas is his favourite place, a yearly visit is always on the cards. (I made a joke!)

  • Adrian is a self-confessed workaholic.

  • He loves getting out and about, when he’s not at work.

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Ryan - Cabinet Maker/Joiner

Ryan is our Cabinet Maker/Joiner here at Collins Bespoke and has been with the company for the past two and a half years. He came to us straight from school to complete an apprenticeship and liked it so much – he is still here.

Things you should know about Ryan:

  • Holidays abroad make him smile.

  • He is a car person, cars are his thing!

  • He likes eating out, but, also going to the gym – that’s fair.

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Howard – Cabinet Maker/Joiner

After studying at the London College of Furniture, Howard went on to have a vast career in bench joinery, cabinet making and shed/out-building manufacturing. He joined the team here 8 months ago!

Things you should know about Howard:

  • His thing is target shooting (and I’ve heard he’s pretty good.)

  • Oh, and clay pigeon shooting too.

  • Howard is also a dab hand at scale modelling.

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Andrew - Chief Sprayer

It’s been three and a half years since Andrew first started at Collins Bespoke and he loves his working environment here with us, (who wouldn’t!)

Things you should know about Andrew:

  • Andrew is currently building his own home, impressive right?

  • His family are the most important thing to him.

  • Visiting new places is good for his soul.

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Bradley - Sprayer/Fitter

Bradley has been a member of the Collins Bespoke team for three and a half years. He loves his job, it’s just that simple.

Things you should know about Bradley:

  • He has been kickboxing for nine years – don’t mess with him.

  • Following football is a big deal.

  • Being out and about with his pals is a good place to be.

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Dylan - Sprayer/Painter

Dylan began working with Collins Bespoke 4 months ago, following in big brother Bradley’s footsteps.  (I’ve only just discovered they are brothers – see I’m learning too!)

Things you should know about Dylan:

  • You’ll often find him sitting by a lake, fishing.

  • Like his brother, Dylan is big into kickboxing.

  • He is the baby of our team, awh!

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Alex - Bench Joinery Apprentice

Alex is our Bench Joinery Apprentice and has been working here for about a year and a half. He has always had a keen interest in joinery and is so pleased to be doing something he enjoys every day!

Things you should know about Alex:

  • Socialising is important. Fact.

  • He loves cycling.

  • The gym is Alex’s happy place.

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George –  Bench Joinery Apprentice

Like me, George is another newbie to team Collins Bespoke. Before starting about a month ago, George studied furniture making at college. He is now enjoying developing his skills and the ongoing learning with us.

Things you should know about George:

  • George is definitely the outdoorsy type.

  • He has been cliff diving (gasp, definitely the outdoorsy type!)

  • Swimming and mountain biking make a happy George.

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And, finally.

Me…

Crisi – Brand Manager

My journey with Collins Bespoke has literally just begun and I am super excited. I’ve had quite a varied range of previous employment but can honestly say, I now feel like I’ve found my place, finally.

Things you should know about Crisi:

  • My family are the most important thing to me.

  • Since renovating our first home, I absolutely love anything to do with interior design.

  • I am about to become the proud owner of a Whippet puppy – I am ecstatic.  

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I hope that’s been helpful to those of you wanting to get to know our team a little better.

I must say, it truly is a lovely one.

 

Crisi x

Are we deserting the dining room?

Former 'Great British Bake Off' judge, Mary Berry, has made headlines this week for claiming that she and her husband are done with their dining room. That they prefer to use their kitchen. That their kitchen is more 'homely' and 'informal.' 

Read more from The Times.

Mary Berry! Yes!

100%

In the years we have been designing and making kitchens, the kitchen - the hub of the home, the cog that keeps family-life fuelled and friends fed; where we eat and entertain; and, where we work (I am at my island right now!) and play - has become a show-piece. With sparkly worktops, appliances you don't want to hide and painted cupboards in shades crafted over weeks of contemplation, the kitchen is where we choose to be sociable.

Not the dining room!

Open-plan entertaining: dining, island-seating - a sociable space. Loved too by lovely doggy, Toffee.

Open-plan entertaining: dining, island-seating - a sociable space. Loved too by lovely doggy, Toffee.

Open-plan living: space enough for friends and family.

Open-plan living: space enough for friends and family.

We can be more sociable in a kitchen - more relaxed, more creative. The trend to live open-planned means that in our busy and often very chaotic lives, we can still cook, chat, work, eat together.

All at once, if we want! All at once, if you have small children ... bah!

The open-plan kitchen-dining room involves everyone.

There is no island in a dining room, around which a toddler can run 100 times, while you're serving up pancakes on a Saturday morning.

There is no island in a dining room, around which a toddler can run 100 times, while you're serving up pancakes on a Saturday morning.

As for the island - I may be working at mine right now, but - it is a focal point. Like a centre-stage, with seating - it involves the chef and the guests; I can cook whilst talking to my friends or watching my children play in the garden.

With huge followings for TV cookery and baking shows, we love to watch food being prepared and cakes being made. It is no surprise that we want to be in the kitchen.

And, who would not want to be entertained in a kitchen as wonderful as this one?

And, who would not want to be entertained in a kitchen as wonderful as this one?

Not sure I mentioned that there is no wine cooler in a dining room, either. 

Mr and Mrs Collins' Alpine Adventures for the William Harvey's NICU

With the holidays finally finished, the children returned to their better places of productivity, and giving Mrs Collins, the ability to work properly, again, we thought it about time to update on our joint charitable venture. You see, at the end of July, Nick and I did something quite mad - to thank the William Harvey's NICU/SCBU.

In June 2014, our little boy kicked his way into this world 10 weeks before he should have. He was taught to breathe and survive by miracle-workers, who do this sort of thing, daily, in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent. We have been wanting to do something, for some time, to thank them. 

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Often, I take bits and pieces to them for use in the family room - colouring books, stickers, etc., - we had a sibling who needed entertaining too! However, we wanted to do something that took a lot of effort and commitment - to show our appreciation and to raise money for them.

So, Nick entered the Alpe d'Huez long course triathlon; and, I did the shorter - but, very intensely fast - Alpe d'Huez Duathlon.

And, wow! Beautiful events but, very, very, VERY tough terrain. 

Training for these events did take a lot of energy - mentally and physically. However, as the sponsorships increased, our commitment had to, too. 

We did complete the events! I was, amazingly, the 10th woman overall and 1st female Brit. That warranted quite a large glass of wine. Nick's event was tougher - much tougher - and still, he was a top 10 British finisher.

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Above all, we have raised over £600 for East Kent Hospitals Trust - with the focus being on NICU and SCBU. We have not yet closed the Just Giving page and won't until the end of October ... I have one more thing I want to try to boost the funds ... Watch this space!

If you would like to help by donating, click here - our link to our JustGiving page.

In addition, we are hoping to become official sponsors of the new Tiny Toes charity, launched this year.

 

Wine Cooler Me Down!

I absolutely love the warm weather. It reminds me of Mediterranean escapes and the ‘big’ summer holidays: loved as a child – and, loved even more in my student days.

This weekend, I absolutely loved my wine cooler! Which, is not just for wine, I might add … It played a fabulous part in keeping me chilled. Kind of.

We seem to be fitting quite a few of these into our kitchens; and, we, and our clients, are really impressed with CDA’s options – for price and quality.

And, because they remind us of Center Parcs! Of course.

Their range is quite vast – integrated or free-standing (we integrate them all, anyway.) Single columns, dual zones – for different wines, full-height … however, you like to keep your vino. They also look pretty good, too. I like, particularly, the one that can handle more wine!

Sadly, mine was full of sparkling water – two small children (one being a toddler boy,) are enough of an excuse for a daytime tipple – the bath routine may go better, perhaps – but they’re like predators if my sanity slips, slightly.

So, chilled fizzy water, from my wine cooler, in a wine glass was quenching enough – in fact, it was lovely!  

I started on the fizzy alcoholic stuff at 8pm, when I could enjoy it.

Thank you, CDA.

More about CDA's wine coolers can be found here:

http://www.cda.eu/wine-coolers/

And, let me know if you'd like to buy one - we are CDA suppliers.

Our Kitchens are Good for YOUR Economy

With a vote for Brexit and now a snap General Election, the country’s economy has become an endless roller-coaster. Are we expecting a lot to change – or not? We don’t know.

What we do know is, here at Collins Bespoke, we are still going to be designing and making beautiful kitchens, throughout it all. And, we also know that what we do is good for the economy – especially, your economy.

Good for the Local Economy

The Brexit vote has seen an increase in support for campaigns such as 'Make it British,' 'Made in Britain' – and, our own local one, 'Keep it in Kent.' Buying within the country and, even more significantly, within your local area, is so important, right now. And, of course, we try to do this where we can.

Not only do we use predominantly local suppliers but our whole team is locally sourced, too. We are home-grown. We are from Kent, our team is from Kent (well, Sue is from Essex! And Andrezj from Poland!) But, we live in Kent, raise our families in Kent. Shop in Kent and so on … 

When we are commissioned a kitchen, it is very much a true Kentish kitchen, which keeps many Kentish crafts-people, and businesses, employed too.

Buying a kitchen from us helps the Kent economy, and therefore the British economy.

But, also good for your economy

Most of all, a kitchen designed and made by us is good for your economy.

1.       Our design process makes the most of your kitchen space – there is no standard cabinet size, to us, and we can make every space useful and efficient.

2.       We design, make and build all our kitchens in our workshop, in Bethersden, which means we have no unnecessary travel overheads.

3.       And, our showroom is here too – which means we rein in our rental overheads.

4.       We have no lower order limit, like many kitchen companies. Our prices do not start at a set five-figure sum.

5.       Instead, our prices are based on how much you’d like us to make – you might want a small kitchen refurbished or a huge space elaborately filled; you might like simple cabinetry or incredibly opulent detailed joinery. (See more about our pricing, here.)

6.       We source locally – whether it is woodturning or saw-sharpening, subcontractors, suppliers – even our milk! We try to keep as much as we can locally. Even our wood often comes from a timber supplier in Marden!

7.       We keep an eye on budgets – for an English graduate, I really like numbers and number analysis, strangely. But, these mean savings and we pass these savings over to you.

8.       No shareholders to appease. Only our staff – who can be more demanding than shareholders, of course!

If you would like to see what we can do for you, give us a call! We always have biscuits and coffee beans on offer.

Finalists! Collins Bespoke! Kent Excellence in Business Awards! Boom!

It has taken nearly a day to absorb ... I am so so so happy!

Yesterday, we received a call from Lisa Cranney, Hatten-Wyatt Solicitors, the sponsors of the KEIBA Best Small Business Award for 2017, to tell us that we are on the short-list! Whoop whoop!

Out of nearly 50 nominations, we are in the selected few, who will meet the judges who will determine who wins.

I am absolutely ecstatic to be thus recognised - we are a new(ish), small, bespoke company - but we dream big - this is big! 

And, our team - well, well done, you guys!

Thank you, the team, KEIBA, Lisa and Hatten-Wyatt and, of course, all our customers. I am beyond amazed.

Eek!

Gemma

(This mum so hopes she gets the chance to wear a dress, soon.)

 

Mixing up the Textures

Glancing over some of our recent kitchen projects, it is quite clear to see a trend in mixing up textures and finishes. Very often, we make lovely kitchens where we see an obvious mix of natural wood and painted finishes, which is a real visual please - so, understandably popular, in bespoke kitchens.

The more ambitious add more unique and showy tactile materials.

Our beautiful kitchen, Court Lodge, is a brilliant example: traditional oak and painted cabinetry, and granite worktops. However, the central island is topped with a full zinc worktop. It looks fabulous. And, is a chef’s dream surface. Well-suited to its client, who can really cook!

Court Lodge island unit - painted cabinetry with zinc worktop.

Similarly, brass and copper have been very popular over the last few years. A very pretty kitchen we have made, Inglenook Cottage, had a stunning copper tap and copper accessories. They worked so well with the deep and dark Pelt paint finish. And, the quirky ceilings, rustic oak beams … a kitchen with so many inspiring features.

So, if you are currently planning your new kitchen, give us a call or come and see us; and, we can discuss the tactile feature you'd like.