New year new kitchen?
PUBLISHED: 12:07 29 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:07 29 December 2015
It's fascinating to glean what the master of a profession chooses when it comes to a personal project. What does a chef cook at home? Where does a travel expert go on holiday? What would Martin Ellis, lead designer of Unique Kitchens & Bedrooms want in his own kitchen?
With approximately 500 kitchen installations under his belt, plus a panoply of bathrooms, bedrooms and home offices, not to mention formal architecture training, it’s no surprise that Martin Ellis, with his wife, Nicky, took on a renovation project when they recently moved to Elmswell with their two children, Oliver
The kitchen is the hub of any home and this is certainly the case in the Ellis’ house, where meticulous consideration of layout combined with traditional style and modern overtones, plus the deployment of the latest technology and lighting, has created a sleek, light-rich and flexible family living space.
“It’s been a real success,” says Martin. “During the week, it is a fully functional kitchen and family hub, and hosts all the normal activities – food preparation, children’s baking projects, home work, eating together. Then at the weekends it perfectly accommodates entertaining guests and socialising. It offers adaptable functionality and everything we intended it to be has translated in reality.”
Both sides of the fence
The kitchen aspect of the Ellis’ renovation project absolutely reflects the service that Martin offers others through his business, based on Guildhall Street in Bury St Edmunds.
“At Unique we offer a complete package from the initial hand drawn and three dimensionally rendered designs through to the supply of the hand built kitchen and all appliances and worktops. In addition, we take care of every aspect of the installation, project managing any small building works and all the associated trades – plumbing, tiling, electrics and so on.” Then, in conjunction with Copeland Interiors in St John’s Street Martin offers a further interior design service if required. Happily, Copeland Interiors is actually owned by Martin’s sister, Clare Hindle, and is a family business that was previously run by Martin and Clare’s father, Ian Ellis, for 30 years before he retired. Martin is the first to admit that it was odd being his own client.
“At Unique, our ethos is to remove all the effort from the client – we take care of every aspect of the project, so all the client has to do is relax and enjoy the results taking shape. This time, I was the client so I was also putting in all the work behind the scenes. Nonetheless, it was still great to see it coming together and to experience a job from both sides of the fence.”
No fixed rules
The Ellis’ project took four months to complete from the drawing up of plans by Martin’s hand, and the building of the extension to house the kitchen, breakfast room and snug in one space, through to the installation of the hand-built, in-frame shaker units, work tops, appliances, as well as the final hand-painted touches. The result is nothing short of stunning and reveals what Martin believes is the secret to delivering an exceptional kitchen.
“There used to be a view that there was an unseen rulebook when it came to kitchen design, but actually at Unique, we place the ultimate importance on listening to the client and gaining a real insight into how they work in a kitchen and what they want. For us, there are no fixed rules to work by so we’re utterly freed up to solely focus on delivering exactly what the client wants, whilst also being able to provide guidance on what works both in terms of ergonomics and aesthetics.”
The results of this open-minded approach are exemplified in Martin and Nicky’s kitchen. Often a sink is conventionally positioned under a window, but their Franke ceramic under-counter sink is housed within the island unit so that the room’s double bi-folding doors can open out on to the garden. The island unit also occupies the centre of the kitchen to make a natural focus around which guests and family gravitate.
This freed up design approach also invigorates the style, sometimes marrying two different finishes, currently very fashionable in the world of kitchens. In the Ellis’ kitchen, straight sides and flowing curves are used in combination to soften the edges of the Silestone pure white quartz worktops, which are hard-wearing, heat and stain proof. The natural hue and patina of the bespoke burr oak island unit is also offset by a secondary style of hand-painted units – in Little Greene French Grey. Each finish not only complements, but proactively sets off the other.
Done right, this dual approach offers simplicity at its best as well as an effortlessly comfortable merging of traditional and modern styles. Interestingly, there is not a wall tile in sight. Instead the white quartz provides a splash back and simple clean lines – a theme also in place for the floor, which constitutes beautiful and understated natural marble tiles.
A light touch
Martin’s favourite aspect of his new kitchen is “the lightness. It’s wonderfully, bright, crisp and clean with the white worktops and French grey units.” The lightness is also achieved by making the very best use of natural daylight that floods in through the bi-folding garden doors, together with a comprehensive lighting layout that incorporates the main ceiling lights, top lighting and under lights, as well as the remote controlled colour-changing illumination housed within the island unit.
Martin’s favourite kitchen gadgetry currently includes the instant hot tap that delivers boiling water straight away. It comes with with a child safety device and an inbuilt filter that removes impurities and limescale. He’s also keen on steam ovens, which retain moisture during the cooking process, so both feature in the Ellis’ kitchen. The Neff steam oven is joined by a Falcon induction range oven – with double oven, a grill and five hob rings – a Neff combination microwave that doubles up as a proving drawer, as well as two warming drawers.
There’s also an all-encompassing home entertainment system delivering a stereo –networked with the family’s smart phone and tablet – terrestrial and satellite television that all run through a single unit of speakers.
The best piece of advice Martin has for anyone else embarking on creating a new kitchen or redeveloping an existing one is: “Really take time to think about what exactly you want and how you – and your family – use the space. And do feel welcome to get in touch if you want help.” w
Unique Kitchens & Bedrooms,2–3 Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1PS