7 Benefits of a Kitchen Island

What is a kitchen island? 

A kitchen island is a freestanding workspace that is accessible from all sides. They are designed to be counter-top height so the surface can be used while standing. The addition of stools provides an informal dining area in the heart of a kitchen. Positioned in the middle of the room, islands are commonly rectangular in shape, but they can be square, oval, crescent-shaped and freeform – whatever looks best in the available space.

From giving you additional storage space to providing a casual seating area for morning coffees, there are many benefits of a kitchen island. Butchers blocks, breakfast bars and islands are great ways to use wasted floor space, and they make the room more inviting. They can be installed as part of a complete kitchen remodelling, or added to an existing kitchen – islands are flexible, standalone units. And with a limitless range of styles, colours and finishes available, they will complement all kitchen designs. To highlight what is a kitchen island and why you should have one installed, here are the top 7 benefits of a kitchen island:

1. Kitchen islands add wow factor

An island gives the room a focal point and if it’s beautifully designed, it will add a luxurious touch. When it comes to planning your island, you can be creative with your ideas. Choose to have everything matching perfectly, or you can add a different colour by selecting a contrasting hue. Worktops can be mixed or matched with your other surfaces, and you can add matt and gloss together too. So that your new island ties in somewhat with the rest of the kitchen, carry some elements over such as the drawer and door handles.

2. Gain a casual seating area

No matter what size kitchen island you add, you gain an area to sit. Pop a stool or 2 at one end, and you’ve got the ideal place to eat breakfast and friends can sit and chat while you cook, prep or make a cuppa. Of course, if you have space for a large island, you’ll be able to seat the whole family for casual dinners. And for entertaining, guests will be instantly drawn around an island, plus it’s the perfect place to lay out snacks.

3. Provide extra storage space

One of the biggest benefits of a kitchen island is the additional storage gained. Cupboards, drawers, baskets and shelves give you room for all those kitchen items you need. Choose to have some of your things on display by using glass-fronted doors, open shelving or hanging racks. If you have a deep island you can have storage on all four sides.

4. Enjoy lots of worktop space

Spread yourself out with a clutter-free island worktop. There’s nothing nicer than chopping, mixing and serving when you have counter space to spare. For star bakers, a large worktop gives you room to roll out pastry and ice dozens of cupcakes. And for couples or families who enjoy cooking together, you’ll have extra elbow room. Choose your worktop material carefully to make the most of your island – Shaw Stone offers quality granite, quartz, marble and acrylic with plenty of advice about the best one to use.

5. Place appliances more conveniently

Having a hob, oven or sink in the island could be the ideal solution to your kitchen layout problems. Sometimes, a kitchen just doesn’t work well if the white goods are badly placed. By installing one of these appliances into the island, everything flows better. You will also have additional workspace immediately around the hob or sink which makes life easier still.

6. Be part of the action

Working at a kitchen island allows you to join in with everyone else. Positioned in the centre of the room, you won’t feel left out and if you are facing the rest of your family, you can see what’s going on too. Perfect for keeping an eye on the kids while you prep dinner or for chatting to friends as you pour the wine.

7. A flexible piece of kitchen furniture

The benefits of a kitchen island include its flexibility. They can be used for all kinds of things and its function can change throughout the week. It’s a breakfast bar in the morning, a homework space after school and a food-prep table at dinner. Come the weekend, it turns into the mid-morning hub for coffee and a newspaper or the buffet space when friends join you for cocktails. If you have an island with wheels, you can even move it around the kitchen for times when you need the extra floor space.

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How to Choose the Right Colour Granite for Your Kitchen

Granite is by far one of the most popular materials employed within kitchen worktops. Not only is this an extremely durable surface, but the sheer variety of colours and patterns ensure that even the most demanding design requirements can be achieved. However, it can also be quite difficult to make an informed decision due to this very same plethora of options. Not only will you have to take into account personal preferences, but it is important to point out that a handful of guidelines need to be followed in order to ensure that the best choice is made. Let’s take a look at how the colours of granite worktops can have an impact upon your surrounding kitchen environment as well as what factors need to be addressed.

Light or Dark Granite Colours for Kitchens?

Before moving on to examining factors such as patterns and visual textures, it is wise to consider whether light or dark granite is the most suited for your kitchen. One of the benefits attributed to darker tones is that they offer a sleek ambience and they are often easier to maintain. However, they can also cause a smaller space to appear slightly cramped. If your kitchen does not have access to a great deal of light, dark granite worktops can exacerbate this situation.

On the contrary, lighter colours are excellent choices if you are hoping to maximise the illusion of space within your kitchen. This arises from the fact that they are able to effectively reflect any ambient light. The only possible drawback is that stains are more noticeable on lighter surfaces. Thus, more maintenance may be needed. If you are looking for a balance between light and dark, middle-of-the-road alternatives such as brown and beige could, therefore, represent logical solutions.

Selecting the Appropriate Pattern

One of the most attractive features of granite is that it is available in a handful of different patterns which include:

  • – Soled
  • – Speckled
  • – Marbled


Solid granite is often a wise choice if you happen to be dealing with smaller spaces, as more complicated patterns can make the kitchen appear too “busy”. Alternatively, a speckled surface is a great way to punctuate the area; providing you with an impressive means to accent nearby elements such as trim and cabinets. You can also select from a wide array of tonal variations. Marbled surfaces represent a compromise between the two options mentioned above. While you will still be provided with a stunning pattern, smoother and more subdued grains boast a softer visual appeal.

Choosing Kitchen Colour Schemes to Emphasise the Worktop

A bit of coordination can go a long way when addressing the colours of granite worktops. Try to find a visual balance in order to achieve a bespoke sense of symmetry. Here are some examples of this approach:

  • – Lighter cabinets can be paired with darker granite surfaces.
  • – Dark hardwood cabinets (such as mahogany) can work well with lighter or neutral-toned granite.
  • – Complimentary colours such as green cabinets or crown mouldings can be used in synergy with red, white or organically toned surfaces.

Each of these methods will provide a unique sense of contrast within your kitchen while simultaneously breaking up the existing space. It is a good idea to experiment with the colours of granite worktops by procuring small pieces in order to determine which is the most suited for the environment.

Final Considerations

The numerous colours of granite worktops ensure that you will be able to encounter the best solution for your needs. Still, we need to keep in mind that regular maintenance is critical if you hope to guarantee that these granite colours for kitchens will remain vibrant for decades. If cared for properly, the immortal appeal of this stone will provide a unique appeal that is not possible through the use of alternative materials.

Whether you are hoping to learn more about choosing kitchen colour schemes or if you would like to appreciate the kaleidoscope of variations currently available, please speak with a representative at Shaw Stone. We offer a wealth of unique options and our team is always more than happy to provide you with additional advice.

How to Properly Care for Your Quartz Worktops

There are certain elements within a home that seem to be able to withstand the test of time. In terms of kitchens, the presence of a bespoke quartz worktop offers an unparalleled sense of beauty and decades of reliable longevity. Not only is this stone available in a number of striking colours and grains, but no two surfaces are ever alike. Homeowners can therefore enjoy a level of aesthetic elegance that might not always be possible to other materials such as laminates or composite worktops. However, we also need to keep in mind that this hard-wearing stone will require some targeted maintenance techniques if you hope to maintain its aesthetic beauty and unrivalled functionality over the years. Let us quickly examine how to care for quartz worktops so that future issues can be avoided.

Maintaining the Sheen of Quartz

One of the most attractive qualities of a quartz workstation involves the natural lustre of the stone. While this is a very durable surface, the fact of the matter is that it can still be scratched. This is why it is prudent to avoid using cleaners which contain harsh abrasives and scouring pads when performing a regular cleaning. These can both cause minute scratches; leading to further damage due to the fact that water and other debris can accumulate within this scratches. Use a soft cloth and a cleaning agent that is specifically designed for quartz care and maintenance. Dry microfibre cloths are available at most retail outlets and hardware stores. Buff in small, circular motions in order to ensure that all debris is effectively removed.

Taking the Proactive Approach

Always be sure to wipe up any crumbs, dirt or debris as soon as they are noticed. They might otherwise become trapped between different sections of the worktop. The same holds true for accidental spills that might occur when cooking or preparing food. While quartz is not nearly as porous as other stones such as marble, any liquids left to stand can cause the surface to stain over time. If you happen to notice any stains, always employ a cleaner that has been specifically formulated for quartz worktops. Keep in mind that some dyes and oils contained within certain foods can permanently affect the appearance of your workstation. This brings us to the next professional recommendation.

Cleaners to Avoid

Never use any cleaning solution that is caustic or acidic. These can irreparably damage your quartz surface. Some examples which should be avoided at all costs include:

Solutions containing hydrochloric acid.

Caustic soda

Bleach or bleach derivatives

Acetone or similar paint strippers

This is why it is important to always read the back of any cleaning product before applying it to the surface. When in doubt, speak with a professional in order to determine a safe alternative.

Activities Within the Kitchen to Avoid

Understanding quartz care also involves appreciating what practices can cause damage. One of the mistakes which can be made is assuming that this stone is a virtually indestructible material. While it is indeed able to stand up to a significant amount of wear and tear, it is by no means immortal. Never cut food directly on the surface, as this can compromise the finish. It is better to employ a cutting board. There are even some stone cutting boards which can work in visual synergy with the quartz itself. Also, do not place hot pots or pans directly on your quartz workstation. Heat can likewise damage this stone and lead to discolourations over time. Keep any hot elements on the stove or employ the use of a heat-absorbing pad that can be placed atop the quartz. On a final note, do not place extremely heavy objects on a quartz worktop. These can lead to cracks and costly repairs in extreme situations.

A Bit of TLC Can Go a Long Way

Knowing how to care for quartz worktops is critical if you hope to fully enjoy all the beauty that these surfaces have to offer. All of the recommendations will come in handy and if you work within a particularly busy kitchen, it could be a good idea to print out this guide so that others can appreciate the steps to take.

If you are curious to learn more about quartz kitchen worktops or other modern alternatives, please contact a representative from Shaw Stone. Why not transform your kitchen into a functional work of art with a custom-made workstation?

How to Prepare for the Installation of a Granite Worktop

Silver Shimmer Installation

Known for their durability, functionality and sheer beauty, granite counters and workstations will add a truly elegant touch to any room. However, the installation process can be a bit more involved when compared to other materials such as laminate due to the sheer weight of this stone. This is why preparation well in advance is key. Let’s take a look at how to prepare for granite worktop installation as well as some practical concerns to address. You can then rest assured in the knowledge that your kitchen will be provided with a robust and practical element that will last for years into the future.

The Initial Process of Creating a Template

Silver Shimmer Installation

The experts at Shaw Stone will first visit your property in order to take exact measurements of the area in question. These will then be used to create a unique design pattern. Not only does this pattern take into account the existing counter configuration, but it can also be modified based around the requirements of the customer. In other words, no two designs are ever alike. This will add a personal touch to your kitchen.

Fabricating the Counter to Meet Demanding Dimensions

The next step involves physically fabricating the granite surface based off of the measurements mentioned in the previous paragraph. Thanks to modern technology and immense computing power, a digital template will be created. The stone is then cut in accordance with this template. Other concerns such as corners and the presence of taps are also taken into account during this process. The end result is a worktop that is perfectly suitable for your kitchen.

The Installation Process Itself

Installing granite worktops on existing cabinets can be a bit tricky; particularly due to their weight. This is why such an undertaking rarely represents a do-it-yourself project. The stone will need to be handled in such a way as to prevent it from breaking and undergoing unnatural levels of physical stress. This is also why properly manipulating granite counters requires a good deal of experience.

Our team of experts will first place the counter top over the cabinets to make certain that everything fits in place. In the event that the slabs are sectional, they will be fitted in the correct position so that all seams join tightly. A level is also used to ensure that the granite is perfectly parallel to the floor. This process can take a bit of time and yet, it is absolutely essential to guarantee that no future adjustments will be needed.

Safety and Stability Concerns

We should now point out that the weight of this stone may require additional support structures to ensure that no damage occurs to the underlying cabinets. Reinforcing cabinets for granite worktops is therefore an important part of the entire process.

In some instances, the professionals at Shaw Stone will need to install plywood around the periphery of the cabinets. This is done so that more structural support is present; helping to evenly distribute the weight of the granite worktop.

Examining the legs of the cabinets is just as important, as the weight of the slab will be translated directly through these sections. If they are not entirely secure, there is a risk that one or more will buckle when the granite is placed on top. So, technicians therefore intend to make absolutely certain that no structural imperfections are present. Please note that an inspection will likely be carried out during the initial consultation as well as on the day of the installation itself.

There are likewise several steps which customers can take to ensure that the installation is completed within a timely fashion. First and foremost, be sure to clear away any nearby furniture or accessories that might otherwise impede the workers. As more than one individual will be needed to lift the stone into place, make certain that there is plenty of room. You should likewise take into account the path between the entrance of your home and the kitchen. Remove all objects that might get in the way when the workers are handling the counter top. This helps to guarantee that no accidents will take place.

The End Result: A Durable Sense of Perfection

Knowing how to prepare for granite worktop installation is key if you hope to avoid any issues. Shaw Stone has been providing such bespoke services since 2002 and we currently install well over 250 of these workstations every year. You are therefore in good hands when working with our team of highly trained experts. Still, a bit of preparation is always important. If you would like to discover your options or to schedule an in-depth consultation at your convenience, please contact a specialist. The kitchen of your dreams could very well be only moments away.

Why You Should Choose A Professional Kitchen Worktop Fitting Service?

The kitchen is easily the most used room in any home. Meals are prepared there, family members eat there and casual guests are welcomed there. It’s little wonder that the kitchen can begin to look a bit tired after a few years of continuous use.

If you’re thinking of refurbishing your kitchen, but don’t want the hassle, disruption, and cost of ripping everything out and starting from scratch, there is an easier way to give it a new lease of life. By engaging the services of a professional kitchen worktop fitter, you can add that extra ‘wow’ factor when others walk into the room.

We all know the most popular and cost-effective way to give a kitchen a new lease of life, is to keep the carcasses in situ and replace doors, drawer fronts, and worktops. But, we also want that wow factor, that makes our kitchen different from the neighbours. How do we get that?

Why Might Your Worktops Need Upgrading?

Kitchen worktops take abuse on a daily basis. Corners get chipped and edging strips peel. Pans get banged on them and hot plates stood on them. Foodstuffs may be cut on them without the using a chopping board, and hot liquids from tea and coffee to hot oil and boiling water may be spilt on them. It’s not surprising standard laminated worktops begin to deteriorate so quickly. For longevity, consider a genuine stone, marble, quartz or granite worktop. Certainly, it will cost a little more, but you will recoup that in looks, and a hard wearing worktop which will cope with the abuse for years to come.

How to choose a kitchen worktop fitter?

Don’t just choose a company that supply off the shelf stone worktops. Pick one that will work with you, and help you turn your standard kitchen into the dream kitchen you’ve always envisaged. Real stone worktops have to be cut specifically to suit each kitchen they are fitted in. Not only does the length, width and depth have to be measured, but any discrepancy in the back wall also has to be taken into account. Something you won’t get when buying off the shelf.

Once you have stripped your kitchen back to the carcasses, good kitchen service companies like Shaw Stone will visit your home to discuss your kitchen refurbishment plans, and measure up for your new stone worktops. They will produce a template, manufacture your worktop, and return to fit it.

Stone worktops come in a variety of shades and materials, marble, quartz, granite, etc.

Kitchen fittings and accessories

Most specialist stone worktop companies don’t supply the kitchen cupboards, cabinets, doors or fronts. Many though, like Shaw Stone, supply a comprehensive range of kitchen fittings you won’t find in the normal DIY superstores, as well as genuine stone flagstones to provide that farmhouse kitchen look. Quality splashbacks, sinks and taps, if they suit your needs, all help make your kitchen that little more unique. Take a hard look at your lighting. Will downlights, spotlights, or under-cabinet lighting, improve the overall ambience?

When it comes to upgrading your kitchen, don’t just contact any old stone worktop supplier. Contact a professional kitchen worktop fitter, who will provide a worktop cut to exact specifications, and work with you to achieve that quality bespoke kitchen you’ve always wanted. 

 

 

Designing Your Dream Kitchen? Picking The Best Type Of Kitchen Worktop To Suit!

While some kitchens are based around a bespoke sense of functionality, others are beautiful to behold. However, there is no reason why both of these qualities cannot work in synergy with one another. There are many decisions which need to take place when designing your dream kitchen and one of the most important involves recognising the different types of kitchen worktops. What qualities will each surface have to offer? How can they impact the overall appearance of this room? Are there any expert tips to keep in mind when making the appropriate decision? Let’s look at each of these questions in slightly more detail in order to appreciate the options at your disposal.

Longevity and Durability

We first need to examine the notion of a dream kitchen from the point of view of durability. Any worktop surface you choose should be able to stand up to the test of time. This is important for a few reasons:

  • You will not be forced to spend additional money on maintenance and upkeep.
  • Long-lasting surfaces are able to provide a higher return on investment over time.
  • Their appearance will not visually dull or become degraded (even with constant use).

Traditional wood and even some modern composite materials will often suffer from faults and as a result, your dream kitchen could easily devolve into a nightmare. This is when the power of stone work surfaces truly shines through.

The Benefits of Stone Worktop Surfaces for Kitchens

The best type of kitchen worktop needs to exhibit a sense of functionality while still boasting a unique aesthetic appeal. So, it should come as no great surprise that stone surfaces often rise to the top of the list.

By its very nature, stone is a permanent fixture within any room. This ageless material is able to exudes a sense of uniformity and yet, it represents a great way to add a stylish flavour to your dream kitchen. Much of this permanency involves how durable stone worktops have become. Granite, quartz and marble have existed in their natural state for millions of years, so there is no doubt that they will prove to be as equally reliable within the modern home kitchen.

We should also examine the advantages of stone from a sanitary point of view. Unlike extremely porous surfaces such as wood, bacteria and similar hazards will be blocked from penetrating. This is particularly the case if you choose to treat the stone with a sealant that offers an impermeable membrane. Cleaning is a cinch and you can rest assured in the knowledge that the health of your love ones will never be placed in jeopardy. Of course, you will also be able to avoid visual problems such as discolourations and unsightly stains.

Colours and Patterns

Many individuals will opt for stone thanks to its durability and longevity. However, we should also mention that designing your dream kitchen needs to take into account the aesthetic beauty of the surfaces themselves. This is another reason why stone is often the preferred choice.

Unlike ready-made surfaces such as vinyl or uPVC; each piece of stone is entirely unique in terms of its pattern and grain. This adds a standalone sense of personality to your kitchen that simply cannot be matched by other methods. Whether referring to the sinuous veins associated with marble, the three-dimensional flecked pattern of granite or the translucent effect of some types of quartz, there is no doubt that you will love the visual nature of these materials.

The same holds true in regards to the colours of the stone surfaces. Perhaps you are looking for a more clean and contemporary appearance. In this case, white and off-white shades of marble could represent an excellent choice. Organic flavours can be perfectly complemented with richer tones of granite while quartz will work great in conjunction with similar floor surfaces and kitchen hardware. The sky’s the limit in regards to your style and design selections.

The Bigger Picture

Designing a dream kitchen should always address the overall “feel” of the room. So, be sure to take into account the colours and styles that you wish to embrace. Lighter surfaces (combined with similar cabinets and furniture) will provide the illusion of space while organic hues are able to add a sense of warmth into the environment. The bottom line is that kitchen worktops often tend to “tie” the entire room together; providing a unique balance between visual form and function.

Shaw Stone are able to provide a wide variety of made-to-measure kitchen worktops fashioned from high-quality materials. If you would like to transform the vision of a dream kitchen into a reality, feel free to contact a member of our team to find out more.

INVESTING IN A NEW KITCHEN WORKTOP

A New Kitchen Worktop Is A Big Decision

Kitchens can represent the very heart of a home. Choosing the best kitchen work surfaces is therefore a very understandable concern. These will help to add a sense of beauty into the room and let’s not forget that they are also very functional elements. When high quality materials are selected, these worktops can last for decades at a time with few maintenance concerns. Selecting new kitchen worktops is a priority if you are looking to achieve a new look within your home. What are some top suggestions to consider?

Cost

This is the most obvious concern, so the cost of a worktop should be taken into account from the very beginning. It is important to view this concept from a long-term perspective. Stone and composite materials are some of the best kitchen work surfaces – due in large part to their longevity. Here at Shaw Stone, we can offer a wide variety of long lasting materials for our kitchen worktops. This longevity will often counteract the initial installation fees. There are also instances when modern materials such as quartz engineered stone can represent excellent alternatives if you happen to be on a strict budget.

Colour and Grain

One of the major advantages associated with new kitchen worktops is that they are available in a wide variety of colours.and grains. In this sense, the grain is defined as the patterns contained within the stone or composite surface. Grains will add a sense of depth to the piece while providing a rather traditional appeal. The tones associated with different grains prove to be excellent accents and each piece is entirely unique.

In terms of colour, there are few limitations. Some of your options include:

  • Blue
  • Black
  • Green
  • White
  • Grey
  • Mahogany
  • Brown

Many worktops will offer a unique combination of two or more hues; ideal when trying to match other surfaces such as tiles or floors.

Installation Times

There is another issue to address when choosing the best kitchen work surfaces – installation times. Most providers will base the design off of a template that is specifically created for each customer. This bespoke service ensures that these new worktops will be perfectly fitted to the design you require. Each worktop is also fitted with precision by trained professionals, so they can be easily integrated in no time at all. However, please note that heavier materials will take slightly longer to install and although we work hard to adhere to each customer’s needs, if you’re on a much tighter deadline then it will be worth ensuring you plan ahead to ensure deadlines can be met reasonably.

Choosing the Finish

The finish of a kitchen worktop will truly bring its features to life. Finishes are also able to accentuate the grain contained within the material. There are different grades available and most recommend that it is best to choose a high-gloss surface. This arises from the fact that cleaning is much easier and that liquids are less likely to be absorbed into the pores. Also, glossy surfaces are hygienic; helping to prevent the presence of bacteria. Maintenance times are likewise dramatically reduced

Keeping An Open Mind

It is always prudent to take a look at a number of different samples before committing to a specific worktop. This will provide you with a broad understanding of the options at your disposal. After all, the last thing you desire is to pay for an entire project only to realise that the colour or grain does not match your preferences. The new kitchen worktops fitted by Shaw Stone are associated with high-quality materials and they are able to transform the appearance of an entire room. Contact us for a quotation and to find out more!

Quartz vs Granite Countertops

Quartz vs Granite Countertops

Although they have their similarities, granite or quartz are two completely different materials. If you’re planning to change your kitchen worktop, it’s important to make an informed decision so you end up with the material that works best for you.

The Main Difference Between Granite And Quartz

The main difference between granite and quartz is that granite is naturally occurring, whereas quartz worktops are man made. They ‘re a combination of natural quartz, resin and a colouring agent. As such, granite looks more natural, which appeals to a lot of people. However this also means there will be natural flaws such as veins and fissures in the rock, so one slab of granite will look different to the next. Some enjoy this unique look but others might prefer the uniformity of quartz. Quartz worktops have the flaws worked out of them and each slab usually maintains the same pattern and colour.

Granite does let in light better though, giving it a more translucent and rich look. Quartz on the other hand is poor at letting in light, so the surface tends to lack depth and therefore looks flatter.

Both materials come in a wide variety of colours and patterns though, so there should be something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Maintenance

Quartz does not need any maintenance, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want to worry about getting their worktops re-sealed. It is manufactured to be non-porous, so no liquids will stain or corrode it, nor will any bacteria become trapped in the rock, making it resistant to mould, germs and stains. Quartz is also incredibly heat resistant, so hot plates should not damage it, but it is always recommended to put hot trays and plates on some sort of protector.

On the other hand, granite does need some maintenance. It needs resealing or reconditioning once a year – although this doesn ‘t take particularly long (between 30-45 minutes) and isn’t too expensive. If you do forget, the granite will revert back to being porous, as it ‘s the sealing process that stops it from being absorbent. When this happens, whatever you spill on it could stain and become trapped in the rock, making it possible for bacteria to harbour and grow. However when it is properly sealed, it has the same properties as quartz, it ‘s heat, mould, stain and corrosion resistant.

If you don’t want to have to reseal your granite every year, there is another solution – you can get your granite sealed with a Dry Treat product. This ensures you’ll actually only have to get your worktop re-sealed once every 15 years.

Strength

Both materials are very strong, but quartz rates slightly higher on Mohs scale of mineral hardness, meaning it is less likely to chip. As such, it is advised that with granite worktops you should avoid having square corners because they are more at risk to chipping which can be hard to repair.

Quartz and granite are also very scratch resistant but some types of granite can be slightly softer than quartz. It is also worth mentioning that natural stone might need more structural support, whereas quartz will allow for deeper overhangs and will require fewer brackets to support it.

Seams

If you need a very long piece of material for your worktop, both granite and quartz will need to have seams to join the two halves together. These seams are visible but it can be easier to disguise them in darker shades of quartz. There isn’t much difference here but it’s down to how big your kitchen is and whether seeing a seam will irritate you or not.

Cost

Prices of quartz and granite can vary quite a bit. The cost of your worktop depends on what colour and pattern you want, but the cost of granite tends to vary the most. Granite prices go up and down according to demand, because it is naturally occurring. However quartz can end up costing you more, due to the fact there are more processes involved in its manufacturing.

Other Things You Should Know

Granite naturally emits a very small amount of Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. This is nothing to worry about, as the amount is too small to do any harm to humans or animals, but some might be put off by this fact. Quartz on the other hand emits no gases.
If you have just had your granite worktop sealed, don’t spill anything on it for the next 24 hours because the sealer needs time to cure. You can use your worktop 24 after having it sealed but curing can take a good 7-10 days, so mop up any spillages as quickly as you can to avoid staining.

In summary, there are only two major differences between granite and quartz and it’s likely your final decision will be made based on your aesthetic preferences. If you have a traditional kitchen, you might prefer the look of granite as it ‘s natural, lets in light better and looks richer in colour. If you prefer a more modern-looking and low maintenance kitchen, quartz may suit you better as it doesn’t need re-sealing and the patterns and colours are pretty much uniform, so you won’t feel like you have a mismatched worktop.

TOP THREE KITCHEN SEATING IDEAS

When it comes to your kitchen, you are likely to want a seating area of some kind. There are a number of different options that you can explore and they largely depend on your own individual taste. However, the space you have and the shape of your kitchen can also play a part. Here are the top three ideas.

Breakfast Bar

The breakfast bar is a great option if you have a limited amount of space in your kitchen but it also works well in larger kitchens as well. One of the most effective ways to incorporate this design is to remove the cupboards from underneath a section of your kitchen and just have the worktops held up with some supporting metal posts. A hard-wearing and sturdy work surface will be necessary so consider having something like granite. High stools look best tucked into a breakfast bar because they allow you to be level with the bar when you sit on them, but they also look quite neat and don’t take up too much space – perfect if you don’t have a lot of room.

Traditional Table

This is an ideal design if you have a considerable amount of space to work with. You can have a large table in the centre of your kitchen and make it the focal point of the room. Glass-topped tables accompanied by leather chairs work well with most kitchen designs, particularly a modern style. If you have wood worktops and a rustic theme, an old-fashioned oak table may be a better option, teamed with wooden spindle chairs. If you are pushed for space, a smaller table can be tucked into a corner and simply pulled out whenever you need extra seating. This means you still keep the space when you need it but also have the option to have guests sit at the table with you.

Granite Blanks

This is an alternative to traditional seating areas that are gaining in popularity within the home. If you are fortunate enough to have a large bay window, you can easily convert it into a dining area. There is the option to cushion the window sill and turn it into a bench-style seat with a table and some chairs added to create enough seats for everyone. The other option is to expand on the window sill and bring the seating out into the kitchen in a crescent shape. This also gives you the option of having a round table and may remove the need for extra chairs. This booth-like style is very modern and doesn’t take up too much space if you have a smaller kitchen.

TEN CLEVER KITCHEN STORAGE IDEAS

Kitchen Storage Ideas!

Being one of the busiest rooms in the home, it is often hard to keep a kitchen tidy. However, buying the correct storage units can make life that little bit easier by helping to keep kitchen affairs in order. As well as giving you a place to store everything, they also help save time as you are more likely to know where things are.

This guide will give you some great tips about what sort of storage units are available:

1: Choose an open island unit

Island units are a great multi-functional product to have in the kitchen. For example, they can act as a chopping area as well as somewhere to eat a quick meal. However, purchasing an open island unit will give you even more storage, providing space for any pots and pans, plates and other items.

2. Install a corner unit

Corner units are a great way to use up unwanted space. You can either choose one that provides drawers, a wine rack, or for extra storage options, try wire baskets which slide out when the doors are opened. Ideal for storing things such as spices and tins!

3. Make extra cupboard space

Existing cupboard space can often be wasted – particularly on the hard-to-reach top shelves. This can be avoided by using mini shelves on legs, which will allow you to place items on top of others – using more of the wasted vertical space.

4. Use freestanding shelves

Open shelves are great for displaying items such as cookbooks, trinkets or pots of herbs. They offer an ideal way to add personality to your kitchen, on a budget. Be advised however, that any knick knacks on show may need to be dusted on a regular basis.

5. Hang a pot rack

Why leave the ceiling out when investigating storage options? Invest in a hanging pot rack which will allow you to grab pots when you need them and will free up cupboards for other kitchen items. Pot racks can give an industrial themed kitchen that extra wow factor and showcase any lavish pans you might own.

6. Purchase a kitchen trolley

A kitchen trolley will provide you with numerous different functions in one. For example, most contain slatted storage shelves, drawers, a chopping board and wine rack. Being on wheels will also mean that you will be able to push it to different areas of your kitchen when needed.

7. Get a spice rack

Purchasing a spice rack will mean you will have any spices you need to hand when cooking. It will also save you the chance of cluttering up cupboards with all the different jars, that let’s face it, you don’t necessarily use on a regular basis. If you’re feeling flash you may also want to upgrade your spice rack to a revolving one.

8. Go for floor-to-ceiling cupboards

Floor-to-ceiling cupboards are great because they provide a huge amount of space. However, make sure that you are not sacrificing other kitchen features such as worktops in exchange for them, as it is important to have a balance in the kitchen.

9. Store away your washing machine

Why not put your washing machine and laundry items in a separate cupboard if you have the space too. This will keep items organised at they are in one place and will also keep them out of view, as a shiny white appliance in the middle of your shaker style kitchen isn’t going to look good.

10. Use an over-the-door shoe rack

It may sound a little out-of-the-box, but using an over-the-door shoe rack, which comes with clear pockets, can be a great space-saver in the kitchen. These can be great for putting packets in, which can easily get jumbled and take up space in other cupboards. Once you’ve installed some of these clever ideas, all you need to do is sit back and marvel about how organised and tidy your kitchen is!

Quality Kitchen Worktops Need Quality Work!

Now and then I have a look around the internet to see what other granite worktop companies are up to. The other day I came across an article written by a company advising customers that they shouldn’t be paying deposits for their kitchen worktops. I read on with interest and realised that they were unfortunately talking a load of (hmm how can I put this politely), untruths. I’d like to dispel a few of their myths.

We are a very busy reputable company and need to work to tight schedule in order to deliver the service we promise. When taking an order we book templating and fitting dates in advance and enter into a two-way contract with the customer. We will produce and fit a granite worktop or quartz worktop (Silestone) of the highest quality and the customer will pay us an agreed sum for doing this work. We ask for a 50% deposit at the beginning of this contract not because we can’t afford to purchase materials (we have accounts with all our suppliers so this wouldn’t be an issue) nor is it because we have no confidence in our work (see our Checkatrade report to the see the quality of work we produce), it’s because we need a commitment from the customer as we are producing a bespoke product that will only fit their kitchen and cannot be resold if the customer changes their mind.

If a customer is nervous about paying such large deposit the option is always there to pay by credit card and be protected that way. Deposits have always been the standard in the bespoke worktop/stone industry so I was curious to see why this company thought them unnecessary. Looking into it further it became obvious, as they were using cheaper ‘blanks’ and doing all the cutting onsite there was no risk for them because if the customer changed their mind before the fit they hadn’t cut anything and therefore hadn’t lost anything. All reputable and established fabricators will require a reasonable deposit, so the question should be if a company doesn’t require one why not?

HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR GRANITE COUNTERTOP TEMPLATING & INSTALLATION

One of the most important stages in the fitting of your granite kitchen worktops is templating. This process effectively measures the area where the proposed work surfaces will go, establishing the placement of any joins and cut-outs, while determining, logistically-speaking, how to get the large and heavy slabs of granite into the kitchen in the first place. The polished granite will then be cut to size using the template, thus it’s imperative that the measurements are exact.

In case you’re wondering, here’s are a few ways in which you can prepare for templating and fitting:

A weighty issue

The templater will visit you at a point when your carcasses and cabinets units have been installed, when the old work surface has been removed, so they will be able to see clearly where the granite is to be fitted. It is at this point that you and the templater will need to identify whether or not the floor and cabinets are strong enough to bear the weight – granite weighs around 90 kilos per square metre – and whether they have been securely fastened to the wall. You should ensure that the cabinets are level, too.

That sinking feeling

While the templater can give some advice on placement of cut-outs, it’s advisable that you agree in advance where the sink will be fitted and what sort of sink you want, as this has an impact on the template. Ideally, if opting for a heavy under-mounted sink, you will need a supportive cradle to be constructed on the carcass prior to the templater’s visit. All sinks require some sort of support, as filled with water, they double in weight. Most sinks will be supplied with fitting instructions.

Don’t move a thing

Once the templater has taken their measurements, it is vital that the carcasses and cabinets are not moved, as this could have a significantly detrimental effect on the final fit of the worktop. Naturally, consumers are at liberty to change their mind, however the templater would need to be informed and a new template produced. This is a costly and time-consuming task, thus only order the template when you are 100 per cent happy with the kitchen layout.

Clear the decks

Installation day has arrived! As mentioned above, granite is extremely heavy, so to help the expert fitters carefully move and place the slabs without incident, it’s advisable that you keep pathways free of any obstruction, tidy away any breakable items and shut away pets, to be on the safe side. It’s also useful to removal the carcass drawers and doors.

Rest assured that the fitters are experienced professionals, however, accidents can happen when manoeuvring heavy stone around small spaces. Preparation and some touch-up paint (for any chips) should mitigate the risk, though, Be aware that fitters won’t take responsibility for damage to any item that has been left out despite this advice.

He’s not heavy…

Granite worktops are usually installed by two fitters. On rare occasions, the stone will be too heavy for just two experts to lift and as such, it might be necessary for you to make arrangements for additional assistance. The templater should be able to let you know if this might be the case and help you organise an extra pair of hands or two through the vendor.

While the fitters can screw and seal in the sink, you will need to contact a qualified plumber to connect the pipes properly. Additionally, a GasSafe-registered engineer will be required for the fitting of your hob, so ensure these people are on hand.

Celebration!

When the granite worktops have been installed and inspected, you will be required to sign off the job and settle the balance. Fitters typically carry a portable payment facility, thus you will be able to pay via credit or debit card, if you so choose. After which point, you are left with a stunning addition to your kitchen; one which will no doubt be the source of pleasure for many years to come.

GRANITE WORKTOP COLOURS

Picking A Worktop Colour

Picking a granite colour can be very tricky because there’s just so much to choose from. Most people tend to go for black or very dark worktops but granite can come in a variety of looks including sandy browns, deep blues or even striking greens.

Here are some of the most popular granite colours available.

Premium Jet Black

A popular and simple choice is Premium Jet Black. This colour takes the fuss of having to decide on a worktop design – it’s plain, simple and looks beautifully glossy under your kitchen light. If you’re planning to have a very modern kitchen and use striking, bright colours elsewhere in the room, then Jet Black should do a nice job of keeping your design looking crisp and balanced.

Labrador Black

If you’re wanting to follow the crowd but don’t want something as plain a Premium Jet Black, you might want to consider opting for Labrador Black. It is almost just as dark but the subtle white and grey flecks add a bit of interest and texture to the granite. Remember that if you go for a very dark colour such as this, stains (such as tea or coffee rings) and dust will show up on dark surfaces. So if you’re a messy cook or have a busy kitchen, darker granite options might not be for you.

Star Galaxy

This colour is very popular and can look great in monochrome colour schemes or modern kitchens. Star Galaxy looks just how it sounds it should look; it reminds you of looking up at the stars on a clear night. It’s jet black in colour with specks of granite that seem to sparkle in the light. Perfect for your inner astronomer.

Nero Impala

If you want your base colour to remain black but want a pattern that’s a bit more interesting and noticeable – Nero Impala is a good choice to make. This black granite is swirled with dark green and specks of grey to create an intriguing pattern that is sure to catch the eye of your guests.

Coffee Brown

Another popular colour variation to go for is brown and Coffee Brown is a good dark brown worktop colour. Although it is fairly dark, it also has tinges of coppery orange it – reminiscent of leaves at the end of the autumn season. This colour would look great on a worktop in a more traditional style kitchen.

Baltic Brown

Baltic Brown is one of the more unique looking brown granites, as it features circles of varying sizes in different shades of brown – from red-orange to much paler browns. The circles almost seem to look as if they have a wooden effect, so this worktop pattern could look great alongside dark wooden cabinets.

Blue Pearl

Blue Pearl may seem like one of the more unusual choices but it can look particularly good in bathrooms if you’re planning to have granite worktops. This colour features a variation of shades of blue, from very dark shades to very light blues that shimmer in the light.

It’s worth remembering that whatever granite colour you pick should compliment the rest of your room. Think about what the main colour is going to be and then try to choose a granite that is either slightly lighter or slightly darker than that colour. Typically, kitchens only have around four to five different colours featured in them; so keep it simple. Make sure you always go to see the granite in person, as pictures often don’t do the colours and patterns justice.

NEW KITCHEN WORKTOPS: AN INVESTMENT AND AN IMPROVEMENT

One of the more noticeable factors in these tough economic times is that rather than spending large amounts of money on a new car, or seeking to move up in the housing market by going out and purchasing a new home, families are now rather choosing to stay where they currently live. However, this doesn’t meant that they’re doing nothing; rather, they are investing in what they currently own and increasingly the value (and hence their own net worth) in smaller, more affordable steps.

One of the most obvious ways of doing this is to remodel the kitchen. This is something that pays twice – you get the kitchen you always wanted and you make a material investment in the future. This dual benefit is something that applies especially to a long lasting kitchen worktop; using top quality quartz or granite worktops means that you now have the cornerstone of a kitchen that will last and last, and is both easy to maintain and will not significantly depreciate, assuming proper care. When the housing market does finally rebound, and for whatever reason, the time does come to step up the property ladder, a fantastic kitchen will be a great selling point. Until that time, there are beautiful worktops of your own to enjoy.

YOUR NEW KITCHEN LAYOUT

If you want a kitchen that’s truly special and fits perfectly with your home and lifestyle, you don’t want a ready-made design out of a catalogue. You want to plan the kitchen yourself – from deciding where your appliances will be, to the material used to create the worktops.

Is the time and effort needed for doing everything yourself worth it, though? We’ll take a look in this handy guide.

Which kitchen layout is best for me?

The size of your kitchen space will limit your design choices, but ultimately you’ll pick a layout based on your own personal preferences. Start by thinking what you use your kitchen for – is it just a cooking space or would you like to entertain in there? Maybe you have kids and would like to have enough room for them to sit at the table or breakfast bar. It’s these decisions that will help shape your ideal kitchen layout.

A small but open-plan kitchen

Many modern apartments and flats are now open-plan to make the space seem that much bigger, which means the kitchen is in the same room as the living area. In this scenario, a one-wall kitchen is the best layout option, as it allows you to have a compact kitchen that doesn’t feel ‘closed off’ from the main room, which would make your kitchen feel even smaller!

With this layout, we recommend having the sink in the middle, with some worktop space either side. This makes clean up easier.

If you’re worried you won’t have enough worktop space, you can always add a small island, which will also mean you can face and talk to your family in the living room whilst you’re preparing dinner.

A narrow but efficient kitchen

Galley kitchens are ideal if you only have a long, narrow space to work with, as they are one of the most efficient layouts. There’s a reason why it’s the design of choice for kitchens on boats and planes!

Without a source of natural light, galley kitchens can be a bit dark, but a large window at one end can solve this problem. It’s not the ideal layout for families though, as it means there is no space for a breakfast bar where the kids can sit and do their homework. You’ll need to create a separate dining area elsewhere in the house.

A tucked-away one cook kitchen

If you want your kitchen to have its own room in the house, but you need people to be able to move through it easily, a U-shaped kitchen might be best. The space it offers mean it’s possible for everyone to walk past the kitchen without disrupting the cook mid-flow.

It’s perfect for couples or families where only one person cooks. You can even add a breakfast bar by turning the U into a G – just add another ‘leg’ that half covers the entrance to the kitchen. The room needs to be big enough for this to work though, otherwise the kitchen will feel small and cramped.

Bear in mind that this layout makes it tricky to position the sink next to the dishwasher, which is a small issue that could prove to be annoying over time.

If you do decide this layout is best for your home, then we suggest placing all the appliances on the ‘legs’ on the U, as this will give you the most worktop and cupboard space.

A party or family kitchen

Entertainers and families love the L-shaped kitchen, as the open space makes gatherings easy, whether you choose to include a dining table in the room or not. Plus, it’s suitable for both large and small rooms, as well as households where two people like to cook at once.

The only downside is that you’ll be facing away from your guests while you cook. To rectify this problem, try adding in an island. You can make it raised on one side, so your guests can sit on tall stools and enjoy a cocktail while you chop veggies on the other side. Don’t host many dinner parties? Then it’s the perfect place for the kids to sit and talk to you about their day.

What worktop material should I choose?

The worktop is arguably the most important part of your new kitchen. It’s on this that your meals get prepared (and then where all the dirty dishes get piled up!). You’ll likely need a worktop that’s hardwearing and practical, as well as beautiful.

Let’s take a look at the different materials available, so you can decide which is best for you.

Granite and quartz

These natural stones are the ultimate way to add luxury to your kitchen. Almost every homeowner dreams of having a granite or quartz worktop, not only because they look incredible, but they have many practicalities.

For one, both granite and quartz are hardwearing and resistant to scratches. Even if your kids drop something on the surface, they won’t crack it. Hectic cooks and bakers will be pleased to know that these worktops are burn/heat resistant too, so if you place a hot pan on the surface without thinking, it won’t leave a mark.

Solid surface

Germ-conscious parents with young kids might want to opt for a solid surface worktop instead, as their non-porous nature means they don’t harbour bacteria. Plus, they are also easy to maintain – cleaning them is simple and they don’t need resealing unlike granite worktops.

There are many different brands of solid surface, and each has their own benefits, so it’s worth doing your research first.

Glass

If you’re looking to create a bright, colourful modern kitchen, glass is a great option, as it’s available in a variety of vibrant shades. Again, it’s practical too, as it’s tough, easy to clean, heat-resistant and hygienic. Mould won’t grow on it nor will it stain – perfect if you have a busy lifestyle and tend to let dirty dishes pile up sometimes!

Should I design and fit my kitchen myself or use an expert?

Doing it yourself may be the cheaper option, but a lot of hassle comes with designing a kitchen, especially if you have little experience in this area. Here are just some of the problems that can arise if you choose to do-it-yourself:

  • You could get the measurements wrong: Even if you’re out by just an inch or two, it will mess up the entire layout of your kitchen. An expensive and time-consuming mistake.
  • It will take longer than expected: If you’re not experienced, there is no doubt the job will take you longer to complete than a professional.
  • There are some parts you can’t do yourself: Granite and quartz worktops are extremely heavy and should only be fitted by an expert. Choosing to ignore this advice could result in injury or the worktop getting damaged.
  • It probably won’t look as polished as you expected: Fitters are experts for a reason. They know how to make your kitchen look amazing and this talent is near impossible to replicate with little or no experience.

 

While we encourage you to design your own kitchen, it’s best to get an expert to help you when it comes to measurements and fitting. If you need help with your new solid surface, quartz, granite or glass worktop, get in touch We’re happy to give you any advice you need and provide you with a quote.