This week we invited Cecily, from our new Birmingham showroom, to take part in our series – ‘Harvey Jones Expert Q&A’.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m Cecily Gale; I have ten years’ experience in the design industry, firstly as an interior designer before I realised my passion and specialised in kitchen design.
2. What are you most looking forward to moving to the new Mailbox showroom?
First and foremost, I love new challenges; I’ve relocated from Oxford to Birmingham so I’m very excited to be somewhere with a change of dynamic, new clients and a brilliant showroom. The Mailbox is a great hub for home design and I can’t wait to work there permanently.
3. What is your design mantra?
It is definitely ‘form follows function’. You can style anything to look good, but it must function well and suit your lifestyle as well as your day-to-day needs. You don’t usually recognise when something works very well, but you will soon realise when something doesn’t!
4. What is your kitchen like at home?
My kitchen at home is very simple in design, you find that simple designs are often the most dynamic. Having said that, I like to have things on display – I think an overload of wall cupboards and panelling can be very clinical and make the space seem smaller. I like to have things on show and to-hand – I’m a bit of a hap-hazard cook myself!
5. What inspires your work? Where do you go for inspiration?
Like most design professionals, I’m always on the look out for new design and style ideas from design reviews and current trends. However, with most designs you need a fixed point of inspiration and that depends on the client – usually something like a design layout idea, a quirky feature within the architecture or a worktop/ paint colour will spark inspiration for a whole design scheme.
6. What are your first considerations when designing a new kitchen?
The first consideration is always the client’s lifestyle and storage requirements. They vary massively from person to person, which becomes apparent when I sit down and discuss their requirements. You can design 50 kitchens for the same space depending on people’s needs, lifestyles and priorities. Believe me, everyone is different! It’s important to understand the priorities – some stipulations are flexible when you way up the pros and cons of a design decision – but some aren’t and that needs to be respected.
7. What projects have you found the most rewarding and why?
I had one customer with a kitchen space in a cottage that only allowed for four base cupboards, including sink and oven! It was a tricky brief but very rewarding when we got everything in there!
The space had very low ceilings with windows lower than the countertops, which meant it required bespoke wall solutions and we were able to introduce lovely quirky box windows, created by continuing the worktops down and along the windowsills. Scribing the furniture to expose stone walls was also a challenge but looked amazing when it was completed (so much better than just freestanding a cupboard adjacent with a gap). It was a lovely little project that made a big difference to the client.
8. What do you try to avoid?
Personally, I try to avoid ‘wall-cupboard overload’ – there is nothing worse than going around the wall cupboards to look for your bag of rice! Wall cupboards are great for lots of applications but not food storage. Having too many shallow cupboards can make your design very enclosed. I prefer to incorporate a larder in the design where possible, so all your dry food can be stored in the same place. A 600mm wide larder can hold the same food storage as 12 wall cupboards and take up much less ‘floor/wall space’. Usually, a fridge and larder are all you need; then the rest of the kitchen can be dedicated to well-placed crockery and utensil storage.
9. How has kitchen design changed over the last five years?
Kitchens have become the centre of the home and therefore properties are being designed to be more open plan. As a result, this means it’s more important than ever before that the kitchen ‘blends’ with the interior. Harvey Jones comes into its own here as its handpainted oil based eggshell paintwork becomes part of the other architectural details of the interior (skirting boards, doors etc.) so the kitchen doesn’t look out of place in an open plan living space.
In terms of colour trends, grey is still trending strong – 10 years ago it was pastels!
10. What kitchen trends do you predict in 2018?
There is an emerging trend for dividing the space using style to create ‘zone areas’. The need to have matching colours and materials within a single design is not a set option anymore – I find clients are becoming braver with their style choices. For example, I have a number of designs going into production with two completely different cabinet styles painted different colours with different worktops – they look great! I think we’ll see more of this in 2018 as people break away from a ‘standard style’.
11. Do you have any tips for homeowners embarking on a new kitchen project?
First and foremost, there is no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to thinking about your kitchen, especially with build projects. Sometimes the smallest outer build change can massively improve your kitchen design possibilities.
Secondly, understand what you need – the prospect of going around 100s of showrooms can be daunting. Knowing what construction types are available can make the process much easier and help you get the best for your budget.
At Harvey Jones, we always explain to potential clients how we construct and install and how that compares with other options out there. This makes the decision a lot easier. Design is not the only consideration – consider quality as well.
Finally, have an open mind! Most people have lived with their old kitchens for a long time and find it very difficult to move away from what they’re used to. A good designer can show you better solutions for your requirements and tailor your kitchen to your lifestyle if you’re open to it!
Our expert designers hold a wealth of knowledge to help you progress with your project. Call 0800 389 6938 or visit your local Harvey Jones showroom.
We have recently opened our 32nd showroom in the Mailbox, Birmingham!