DESIGNED INTERIORS

Our Designed Interiors name has over 30 years of kitchen, bathroom and bedroom design history that is enriched by the even greater heritage of the factories creating our products.

Some date back hundreds of years and this inspirational source of skill and tradition is a vital part of what makes our products special.

Our website is a glimpse into some of the wonderful artisan skills and attention to detail that comes together in everything that is designed by us.

Visit our kitchen showrooms in Canterbury and Deal

Colour Focus: Grey Kitchens

The colour grey is undoubtedly popular when it comes to home décor and interiors, and this also applies to the kitchen. Over the past few years, here at Stoneham we have seen demand for grey kitchens rise, and what was once a trend is now a staple kitchen colour. The shade of grey you choose can determine the mood and ambience for your new kitchen; teamed with accents or a contrasting colour, you’ll find that grey is a perfect hue to create a kitchen that is individual to you.

Mix ‘n’ Match
Dark, warm greys such as our Stoneham ‘Pipe Grey’ and ‘Thunder Grey’ from our standard colour palette work particularly well contrasted with white or neutral worktops. If you prefer a lighter shade of grey, Stoneham’s ‘Sand Grey’ or ‘Dove Grey’ also work well with white worktops, but look equally striking with dark worktops. You could also mix ‘n’ match dark and pale grey kitchen cabinets – for instance try base cabinets in light grey and top, wall cabinets in dark grey or vice versa for modern aesthetic. Alternatively apply grey to just your kitchen island to make it a stand-out feature.

Small but significant features
The finishing detail can make a huge difference to the overall style of your kitchen design. Traditional shaker style kitchen cabinets look stunning with brass or bronze handles for a luxurious touch, whereas chrome or brushed steel handles suit lighter cabinets. A pop of colour can also impact your kitchen design. Opt for a bright orange fridge/freezer with dark grey-blue tones, or red kitchen accessories like a toaster or kettle against light grey cabinets.

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Baths that run themselves and self-cleaning sinks: Welcome to the bathrooms of the future

Self-cleaning sinks, chemically altered bacteria-busting water swishing around the loo, and baths that can be programmed to fill up while you’re on your way home. These fantastical-sounding bathrooms of the future use technologies that are available today – and in some cases they are trickling down to mainstream homes and budgets.

Japanese company Toto has been at the forefront of cleanliness technology for decades. In the UK, it is best known for its Washlet, an electronic shower-lavatory (or bidet seat, as it’s sometimes known) with an automated washing and drying nozzle. Its latest model, the RX, features a sensor-operated lid and heated seat for ultimate hands-free comfort when using the loo.

Even the ceramic pan upon which the Washlet sits has a great deal of innovation behind it (it can be bought separately and topped with a “normal” lavatory seat). The pan features an ultra-smooth glaze that stops tiny particles of dirt and bacteria clinging to it, and a rimless design that shoots flushed water, tornado-like, around the bowl. The lack of a rim means there’s one fewer place for germs to lurk, plus it’s more economical with water usage, and quieter too.

“These features are not niche. Every toilet should have the basic criteria of hygiene, high performance and low noise,” says Floyd Case, Toto’s UK projects and branding manager. However, move up the scale and the technology gets more sophisticated.

 

Some of Toto’s models will mist the pan with electrolysed water, which has had a current passed through it, changing its chemical make-up to give it more power as a disinfectant, breaking down waste.

Top-of-the-range loos have a photocatalytic coating: a layer of titanium dioxide that decomposes dirt. Because the dirt-killing reaction only works with exposure to light, they have a UV beam inside that turns on when the lid closes. The technology is borrowed from the company’s wider corporate remit as a developer of industrial coatings, which are used on the façades of buildings to keep them clean. “We’ve taken a tiny bit of that technology and put it in the toilet to help kill bacteria,” says Case.

Anything that reduces our time spent cleaning the bathroom – and, perhaps more importantly, the amount of chemicals we use in the process – has to be a good thing. Many of Toto’s innovations can be found in other manufacturers’ products, too, as the technology becomes more mainstream.

Most top-end bathroom companies have their own version of the ceramic nano-glaze that smooths out tiny imperfections, and now it’s hit mid-range brands such as Britton. These coatings can’t get close to the level of self-cleaning that Toto’s all-bells-and-whistles models can, but they do make a difference: “As long as it’s looked after on a regular basis, the chances of any build-up are a lot more minimal,” says Fraser Holmes, Britton’s brand manager.

Technology in the bathroom isn’t all about hygiene and cutting down on the drudgery of housework. Adam Logan, technical services manager at bathroom product company Grohe, says that now “people are simply more open to trying new things. People are now coming round to the idea that bathrooms don’t have to be quite that boring.”

As more of us install internet-connected devices in our houses, Logan says that Grohe is “focusing quite heavily on the smart home market”. Its own version of the shower-lavatory can be controlled via an app, as can its huge spa-like shower, AquaSymphony, which has adjustable water effects, music and colour-changing lights.

It has also introduced digital leak detection with its Sense and Sense Guard products: the former is a hockey-puck-like disc that can be placed anywhere where there’s a worry about leaks (such as in the void under the bath). The latter is a digital water-monitoring system that is installed just after your stopcock, checking for drops in pressure that might indicate drips, and shutting your whole system down if there is a critical leaks that has the potential to wreck your house. Both communicate with homeowners via an app.

The rise of the connected home has lots of potential in the bathroom. Retailer Victoria Plum is now exclusively stocking SmarTap, which looks like a sleek thermostatic shower/bath controller, but is Wi-Fi enabled so it can be used via smartphone or a voice-activated system such as Amazon Echo. Turn on the shower while you’re still in bed, then stroll into your en-suite a few seconds later when it’s hit the right temperature. You can also programme different preferences for different needs (“run baby’s bath” or “post-gym shower” for example).

“People want spaces to be tailored to their own requirements,” says Giles Sutton, managing director of home technology installers James + Giles. “Better technology is about creating lots of customisable moods.”

This feeds into the growing idea that the bathroom should fulfil a range of tasks, not just be a mono-functional place to get clean. “In the morning you might want to be energised in an environment that helps wake you up and prepare you for the day; in the evening you just want to relax and forget about everything.

“Those are totally different things, and that’s where the technology really helps,” says Sutton. “You don’t have to worry about setting all these things up yourself, you can just push one button and the whole room configures to that particular mood."

Sutton’s work involves integrating all these elements across the home: not having separate apps for everything in the bathroom but having a single system that can do them all. He recommends Bathomatic, which is compatible with automation systems that work across the whole house, such as Crestron and Control4.

Bathomatic’s bath, called the Bathler, is a techie’s dream: not only can it be programmed to fill remotely and keep warm, but it can add a squirt of your favourite bubble bath, and has a pop-up television and a champagne chiller, integrated speakers and adjustable lighting.

If you don’t have the resources to install a whole-house technology system, just concentrating on bathroom lighting is a good start. “At the very least it should be dimmable, ideally in conjunction with a layered scheme. Then, it’s possible to totally transform the mood of the room at the touch of a button,” says Luke Thomas, design director of John Cullen Lighting. He also recommends sensor-activated lights at a low level, under a vanity unit or near the floor, providing subtle lighting for night-time visits to the loo that won’t make you wide-awake.

Other customizable lighting ideas include Roper Rhodes’ mirrors and cabinets, a selection of which now come with dimmable and temperature-changing lighting, operated by the touch-free infrared sensor. Bluetooth-enabled products with embedded speakers such as shower heads and vanity units are also becoming more widespread, allowing you to play your own music without needing to set up a separate audio system.

Lots of people might not like the idea of more technology in the bathroom. Shouldn’t these be spaces to get away from tech?

As some bathrooms can already feel a bit clinical, some of the slicker designs described here may amplify that aesthetic. But if it’s discreet and well integrated, technology should make the bathroom a more friendly, flexible and fun place to be.

Style Focus: Shaker Kitchens

The shaker style kitchen has stood the test of time. Although classic in its form, the versatility of shaker kitchens means they can deliver traditional character or a more modern, contemporary finish, that suits any era of property. A shaker kitchen is characterised by its in-frame construction and classically proportioned doors which stem from the long-standing values of the Shakers of the 18th century. In this blog we take a step back in time to see where it all began and how shaker kitchens are making their way into 21st century houses.

The shaker legacy
Shakers, often referred to as The United Society of Believers were a religious sect from Manchester, who emigrated to America in the 18th century.  They believed that life should follow principles of honesty, utility and simplicity which was reflected in everything they did – including the furniture they made. Their designs were functional and minimal – they believed that decoration was unnecessary. The Shaker saying  ‘Whatever is fashioned, let it be plain and simple and for the good’ is mirrored in their work. They also believed that the quality of their work was a testament to God, which meant that everything they made was made to the utmost perfection. To this day, shaker kitchens have stayed true to the Shakers values, built with lasting quality craftsmanship and finesse.

Keeping it natural
Shaker kitchens are traditionally made from wood and ideally should be left natural to showcase the grains. Withstanding the whims of fashion, wooden shaker kitchens will continue to bring style, function and value to the home for many years. Wood is a durable, useful and beautiful material that continues to look great as it ages and with unique grain patterns, each kitchen is different and special.

Shake up the shades
For a modern shaker look, mix colours so that the base units and wall units are the complete opposite. Team bold tones such as dark greys or blues against lighter shades of white for a contrasting finish. This two-tone effect is the perfect way to create impact in your kitchen design.

Handling it differently
Shakers kitchens are generally adorned with chrome or brass handles, however its limitless appeal means there are other options too. Keeping the in-frame structure, integrate recessed finger pulls to create an elegant, contemporary classic design.

Go Bold
To create a statement kitchen choose your favourite colour across all your shaker cabinets. Dark blues have become particularly popular and looks luxurious paired with gold or brass handles. Here at Designed Interiors, we offer a wide choice of shades from our standard colour palette or we can create a bespoke hue to suit your taste.

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Planning the Perfect Kitchen Layout: Part 2 of 2

In the second and final part of our kitchen layout series, we take a look at the special extras that can make all the difference to your kitchen design, plus popular mistakes that often compromise the functionality of the room. Read on to find out more…

The Special Extras
It’s important to bear the little things in mind when designing your kitchen layout. If you’re a keen cook for example, then a layout such as U-shaped or island design will facilitate plenty of prep space, as well as storage, bins and appliances within easy reach. You’ll need a kitchen which allows for easy workflow. If entertainment is the name of your game, you’ll want to choose a layout which gives you scope and space for a social zone – for example, a wine-cooler located within arm’s reach to the breakfast bar. Excellent kitchen zoning is achieved by a combination of aesthetics, usability and efficiency to create a design that suits both the space and your needs.

When planning your kitchen, don’t treat ventilation as an after-thought – there’s nothing worse than a kitchen filled with smoke or steam, or pungent odours that can still be detected the next day. This is especially relevant with the current trend for open-plan kitchens. Similarly, you don’t want the TV competing with a noisy extractor fan, or conversation dominated by the hum of the motor so consider the size and layout of your kitchen when picking the strength and placement of your extractor. Invest in a high-quality extractor, you’ll reduce noise disruption in your shared space as they benefit from technology designed to minimise noise across all power settings.

Lighting will play an important role in creating the right ambience and atmosphere, and it will differ depending on whether your kitchen is used for cooking or entertainment. If cooking is your priority, you need excellent worktop lighting. Poor lighting is not only a design no-no, but can be downright dangerous in a kitchen environment. With sharp utensils, whirring electrical gadgets and scalding hot appliances, the kitchen needs to be well lit to avoid accidents and mishaps.

If you’re going to be entertaining often, accent and illumination lighting can help to highlight the social spots in your kitchen – for example, pendant lighting over your kitchen island or floor-level integrated LED lights both help to create a party ambience.

Make no Mistake
The biggest blunder people make is picking aesthetic over functionality. You need to pick a kitchen suited to both your tastes and your needs, not just your style.

A common kitchen grievance is not having enough storage, resulting in a disorganised and messy space. Minimise space wastage by making the most of every nook and cranny available by installing corner cupboards, ceiling-high cabinetry and conceal multi-layered pull-out shelving in drawers. There are plenty of clever solutions to consider, and by thinking about storage early in the design process you can avoid the all-too-frequent frustration of too many items, too little space.

Planning the Perfect Kitchen Layout: Part 1 of 2

When embarking on a new kitchen, the most important step is to ensure the layout makes the most efficient and stylish use of your space. Though every home and its owner are different, a fresh layout will complement any design and transform the room into an entirely different and unique setting. In ‘Part One’ of our two-part series, we look at popular layouts and offer some invaluable tips on how to get the most out of your kitchen design:

Dazzling Design
The structure of your kitchen layout should be influenced by your everyday habits and routine; how your kitchen is used, how much storage you need, how easily accessible storage needs to be etc. Similarly, you need to consider what the main purpose of your kitchen will be – is cooking your main priority or would you like an open plan space for entertaining guests? Invest time discussing ideas with your kitchen designer so they can work out what layout best suits your requirements.

The shape of your kitchen will certainly impact your design to some degree, but an experienced designer can easily make the most of an unusually-shaped room by adding bespoke features, or unique elements. For example, an alcove can be adapted into a breakfast, diner-style booth for the wow factor, or turned into an open-door pantry. Using a bespoke kitchen manufacturer, allows for optimum flexibility so your designer can plan the kitchen around your exact requirements.

Stunning Styles
It’s important to think about the shape of your kitchen and what you can achieve in it. The most common layouts include U-shaped kitchens, L-shaped and galley kitchens. U-shaped have three walls and offer more storage options, and if they are large enough can facilitate a central kitchen island. They’re user-friendly and offer plenty of prep space for cooking. However, the three walls do harbour the potential of making the room feel isolated from the rest of the house, with the additional risk of too much storage reducing floor space. These kitchens are definitely more suited to cooking-enthusiasts, rather than social butterflies.

If you’re a keen party host, then L-shaped kitchens are a good fit. They use an open plan concept making them feel spacious and are ideal for socialising and entertaining guests; their multiple entrances and exits means that traffic can flow freely. The ‘L’ shape of two walls naturally opens the space, which is perfect if you have a smaller kitchen. Just be wary that this shape isn’t multiple-cook friendly, as work surfaces for prep can be limited.

Galley kitchens have walls either side and are ideal if you have limited space. By making the most of wall space, they can provide plenty of storage and are shining examples of the optimum ‘working triangle’, with a galley shape perfectly poised for optimum kitchen appliance placement. Functionality is one of its biggest advantages, as its linear shape makes everything accessible within a few steps.

As highlighted earlier, if you are considering a specific layout, it’s crucial to consider your lifestyle and requirements and decide what your priorities are. You may need to reconfigure the room to create the ideal space, but by working closely with a designer, you’ll be able to optimise your space for the perfect kitchen layout.

Come in-store to talk with one of our designers to see how we can help you.