An independent source of kitchen design advice & ideas
At last ... Grohe have introduced a filter tap for the kitchen which will also carbonate the water; you can choose between still, lightly sparkling and sparkling water. I've always been a fan of filter taps - for those whose tap water isn't very tasty - but I've also always had a few reservations. Water's for washing in, isn't it? Not if it's bubbly, though. With one of these taps, you could stop buying that bottled water. Even I might drink the recommended 8 glasses of tap water a day, if it was sparkling.
The Grohe Blue Chilled and Sparkling (or Grohe Blue 2) comes as a starter kit, with a choice of two tap shapes, the water filter and carbonator, and a glass carafe to store your water. Grohe also do three other filter taps. The Grohe Blue just provides filtered tap water (no cooling or sparkle) - but at a more affordable price - whilst the Grohe Red is a boiling water tap, available as a dedicated hot water tap (the mono) or as a mixer tap with the option of boiling water (the Duo).
I recently saw Westin described as one of the UK's best kept secrets - but if you're a regular visitor to this website then you'll already know all about them, I wrote an introduction to Westin back in 2010. They have a range of standard cooker hoods ... and will also make you almost any size and shape of bespoke extractor. If you have any tricky questions about cooker hoods ... ask Westin.
Their latest introduction to the standard range is the Stratus CBU2 ceiling extractor. This type of ectractor has become very popular recently, especially for big open plan kitchens where the hob is situated on an island. Not everyone wants a big chimney style hood in the middle of the room. I first saw some bespoke ceiling extractors from Westin back in April 2010, at the KBB Show in Birmingham, but since then other manufacturers have brought out standard ceiling hoods.
So what's different about the Stratus CBU2? Well it's the fact that it's only 195mm high - so you can fit this extractor even if you only have a small void above the ceiling. Have a look at the diagram below:
Hotpoint have always been known for good quality, middle of the road appliances, both built-in and, especially, free standing. They're trying to change all that, though (in their 100th year) by introducing the upmarket Luce range of built-in appliances (pronounced loo-chay). Parent company Indesit is Italian (previously part of Merloni) ... hence the Italian influence on the design of the new products ... and no prizes for guessing what luce means in Italian.
Luce appliances will only be available from kitchen specialist showrooms to start with - and the initial marketing initiative is being carried out in partnership with Crown Imperial kitchens. The idea is to get Luce appliances into a showroom kitchen display near you, so that you can try out the doors, feel the quality and see how smart they look (there are 20 Hotpoint field trainers, who will make sure the retailers know all about the new products too).
I was introduced to the range by Hotpoint's Janine Henry (below) at a recent Waterline roadshow in Daventry ... Waterline are distributors to kitchen specialists. (Sorry Janine - about the closed eyes - but my other picture cut the top of your head off! Note to self: about photography lessons).
Big curved islands are trendy at the moment- and I'm all in favour - although you need a fairly healthy budget to include one in your kitchen. Perhaps big curves will move downmarket, in the same way as little curved end doors did. If you have a big curve, though, can you still put your sink on the island?
Well you can if you use a Barazza sink. I saw the one above in the ASL showroom in Northampton, fitted into a Metris display - and very impressive it looked too. Of course you could always choose a tap that wasn't quite so much "in your face" ... if you wanted your sink to be a bit less obvious. One very smart feature of the sink is that it's flush mounted into a quartz composite worktop. That makes it look particularly neat (although it can also be surface mounted).
I love really good looking stainless steel sinks - because they're so practical. I would always encourage someone going for a solid surface worktop to have a steel sink, rather than an integral, solid surface one.
I saw TPB® worktops for the first time at the London Grand Designs Live exhibition this month. I'm sure they must have their drawbacks but - at first sight - they do seem to be the perfect worktop material for kitchens. The only downside I can see, at the moment, is that the colour range is quite limited ... and I'm guessing they're not cheap (but then neither are any other top end worktops).
Smeg is one of those companies that likes to bring in big name designers for their new appliance ranges - and the most recent one is Marc Newson. He's an Australian designer and he sounds like an ideal choice. Smeg quote him as saying "good design has always been about creating objects that stand the test of time, that don't date ... that have a sense of quality". Quite right! That's exactly what's needed in the design of appliances ...
STOP PRESS! November 2011: Well - would you believe it? Scholtes have pulled out of the UK market - just a year after entering it - and an amazing two months after the high profile launch of a £2 million London showroom on prestigious Wigmore Street. Nil points to parent company Indesit for forward planning!!
The Wigmore Street showroom will be taken over by sister brand Hotpoint Luce ... but Luce is not in the same leaugue as Miele, Kuppersbusch and Gaggenau. Showroom owners who had bought into the Scholtes brand and put them on display ... and who had persuaded customers to switch from other brands (like Concept Interiors and Kate - below) ... will not be at all happy!
I know that a fifties retro look is very popular at the moment - but would you go to the lengths of having a free standing cooker with solid electric plates and an eye level grill? New World are asking themselves that question. They already do two models in white - but they're wondering if there would be any demand for a pistachio green model.
I guess I could live with a gas version (they do those too) - but I do hate solid electric hotplates. If you'd just love one of these pistachio cookers, though - get in touch with New World - it's only a prototype at the moment but, if there's enough demand, they'll make the pistachio version available (and they're entirely UK made). (end)
Gas on glass hobs aren't new - but I haven't seen many that have touch controls - and this Caple C1081G model is particularly good looking. It's 1,000mm wide but only 400mm deep and it has 4 rings, including a really powerful 4kW burner and a little 1kW burner for simmering.
It comes with a safety lock on the controls, a flame safety device with automatic restart, and auto electronic ignition.
Where I think a hob like this would be really useful - is for fitting on an island where you want seating on the opposite side. It always worries me when a hob is close to a seating area - but a shallow hob like this one would be a good choice - as long as you have the width available to give you some worktop area both sides of the hob.
Neff - a brand closely associated with good quality cooking - has introduced a new feature to two of it's oven models. The B46C74 (shown above) is a top of the range Series 5 oven, whilst the B45C42 (pictured below) is at a slightly lower price point, in Neff's Series 3 ovens.
The new feature is called AquaAssist and it involves a water tank with a two stage pump system to provide humidity management during cooking. You can select one of three humidity levels - and can also make further adjustments during cooking - to add extra moisture to the food and improve the texture. The idea behind it, is that different types of food react differently to moisture during cooking and that optimum cooking results require different moisture levels.