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Look below the surface

Designing your new kitchen involves many decisions – and few are as important as your choice of worktops. Of course, they have to complement your units, flooring and décor; but these are hardworking, practical surfaces you’ll be using for preparing and serving food. And with so many materials available, it’s important to consider your selection carefully, and choose with your head, as well as your heart.

Granite has long been the material of choice for contemporary bespoke kitchens. It’s incredibly hard-wearing and heat resistant; it’s also easy to clean and won’t harbour germs. The price for all this luxurious, maintenance-free loveliness is – well, the price (not to mention the weight!) A popular, more cost-effective alternative is quartz, which is fortified with resin to make it almost as stain- and scratch-resistant as granite, with the added bonus of near-infinite colour options.

Granite’s main rival at the luxury end of the market is hardwood. Equally at home in a traditional or contemporary kitchen, hardwood is cheaper than stone and offers a wide variety of finishes that actually improve with age – as long as you faithfully oil it twice a year, and don’t mind the odd scratch and stain.

Of course, you don’t have to restrict yourself to one or the other: many of our clients have used a mix of materials to great aesthetic and practical effect in their kitchens. For example, you could have granite or quartz in food preparation areas which receive the heaviest wear and tear, and wood in serving and dining areas. If your kitchen forms an island or peninsula within a larger room, wood creates a soft, elegant transition from the working area to the living space.

If you’re planning a contemporary kitchen, you have some really innovation options. Glass is a relatively new material in kitchens: it’s almost as hardwearing as granite, and similarly expensive. It comes in almost limitless colours, and can be made in any size of shape, giving you huge flexibility. It’s a wonderful surface, but you’ll need to be prepared to spend a lot of time cleaning it!

Light, hygienic and all-but indestructible, stainless steel is almost universal in commercial kitchens, but much rarer in domestic settings, where a large area can frankly be a bit overwhelming. In small workspaces, however, or on an island unit, it can make a bold and beautiful statement.

Other emerging materials are solid surface composites. These are made by applying an acrylic resin to a substrate, usually wood, to create a seamless, glossy surface that, like glass, can be moulded into any shape you wish. We’re also seeing a new generation of porcelain worktops coming on to the market as an alternative to granite.

We can specify and install all kinds of worktops, and will be happy to advise on the most appropriate material choice for your kitchen. To find out more, please contact us.

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