Small, But Perfectly Formed

by | Oct 28, 2019 | #kitchens

Will space be the final frontier for kitchen designers of the future, asks Grahame Morrison?

You do not build a multi-billion business in kitchen retailing by being behind the curve on what big issues are likely to influence that business in the future. According to Hans Strothoff, the CEO of the MHK Group with retail partners in eight European countries, it is not so much what the new white is, but more about how much space is going to be available to design a kitchen of any colour.

In the show kitchen at the BLUM UK head office, the company demonstrates how drawer-based base units can store the same amount equipment without the need for the wall units in a kitchen based on base units with shelves

According to Strothoff, 70% of the world’s population will want to live in urban areas with the availability of support services such as good transport links, shopping and leisure facilities close to hand. This theory is backed up by a recent estimate from the United Nations: today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.
Projections show that urbanisation – the gradual shift in residence of the human population from rural to urban areas – combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050. This is bound to put substantial pressure onto house building and it seems inevitable that homes are going to get smaller, and the space given over to the kitchen area will reduce accordingly.
According to research by online estate agents Housesimple, a detached property in the UK will set you back, on average, £377,945. Of course, within this average sum there are wide variations by region, but if detached property is at the top of the pile this looks almost certain to lead to smaller, more affordable homes – and we won’t have to wait until 2050 for this to kick in.
“The new-build properties are indeed shrinking in overall footprint size,” says John McNeil of Haus12 Interiors, “but builders are now leaving out the wall between kitchen and dining room to give the appearance of more space. This means we can offer much better storage solutions than we could previously.

A cantilever is created on one side of the island’s surface to accommodate seating beneath for dining in this kitchen by Vogue Kitchens

“Combined with clever design and maximising the height of the room I believe more and better storage is achieved. Properties from the 1970’s onwards are now having large rectangular rooms constructed to encapsulate not only the kitchen and dining room, but also a family area. This means we can then show how flexible the German furniture ranges we work with are and create a fluid harmonious space for grandparents all the way to the young child or children who live there.”
It could be argued that when fittings experts Blum launched a drawer system for base units it helped to turn conventional kitchen planning on its head as it increased the storage capacity of the most diminutive of kitchen space. “We know that by using drawers and pull-outs, customers can achieve up to 55% more storage space than when using doors and fixed shelves,” says Lisa Robinson, Marketing Manager at Blum UK. “But that’s only half the story. Each cabinet needs to have a specific function, almost like an appliance does.
“There is no point in having a unit with five shallow drawers, only to wish you could fit your pots and pans into that exact unit. So, we encourage kitchen designers to plan each cabinet with a specific function in mind, this will mean the cabinet almost configures itself.”
This is a view supported by Shanti Panchani of Home Consultancy. “It’s the difference between a kitchen planner and a kitchen designer,” says Panchani. “A kitchen planner’s main concern is fitting the space out with units, but a designer will tailor the space to suit the way a client works and uses their kitchen. We design a number of kitchens for the Asian community who have a different cooking style and storage needs from our European clients. We specialise in using furniture by Ballerina which is flexible enough for us to tailor a kitchen for any of our clients.”

The Blum Space Tower unit, with five internal pull out drawers, comes in a variety of widths and depths and only uses as much of the floor space as necessary

“Usability is another important consideration when fitting out a small kitchen.” agrees Robinson, “Every cabinet has to work as hard as it can, and that means full extension drawers so there is no wasted space at the back. It also means all the contents of the drawer are immediately visible and accessible.
“Our Space Tower unit for example is a fantastic larder solution – with five internal pull out drawers it comes in a huge variety of widths and depths, so using as much of the floor space as necessary. The drawer sides are different heights (one shallow and four high), so can accommodate anything from packets and tins, to cereal boxes and large bottles of water. And the internal pull-outs mean that contents are accessible on three sides, with no void necessary above to lift the products out.
“In our Experience Centre at Milton Keynes we have designed two kitchens, one with standard doors and fixed shelves, and one with drawers and pull-outs. Both store similar amounts of product – but the big difference is that the second kitchen has only one wall unit. This has a cost implication, and also allows a small urban kitchen to feel more spacious, but without losing valuable storage space.”
Panchani adds: “When push comes to shove, a compromise is sometimes call for when there is just not room to include every item on a client’s wish list. This is where understanding your client’s needs and lifestyle will pay dividends.
“Does the couple who rarely entertain need a full-size dishwasher or will a slimline model be suitable, for example? Will the space that a built-in coffee machine takes up be better used for a micro-combi oven, as this can provide useful additional oven space when cooking large family meals? As for after-dinner coffee – perhaps a hot tap will solve this and help with the meal prep as well.”

In this kitchen layout Vogue Kitchens as included a living and dining space within the main kitchen area

“Our research shows that there are two key trends for urban dwellers with small to average-sized kitchens,” says Sharan Johal, Creative Director of Vogue Kitchens who have designed kitchens in London for over 20 years. “The first is that people still want to keep their enclosed kitchen, but to update it with sleek contemporary tall handleless cabinetry on either side of the room.

“Cooking appliances can be housed at waist level within the units, thus leaving space for a small central kitchen island which acts as prep area, wet area, and for surface cooking to take place. A cantilever can be created on one side of the island’s surface to accommodate seating beneath for dining. All other appliances can be concealed behind furniture doors, with plenty of cupboards for storage, so clutter is kept to a minimum.

“The second trend for urban living is for borrowing from the interior living space, New York apartment-style and is certainly a solution for some former starter homes where the compact kitchen is very ‘compact’ indeed. This usually means that a single bedroom may be relinquished or the original kitchen will be knocked through to the reception room to make it large enough to be a subtle open plan living space.
“However, the fashion today is for a kitchen that is so discrete that it completely merges with the rest of the room as a single multifunctional space. This look is enabled by the use of pocket doors to conceal entire work, prep or cooking areas, or by the addition of decorative shelving while cabinetry is styled in such a way as to continue the flow of the room.”

 

THE FUTURE STARTS HERE

When the CEO of a European buying group with over 2800 individual kitchen specialists controlling around 4500 showrooms tells you that the boom days of kitchen retailing are over, you tend to sit up and take notice. But before the 2700 delegates at the 2019 MHK Group Conference could head Lemming-like towards the nearest cliff, Hans Strothoff went on to explain that while the somewhat frantic period of boom and bust in kitchen retailing in the 1970’s and 1980’s was over, in its wake was a more settled kitchen market.Big changes were afoot, suggested Strothoff. Kitchen spaces were getting smaller, but consumers still demanded a ‘full kitchen solution’. In Germany he said, around 45% of consumers wanted a ‘connected kitchen’ and this was an obvious influence on kitchen design.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Success in Changing Times’, and one of the biggest changes the kitchen market was due to face was the digital shopping habits of the 30-something consumers who had never experienced an analogue world, explained Strothoff.
The MHK Group, with its €6bn turnover in 2018 and a sales increase of 8.3% has out-performed the market for the first time, and says the above-average growth of its affiliated companies is due to a growing demand for knowledgeable kitchen retailers by consumers. Tomorrow’s consumer will want to be personally advised by an expert, touch the kitchen, experience design and technology live it says.
But consumers are also finding more information on the internet, so Strothoff announced that the MHK Group is investing in the expansion of the online services available to its partners. It presented its new ‘EasyRoom’ measuring app which enables the end customer to measure their kitchen space and provide a foundation for an online planner. This will be supplemented by a proposal wizard, which provides an initial basic plan on request.
“With their own homepage and the new functions, our partners have a comprehensive package to drive online traffic and engagement,” said Strothoff.

Further information:

MHK Group / mhkgroup.co.uk
Housesimple / housesimple.co.uk
Haus 12 / haus12.co.uk
Blum UK / blum.com
The Home Consultancy / thehomeconsultancy.com
Vogue Kitchens / voguekitchens.co.uk

Small, But Perfectly Formed

by | Oct 28, 2019 | #kitchens

Will space be the final frontier for kitchen designers of the future, asks Grahame Morrison?

You do not build a multi-billion business in kitchen retailing by being behind the curve on what big issues are likely to influence that business in the future. According to Hans Strothoff, the CEO of the MHK Group with retail partners in eight European countries, it is not so much what the new white is, but more about how much space is going to be available to design a kitchen of any colour.

In the show kitchen at the BLUM UK head office, the company demonstrates how drawer-based base units can store the same amount equipment without the need for the wall units in a kitchen based on base units with shelves

According to Strothoff, 70% of the world’s population will want to live in urban areas with the availability of support services such as good transport links, shopping and leisure facilities close to hand. This theory is backed up by a recent estimate from the United Nations: today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.
Projections show that urbanisation – the gradual shift in residence of the human population from rural to urban areas – combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050. This is bound to put substantial pressure onto house building and it seems inevitable that homes are going to get smaller, and the space given over to the kitchen area will reduce accordingly.
According to research by online estate agents Housesimple, a detached property in the UK will set you back, on average, £377,945. Of course, within this average sum there are wide variations by region, but if detached property is at the top of the pile this looks almost certain to lead to smaller, more affordable homes – and we won’t have to wait until 2050 for this to kick in.
“The new-build properties are indeed shrinking in overall footprint size,” says John McNeil of Haus12 Interiors, “but builders are now leaving out the wall between kitchen and dining room to give the appearance of more space. This means we can offer much better storage solutions than we could previously.

A cantilever is created on one side of the island’s surface to accommodate seating beneath for dining in this kitchen by Vogue Kitchens

“Combined with clever design and maximising the height of the room I believe more and better storage is achieved. Properties from the 1970’s onwards are now having large rectangular rooms constructed to encapsulate not only the kitchen and dining room, but also a family area. This means we can then show how flexible the German furniture ranges we work with are and create a fluid harmonious space for grandparents all the way to the young child or children who live there.”
It could be argued that when fittings experts Blum launched a drawer system for base units it helped to turn conventional kitchen planning on its head as it increased the storage capacity of the most diminutive of kitchen space. “We know that by using drawers and pull-outs, customers can achieve up to 55% more storage space than when using doors and fixed shelves,” says Lisa Robinson, Marketing Manager at Blum UK. “But that’s only half the story. Each cabinet needs to have a specific function, almost like an appliance does.
“There is no point in having a unit with five shallow drawers, only to wish you could fit your pots and pans into that exact unit. So, we encourage kitchen designers to plan each cabinet with a specific function in mind, this will mean the cabinet almost configures itself.”
This is a view supported by Shanti Panchani of Home Consultancy. “It’s the difference between a kitchen planner and a kitchen designer,” says Panchani. “A kitchen planner’s main concern is fitting the space out with units, but a designer will tailor the space to suit the way a client works and uses their kitchen. We design a number of kitchens for the Asian community who have a different cooking style and storage needs from our European clients. We specialise in using furniture by Ballerina which is flexible enough for us to tailor a kitchen for any of our clients.”

The Blum Space Tower unit, with five internal pull out drawers, comes in a variety of widths and depths and only uses as much of the floor space as necessary

“Usability is another important consideration when fitting out a small kitchen.” agrees Robinson, “Every cabinet has to work as hard as it can, and that means full extension drawers so there is no wasted space at the back. It also means all the contents of the drawer are immediately visible and accessible.
“Our Space Tower unit for example is a fantastic larder solution – with five internal pull out drawers it comes in a huge variety of widths and depths, so using as much of the floor space as necessary. The drawer sides are different heights (one shallow and four high), so can accommodate anything from packets and tins, to cereal boxes and large bottles of water. And the internal pull-outs mean that contents are accessible on three sides, with no void necessary above to lift the products out.
“In our Experience Centre at Milton Keynes we have designed two kitchens, one with standard doors and fixed shelves, and one with drawers and pull-outs. Both store similar amounts of product – but the big difference is that the second kitchen has only one wall unit. This has a cost implication, and also allows a small urban kitchen to feel more spacious, but without losing valuable storage space.”
Panchani adds: “When push comes to shove, a compromise is sometimes call for when there is just not room to include every item on a client’s wish list. This is where understanding your client’s needs and lifestyle will pay dividends.
“Does the couple who rarely entertain need a full-size dishwasher or will a slimline model be suitable, for example? Will the space that a built-in coffee machine takes up be better used for a micro-combi oven, as this can provide useful additional oven space when cooking large family meals? As for after-dinner coffee – perhaps a hot tap will solve this and help with the meal prep as well.”

In this kitchen layout Vogue Kitchens as included a living and dining space within the main kitchen area

“Our research shows that there are two key trends for urban dwellers with small to average-sized kitchens,” says Sharan Johal, Creative Director of Vogue Kitchens who have designed kitchens in London for over 20 years. “The first is that people still want to keep their enclosed kitchen, but to update it with sleek contemporary tall handleless cabinetry on either side of the room.

“Cooking appliances can be housed at waist level within the units, thus leaving space for a small central kitchen island which acts as prep area, wet area, and for surface cooking to take place. A cantilever can be created on one side of the island’s surface to accommodate seating beneath for dining. All other appliances can be concealed behind furniture doors, with plenty of cupboards for storage, so clutter is kept to a minimum.

“The second trend for urban living is for borrowing from the interior living space, New York apartment-style and is certainly a solution for some former starter homes where the compact kitchen is very ‘compact’ indeed. This usually means that a single bedroom may be relinquished or the original kitchen will be knocked through to the reception room to make it large enough to be a subtle open plan living space.
“However, the fashion today is for a kitchen that is so discrete that it completely merges with the rest of the room as a single multifunctional space. This look is enabled by the use of pocket doors to conceal entire work, prep or cooking areas, or by the addition of decorative shelving while cabinetry is styled in such a way as to continue the flow of the room.”

 

THE FUTURE STARTS HERE

When the CEO of a European buying group with over 2800 individual kitchen specialists controlling around 4500 showrooms tells you that the boom days of kitchen retailing are over, you tend to sit up and take notice. But before the 2700 delegates at the 2019 MHK Group Conference could head Lemming-like towards the nearest cliff, Hans Strothoff went on to explain that while the somewhat frantic period of boom and bust in kitchen retailing in the 1970’s and 1980’s was over, in its wake was a more settled kitchen market.Big changes were afoot, suggested Strothoff. Kitchen spaces were getting smaller, but consumers still demanded a ‘full kitchen solution’. In Germany he said, around 45% of consumers wanted a ‘connected kitchen’ and this was an obvious influence on kitchen design.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Success in Changing Times’, and one of the biggest changes the kitchen market was due to face was the digital shopping habits of the 30-something consumers who had never experienced an analogue world, explained Strothoff.
The MHK Group, with its €6bn turnover in 2018 and a sales increase of 8.3% has out-performed the market for the first time, and says the above-average growth of its affiliated companies is due to a growing demand for knowledgeable kitchen retailers by consumers. Tomorrow’s consumer will want to be personally advised by an expert, touch the kitchen, experience design and technology live it says.
But consumers are also finding more information on the internet, so Strothoff announced that the MHK Group is investing in the expansion of the online services available to its partners. It presented its new ‘EasyRoom’ measuring app which enables the end customer to measure their kitchen space and provide a foundation for an online planner. This will be supplemented by a proposal wizard, which provides an initial basic plan on request.
“With their own homepage and the new functions, our partners have a comprehensive package to drive online traffic and engagement,” said Strothoff.

Further information:

MHK Group / mhkgroup.co.uk
Housesimple / housesimple.co.uk
Haus 12 / haus12.co.uk
Blum UK / blum.com
The Home Consultancy / thehomeconsultancy.com
Vogue Kitchens / voguekitchens.co.uk

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