How Have Kitchens Evolved?

Longwood kitchen - images of kitchen / diner

Kitchens have vastly evolved over the past 20 years, and have proven that now more than ever, they are an integral part of the home. No longer dedicated to just food preparation, kitchens have become increasingly multifunctional places to eat, socialise, learn and work. 

The art of bespoke kitchen design is to know how to create a welcoming and relaxing space that meshes seamlessly with the rest of the home. With open-plan living a favourite of many homeowners, the perfect kitchen is all about having a design that complements the rest of your home. 

How have kitchen designs changed?

There have been plenty of stand-out kitchen design trends over the past 20 years, with some more fleeting than others. One trend that has stood the test of time is the kitchen island. 

Kitchen islands, once a staple of high-end kitchens, are no longer just an aesthetic preference but rather a must-have for many homeowners. Once considered a luxury, islands and breakfast bars have recently become more of a necessity for those looking for a multi-use space. Not only adding value to your home but functionality as well. 

20 years ago, open plan kitchens were only just being accepted as the norm. Now, most modern home designs include at least some aspect of open plan living. But why have these features become so popular?

Why have kitchens changed? 

These days, we expect our kitchens to support our busy lifestyles without compromising on their beauty. Kitchens must be as functional as possible as they adapt to a wide range of modern needs. 

In 2020, kitchens quickly became a place to work remotely for many people. It’s these unexpected changes that have really put home design to the test.

Our kitchens have had to adapt to our own evolving preferences and ways of life, with the pandemic highlighting the growing need for interior design that supports wellness and healthy living

The importance of having a central hub of the home to stay connected has become clear, and a well-designed kitchen can do just that.  

What is the future of kitchen design? 

Sustainable and eco-friendly kitchens have come into favour over the past few years and are likely to continue to be at the forefront of future designs. There are a number of options available for those looking to reduce waste and support sustainable living. We can expect much more innovation relating to caring for the environment in the future. 

The market for smart appliances will also grow. Utilities and tools to make the kitchen usable even from afar are already a top choice for modern kitchens so we don’t expect to see the demand for tech in the kitchen stop anytime soon. 

According to the experts we may see the lines blurring between living rooms and kitchens even further, with softer furnishings making their way into the kitchen. 

So, you can see how the way we use kitchens has drastically affected how we design them. 

If you’re interested in creating your own bespoke kitchen suited to your needs, we can work with you to craft your perfect home. Get in touch with us today to start your new project. 

Questions Designers Ask

The Beauty of Veneer

How can I stand out from the competition

We know that interior designers are always pushing boundaries and exploring new possibilities with creativity. As Cabinet makers and artisans, we use traditional techniques, but push boundaries by embracing modern technology in the form of machinery and through exploring new materials. In developing how we work, we grow in understanding how we combine materials in terms of what looks and textures we can generate to have your design stand apart.

Do you have a portfolio of past works?

We strive to build relationships with designers, a partnership that is based on trust gained from our wealth of knowledge and experience. It is important they can see we can deliver their vision. So, our portfolio of past works demonstrates to clients our capabilities and in addition they can see whether our work is a fit with theirs.

What materials are available, and do you know how to work with combining those materials?

We have decades of experience working not just with beautiful wood and natural veneers, we have that innate knowledge of how best to construct the finished piece. It is not just the substrate, it can be leather, fabric, stone, metal, or mother-of-pearl that the client wants to feature and we know exactly how these materials will work together.

high end material - ashton bespoke samples

What happens if there is an unforeseen delay on the project will you react and ensure that the project sticks to timescales?

Once we are working with a client it becomes a relationship that we nurture and develop over time. This means should any delays occur; we will move heaven and earth to ensure that the project gets back on schedule and the end client has no knowledge that there were any issues at all.

Will there be any hidden costs or unforeseen expenses?

We take our time to go through our costing process rigorously. This means there are no surprises and there is a comprehensive list of every single costing implication for an entire project because we know you need the reassurance that you will deliver on budget.

When we get to manufacturing how do we ensure we do not lose sight of the project?

We warmly invite our clients into our workshop and meeting room at regular intervals throughout the project. Our meeting room has samples we can view and a space to discuss every element of the process.

Can I have samples, and do you make prototypes?

We can provide samples for your clients to approve as we know how important it is that they feel the materials and see how they look. If a full prototype is required, we can cost this separately within the project, but this would commonly be dependent on the scope of the project.

Once you go into production how do you ensure that we keep to timescales and deadlines?

When we are involved in a project with designers we strongly believe in the collaborative process. We await our client sign off once we have the green light, we make a robust production plan where we start at the end with the installation date, we then put together a comprehensive program of works with strict deadlines built into it.

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The Beauty Of Veneer

The Beauty of Veneer

The Beauty of Veneer

It is often misconstrued that veneer plays secondary to solid timber in bespoke furniture. There is no doubt solid timber has a natural beauty and sometimes this cannot be replicated in any way. There are drawbacks however to solid timber as it can come with restrictions in terms of design scope. The other consideration now to using solid wood must be the preservation of our natural surroundings. Whether we look to make our furniture from solid timber or veneers, it must be properly sourced and FSC registered – wood harvested from forests that are responsibly managed.

The history of veneers

Veneering is known to have been used as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, though it was not until the Renaissance and Baroque period that veneering became predominantly used as a method for decorative purposes. By the mid 18th century, the craft of marquetry was spreading through Europe from Italy across to Spain and France. This form found its way across the channel to Britain where cabinet makers developed a unique style featuring decorative Walnut veneers. Throughout the Regency period, Flame and curl Mahogany – this was the section of the tree where two large branches divide forming the flame effect – were extensively used through to the Edwardian period in Britain. Fast forward to the 21st century and veneer is not just used for decorative purposes but also in the mass production of board material. This comes in large sizes, so that furniture can be made economically and sustainably. The furniture therefore looks like solid timber but in fact just uses a thin layer of the desired substrate.


The beauty of wood veneers and their possibilities

The range of veneers that can be sourced now are staggering from traditional natural decorative veneers such as burrs, burls, curls, figured and bird’s eye. In addition, there are normal, crown and quartered cut veneer from many species of timber as well as dyed and man-made or engineered veneers. The laying of veneer is a traditional skill that cabinet makers of the past learned. Though it has almost been lost, this skill has seen a revival in the last 20 years or so with also the introduction of modern machinery such as lasers that can be used to cut the veneers. Using veneers within a piece of furniture, gives the designer more freedom to be creative as the substrate is more stable. When using solid timber, more thought and consideration must be given for the natural expansion and contraction of timber. Veneer can be laid in many ways from slip matching to book matching to create decorative patterns and forms.

Here at Ashton Bespoke, veneering is something that we’ve been doing for decades and have a wealth of experience in this field. Within the coming weeks we currently have two cocktail cabinets in a man-made engineered veneer, a drinks cabinet in a natural figured dyed veneer and a traditional style writing desk in a decorative burr oak veneer. Keep an eye out on our Instagram for upcoming posts on the finished pieces.

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Cedar Of Lebanon Tree

History

Many trees have an incredible heritage dating back thousands of years but none more so than the Cedar of Lebanon. It is a tree that is referenced in many books including the Bible described as strong and durable as well as graceful and beautiful. Academics are agreed that the Cedar of Lebanon is a symbol of Mary.  The history books have also recorded that the ancient civilisation of Phoenicia traded Cedar of Lebanon and made merchant ships from it marking the Phoenicians as the world’s first trading civilisation. The most famous forest, known as the Cedars of God, has diminished over the centuries and has just 25 acres remaining. This site has been an area of preservation since 1876 and in fact UNESCO declared it a world Heritage site some 20 years ago. The tree is so important to Lebanon that it features on the Lebanese flag because it is believed the tree symbolises prosperity, eternity, and happiness

Cedar Use In Furniture

Cedar of Lebanon (cedrus Libani ) is known for its unique fragrance and is prized by furniture makers for wardrobe interiors and the internal of drawers as the scent the wood gives off is known for keeping fabric eating moths away. Cedar of Lebanon is not to be confused with Western Red Cedar which has similar properties but is more widely used for external timber such as cladding to buildings. Cedar is a large evergreen conifer that can be quite ornamental featuring in the gardens of many stately homes. It is an incredibly special timber known for reflecting warmth giving an attractive neutral background. A softwood timber, cedar is easy to work with hand tools which make it sought after by the craftsman although you must be wary as it can be quite knotty and bark inclusions occur.


Spirituality & Wellness

Cedar has many spiritual associations including healing, prayer, dreams, and protection against disease. These trees have different meanings for many civilisations, mortality, strength, and resilience being among them. Some tribes see the cedar as a symbol of generosity and have rituals around the felling of the trees. Its fragrance can evoke a sense of calm and well-being something we all need in today’s world.


Cedar Of Lebanon & Sustainability

Anyone planting cedar of Lebanon does so in the knowledge they likely will not live to see the tree fully mature as this will take decades and trees have been known reach 40m in height and have a girth of some 2.5m. As you can imagine Cedar of Lebanon is exceedingly rare so sustainability must be at the heart of any harvesting. They only have one trunk that has many branches growing out and can live as long over 1000 years old. A tree that has survived wars and seen kings and empires rise and fall should be truly treasured, as with all the magnificent wonders of this world.

Click here to read more about our process