Creativity for the kitchen

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Nicole Murray of The Kitchen Studio prides herself on being able to design kitchens that are different but affordable. Interview by Emily Moore

IT is often said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, a place where practical tasks are carried out but, equally importantly, a space where families gather, friends host dinner parties and children complete their homework.

And it is the myriad roles a kitchen performs which, according to one kitchen designer, makes it such an exciting space to create.

‘The kitchen is the hub of the house. It is one of the most technical spaces to design, as it is a place from which people demand so much, from somewhere to cook and entertain to a place where they can relax and enjoy time together as a family,’ said Nicole Murray, creative director of The Kitchen Studio. ‘It is also a room which is forever changing in design, with new finishes and technological advances creating a wealth of opportunities.’

With attention to detail a key priority at The Kitchen Studio, Nicole launched the business after identifying a ‘gap’ in the local market.

‘I had designed kitchens previously, before diversifying into property development, working with my family,’ she said. ‘It was during that time that I realised there was a gap in the market as no one was providing kitchens which were different but affordable.

‘Jersey is a small and sociable island and people see what their friends and families have got. In some cases, this can inspire their own desires but they still want something different. And this is something that we support. If someone says they have seen a friend’s kitchen and want something similar, we will take elements of that design but put a different spin on it so that you get something unique. We don’t want to be a factory belt; we find it just as exciting to design a new kitchen as a client does to receive it.’

Indeed, the design and presentation stage of the project is one from which Nicole derives particular satisfaction.

‘We are very much a design-driven studio and spend a lot of time talking to clients to understand what they want their space to deliver. We are also very honest and will not design anything that isn’t achievable,’ explained Nicole. ‘One of my favourite moments during a project is the presentation stage, when we show a client the planned visuals and mood boards. The look on their faces, when they see the way their kitchen will look, is so rewarding.’

While Brexit and Covid have created challenges for The Kitchen Studio, Nicole says their impact has been mitigated by the relationships she has with suppliers.

‘Lockdown gave a lot of people the time and capacity to plan those home-improvements projects which they hadn’t previously managed to do,’ she said. ‘While it was frustrating to close the doors of the studio for a time, we found ways of adapting our service and managing the logistics. We have a long-standing relationship with Mackintosh Kitchens, who make our furniture to order in the UK. Because of this, we have not missed one target, despite all the disruption around the world.’

The pandemic has also, says Nicole, highlighted the wealth of talent in the Island’s design and construction industries.

‘You can see that development in the Island is booming, with several very prestigious developments taking place and lots of apartments being built. It is great to see so much business in the Island and to see that developers are working more and more closely with local designers and contractors to bring these projects to fruition,’ she said. ‘We are proving that you do not need to go to London or Italy for a quality bespoke kitchen, as we have the talent and brand partnerships to deliver unique high-performance and beautiful spaces.’

And it this dual focus on practicality and aesthetics which dictates the team’s approach to design.

‘Kitchens are a big commitment, both emotionally and financially,’ Nicole explained. ‘For this reason, people don’t tend to change their kitchens very often, so it is really important that the finished product is practical but also looks good. Accordingly, we tread very carefully with trends, as it is easy for a client to get excited by something they have seen on, say, Pinterest or Instagram, without thinking about the practicalities or timelessness of the design.’

While tailoring those initial ideas, the team at The Kitchen Studio – the Island’s only KBSA-approved retailers – is excited by the design ideas which clients bring them.

‘Years ago, everybody wanted a limestone or white-gloss kitchen, so the fact that social media is showing people different options, and creating a more diverse interest in interior design, makes our lives much more exciting,’ she said. ‘While longevity and practical storage remain a priority, we are also seeing a growing demand for organisation and accessories. People want a clear workspace, with foldaway units and charging points in drawers so that everything is out of sight. But they also want accessories such as display shelves with plants or tea and coffee canisters on them to create those visual points of interest.

‘This is the attention to detail that we thrive on, pulling together all those elements and delivering their dream.’

The Kitchen Studio is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, by appointment only. Please email hello@thekitchenstudio.je for more information.

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