Kitchens

How to design an outdoor kitchen!

The outdoor kitchen is more than just a place for the occasional barbecue, the latest outdoor kitchens allow you to cook as adventurously in the open air as you would inside, connecting the home to the garden.

Think about the location and placement of your outdoor kitchen

If your kitchen will be close to your house, nearby buildings can cause wind turbulence that may drive smoke down as well as up, so check where the smoke goes by carefully setting a small fire in a frying pan. For good ventilation, situate your cooking area the same distance from the house as it is high.

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Decide on the space and features needed for your outdoor kitchen

Next, work out how often you’ll be using your outdoor kitchen, how many people you’ll be catering for and what sort of food you like to cook. This will help you decide how much grill area and workspace you’ll need. Will you be grilling, roasting, baking or making pizzas? These questions will help you decide to incorporate larger grills, clay ovens or both?

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SEEK A DESIGNER TO CREATE YOUR PERFECT OUTDOOR KITCHEN.

Check that the materials you want to use are suitable for outdoor use – they need to be UV-stable, durable, flame-proof and frost-proof. Also worth considering is - do you like to face guests and have somewhere for them to sit as you cook? Or would you prefer a self-contained unit away from the seating area?

Whatever you desire give XI Projects a call and we’ll be able to design you the perfect outdoor kitchen.

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Our favourite Planet and People Friendly Products!

Whether you’re renovating or building from scratch, nowadays there is an emphasis on ‘eco-construction’ and how we can reduce the impact our homes have on the environment.

From using environmentally friendly building materials to renewable energy and green technology within the home there are many alternative products out there which can make your home more ‘eco friendly’.

Here we take a look at the alternatives and their eco friendly properties.

Calcium silicate Bricks

Unless you’re able to use re-claimed bricks, use calcium silicate bricks which use of less energy and do not produce the same amount of air pollutants associated with firing clay. Calcium silicate bricks therefore are considered to render significantly less impact on the environment than clay bricks. Notable uses of the brick in London include Battersea Power Station and the RIBA building in Portland Place.

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Timber

Wherever possible the use of sustainable timber is the ‘go to’ option for any ‘eco home’. Using sustainable timber such as that which is FSC or PEFC certified stimulates the expansion of managed forests to absorb CO2. FSC certified forests support biodiversity and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The UK is the biggest importer of FSC certified timber.
Using UK grown timber reduces embodied energy and contributes to the local culture and economy - Milling logs has a comparatively low environmental impact.
Timber is a very safe material to handle. It is non-toxic and does not break down into environmentally damaging materials.

Natural clay plasters

Non-toxic and made from sustainable raw materials, natural clay plasters have breath ability to prevent harmful mold and reduce allergies and asthma plus they are recyclable. (clay works)
Clay expands when wet, the wetter it becomes, the more it resists moisture. This makes it an ideal plaster to use in contact with wood or straw. Clay plaster also regulates temperature and air-moisture.

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Eco friendly insulation

Recycled newspaper, sheeps wool, hemp and plastics are alternatives to mineral based insulation materials and are safer to handle and reduce the homes carbon foot print.

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Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a building material that incorporates hemp into its mixture. Hempcrete is very versatile as it can be used for wall insulation, flooring, walls, roofing and more. It’s fire-proof, water-proof, and rot-proof as long as it’s above ground. Hempcrete is made from the shiv or inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint for those who are concerned with the carbon side of things. Hempcrete is much more versatile, easy to work with and pliable than concrete. In fact, earthquakes cannot crack these structures as they are 3 times more resistant than regular concrete.

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Timbercrete

Timbercrete’s thermal insulation properties out-perform many masonry products by up to 6 times. It’s made from timber waste products and actually traps the carbon that would otherwise end up as greenhouse gas. You save energy for heating and cooling, and each brick, paver and block takes a lot less energy to produce. Timbercrete has excellent sound absorption and acoustic qualities

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Ferrock

Compared to Portland cement (made from chalk and clay and resembling Portland stone in color), which is one of the leading types in use throughout the world today, Ferrock is actually five times stronger. It can withstand more compression before breaking and is far more flexible, meaning it could potentially resist the earth movements caused by seismic activity or industrial processes. One of the unique properties of Ferrock is that it becomes even stronger in salt water environments, making it ideal for marine-based construction projects. And rather than emitting large amounts of C02 as it dries, Ferrock actually absorbs and binds it! This results in a carbon-negative process that actually helps to trap greenhouse gases.

Solar panels


Energy bills have in the past years increased by at least 7% per annum. You can protect yourself from the rising utility bills by incorporating solar panels into your energy mix. This will reduce your electricity bills significantly. Plus through Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) you can get paybacks for the electricity you produce. The Feed-In Tariff is an initiative by the UK Government aimed at helping you to become more self-sufficient and sustainable in your use of energy, whilst earning some extra income. Plus if your system produces more energy than you need, through the generous tariff schemes, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
Solar panels work all year round. Their full potential is released during the sunny months, but they also produce a considerable amount of electricity during the winter, as well as on cloudy days.
Solar panels need almost no maintenance. Once the panels are installed, you need to keep them clean and check whether any trees begin to overshadow the solar PV array.

Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater can be used as a back up to heat the water further to reach the required temperature.

Double Glazing

Double and Large glazing reduces the need for lighting and reduces the cost of heating homes.Traditional windows, with a single pane of glass in them, have a U value in excess of 5. Double glazing used to score over 3, but, over the years, the manufacturing process has undergone a number of improvements and currently the Building Regulations insist that any window you install today should have a U value no worse than 1.6. Some countries like Sweden and Norway use triple glazed windows which have a U value of 1.8 (impressive). However the cost of installing triple glazing and each windows weight means it has an embodied energy* approximately 50% higher than double glazing.

*Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.

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Wool Carpets

Allegedly, flooring products account for around 40% of a building’s environmental impact and soft flooring will be changed between 6 and 12 times during the 60 years of a building’s life. Whatever the source of these figures, they are a useful prompt to consider the importance of specifying products such as carpeting with an eye to minimising environmental impact. Our thoughts on carpet…. don’t buy carpets but if you do want carpets then go for wool or buy a wool rug.  It is very durable and can last centuries. In some families wool rugs have been passed down from generation to generation making them  family heirlooms.   Other natural materials used to make carpets or rugs are sisal, jute and cotton.

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Pure Glue Eco Plywood

Pure Glue Eco Plywood combines the lightweight nature and decorative face of plywood with a non-toxic, formaldehyde-free glue for improved air quality.

Little Greene Paint Co.

This company produces waterbased paints that carry the industry's lowest eco-rating, with VOC content now virtually zero. This means you don't need to worry about solvent contributions to the atmosphere or any respiratory issues, or the smell; they are virtually odourless.

Oil based paints are traditionally favoured because of their renowned longevity and superb finish. Little Greene oil based paints have been reformulated using sustainable vegetable oils, without compromising on their unrivalled quality.

The paper used in their wallpapers comes from FSC or PEFC certificated sustainable forests; so for every tree used another four are planted. The pigments used to print them are completely non-toxic and the excellent wallpaper paste contains no solvent.

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Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps use refrigeration technology to provide heat from a condensing unit. The evaporator side of the heat pump absorbs energy from the air outside the house using it as a source of heat for a properties hot water cylinder, radiators or underfloor heating. If the right unit is installed in the property, an Air Source Heat Pump can provide all the hot water and heating a property requires for 365 days a year.

Grey Water/ Rain water Harvesting

Grey water recycling within domestic homes is the process of taking used water from showers, baths and hand wash basins, filtering it and storing the filtered water for re-use.

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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) utilise the heat energy stored in the ground to heat water that can be distributed to the heating system, domestic hot water system and appliances within a building. The GSHP works by passing heat from the ground through buried pipework that carries a brine mixture which converts the heat into higher temperatures for use within the home.

So if you want to make your home more eco-friendly or you would like a free quote on any home improvement project then contact us today!!

Oh and one last note… When sourcing materials take a good look at what constitutes the product or material. If you are unsure about the provenance or ingredient of some product, ask the manufacturer to state where it comes from and what it is made of. If the manufacturer is on top of their game, they will make available an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). If a declaration isn't on offer, at least check the health and safety sheet for any human toxin content.

Here are a list of ingredients to stay away from:

Alkylphenol
Alkylphenols are a component in phenolic resins, but they can also be found in adhesives, paints and coatings and high performance rubber products..

Asbestos
The history of the use of asbestos culminated in one of the greatest public health tragedies of modern times. Exposure to the former wonder mineral continues to be the cause of one of the most pernicious forms of cancer.

Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is used as a hardener in making polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Common BPA products include water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers, household electronics, plastic lenses and DVDs.

Cadmium
Most commonly used in the production of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries and as a sacrificial corrosion-protection coating for iron and steel. Other uses include alloys, coatings (electroplating), solar cells, plastic stabilisers, and pigments.

Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE)
CPE is a versatile material that when compounded with other materials, achieves different properties and products. It is widely used as a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), rubber and modifier for resins (PVC, PE and ABS)

Chlorobenzene
Chlorobenzene's most high-profile application was in the production of the pesticide DDT. Modern uses are as a solvent in the manufacture of adhesives, paints, paint removers, polishes, dyes, and drugs.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chloroprene
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE)
CSPE’s weatherability, UV stability and adhesion capability have made this material very popular as a commercial roofing material. Other applications include wire and cable sheathing and paint.Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is used in a wide spectrum of products.  In construction, formaldehyde is still widely used as a binder in insulation products as well as commonly as an adhesive in wood panel products.

Halogenated flame retardants
Flame retardants (FR) are compounds that when added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire.

Hexavalent chromium (aka Chromium-6 )
It's corrosion resistance make it a first choice as an alloy or plating in the production of stainless steel. Hexavalent chromium is used to produce CCA (chromated copper arsenate) that is applied as a preservative in the treatment of structural timber.

Lead
Lead comes with a long history of use, but in recent times we have become aware of its potential to render harm to humans. However, it still plays a role in the construction industry, primarily in roofing applications.

Mercury
Though previously applied to a wide spectrum of products and processes, mercury's toxicity has become highly restrictive of general useage.

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)
PFCs are used to make stain, heat and water-resistant products including fire protection agents, floor polishes and paints. They are also used to manufacture non-stick coatings.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals that were manufactured for use in various industrial and commercial applications - including oil in electrical and hydraulic equipment, and plasticisers in paints, plastics and rubber products. Useage has become severley restricted in recent years.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Such is the height of the PVC industry's econmic profile, that critiicism from GreenPeace and others has provoked the producers of PVC into a series of intense and acrimonius confrontations.

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)
Polyvinylidene Chloride is synthesised from ethylene dichloride. Introduced by DOW Chemicals in 1939, the PVDC monomer is used in the manufacture of barrier coatings, fibres and plastics.

Pthalates
Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are most commonly found in plastics, and primarily, in PVC as plasticisers to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) (aka Chlorinated alkanes)
SCCPs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife and humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, are persistent and transported globally through the environment

 

Top Trends for 2019!

Oh we are excited for what’s in store for 2019. So here are our top tips for what’s IN and OUT in 2019.

IN - LIVING CORAL.

Pantone announced its “colour of the year” for 2019 is Living Coral, a bright, cheerful peach. This 'animating and life-affirming shade of orange with a golden undertone' will bring a vibrant and happy tone to your home, guaranteed!

Pantone colour of the year ‘Living Coral’.

Pantone colour of the year ‘Living Coral’.

OUT - GENDERED ROOMS

Gone are the days of blue and pink rooms. It’s time to mix it up with gender neutral colours so as not to dampen creative potential and reinforce hidden biases.

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IN- SUSTAINABILITY

Society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmentally responsible building and interior design. So the next time you buy a piece of furniture make sure it is sourced from a sustainable resource, so your home doesn’t have a negative environmental impact on our society.

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OUT - GREYS

Grey was the 2016's color of the year according to Pinterest, but since then, warmer tones have begun to enter the minimalistic homes, like natural hues.

IN- BIOPHILIA

Biophilia emphasises the relationship between humankind and nature, and the connections between the two. So try and bring the outside and nature into your home by incorporating natural, organic materials–such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life.

Our favourite Christmas Interiors!

Well Christmas day is nearly upon us and we cant contain our excitement! So we've put together our favourite Christmas interiors of this year (we hope you like them) and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Our favourite intergrated sinks!

The countertop is getting the modern treatment and the sinks are not being left behind. The favorite look for homeowners is a sleek continuous style from the countertop and down into the sink. The integrated sink with countertop has become another trend in kitchen countertops for 2018.

Integrated sinks are made from the same material as the countertop. So the two blend seamlessly between the countertop and the sink. What you have is a smooth flow from your working surface to your sink, resulting in a chic modern style. The lack of a break allows a smooth and proper wipe down of your work area. You do not have to worry about dirty water and food bits getting stuck in the space between the countertop and the sink. A quick wipe is enough to eliminate any marks and stains on the countertop. So check out our favourite built-in sinks and call us for a qoute!

Our favourite Brass Kitchens!

What was once considered, well, brassy is now something to covet and keep. Designers have been turning away from polished brass and are now embracing satin or brushed brass, which is more muted and warm.

Minimal maintenance

To keep a brass worktop clean all you need to is dish soap and a sponge or soft cloth. If you use any other cleaning agent it might stain helping the patina to develop faster.

Unique look

It doesn’t get more unique than brass, especially if you age it. The best part of having this as a worktop material is that it is a living surface and will change appearance quite drastically. This is a bonus if you’re adventurous and love that worn in look.

Patina

Much the same as copper, brass will also develop a patina over time. Some people love the aged look while others want it to look more polished.

Antimicrobial properties

Brass has natural antimicrobial properties! But be warned if you seal the worktop for a uniform look this will neutralise these properties. 

Not heat proof

Although some say it’s fine to put a hot pan down on a copper or brass surface we don’t recommend this. It will cause the metal to expand and warp.

Now you know the pro's and con's here are our favourite brass kitchens!! Enjoy!

What's the right cooker for you?

A good oven should last for years and be something you can rely on to produce great dishes every time! Whatever your budget and lifestyle, there's a huge choice available. It's also a big purchasing decision, so you'll want to make sure you get it right. Here's what you need to know when buying an oven.

Electric cookers

  • Cooking is quicker.

  • Colour is even, but usually paler and less glossy.

  • Pre-heating is usually unnecessary.

  • Good for batch baking (cooking on more than one shelf) because of the even heat distribution.

  • Cooking times/temperatures are always less than traditional ovens.

  • The food surface may be drier and less crisp.

 

Gas cookers

  • You'll find the top shelf is slightly hotter, lower shelf slightly cooler and the base cooler still.

  • Gas is a much moister form of heat than electric, particularly noticeable when baking.

  • The end result is food with a glossy appearance on the outside and a moist texture inside. 

Now you've decided if you want gas or electric what style of cooker best suits you?

 

Freestanding cookers

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Freestanding cookers offer great value for money and there's a wide range of styles available to suit most kitchen designs.

If you have an existing gap in your kitchen they're easy to slot in and, of course, you can easily take them with you if you move home.

Freestanding cookers come in three standard widths: 60cm, 55cm and 50cm. Most are about 80cm tall and 60-65cm deep, so they should sit flush with your work counters.

 

Built-in cooker

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A built-in cooker seamlessly blends into your kitchen for a modern and stylish look

If you want the flexibility of a range cooker but don’t have the space for one, or worry it’ll be out of step with your sleek new kitchen units, a built-in oven is the way to go.

Built-in ovens, as the name suggests, are installed into kitchen units or fixed to cupboard doors. A built-in oven is usually 60cm wide, which is the same as standard kitchen units.

You have the option to place it at eye level so it's easy to see how your dishes are cooking and the flexibility to put the hob where you like – according to where it works best for you.

 

RANGE OVENS

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These have either two side-by-side ovens or one extra-wide oven with an internal grill, plus a storage or warming compartment and a substantial hob.

You will not, however, get more cooking space than with a conventional oven - external dimensions are larger but the oven may be of normal size or even smaller.

Most have useful extras such as a wok burner, an extra burner for fish kettles, a griddle or barbecue plates and warming zones.

 

Heat storage ovens

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Heat storage or Aga-type cookers use stored heat. They take approximately six hours to heat up so once on you leave them on.

Heat inside the oven stays relatively constant, but there is a large variation in temperature between gradients, so you'll need to move dishes up and down to control how wuickly they cook.

Aga-type cookers look beautiful and help to create a warm heart to the home, but they can be expensive to run and require practice to use effectively.

They can use various types of fuel, including electricity, gas, oil, wood and solid fuel. Most, except all electric, require a flue and are very heavy to install.

 

Things to consider

•If you batch bake and cook traditional foods, opt for a multi-function oven.

• If you only cook traditional foods choose a static type; otherwise a electric fan oven is better for batch baking, quick cooking (reheating ready meals) and defrosting.

• Alternatively, look for a separate grill and main oven for versatility and convenience.

• Check for cool-touch oven doors, especially useful if you have young children. Even on a high temperature the oven door will remain warm only.

• Eye-level grills are the most convenient to use but don't look as streamlined. Otherwise, check that a grill below the hob is comfortable for you to use.

• To save money and energy choose a half-grill facility for small batches of grilling.

• Check the oven is at a comfortable height for loading.

• Choose side-opening or drop-down doors to suit your needs.

• Clearly marked and easy-to-use controls. Some are illuminated for easier use.

• On gas appliances look for safety and flame-failure devices.

• BSI approval or equivalent Continental standards.

• Storage drawer and plate-warming racks. Grill can double for plate warming.

• Reversible door hanging to fit in with your kitchen layout.

• Minute minders may be useful.

• An oven light and clear door-viewing panel.

• Automatic timers that will switch the oven on when you are out.

• Childproof controls.

Now that you have a clearer idea of what cooker will work best in your kitchen, let XI Projects design and create your perfect kitchen for you!! 

What's in or out in 2018!

So we have been looking at the trends for 2018 and here are our ideas for what's hot and what's not in 2018.

IN: Statement Art             OUT: Gallery wall

Is it time for busy (slightly chaotic) gallery walls to be replaced by bigger statement pieces? 

IN: Brass                         OUT: Copper

With copper everywhere nowadays we think the more subtle sophisticated tones of brass will be a massive trend in 2018.

IN: Lavender                      OUT: Millennial Pink

We love millennial pink and we think it will still stick around for a while to come but it looks like shades of lavender are now one of the front runners for 2018!

IN: Terrazzo                        OUT: Carrara marble

We love marble as its classy and long lasting but it looks like Carrara marble is a big hit in the interior design world... lets see what happens!

IN: Herringbone floors       OUT: White painted floors

We love painted floors as it's cheap and transforms the look of any room but it looks like herringbone floors are coming back as the more stylish and longer lasting choice.

IN: Green                             OUT: Indigo

You can't go wrong with indigo as its a classic colour but for an edgier more modern look make sure you go green as this looks like a major colour trend for 2018.

Dark and stormy interiors!

We're getting our spook on for Halloween and we have put together our favourite black interiors. 

Kitchen island design ideas!

Kitchen islands serve a number of purposes. In addition to being a visual anchor in the space, they also help increase the room’s functionality and efficiency. If your kitchen needs updating and you need some inspiration for your future kitchen island then check the tips below and call us for a quote!

ADD COUNTER SPACE

Use your island to increase the amount of counter space in your kitchen. Having more counter space will allow more room for meal prep, multiple chefs and can serve as an eating area. 

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CREATE MORE SEATING

Whether your space lacks a proper dining table or you’re looking to create a more casual bar-seating option, adding low-profile seating to the island is an easy way to increase functionality and make the environment more social for both guests and the cook. 

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ADD APPLIANCES

Incorporating sinks or stove tops into the surface of the island is one way to spread the workflow throughout the kitchen. 

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MAKE IT MULTILEVEL

Add another dynamic by creating variation in the height of your island. Using the island for multiple purposes, like eating and food prep, will maximize the utility.

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GET MORE STORAGE

An island is also a way to add more storage and avoid kitchen clutter by using drawers, cupboards and shelves. This is beneficial especially if appliances take up a lot of cabinet room, or if you’re looking for a unique way to showcase certain items by using open shelving. 

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USE THE SPACE ABOVE

Take advantage of being able to use the space above the island by adding suspended storage, or if you’ve decided to install a stovetop with overhead venting you can use the space for the range hood.
 

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Handmade tiles - the hottest trend!

We can't get enough of handmade tiles at the moment, especially the matte varieties. The texture of each tile makes the most boring of rooms super stylish. Whatever shape you prefer - scales, scallops, kit-kat, hexangonal or square, make sure to use handmade tiles somewhere in your home for that super luxe look. Check out our favourites below and call us for a quote!

How to get a modern farmhouse kitchen!

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Wooden countertops are a must for that aged farmhouse look.

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A farmhouse sink is the best choice for an instant farmhouse feel.

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Display your antiques, mason jars or large wooden bowls throughout your kitchen and in glass front cabinets for a unique look. 

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Shaker style cupboards give that older style farmhouse feel.

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Add natural textures like burlap, wicker or linen to your kitchen to create a casual feel.

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Using a table turned island adds character and makes the kitchen appear as though it evolved over many years.

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Replace upper cabinets with shelves which are perfect for displaying a beautiful collection or classic white dishware.

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Using vintage second hand pendants to give that thrifty aged feel.

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Used muted shades of blue, yellow, green and of course white paint on the walls, cupboards and floor boards.

If you desire that farmhouse feel in your kitchen give us a call and we'd be happy to create the perfect kitchen for you!

Plywood love!

Nowadays, you’re likely to see this engineered, layered wood used on construction sites, or as an alternative to MDF but plywood is cropping up as a star material, unpainted and proud around the home.

Though pricier than MDF, plywood is still generally much more affordable than solid wood and has the benefits over MDF of being stronger, better at holding screws, suitable for exterior jobs (depending on the variety) and, arguably, better looking in its raw state.

From super-strong, humidity-proof and good-looking marine ply to easy-to-cut-and-drill softwood ply; rugged and ready hardwood; pale, smooth birch ply, or thin, bendable sheets, there are many plywood varieties to choose from, as well as multiple thicknesses. 

So now you've had a quick run down check out our favourite ways to use plywood around the home for that super stylish modern look and call us for a quote today!

Designing a galley kitchen!

Named after a ship’s kitchen, galleys were originally designed to be both compact, ergonomic and ultra-efficient, maximising every inch of space for both storage and preparation. Therefore galley kitchens are perfect for small spaces.

A galley kitchen consists of two parallel runs of units forming a central corridor in which to work. The galley layout works well for all kitchen styles; it’s also the preferred design of many professional chefs, who love it because it enhances safety and efficiency during cooking. 

Though galley kitchens work best in small spaces, they can also be good for medium-sized kitchens. However, be aware that if the opposing runs are too far apart, the kitchen will lose its efficiency. 

Top tips for Galley Kitchens

For a symmetrical galley kitchen the length of the runs and the arrangement of units on each side should mirror each other as much as you want.

For an assymetrical kitchen you can focus the tall cabinets or a bank of appliances on one side of the room, with base and wall units on the other. Or you can go with a mix of tall and wall units along one side, with a single run of base units on the other if, for example, you have an open-plan space.

Try and use open shelving which will visually expand the space.

Try to situate the sink at the end of the galley kitchen to free up counter space for preparing food and so you can leave the dirty dishes where most people wont see them.

Use a 'work traingle' made up of the work top, stove and refrigerator in your galley kitchen to make your space super functional.

Situate your stove on one side together with your other appliances so the other side is all open cooking space and frees up space for two people to cook at the same time.

Try to use a minimalist design and integrated appliances which will reduce visual clutter as this will make the room feel calmer.

Galley kitchens aren't known for their sociability but adding a small seating area at one end will allow you to socialise with friends.

Now if you need some inspiration for your galley kitchen check out our favourites here and call us for a quote:

Kitchen systems you need in your home!

Here are a few kitchen systems which will transform your kitchen from ordinary to high end and stylish. 

Photo by Archiproducts

Photo by Archiproducts

Custom compartments behind the sink hide all those unsightly dish cloths and bottles of washing up liquid - yay!

Photo by Blanco Germany

Photo by Blanco Germany

A waste disposal bin inset into the counter top eliminates the need to open cupboards or walk to the bin.

Photo by Remodalista

Photo by Remodalista

An bread bin and other food compartments inset into the counter top is a great way to keep the kitchen clutter free.

Photo by Pinterest

Photo by Pinterest

Bespoke kitchen drawers are a great to keep your utensils organised and they look super impressive.

Photo by Remodalista

Photo by Remodalista

Plugs in-build into the kitchen counter top are so useful and will transform how efficient your kitchen is.

Photo by Pinterest

Photo by Pinterest

A bespoke wooden drainer transforms the sink area from ordinary to super stylish.

Photo by Pinterest

Photo by Pinterest

Sliding doors that hide the day to day kitchen clutter when friends come for dinner is just the best solution to keep a kitchen looking clean and contemporary.

Photo by Trends Ideas

Photo by Trends Ideas

Bespoke drawers for dish cloths and soaps underneath the sink is another great way to hide these unsightly items in order to keep your kitchen looking high-end!

Now let XI Projects create an amazing kitchen for you. Give us a call today.

Tropical decor - our favourites!

Tropical decor is bang on trend now summer is approaching. So we have rounded up our favourite ways to use a tropical theme in every room of the house! So whether you use tropical themed murals, wallpaper, artwork, cushion covers or plants just make sure to incorporate this style somewhere in your house! Enjoy!

Kitchen appliances you need in your life!

Through Wi-Fi-ready models or specialist apps, we can now operate many kitchen appliances from our phones or tablets, whether it’s from the comfort of our sofas or on the go.
But if you don’t want to buy all new appliances just yet, a smart plug can convert many of your existing ones so they can be operated remotely.

Advanced function washing machines
An appliance app can choose the best programme for your washing machine’s load, but some new washing machines also include automatic dosage systems, which reduce waste by measuring the detergent for you.  Modern washing machines can also save you money at the dry-cleaner’s. Some now have a function that uses active oxygen to hygienically refresh fabric without the need for water or detergent. It’s suitable for most dry-clean-only materials, and also cuts down on time and energy spent washing and drying clothes.
 

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Multi-function ovens
Not only can modern ovens be set up to operate at the touch of your phone or tablet, they’re also making the cooking part even easier. Now you can simply select the type of food you’re cooking, add in its weight and, if relevant, whether you’d like it medium, rare or well done. Your oven will then calculate the right temperature and cook time, switching itself off once your food is done. This function is great if you lack confidence in the kitchen, ensuring meals are cooked to perfection every time. 
Perhaps the most luxurious of modern oven inventions is the pyrolytic self-cleaning function, which uses incredibly high temperatures to burn off grime and grease. Once the process is over, you simply wipe away the resulting ash with a damp cloth, using zero elbow grease!

Steam ovens
Steam ovens are rapidly replacing microwaves as a fast and affordable means of cooking food, but they have other benefits too. Steamed food doesn’t dry out during cooking, which results in a better colour, texture and taste. Food cooked in a steam oven also retains more of its nutrients and vitamins. And because it’s not a dry heat, there’s no need to use cooking oil, which reduces the fat and calorie content of your meals. 

If you’re considering a steam oven be aware that, due to the lack of dry heat, it can’t brown or ‘crisp’ food – so it’s not ideal for your Sunday roasts. But there is a solution: a steam combination oven. As well as steam cooking, this larger oven also includes a traditional hot-air cooking function, enabling you to cook different types of food at the same time, including anything you want crispy.

Warming drawers
Think of this clever device as a modern-day hostess trolley and, if you love to entertain, it’s just as handy. These integrated pull-out drawers will keep your freshly cooked food nice and hot until you’re ready to serve it – it’s also ideal for keeping meals warm if someone’s late home or you’re cooking several dishes at once. You can change the temperature to suit your needs, so you can warm croissants, prove bread or even melt chocolate.

Stay-fresh fridges
Many fridges now come with in-built technology designed to keep your food fresher for longer. These freshness systems ensure optimal temperature and humidity for storing food, and different compartments can be put to different settings to suit the food kept there. 
For example, vegetables are best stored in high humidity, unlike meat, fish or dairy products. Depending on the model, foods can be kept with freshness and vitamins intact for up to three times longer than in a regular fridge.
If you do accidentally leave something long enough that it’s past its best, the separate compartments will minimise the transfer of bad smells into other areas of your fridge.

Boiling water taps
Boiling water taps are becoming an increasingly common sight in modern kitchens, and with good reason. Whether you use one for making your morning tea or coffee, to speed up cooking veggies or pasta, or for filling a hot water bottle on a cold night, these taps mean never having to stand around waiting for your kettle to boil. Instead hot water is instantly available, which saves time, and in the long term, after the initial cost, could save you money, as the taps are more energy efficient than boiling a kettle.
Newer models now incorporate hot, cold and boiling water in just one tap (with safety devices to ensure you don’t get burned). Some even deliver chilled and sparkling filtered water too.

Induction hobs
Fast, safe and with a clean, sleek look, these hobs are the ideal cooktop for busy modern lives. The simple controls make them incredibly easy to use, and they’re instantly responsive, so you can quickly change the temperature at any point during cooking. They’re more energy efficient than gas or electric, and because the surface doesn’t get hot, it also means that as well as being safer, you don’t have to wait for them to cool before wiping down after use. 

Clever coffee makers
Coffee makers are now smarter than ever: some can even remind you when you need to order more coffee, while others offer an automated pre-soak for beans to enhance the flavour and, if you’re feeling really lazy, some let you send your coffee order via a smart app, so you don’t even have to get up from your sofa until it’s ready to drink.

Dishwasher drawers
Dishwashers can now automatically decide the temperature, time and volume of water required based on your load. They can also heat up by themselves, complete a cycle quicker or be controlled from an app – and they’re also changing shape.

Pop-up extractors
Also known as downdraft extractors, pop-up extractors are designed primarily for kitchen islands that feature a hob. At the touch of a button, the extractor rises smoothly upwards from the surface of the island, ready to protect your surfaces from grease and smells during cooking, yet never high enough to obstruct your view. When you’ve finished, the extractor will gently retract back into your worktop until hidden from sight again. This type of extractor is a great way to maintain the clean lines of your kitchen and is especially popular in modern, minimalist schemes.

Pantry design - top tips!

Built-in, butler's, walk-in, freestanding, or a combination -- storage is never in short supply when a well-designed kitchen pantry is just steps away. A pantry optimizes your kitchen layout by consolidating everything in one handy location. Keep food items organized and on-hand with the perfect kitchen pantry design ideas for your home

Pantries come in three basic configurations: reach-in, pull-out, and walk-in. All have advantages and drawbacks. 

The reach-in pantry is the usually the most convenient, the pull-out pantry the least convenient, but a must for small kitchens with no wall space to spare. The walk-in pantry holds the most, but since it is often removed from centers of kitchen activity, it is best used as a remote, second pantry. 

A kitchen can have two, even three pantries. One near pantry that holds small quantities of supplies most often used, and one or more remote pantries that hold bulk supplies and large quantities. The near pantry is re-supplied from the remote pantry periodically as consumables are used up. This can be a multi-step process as the middle pantry is restocked every month and the near pantry is restocked weekly from the middle pantry. 

As important to convenience, functionality and efficiency as the careful design of a pantry is its location in relation to the other elements in the kitchen. A well-designed pantry put in the wrong place impairs the efficiency of the cook. 

Ideally, a near pantry should be placed within a few steps of the area where food is prepared. The general rules is not more than 48", although this dimension is somewhat flexible. 

Now you've decided which pantry you need in your kitchen give us a call and let us create the perfect pantry for you. 

Kitchen sinks- ultimate guide!

Are you updating your entire kitchen, with your new sink being part of the refurbishment? Or are you just looking for a replacement for what you have currently? Either way, you need to think about the size and shape of your new sink, whether you want it with a drainer, as well as the type of material that your worktop is made from – as not all sinks work with all worktops.

Stainless steel

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A classic and industrial-looking choice, the stainless steel sink is practical and stylish. Stainless steel sinks are:

  • Hard-wearing
  • Easy to clean and take care of

Incapable of being cracked or chipped, but it's common for minor scratches to appear in the first weeks of use. This is normal and will become less noticeable over time.

Resin

Resin sinks are made from man-made materials, giving the look of composite, while being cost-effective. They are highly resistant to daily wear and tear. Resin sinks are:

  • A modern choice that’s ideal if you’re on a budget
  • Available in white, black or grey
  • Easy to clean and take care of

Hard-wearing - scratches can be buffed away with a cloth

Composite quartz

If you’re looking for more strength and durability, choose a composite quartz sink. Boasting many similar features to resin sinks, instead it contains real quartz meaning it can withstand very high temperatures. Composite quartz sinks are:

  • Heat resistant to over 200 degrees centigrade
  • Highly scratch-resistant

Ceramic

  • Silky to the touch, our ceramic sinks are on their way to becoming one of most popular choices. Regularly wiping down your sink will ensure that it will remain stain free for years to come. Ceramic kitchen sinks are:

  • Ideal for traditional and country kitchens
  • Handcrafted and baked in fireclay

Easy to clean and take care of – just wipe down regularly

Toughened glass

If you want a different look for your kitchen, choose one of these innovative kitchen sinks. The frame is made from toughened glass while the bowl is stainless steel. The result is a stunning but practical addition to your kitchen. Toughened glass kitchen sinks:

  • Look stylish and modern
  • Are distinctive and unique

Create an undermount look with an inset bowl

Now you know what type of sink will suit your kitchen have a think about what style you like.

Single bowl inset

Taking up less room than some of the other options, a single bowl sink offers plenty of space for your bigger dishes and pots. Single bowl sinks (known as inset or surface mounted) work with all worktop materials.

1.5 bowl inset

Perfect if you want to wash vegetables while the sink is full of dishes, the 1.5 bowl option lets you do two different tasks at once by giving you two bowls with two different drains. These sinks are compatible with all worktops.

Double bowl

Perfect for large or awkwardly shaped kitchens, double bowl models offer extra sink space. Like the single versions, they're surface mounted or inset and so are compatible with all worktop materials.

Undermount

Fitting neatly underneath the worktop, undermount sinks allow for more space in your kitchen due to their rimless design. It also makes them easier to clean as you can just brush everything straight into the sink as there’s no lip. For a stylish look, you can pair your undermount sink with any worktop except for laminate, due to the fact that the edge above the sink is exposed.

Round inset bowl

Choosing a round inset bowl means that you can decide between having it fitted to the surface of the worktop, or under the surface, like an undermount sink. Please note you cannot have an undermount sink with a laminate worktop.

Belfast

A classic-looking sink, the Belfast has a deep rectangular bowl that was traditionally made in glazed white porcelain. Because of its shape, you’re unable to have properly sealed finish with a laminate worktop, but you can choose from any other material.

Top tips on choosing a dining table!

Your dining table is many things: yes, it’s a place for dinner and family gatherings, but it’s also somewhere to do homework and jigsaw puzzles, a centrepiece for your home and can even make a half decent investment.

If your table is well crafted and strong, it will outlive you by a long way so it’s not something you want to buy on a whim.

RECTANGLE

A rectangular dining table wins the popularity contest, coveted for its classic form and proven functionality. Most dining areas are rectangular, too, so there’s a pleasing symmetry about it. 

ROUND

Round and oval tables mean no-one has to sit at the end. Visually, they offer softer lines and come into their own in smaller rooms – especially those with a pedestal base – as they take up less space and they don’t break up the flow.

SQUARE

A square table can be an option to get the best of both worlds. They take up more space so can be a great way to fill up a large room. 

EXTENDABLE

If you want to be able to squeeze a few more at the table for a special occasion, an extendable or drop-leaf table is a safe bet.

MATERIALS

If you’re looking for something that will stand the test of time, hardwood is the best option. Engineered timber or MDF will be cheaper and won’t fall apart overnight, but they’ll never be as strong as mahogany, walnut or oak.

Galvanised metal and concrete will last a long time but be careful with food acids as this can impact the concrete.

A glass-topped dining table is great in a small space because it’s not visually overpowering but always has the possibility of smashing!

DETAILS

Don’t forget tabl;e heights can vary, too. Most modern tables sit around 76cm but antique tables may vary from that. That’s something to consider when you’re choosing your table and the chairs to go with it.

Now you've read our top tips check out our favourite dining tables below then give us a call and we'll create the perfect bespoke dining table for you. So give us a call today.