What is a Combi-Steam Oven and How Does it Work?

What is a Combi-Steam Oven and How Does it Work?

Steaming, whilst certainly not a new cooking method, has several health benefits and produces better quality food. Now incorporated into ovens, a wider variety of foods can be cooked using this method, offering more versatility whilst also improving your health.

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Steaming helps to retain the vitamins and minerals already present in the foods you are cooking – unlike heat. Not only this, steaming also helps to maintain the natural textures of foods, whilst retaining moisture, preventing them from drying out. A steam oven works by introducing water in a heated oven, which creates steam upon reaching boiling point. The steam then cooks the food, with the finished product retaining all of the original nutrients, textures and flavours. However, water only heats food up to the boiling point at which it reaches, meaning that food cooks more slowly this way. Additionally, cooking with steam alone can add too much moisture to certain foods.

The solution to this is the combi-steam oven, an intelligent combination of a typical convection oven that releases heat with a full steam oven. The result is an oven which releases steam to retain moisture and nutrients whilst circulating heat simultaneously to both speed up the cooking time and stop food from becoming too moist. The combi-steam ovens also allow for different dishes to be cooked at the same time, since they prevent the spreading of different aromas and flavours. The convection method offers a faster way of cooking, particularly for larger dishes. The combination of these two methods also allows for a vast range of cooking methods, and is ideal for people who like to steam their food whilst also being able to roast, grill and bake foods, with the circulated heat adding a golden brown finish to any meal.

The moisture added by the steam also provides the perfect environment for reheating leftovers. They can easily be dried out in the microwave or convection oven, since it will already have lost moisture. The combi-steam oven restores the moisture in left over foods, whilst heating them up adequately. Even in regular cooking, this reduces the need to add oil and seasonings, helping to make meals healthier.

The Gaggenau 400 combi-steam ovens, which we feature in our studio are plumbed into the mains, having the added bonus of running on a continuous water flow so there is no need to refill cartridges or empty the chamber after cooking. We also offer the Gagganau 200 series and Neff combi-steam ovens, which have a cartridge that holds water.

To browse our combi-steam ovens, contact us here or visit us in-store.

What is a Bora Venting Hob?

What is a Bora Venting Hob?

It seems that Bora have come up with a clever solution to the unsightly, bulky extractor hoods that hang above cooking hobs. Bora’s venting hobs cleverly combine cooking with extraction to form a seamless and efficient appliance that both cooks you delicious meals and leaves your kitchen smelling fresh.

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You’ll no longer have to worry about steam rising up and spreading around the room; these venting hobs provide suction, so that all the steam produced from the cooking source is immediately drawn away. If you’re a glasses wearer, this is the dream appliance for you!

The venting hob causes vapours and odours to be eliminated at exactly the point that they are made; whether this be from pans, pots, roasters or grills. Sitting neatly beside or integrated into the hob, these minimalistic designs not only look stylish but are much more effective in drawing steam and grease particles away than extractor hoods, since they aren’t given the chance to escape.

The intelligent method of fluid mechanics has been used to create this innovation, whereby the crossflow from the ventilation acts faster than the speed of the cooking vapour. This means that steam and odours are removed before they have chance to spread around the room; the appliance works to trap the grease particles in the stainless steel grease filter.

The Bora Professional 2.0 is one of Bora’s cooking ranges. Winner of the 2017 Red Dot Award, these hobs provide a high-quality extractor, which is combined with extra-deep cooktops. Each hob is expertly designed, with minimalism and style always kept in mind. The addition of ventilation doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your love of cooking, as these hobs allow for two large pans to be used side-by-side at any one time, so cooking can be as adventurous as you wish. This modern cooktop also features a smart Control dial which enables the control of various functional programmes, including temperature display. The cooktop and extractor work collaboratively to execute flawless functionality.

For a more compact-sized hob, the Bora Basic is ideal for those looking for a smaller cooktop. Despite the reduction in size, there is still enough room for two large pans to sit beside each other – so you don’t have to compensate. These hobs also feature intelligent touch operation; a slick and modern aesthetic that makes cooking as simple as the swipe of a fingertip.

Bora cooktops are the solution for anyone looking for a polished yet dually functional kitchen appliance. With every care taken to create products that will both perform well and last a long time, Bora have used high-quality materials in their designs, with the likes of stainless steel and heavy-metal-free glass ceramic.

With a 100% clean-rate, these extractor hobs ensure that the air is left fresh throughout, and even after cooking. Cleaning is also as simple a process as cooking; all three removable parts fit easily inside a dishwasher. Cooking and cleaning with the Bora venting hobs transforms somewhat mundane tasks into enjoyable and efficient experiences, allowing you to swiftly carry on with your day.

Thinking of re-designing your kitchen? The Bora hobs are flexible and versatile, opening up a range of design opportunities. Whether you prefer to cook by a window, under eaves or on a peninsular or island, the Bora hobs can be placed almost anywhere – and you can be assured that no bulky extractor hoods will distract from the aesthetics of your kitchen.

To find out more about Bora and their products, take a look here.

Gaggenau Appliances - Why Are They so Good?

Gaggenau Appliances - Why Are They so Good?

Gaggenau is a premium kitchen appliance company that we’re proud to say we work with. From coffee machines, dishwashers and extractors, to more commonplace appliances such as ovens and refrigerators, Gaggenau’s commitment to product quality means their appliances are examined at each stage of production, ensuring that any imperfections are dealt with – creating a product that is premium in both its functionality and aesthetics.

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Gaggenau is well known for its unique innovations, having built an exceptional reputation through a heritage that stretches as far back as 1683. By regularly working with professional chefs, Gaggenau bases its designs on the advice of those with expert knowledge, aiming to create appliances that are both easy to use and deliver professional results. A firm favourite of architects and designers, Gaggenau provides high quality products to both home and industrial environments, and is also well known for its excellent customer aftercare, where it ensures its high standards are maintained.

At the very beginning of production, the main focus is on function. Before moving onto the next stage, Gaggenau craftsmen ensure that the appliance performs exceptionally and unfailingly. The appliances are also designed to fit seamlessly into a kitchen, adapting to your chosen design and layout - the 400 series dishwashers, for example, slide effortlessly back into your kitchen cabinet, maximising the available space in your kitchen. The push-open door replaces the standard handles, adding a sleek yet functional touch. With a multitude of washing options, including the potential for Home Connect and light projection, these dishwashers create both a modern yet efficient washing-up experience.

Offering a variety of combination options, Gaggenau’s cooktops can be customised to suit individual cooking styles and needs. Since everybody has different cooking preferences, Gaggenau has designed an alternative to the one-size-fits-all oven. The customer has the choice of combining different types of cooktops, such as a gas wok alongside a standard gas cooktop, or an induction hob placed next to a steamer or ventilation appliance. These cooktops from the Vario 400 range are one of a kind, allowing the user to make the most out of their cooking space.

Gaggenau’s coffee machines provide the ultimate coffee-making experience. Each machine has the potential to prepare and make every variety of coffee drink that the consumer prefers, as well as having enough memory to store eight unique drink combinations for future use. With a constant water supply, there’s no need to keep refilling the water tank. These machines provide a coffee-making experience with a difference, preparing each coffee drink to perfection.

Gaggenau is regarded as one of the world’s leading appliance brands. Offering premium products, their iconic designs add a stylish touch to each kitchen, and combined with German engineering, will modernise any workspace. To see more of the products available from Gaggenau, click here.

The Contour Customer Journey

The Contour Customer Journey

At Contour, we pride ourselves in providing exceptional service to our customers both in-store and while we’re in their home or workspace. Our expert design team work with our customers every step of the way, turning unique ideas into professionally designed, high-end kitchens.

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The customer journey is, essentially, a very similar process for all of our customers, which will typically start with a visit to our studio in Montpellier.

After welcoming you into our studio, you’ll have the chance to browse our products, pick up a brochure and speak to one of our experts. If you find that you’d like to discuss your project in more detail, you can book a consultation with one of our design consultants. The consultation will begin with a tour of the studio, including a demonstration of the features on display. This is your first opportunity to ask questions about our individual products, following which, having browsed sufficiently, we’ll conduct an in-depth consultation discussing your personal kitchen preferences and requirements. You’ll also have the chance at this stage to explore potential appliances, worktops and lighting that meet your specification.

Once you’ve had a good look around our studio and spoken to our consultant, you’ll hopefully return home with more ideas and added inspiration on what’s best suited for your space. Soon after, you’ll either have a design completed off-plan, or, if necessary, a member of our team will visit you and conduct a full measured survey of your kitchen area. We’ll bring along door and worktop samples so that you can see the emerging colour palette in situ. You and your design consultant can then start to plan prospective furniture and appliances based on the chosen theme.

Following further work on the project, you will be invited back to the studio where we will present to you our conceptual representation of your bespoke kitchen design. This meeting is the perfect opportunity for you to highlight areas and aspects that you like in particular, whilst also bringing to light anything that you may wish to change. Whatever your response, we’ll work to ensure that it’s right for you.

After the presentation, any necessary alterations following your feedback will be made. You’ll usually have additional design meetings on top of this, to ensure that all details are clarified. Once everyone is satisfied, you’ll be asked to sign a contract so that work can go ahead. With the contract having been agreed, we will work with you until you’re completely happy with your kitchen specification.

Once an order has been placed with us, our design team will create an overall project plan. We will continue to monitor progress before beginning installation, and right up until the project is finished. For examples of previous projects we’ve completed, please click here.

Kitchen Trends in 2018

Kitchen Trends in 2018

The kitchen is arguably the most central point in the home, being where families cook together, eat together and socialise. Therefore, designing it in a way that reflects your personal style whilst maintaining a family friendly yet functional space is what everybody should aim for.

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The colour palette for 2018 remains largely with a spectrum of grey shades, alongside a pop of pastel colour. Warm neutrals, such as nude or stone, are also popular shades; particularly when combined with gold accents, such as gold drawer handles.

 

Rose gold is a colour which has gained popularity over the past year and has increasingly been seen around the home. Rose gold pairs beautifully with marble and neutral colours such as white and grey. The veining pattern is currently on trend, particularly in Silestone and Dekton colours (see here for examples). This cafetiere from Trouva is the perfect rose gold accessory to introduce this colour into your kitchen.

 

Kitchens are also becoming smarter, with recently developed technology that means you can control music and lighting with the touch of a button, as well as cooking appliances. In order to enhance your healthy eating, you can now purchase combi-steam ovens, like this one from Gaggenau. The steam used to cook your food helps to retain moisture and those important vitamins and minerals.

 

Boiling the kettle and waiting for ice cubes to be made are now a thing of the past. With zip water’s hydrotaps, you can choose from chilled, boiling or even sparkling water within seconds just by the touch of a button. Browse here to see the range.

 

If you often read recipes from your mobile phone, you no longer need to worry about the charge running out during cooking. You can now purchase charging surfaces that can power up any solid work surface. This wireless charging point can charge mobile phones or small tablets. With no cables involved, you can enjoy a safer and tidier cooking experience. See the Corian Design website for more information.

 

Enjoyable cooking also comes with having an odour-free kitchen. The recently developed venting hobshave built-in extractors powerfully remove steam, cooking odours, fat and grease. Siemens have recently introduced a range of venting hobs, which you can browse here. A bulky extractor is not the most aesthetically pleasing accessory for a kitchen, and so whilst being efficient and functional, the built-in extractor helps to keep your kitchen looking modern and streamlined.

 

Texture is also increasingly popular and is something that can be added by including contrasting materials such as wooden tables and breakfast bars or perhaps by the use of a tiled splashback. There is a trend for matte finish geometric shapes at the moment, these can simply blend in with a neutral colour scheme or make a statement in your kitchen. Help to protect your walls by fitting contemporary tiles at the back of your hob; any cooking splashes can then easily be wiped away. Tiling in white, grey or stone are particularly current in 2018.

A well designed kitchen layout

A well designed kitchen layout

When it comes to functionality, a well-designed kitchen makes all the difference.

As any chef worth their salt would know, the layout is all important when it comes to efficient cooking – and not to mention safety.

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This layout doesn’t happen by chance though. It requires thoughtful planning at the design stage, where your personal cooking preferences are taken into account.

 

A commonly found concept is that of the ‘working triangle’, with the three points of this triangle being the sink, the fridge and the oven/hob.

 

Obviously, your kitchen is limited by the size and shape of the wider room in which it’s housed. But the hypothesis of the triangle looks to minimise the walking distance between each of the three points making cooking a more manageable process.

 

The triangle, though, isn’t essential. It’s also possible to work to a zonal approach, where specific zones are attributed for specific purposes – for instance, we’re often asked to incorporate a relaxation zone as well as an entertaining area and sometimes a homework/office space. Some kitchen designers think this improves the flow of the kitchen when compared to the rigidity of the triangular approach.

 

We think both can work on their own merit. Our consultation process takes into account the elements that are most important to our clients on a personal level. Which aspects of their kitchen do they consider essential and which are secondary? We’ll put the emphasis on the former rather than the latter and make our design work for them.

 

Some things may appear more straightforward than others, but it’s worth considering them carefully too. Although it seems obvious to keep mugs/cups next to the source of hot water for example – be that via an integrated coffee machine, kettle or an instant boiling tap – adequate storage space needs to be allocated within the drinks making zone as well. Mug trees aren’t to everyone’s taste, and indeed can clutter the aesthetics of a kitchen, so providing appropriate storage from the off helps to keep counter tops clear and reduces the need to incorporate additional clutter.

 

Touching on keeping things out of sight, keep obscure items in obscure spaces. If they’re not in regular use, relegate them to a low-level storage space and keep them at the back! That’s especially the case for seasonal items, such as your favourite Christmas serving dish. You do though, need to make sure there’s sufficient space for this.

 

If your cooking methodology follows a ‘splash here and a dash there’ then make room for spices and key cooking/baking ingredients near the hob so that they’re in easy reach mid preparation. Those who follow a recipe religiously, might prefer to ensure they have adequate worktop space to allow the easy measurement of ingredients ahead of the actual cooking…while also keeping them close at hand. A popular addition to kitchens these days is a MODO rail that can house a knife block, from which you can also hang utensils, while also having an iPad holder to allow easy access and reading of online recipes.

 

It’s not just the actual cooking that needs to be taken into consideration either. Our view of the kitchen centres on kitchen living, where it serves as the focal point for the home, acting as a social hub around which the family can gather. Therefore, promoting a socially inviting environment also plays its part in kitchen design – which goes back to our previous reference to relaxation areas that often incorporate sofas, televisions and other accoutrements more traditionally associated with the sitting room than the kitchen.

 

Given the inherent dangers of a kitchen though, ensuring the sociable part of the space is also safe is again something to be considered prior to its implementation. Keep kitchen ‘guests’ away from the hazardous areas such as the hob, perhaps by incorporating a breakfast bar to the side of the preparation area – which keeps them out of harm’s way, while also within easy talking distance.

 

Efficiency in the kitchen isn’t an accident of design, it’s a process that needs to be thought through. As kitchen design experts, we aim to make this easy for you. So, please get in touch and chat with the team – we’re well practised in creating the perfect kitchen space to meet your requirements, whatever those happen to be.

What are the best luxury kitchen appliances?

What are the best luxury kitchen appliances?

At Contour, we choose our partner brands carefully. It’s important to us that the appliances and accessories we specify alongside our kitchens are exceedingly high quality and stylish in their design.

 

Gaggenau is our premium product. With its iconic design and German engineering, it’s considered the ‘Rolls Royce of ovens’.  The brand’s strapline ‘where tradition meets innovation’, is something that we very much believe in and it’s a philosophy we ourselves try to abide by.

 

The kitchen is the traditional heart of the home, but innovative and cutting edge appliances are a core part of ensuring it maintains its central place in family life. For us, it’s all about kitchen living – and Gaggenau embraces that quality.

 

While Gaggenau is an exclusive brand aimed at customers who want the very best, Siemens’ studio line appliances offer excellent design and engineering with superb integrated technology. A similarly forward-thinking and innovative brand, Siemens’ products are aimed at the busy professional with little time for domestic chores. The user can download recipes straight to the oven or choose from numerous convenient cooking functions.

 

One thing that sets Siemens apart is its excellent app integration – allowing you to control multiple appliances remotely thanks to its Home Connect, which links appliances to smartphones and tablets via home Wi-Fi.  

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We’re also big fans of another luxury German brand, Neff.

 

Popular in the UK, Neff has positioned itself as the brand that can provide quality in-built kitchen appliances for the passionate foodie who loves to cook at home. It has won Coolbrands awards and is recognised for innovations such as variosteam. This function adds moisture during the cooking process, thus helping to eliminate those dry roasts and over-baked cakes.

 

An excellent alternative to Gaggenau and Siemens, Neff products deliver on functionality and quality at a more affordable price.

 

When it comes to specific appliances though, we like Gaggenau’s handless 400 series ovens. The series ties in with our streamlined kitchen aesthetics, while offering a broad range of ovens, combi-steam ovens and combi-microwaves as well as complementary appliances such as warming drawers, vacuuming drawers and even espresso machines – all of which are manufactured to the highest of standards.

 

Outside of Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff, there are other brands offering innovative, high-end kitchen appliances too.

 

Quooker’s instant boiling water taps, for example, provide an alternative to the kettle, with a flexible hose allowing for more reach and extra functionality alongside instantly hot water that negates the need to wait for the boiling process. A solid addition to any luxury kitchen.

 

In another area of the kitchen, Bora’s induction hob includes a cooktop extractor that prevents cooking vapours rising, instead extracting them downwards. A novel function that removes the need for an overhead extraction hood, allowing for more flexible, streamlined kitchen designs – something we’re very much advocates of.

 

Luxury kitchen design should involve luxury appliances and, at Contour, we work with the very best to ensure your kitchen matches our own exacting standards.

A relationship from start to finish - the customer journey

A relationship from start to finish - the customer journey

Delivering exceptional customer service is central to our approach at Contour. Indeed, it’s something that we’ve received awards for in the past – via Houzz (an independently verified site) where we received the Houzz Customer Service Award in both 2017 and 2018, while also winning the Customer Service Award in the Cheltenham Business Awards 2018, having beaten other local businesses to the prize.

 

So, while our customer service may be award-winning, how do we go about delivering it? Just what is the customer journey?

 

Well the relationship starts at the very beginning, either when a prospective client chooses to walk in to our studio, or with them having got in touch via our other communication channels – i.e. the phone or online. From here, most customers have;

 

A studio tour – After a warm welcome, our designers will give you a tour of the studio where they’ll demonstrate the various features of each of our displays to give you an appreciation of the finer details.

 

A consultation – this is an in-depth meeting where we establish your personal kitchen requirements, while exploring the potential appliances, worktops and lighting that could work best for you.

 

A site survey – A member of our team will visit and conduct a full measured survey of where your kitchen is set to be located, bringing door and worktop samples along with them to allow you to see the emerging colour palette in situ. From here it’s…

 

A presentation – After working on your project using our specialist design software, we invite you back to the studio to present our conceptual interpretation of your bespoke kitchen design. During this meeting, you have the opportunity to highlight the areas and aspects that you like, while also pointing out any elements you’d like to change. We then offer an…

 

Amendment opportunity – Post presentation, we make any necessary alterations and

clients typically have additional design meetings with us to clarify details before signing a

contract. Once the contract has been agreed we continue to work with you until you are

100% satisfied with your kitchen specification.

 

An important element of our customer service is the number of revisions we are willing to make to a client’s design. When the customer is happy with the final design, they will be happy with their kitchen, even if that means us making multiple revisions – up to the date for last amendments, set by our supplier.

 

Once an order has been placed, Contour creates a project plan and continues to monitor

progress up until installation and through to project completion. We’re sure to guide our clients along the path towards their finished kitchen, offering support, clear communication and assistance throughout their journey.

 

Ultimately, it’s this approach that has won us awards. Our clients value the commitment we give to each project, with the subsequent result being extremely satisfied customers and outstanding kitchen designs.

Which kitchen worktop is best?

Which kitchen worktop is best?

A kitchen worktop is a hugely important element of the kitchen. Aside from the colours of the cabinet doors, it’s one of the first things that people notice when they walk into a kitchen for the first time. It does, therefore, play a large part in determining the overall style and theme of the end design.

 

Given its importance then, which one is the best? Well, each worktop has its pros and cons with no definitive answer to which is the ‘best’, but we can look at some of the key properties behind the worktop types that we most commonly work with.

 

Dekton

A sophisticated blend of raw materials, including glass, porcelain and quartz, Dekton is a relatively new introduction to the worktop market. Thanks to its scratch proof and heat proof qualities though, it’s fast becoming a firm favourite.

 

At present, colour pallets and finishes are slightly limited, but the options are constantly being developed and extended via Dekton’s ‘Sinterized Particle Technology’, which means this worktop choice is only set to get more popular.

 

Read more on its qualities here.

 

Silestone

Silestone is a compound made up of 90% quartz – a very hard and resilient mineral, which means these are durable and hardwearing worktops.

 

A long-standing worktop product that’s noted for its quality, the range of prices available makes it an accessible option regardless of budget. It’s heat resistant, rather than heat proof meaning the use of cooling racks or trivets are advised when handling hot pans. However, it comes in a multitude of finishes and colours which makes its customisability an excellent design choice.

 

Further details can be found here.

 

Sensa Granite

Granite is often perceived as the top end of worktops and it is fantastic product with some beautiful finishes.  One of its negatives is the porosity of the product so here at Contour we opt for sensa granite, which is essentially a treated coating that provides stain resistance – helping to prevent cooking oils and other liquids becoming ingrained in the surface.

 

If you’re looking for an opulent finish and a natural product then this is a great option, but be wary of hidden fissures, which, if exposed to high heat, can cause the worktop to shatter – however this is a very rare occurrence.

 

Its properties can be explored further here.

 

Corian

The best property about Corian worktops is the fact that it can be moulded into any shape, producing artistic curves within the kitchen design. It also offers seamless joints, meaning long worktop runs with no visible jointing can be achieved.

 

The disadvantages of Corian are that it’s not heat proof and it can be scratched fairly easily. However, it is repairable, which means damage is relatively straightforward to rectify.

 

Find out more here.

 

Spekva

Spekva is a beautiful, natural product, which covers a range of wood types including ash, bamboo, beech, mahogany, oak, teak and more. With solid wood proven to contain natural enzymes that help to kill bacteria such as salmonella and listeria, Spekva worktops help to keep your kitchen preparation areas free of potentially nasty bugs.

 

Predominantly, we use Spekva for breakfast bars rather than full worktops, however if a customer requires it, we can do it.

 

Find out more information about Spekva here.

The streamlined effect

The streamlined effect

Here at Contour we’re huge advocates of the streamlined effect when it comes to kitchen design.

 

As you can tell from our past projects, many of our kitchen designs are sleek, handle-less and ergonomic, with an emphasis on functionality.

 

Given the kitchen is about far more than mere aesthetics – it’s a workspace where food is created, after all – keeping it streamlined aids with its practically, as it helps to remove any potential obstacles that could get in the way while cooking.

 

Taking that into consideration, although the visual appeal is a hugely important aspect of a kitchen, simply removing clutter can have a big impact on the practicality of a kitchen space. Cluttered sides and overflowing storage limits the working area. It’s not ideal when you remove a hot tray from the oven with one hand and are having to swipe things out of the way with the other to make the space to put it down.

 

An easy initial step to help facilitate more room is to remove any duplicates you might have. You may like quirky corkscrews, but do you really need three? You’ll only be using one to uncork wine at a time, after all, so feel free to remove the spares!

 

Additionally, what about the things that only have one function? A knife can do the work of all sorts of fancy utensils. Pineapple corers and melon slicers may seem like ingenious inventions, but multiple devices for multiple tasks soon leads to overflowing kitchens.

 

The most obvious place to focus on is the kitchen worktop (for the hot tray reason as mentioned above). Utilising storage space efficiently means you can keep much of your cooking equipment as well as foodstuffs out of sight, helping to 1) ensure the aesthetics of your kitchen are improved and 2) ensure the functionality is improved.

 

Think also of the ‘flow’ of your kitchen. Are the items that are needed in the right places? Many of our kitchens incorporate coffee making machines and instant hot water taps, but are the coffee cups in the nearby vicinity? It makes more sense to keep the cups above the coffee maker than having to hop across the kitchen to dig out a suitable mug. The same can be applied to cooking utensils – are they within easy reach of the hob? Allocating areas and creating ‘zones’ can help to ensure the space is properly utilised.

 

In the majority of kitchens, space is at a premium – especially the smaller designs, but even in larger plan kitchens, it’s essential that storage space is employed efficiently to make the most of what you have.

 

We work with high-end kitchen brands such as Leicht and with high-end appliance brands such as Gaggenau, both of which provide kitchen equipment that marries aesthetics with functionality.

 

Handle-less kitchens with hidden appliances provide sleek clean lines that epitomise the modern kitchen space. It’s an overall approach and style that we’re firm fans of. Of course, we’re happy to accommodate our customer’s vision but creating a streamlined effect is a sure way to add an instant wow factor to your kitchen while also making it welcoming and inviting – helping to reinforce its sense as a social hub, and not just as a culinary workspace.

What does your kitchen say about you? How to personalise your kitchen

What does your kitchen say about you? How to personalise your kitchen

We see the kitchen as the heart of the home; the place where a family comes together to socialise and enjoy time together.

 

In the past, it was common to opt for a one size fits all approach – buying standard stock kitchens, merely adapted to suit your space. This meant that you often saw carbon copy kitchens, with next to no difference from one house to the next.

 

Times have moved on since then though, with people often looking to add their own personal touch to their kitchen space. Given its importance as a social hub, it makes sense to personalise your kitchen to reflect aspects of your personality.

 

Many of our clients like to add quirky features – we’ve seen spiral wine cellars for the connoisseur, an old staircase turned into a bookcase so as not to lose a rustic farm feel, and artwork incorporated into the colour scheme. There are plenty of options out there to add that personal touch.

 

Make use of colour – the majority of our kitchens are built on clean lines, and often handle less, giving them a sleek, streamlined finish. Adding a splash of colour to the kitchen scheme, be that with the seating, the walls, the lighting fixtures or even supplementary small appliances such as a stand out food mixer, really makes a difference in the overall style and feel of the space.

 

Add some art – as mentioned, some clients opt to use art as a complementary touch to their colour scheme or just the general theme. Art is an excellent way to give some insight into your personality (being a very subjective, personal medium), while also helping to reinforce a pleasant environment.

 

Lighting – again, touched on above, lighting furnishes you with further opportunities for personalisation. Not just the colour of the fixtures, but also the style – downlights, wall lights, stylish pendant lights, all can change the ambience and atmosphere of the space.

 

Create a personal space – breakfast bars are a common addition to many kitchen designs. It provides the opportunity for people to join you in the kitchen, helping to reinforce the element of a social hub, while also helping to prevent cooking becoming a lonely business.

 

A vintage touch – we mentioned the staircase turned into a bookcase above, and while this was a quirk particular to that specific project, you can still drop in vintage additions to personalise the space. We work with the latest in kitchen technology – including prestigious brands such as Gaggenau and Siemens – and often take a modern, ergonomic approach to our designs, but you can still drop in quirky kitchen gadgets and antiquated utensils, or even smaller aspects such as biscuit tins and crockery. It all depends on the vibe you want to create, which, after all, is what personalisation is all about.

Making the most of your space - small kitchen designs

Making the most of your space - small kitchen designs

With recent statistics revealing that the average UK kitchen is at its smallest size since the 1930s, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest factors affecting the design of any modern kitchen is space.

 

Yet by maximising small kitchen spaces and utilising all the available space, you can create the kitchen you desire. Even if you think your space is too limited, ensuring the correct layout is put in place can help to unlock its full potential.

 

Whether your kitchen is confined to a single wall, U-shaped, or tucked in a corner, if planned and executed properly, you will still be able to open a space that can be used for more than just cooking and eating. After all, the kitchen is the new living room; where family, friends and guests can come together relax and socialise.

 

Although some homeowners may feel their kitchen’s small space won’t be able to boast the functionality and comfort of a modern ‘multipurpose’ kitchen, quite the opposite is true.

 

Modern engineering has allowed for almost limitless height, width and depth options. If you marry this flexibility with the latest internal systems, you gain functionality that encompasses access, storage and loading. For example, extra tall wall cabinets with internal pull down shelving systems give easy access, maximum storage and allow for a far greater utilisation of vertical space than traditional cabinets.

 

Choosing integrated appliances with matching cabinetry and countertops will also create a minimalist kitchen that offers more space, while giving off a slick, attractive and streamlined appearance.

 

To further utilise space, you could consider installing ‘smart’ multipurpose appliances such as a compact steam oven, which combines all the heating modes of a full-featured oven with those of a steam oven. Other multipurpose and WiFi-enabled appliances such as smart washing machines, fridge freezers and worktops, are also great ways to converge furniture and save on space.

 

A lot of these appliances can even be connected though apps on smartphones, enabling you to free up space by controlling cooking and prepping times instantaneously, through just the touch of a button.

 

Overall, a small kitchen can become a hard-working and homely area that maximises practicality, without compromising on comfort or beauty. Just as with large kitchen spaces, you can carefully craft a practical and stylish design that converges to allow for a seamless, more streamlined lifestyle.

 

At Contour, our experienced designers will always listen to and work with customers to ensure they receive an elegant, bold design, unique to them.

 

As with any kitchen design, it comes down to quality over quantity and if you need help renovating your kitchen or starting from scratch, our bespoke designers will work to all shapes and sizes, all of which offer a space truly designed for living.

Going large – big kitchen designs

Going large – big kitchen designs

A large kitchen design is a haven for social gatherings, event hosting and spending quality time with the family. They are social hubs that offer bountiful space and encompass a family-oriented atmosphere.

There are multiple benefits of going big with your kitchen design, and below we’ve detailed some of the reasons why more people are:

Atmosphere

A big kitchen design will ultimately create an open space that can be streamlined to your taste. It gives the designer an opportunity to create different zones such as a space to prep, somewhere to perch with a coffee or perhaps a place to kick back and relax after all the hard work is complete.

The more space, the more opportunity - but also the bigger margin for error. Working with a designer is crucial in order to avoid an empty looking room. You could add an expansive island or peninsula. A breakfast bar, for example, further embraces the functionality and social vibe of the kitchen.

Walk-in pantries and wine fridges are also popular choices as they utilise space and make great visual show pieces, and with the clever use of lighting, the appropriate atmosphere can be created as the use of the space changes throughout the day.

But, whilst it can be easy to fill large spaces, you need to make sure appliances, furniture and features all converge into a seamless, flawless design.

Entertaining

As already mentioned, the kitchen is a social hub where activities with friends, family and guests occur daily. The kitchen is the heart of the home, so the bigger the room, the bigger the heart.

A large kitchen provides a fantastic platform for entertaining, whether it be a dinner party, time with family or even formal meetings.

Hosting dinner parties in an expansive kitchen allows you to interact with your guests whilst showcasing your culinary skills, enabling you to truly command the evening in a space you can be proud of.

Not only will the kitchen become a hub of social connectivity, but it will become the go-to room of the house. If something is happening – it’s happening in the kitchen.

Theme

A large kitchen is more able to adopt darker colours and styles without compromising the appearance of space. You can get away with embracing warmer colours such as cayenne, sand grey or earthy coppers, knowing there is already enough space and natural light to carry it off.

Lighter pallets are equally successful as they reflect light and therefore maximise the feeling of space. The colour choices really are endless, thus allowing you to be more creative and explore styles and themes without any limitations.

Creating a multi-purpose space

The trend for open-plan spaces in the home continues to be as popular as ever and building an extension to increase internal space, or simply knocking down walls, is a regular occurrence in kitchen/living planning.

Creating a larger kitchen by combining two separate rooms maximises multi-functionality and encourages social gatherings.

Here at Contour, our designers work very closely with customers from the moment they walk through our studio doors till the moment they sit back and relax in their new kitchens.

And it’s through these close relationships that we’re able to design kitchens of all shapes and sizes, all of which offer a space truly designed for living.

Cheltenham BID Awards

Cheltenham BID Awards

We're delighted to announce that we were recently recognised for our commitment to customer service at this year's Cheltenham BID Awards, as voted for by fellow businesses and the local public.

 

We were officially named as winners in the Customer Service category during a special drinks reception at The Old Courthouse, Cheltenham, on Thursday, 5th April.

 

The event itself was incredibly well organised and held in beautiful surroundings. It was very humbling to be recognised as a leader in customer service as it's an area we particularly pride ourselves on.

 

As an organisation, Cheltenham BID is committed to recognising the best in Cheltenham, which makes it all the more special to be recognised by our fellow businesses and the public for our contribution to the town and its local economy.

 

It was lovely to share the awards ceremony with other like-minded local businesses and we enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and chat with them.

 

Overall, as a business based on offering a bespoke service to each of our clients, we were delighted to have been named winners in this category.

 

Thank you to all those who voted for us, we really appreciate it and it means so much to all of us here at Contour!

The kitchen of the future

The kitchen of the future

In recent blog posts, we’ve looked at how the kitchen has evolved over time and the growing trends for 2018 but, having looked at kitchens past and present, it’s time for us to take a peek at the kitchen of the future.

 

It’s difficult to guess the specifics, but if this year’s growing trends of neutral, earthy colours, Silestone and Dekton worktops and copper accessories are anything to go by, we start to envision a kitchen that is both hard-working and homely – a space that maximises practicality but doesn’t compromise on comfort and beauty.

 

But to imagine a kitchen 10 years from now, for instance, we first have to look at people’s habits in the kitchen today. One of the biggest shifts in recent times has been the push towards utilising space.

 

One of the most popular ways to achieve this is through digital or ‘smart’ technology. At Contour, we’re proud to collaborate with some of the most prestigious kitchen appliance brands, including Gaggenau, Siemens, Neff and Bora.

 

Their luxury appliances are not only functional and of the highest quality, but help to make cooking easier, quicker and all-inclusive.

 

Compact steam ovens, such as Neff’s range of built-in FullSteam ovens, combine all the heating modes of a full-featured oven with those of a steam oven, in one single appliance.

 

While Siemens’ ‘Home Connect App’ allows you to manage a variety of kitchen appliances from wherever you are via the touch of a button on your tablet or phone.

 

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These brands, along with others, are constantly pursuing creative, innovative designs that will save valuable time and space in the kitchen. It would seem, therefore, convergence is key in future kitchen concepts.

 

In fact, a recent report by the Silestone Institution, which draws on knowledge from 17 distinguished experts from the worlds of design, cooking, domestic technology, sociology, nutrition and sustainability, found that the kitchen is likely to become even more hyper-connected, sustainable and multi-functional in the future.

 

Entitled ‘Global Kitchen: the home kitchen in the era of globalisation’, the report found that smart appliances are likely to continue down the path of multi-functionality where furniture, such as worktops, can cook, make calls, broadcast TV and provide access to the internet. Worktops may even contain databases of recipes where chefs can guide you through the process!

 

Overall, the emerging reality of tomorrow’s kitchen is a neutral-coloured space controlled by WiFi-enabled smart appliances, that converge to allow for a seamless, more streamlined lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

Is the kitchen the most important room in the house?

Is the kitchen the most important room in the house?

At Contour, we passionately believe the kitchen is the new living room. Our luxury, bespoke designs create an area for families and friends to relax, cook and socialise, thus making the kitchen the heart and soul of the home.

So, to us, yes, the kitchen is the most important room in the house. It’s where the day both begins and ends, whether it be preparing something to eat or bonding with family.

Here are some of our top reasons why the kitchen is the focal point of the home:

 

Most used room in the house

Open-plan kitchens provide a communal area where families can spend quality time together. Gone are the days where the kitchen was used just for cooking. It’s now a social hub where we meet and greet friends and relax with family. It’s also where most of our fondest memories with loved ones stem from.

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Where skills are crafted

Kitchens are a haven for learning, whether it be experimenting on a new dish, trying your hand at a recipe passed down from your grandmother or preparing to host a large dinner party.

The kitchen is the school of the home and is even where children first learn to start helping around the house. It keeps the mind young and gives us experiences of pride, excitement and fun, no matter how old we are.

 

Where memories are made

A mentioned earlier, the kitchen is the place where we remember the good times. When we think back to cherished times spent with family growing up, more often than not those memories took place in the kitchen.

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It offers everything

Most rooms in a house have a specific purpose, but the kitchen is probably the only room where you can do just about anything.

The relaxation and downtime associated with the living room has now shifted towards the kitchen, while the working, writing and reading that is often associated with the study, is now also commonplace in the kitchen.

It may sound cliché, but the kitchen really does offer the perfect place for everything, from entertaining guests to winding down after a long day at work. 

 

At Contour, we create kitchens that blend both comfort and functionality, offering a space truly designed for living.

 

Evolution kitchen

Evolution kitchen

Here at Contour, we believe the kitchen is the new living room. The concept has shifted away from it being just a utilitarian space, to a social hub where family and friends can come together to cook, relax and socialise.

But the kitchen hasn’t always been a room that boasts both functionality and comfort. It’s hard to believe that the modern ‘multipurpose’ kitchen, with its open-plan design, island units and breakfast bars, was once used for food preparation and little else.

More than 100 years ago, kitchens were relegated to the back of the house, a completely separate entity from the eating and social areas of the home. Usually built to cater for just one or two people, the kitchen of yesteryear was a very different space to the one we associate with today.

The kitchen was a considered to be a purely functional space

The kitchen was a considered to be a purely functional space

For the wealthy, it was often a sign of poor hospitality for any sounds or smells from the kitchen to permeate the rest of the house. People continued to share this negative attitude towards the kitchen for hundreds of years - until the Industrial Revolution.

Factories began mass-producing appliances for the kitchen, as well as cabinetry and storage units and gas was introduced to fuel kitchen equipment, as opposed to hazardous coal. This rapid transformation drew people closer to the kitchen as they started to identify the room as more than just a cooking station.

The 1920s brought the most dramatic overhaul of traditional 19th century kitchens. Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s revolutionary design, known as the Frankfurt Kitchen, introduced the world to a space that was practical, efficient and compact.

The Frankfurt kitchen in the Haus Schminke in Loebau (Saxony), one of the most remarkable dwelling houses of the 20th century

The Frankfurt kitchen in the Haus Schminke in Loebau (Saxony), one of the most remarkable dwelling houses of the 20th century

Heralded as the prototype for modern-day, fitted kitchens, the compact design (just 6ft x 11ft) meant everything was in arms’ reach, saving valuable time. It also gave birth to the ‘golden triangle’, in which the cooker, fridge and sink were ideally placed for maximum efficiency.

The stigma of cooking as a domestic chore began to fade and was soon reinvented as a sign of affluence in most households. This, paired with American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s invention of the open-plan design, brought the kitchen closer to the heart of the home, adjoining it with the dining and living areas.

The kitchen was no longer just about practicality, but a room which homeowners wanted to be proud of. This led to a greater emphasis on aesthetics.

The 21st century has cemented the kitchen’s status as a social hub. Smart appliances have turned the kitchen into a technological powerhouse, working to make our lives easier and more enriching with its spacious, practical and stylish designs.

At Contour, we’re proud to be at the forefront of designing luxury kitchens that marry functionality and comfort.  As the heart and soul of the modern home, our contemporary kitchens provide a space where everyone can converge to cook, entertain, relax and work.

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The top kitchen styles and trends for 2018

The top kitchen styles and trends for 2018

Just like in fashion, styles and trends in the kitchen world are ever-changing, with new and exciting contemporary designs constantly influencing the direction of the modern kitchen.

This week, we attended the KBB exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC and gained an insight into the popular trends that will be making their way into the kitchens of 2018.  Below are some of the very latest trends in kitchen design.

Copper & Rose Gold

There is still a strong use of copper and rose gold in accessories such as taps and handles. Having been a popular choice in recent times, copper and rose gold furnishing brings an elegant warmth into the kitchen.

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There has been a shift away from plain metals, as the copper and rose gold alternatives offer a more reflective and soft, sophisticated glow.  They are still very desirable and show no signs of fading anytime soon.

 

Work Surfaces

One of the biggest trends for 2018 is the move towards veined work surfaces.  Some of the latest Silestone surfaces are so impressive, it’s almost impossible to tell which ones are man-made quartz and which are natural marble.

The extraordinary strength and resilience of Silestone makes it an excellent, high-quality surface for kitchens.

It’s preferred over other natural porous materials such as granite and natural stone due to its extreme durability and endless colour possibilities.

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Industrial colour schemes

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Copper and other rusty colour schemes are proving very popular on worktops, especially composites like Dekton.  Industrial colours resonate beauty and practicality, giving the kitchen a hard-working feel.

As well as offering warm and earthy tones, these neutral colours also blend in with other elements in a design scheme, whilst bringing a humble characteristic to the kitchen.

 

Furniture colours

As mentioned above, the industrial colours of kitchen worktops compliment the trending colour schemes of kitchen furniture, which remain the same; warm neutrals.

Popular choices for 2018 include cool greys, warm whites and dark navy however more organic colours such as earthy browns and rusts are also making an emergence.

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Why choose a German Kitchen?

Why choose a German Kitchen?

Making sure contemporary kitchen designs meet the fast-paced and specialised conveniences of modern living is something we strive towards at Contour Kitchens. 

It’s because of this dedicated and deep-rooted ethos, we’re proud to work in partnership with leading German kitchen designer, Leicht. The premium brand has been at the forefront of designing luxury and bespoke kitchens for more than 80 years.

But why go German?

German-kitchens

Well, German designers are renowned for carefully combining material, texture, colour, architecture and light to bring the kitchen to life.

Leicht kitchens, in particular, have no limits to individual kitchen planning and are focused on offering a space where the family can converge to cook, relax and feel comfortable.  The word Leicht actually stands for lasting value, durability and aesthetic quality. They believe - just as we do - in creating a kitchen that is personal to you.

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As the only German kitchen designer to win last year’s Plus X award for Most Innovative Brand of the Year, we believe Contour's passion in creating beautiful and functional spaces go hand in hand with Leicht's timeless designs, international appeal and unmistakable style. If you are unfamiliar with a Plus X award, it is the world’s largest innovation award for technology, sports and lifestyle. It honours brands for the leading edge in quality and innovation of their products.

It’s through our valued partnership that we are able to offer superior kitchens of timeless elegance, that add the extra dimension of making the kitchen a practical and enjoyable experience for all.

  

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The latest tech appliances for your kitchen

The latest tech appliances for your kitchen

Digital technology, or ‘smart’ technology, has evolved rapidly in the past decade. It hasn’t just transformed how we communicate, work and learn, but also how we cook.  The kitchen of 2018 is a playground for food lovers, with new and exciting tech appliances continuously hitting the market, making cooking easier, quicker and all-inclusive.

When designing your kitchen, it is important to know that your chosen tech appliances are not only functional and of the highest quality, but also fit seamlessly with your kitchen, complementing the final design rather than competing with it. 

Here at Contour Kitchens, we’re proud to collaborate with some of the most prestigious appliance brands, including Gaggenau, Siemens, Neff and Bora.

We will certainly be keeping an eye on some of their latest products, which we have shared with you below:

Gaggenau

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Dishwasher 400 series DF 481/480 – Gaggenau’s 400 series dishwasher disappears discreetly behind one of your kitchen furniture panels, which is handle-free thanks to the push-to-open function.  

Zeolite technology enhances drying and decreases the energy usage of the eight available programmes, presenting you with clean dishes and cutlery in under an hour. The wash time is even projected onto your floor.

Vario wine climate cabinet 400 series RW 464/414 – This clever wine cabinet allows you to enjoy your preferred drink at the right temperature.

With space for up to 98 bottles in two independently controlled climate zones, the electronic control system ensures constant temperatures of 5°C to 20°C - which can be set to the exact degree. The cabinet, available with glass doors or integrated panel doors, shields bottles from the vibration of the motor, whilst extendable beech and aluminium shelving protects wine from any errant aromas. 

The multiple temperature zones even allows you to store bottles at the same time as bringing other wines to drinking temperature.

Vacuuming drawer 400 series DV 461 – This innovative product vacuum-seals gravy, sauces, herbs and cut fruit and vegetables into appetizing portions to stock up your fridge and freezer. 

Its chamber system is also tailor-made to vaccum-seal Sous-vide recipes to intensify flavours and maximise longevity.

For more of Gaggenau’s products, visit http://www.gaggenau.com/gb/appliances

 

Siemens

StudioLine – This is a range made up of the crème de la crème of Siemens household appliances, exclusive to kitchen studios and unavailable on the internet.  Contour customers who choose StudioLine enjoy Siemens innovation in technology and design at the highest level, plus you have access to additional features that are exclusively available for StudioLine appliances.

Home Connect App – This app allows you to manage your kitchen appliances from wherever you are through your tablet or phone.  Connected Siemens appliances allow you to choose the best washing programme or look inside your fridge with just a touch of a button.

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Fully automatic bean-to-cup coffee centre – The ultimate indulgence for coffee lovers, this built-in coffee machine creates the perfect beverage and can also be controlled with the Home Connect App allowing you to be your own barista.

Its coffeeSensor System grinds each variety of bean to the precise quantity and the sensoFlow System automatically alters the temperature of espresso shots to match their beverage, whist the singlePortion Cleaning and calc’nClean features cleanse the appliance after every use.

For more of Siemens’ products, visit http://www.siemens-home.bsh-group.com/uk/

Neff

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Compact Steam Ovens – Neff’s range of built-in FullSteam ovens combine all the heating modes of a full-featured oven with those of a steam oven, in one single appliance. Ideal for fish and vegetables, all you have to do is refill the concealed one-litre water container and your food will retain its nutrients and flavour.

 

For more of Neff’s products, visit http://www.neff-home.com/uk/

 

 

 

 

Bora

Bora Professional Revolution 2.0 – A winner of the 2017 Red Dot Awards, this new technology by Bora draws off odours and grease particles directly from your cookware.

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One of the major benefits of an induction hob with integrated extraction, is that it allows you to have much more freedom when designing your kitchen - hobs positioned in an island no longer need a canopy above to house extraction.

It also allows you to cook without the worry of vapours rising up and spreading throughout the kitchen, whilst the trapping of grease particles in its stainless steel grease filter ensures you are always cooking in clean, fresh air.

For more of Bora’s products, visit https://www.bora.com/gb/gb/bora-principle/