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Shere Kitchens

Shere Kitchens

June 27, 2022

Shere Kitchens

Shere Kitchens is a Surrey based, bespoke kitchen maker. Established by Andy Driscoll, Ella Driscoll and Ella Driscoll, the company has built a strong reputation for outstanding craftsmanship skills and superb attention to detail combined with a flair for design. The team has worked on Surrey Hills Grade I and II listed homes in and around its base in picturesque village of Shere, including Albury Manor Estate. We spoke to co-founder Ella Driscoll.

How and when did Shere Kitchens come about?

My husband, Andy, and Mike have been neighbours and best friends since childhood. Andy is trained in classical joinery and was designing and creating bespoke cabinetry from his Wild Wood workshop in Shere. Mike was running a business renovating homes and listed buildings. They began working together on various projects and in 2017 ended up installing a beautiful, handmade kitchen in a home that was being converted from a three to a five bedroom house with an enormous kitchen space. It was a big success and while kitchens are the most complex and detailed part of a home, we have evolved into a bespoke kitchen business ever since.

Shere Kitchens Team

What sort of kitchens are you best known for, and can you describe the sort of projects you work on?

We’re most known for creating truly bespoke kitchens. Each one is individually made to order, considering the architecture of the property and how the family live. The design process is collaborative between us and the client as we don’t have any fixed ‘products’ or ‘ranges’. We specialise in preserving heritage in Period and Listed homes, working around wonky walls and beams, creating furniture with character and integrity. We are fascinated with wood and how beautiful it can make a home.

Understanding the character of a house and household is all-important and makes the most of our craftsman’s skills but that said, we create kitchens in new build properties and can bring character to a space that is lacking it. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and we love creating places where our customers will make their own memories.

Shere Kitchens

Your designs are tailor made from start to finish. Tell us a bit about the process.

Most of our business is word of mouth, which is lovely. We make one at a time and the entire process can last for up to 18 months. The first thing we do is assess the space, which can sometimes be just a sketch drawing from the client. Then, we look at budgets, have a consultation and begin the design phase, which involves CAD plans.

Each kitchen is designed individually as each space is unique and we don’t have ‘one size fits all’ cabinets. Once we’ve provided rendered images, we move onto the style and architecture, deciding on details such as mouldings, materials, colours, finishes and all-important technical considerations such as appliances.

Next, we hand make all the cabinetry at our workshop in Shere. Finally - the critical point - the kitchen gets installed and the very last detail, one final coat of paint happens on site. It’s an in-depth process and there’s lots of trouble-shooting involved along the way.

What trends have you seen emerging in kitchen design in recent years?

Hand painted kitchens aren’t going anywhere, but we are seeing more and more natural or oiled woods as a finish. There is something about the feel and look of wood that makes you feel grounded and connected to nature within your home.

Big islands always tend to be on people’s wish lists and one thing that’s become hugely popular is a walk-in pantry. It’s an absolutely brilliant element that can make a big difference and you can often just steal a small amount of space to make it work.

What are the key things people should consider when planning a kitchen redesign?

The most important thing over the style or how your kitchen will look is making it practical. Ask yourself what you have, what activities you do in the kitchen, maybe even what annoys you about your current kitchen and then think about what will work for you. Flow is all-important and you have to make sure everything is in the right place for how you’ll use it.

Figure out the things like where to put your bins and underfloor heating manifolds and then you can come onto the fun stuff like wine fridges, bars and plenty of spaces for people to sit.

How much is your location in the Surrey Hills an influence on the business?

We all grew up in the Surrey Hills area and have a deep love of the local landscape - from walking our dogs to exploring the chalk grasslands, letting the children run wild in the woods and enjoying the local vineyards. We view sustainability and appreciation for the local environment high among our values and as well as a scheme where we planted trees at Clandon nature reserve, we’re now involved with the Surrey Wildlife Trust and we make a donation, which goes towards plating trees or hedgerows for every kitchen we make.

We source wood and materials locally where possible and re-useable protection blankets are used to transport cabinetry rather than disposable plastic. We donate off-cuts to a local Design Technology college and we were involved in a project with Albury Vineyard where we created a bug hotel from our off-cuts of wood, which helped to educate local children about the nature around them.

Shere Kitchens

Tell us about the Gold Trade Mark Surrey Hills you received as a mark of local provenance and quality

We were hugely honoured to win this award in recognition of the work we did with Clandon Wood Nature Reserve. It was a joint project where we donated Elm trees to help provide a wildlife corridor for the endangered White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly. We wanted to do something to enhance the Surrey Hills and its landscape. We are so lucky to live and work here.

What local companies do you work with and would you recommend?

We’re very fortunate to work with some incredibly talented, local creatives such as Julia Currie who is our photographer and Karen McBain who styles our images. Jenny Branson is a colour specialist based in Dorking and she advises on many of our projects.

For a Friday team treat, we’ll head to the Dabbling Duck in Shere for breakfast baps and coffees and when it comes to celebrations or sending a special gift, we are very partial to the sparkling wine produced at Albury Vineyard, which is a wonderful local, family business. Another business we love is Kingfisher Farm Shop for local goodies for our homes, for gifts and for photoshoot food and flowers.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Shere Kitchens and their services at sherekitchens.co.uk or follow them on Instagram @sherekitchens.

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Natasha Meechan Spotlight

Natasha Meechan Interior Design

June 27, 2022

Natasha Meechan Spotlight

Originally hailing from Ireland, Natasha Meechan now runs her successful interior design business from Surrey. She has accomplished a varied portfolio, from commercial design in Melbourne to designing luxury interiors of private homes in the Cotswolds, London, Berkshire, Portugal and Los Angeles. We caught up with her to talk all things interiors.

How did you get started in interior design?

My love for art and design started at a young age. I was very creative at school but started out working in finance. I knew where my real passion was though and so I studied part -time for a degree in Interior Design in Dublin. After graduating, I went to Australia for a year and got some experience working for MYER, the well-known department store. Then, I came back to London and have never left England since.

I worked in the retail and hospitality sector at first, but then moved to the Cotswolds and through working with architects, I figured out I loved the residential side of interior design. Architects are such technicians and that’s where I got most of my knowledge and insight from. I don’t just ‘choose fabrics’, I do a lot of design as well as understanding project management and interior architecture.

Tell us a bit about your business now. Who are your clients and what sort of projects do you work on?

I’d call myself a Luxury Interior Designer and I work on a wide range of projects alongside a whole team of builders, architects and suppliers. For instance, it could be a huge, whole house fit-out or it could be a small refurb. Interior Design is a very personal thing and for me, it’s all about creating a connection with your client. When you understand their tastes and style, they’ll always need you.

My style is modern but timeless. I’ve worked on everything from very contemporary to much more classical but what I bring to it all is a very high-end, quality finish.

What have been some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on?

One of my first was also one of the best. I managed a project in Portugal for a summer. Being trusted to run the entire thing on my own when I was just starting out and offering the full service, which created such value, was very satisfying.

Equally, I worked on Marylebone mews house recently, which was one of my favourites. The space was small, so you have to really think about how to maximise it by getting light in and considering all the details such as furniture and joinery.

What do you think the biggest shift in interiors has been in the last 10 years?

I’d say people value their space more now than ever. As well as looking for bigger houses, offices and garden rooms are also on the wish list. Work and home have become so interlinked that everyone wants the option to have a room they can use as an office.

What are the key tricks to mastering a successful interior?

Bespoke design always brings a personal touch and you have to invest in the quality of the finish. Trying to save or cut corners when it comes to design never pays off. I tell my clients, "Buy cheap, buy twice" and also, "You really do get what you pay for". 

And what would you say are the biggest decorating mistakes people make? 

Over-use of colour is probably the biggest one for me. Painting an entire room bright red may be brave, but trust me, you’ll get bored with it. Bold colour can work in a Gentleman’s Club or restaurant, but in your own home, you need to tread carefully and mainly use colour as an accent.

What companies do you work with or can you tell us about any local places you source your items from?

My go-to is the The Design Centre in London. It has everything you could wish for – all the fabrics, all the trimmings. I’m still getting to know Surrey, but one place I’ve come across and love is Wattle & Daub in Godalming. It has such amazing accessories and finishing touches. As an Interior Designer, that part of the process is a real art form and finding the right items to add that level of detail can make all the difference.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Natasha’s services at https://www.natashameechan.com/ 

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Clare Watson, Turmeric House

Local Inspiration - Tumeric House

June 27, 2022

Local Inspiration - Clare Watson, Turmeric House

This month we speak to Clare Watson from Turmeric House, a Surrey-based concept and creative studio specialising in the styling and design of beautiful spaces.

What exactly is Turmeric House?

We are an independent creative studio that creates stand-out spaces, shoots and builds that are founded on a culture of collaboration. We offer everything from styling of events and environments, to commercial photo shoots, art direction, private/commercial fit outs and brand storytelling. We work with retail and hospitality outlets, private clients, photographers and magazine editors to create spaces with soul that take users on a journey.
A space that tells a story, but also functions with beautiful design.

Retail and hospitality spaces have had to change a lot over the past couple of years, how have you helped businesses adapt?

I’ve been so impressed by how open businesses have been to change actually, but sometimes, when you’re working in an environment every day, operating in a certain way for so long, it’s difficult to identify ways you can adapt to different circumstances.

Turmeric House is all about how you don’t need four walls to create a space. One of the local marquee companies I work with understandably took a huge hit with events and weddings being cancelled so I suggested to a restaurant client that they convert their carpark into a gorgeous urban pop-up. That meant they could operate when only public outdoor dining was allowed and it gave the marquee company some ongoing business. The cross over between industries has been remarkable.

I’ve also helped businesses to incorporate all the changes and new health & safety guidelines but in line with their own branding, so it doesn’t take away from the essence of their space. We’ve been forced so far out the box that it makes everything even more possible.

And what about in people’s homes?

We’ve all had to reassess how we feel about and use our own spaces. Our homes have had to evolve to make space for working from home, schooling from home, exercising from home etc. and this can really change the dynamic and flow of how we live in, and use our space.

While some of these activities have, and will continue to, return to areas outside our home environments, many will remain. Moving forward, this will change the way we interact with our spaces and how we welcome people into our homes, so it’s about helping people figure out how best to do that.

You’ve styled shoots and celebrity homes for features in magazines like Vogue, Ok!, NME and Surrey Life, what’s that like?

I love all shoots, it’s exciting and a privilege to get a sneak peek into the home lives of celebrities & interesting inspiring individuals and because they’re usually in their own homes, they’re really relaxed and welcoming. But it is work at the end of the day so it’s not like we can just sit around chatting (although we do have a natter here and there) Shoots are full on and can spread over a few days with set up and take down, but they are great fun
and I love sourcing props and being able to include amazing finds from local independent businesses that I love.

What things should people be thinking about when it comes to interior styling of their own homes?

There is no right or wrong to how you choose to live in your home, it’s about emotions and  how you’re home makes you feel. People can get in such a funk about interior styling and layout but there’s no need. My advice is to just try things in different places, if you don’t like something somewhere, then move it. And above all, surround yourself with things you love and bring you joy. People can get bogged down with clutter but I live amongst a lot of my props and things I have sourced for events and shoots (such as a fairground horse we had built for a shoot) but the important thing is that it all makes me feel great & surrounds me with great memories and stories.

What top tips would you give people on home styling?

  • Don’t forget your entry hallway. It’s often dismissed as somewhere you simply walk through to get into the main living areas of your home but it is the first place you come to and you can often spend time there greeting guests as they take off their shoes and coats etc. Therefore, it’s important to make it a welcoming space. Candles and room sprays can help create a nice aroma, while a piece of much-loved artwork will give a lovely hint at your style personality, as well as a talking point for guests as they arrive.
  • Layering is key. Creating layers of interest within a home is a good way of incorporating all your favourite things without it looking cluttered. Use shelves and places like the coffee table to display some of your favourite things. For example, on a coffee table you might place a couple of your favourite books on a tray and then an ornament or a vase with your favourite flowers on top of the books.
  • Think about all the senses. The feeling a space creates isn’t just about what you can see. It’s about the smell, touch and sound too. So, play music softly, light a candle or have a diffuser on display and fill your space with gorgeous fabrics and tactile objects that mean something to you and tell a story.

As we enter the festive season how should we be looking to create a fabulous space in which to dine with guests?

Christmas really lends itself to great styling. Layer fruits and nuts or items you’ve foraged from the garden or on walks on the table, dip the rims of your glasses with icing sugar to give them that festive glint, layered candles are a must and when it comes to glassware and
cutlery, don’t panic if you’ve not got enough that matches, mix your finest with your everyday – you’re with friends and family after all.

What local companies do you enjoy working with and/or recommend?

I source a lot for shoots from Wattle and Daub in Godalming and often fall in love with pieces so end up buying them for myself! I also get visual merchandise and styling ideas from libby at &Hobbs, also Thomas Ford & Sons is a lovely family-run kitchen shop in Ripley and I also love Haus in Haslemere. Sprout Surrey is also a great hub for sustainable businesses with green fingers. There are so many incredible creatives I am inspired by.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Clare and Turmeric House’s services at Turmerichouse.com and you can get style inspiration for your own home by following @turmerichouse on instagram.

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Stephenson Wright

Local inspiration - Stephenson Wright

June 27, 2022

Local Inspiration - Stephenson Wright 

Never before have we spent so much time in our own homes. Events of the past year have changed how we use our living space and will continue to influence the way we view the four walls around us for years to come. As interiors designers, Natalie Stephenson and Juliette Wright have seen first-hand the ways in which people are altering their homes to reflect the status quo. We asked them to tell us more.

What’s new in the world of interiors right now?

NS: We’ve seen a real shift in the way people are using their homes and the bar has definitely risen in terms of what people want their home to be able to achieve. We’ve seen a move from open plan to what we call ‘broken plan’, where people are looking to separate open plan living spaces to meet their new working from home environments with subtle variations, such as a different flooring, or perhaps glass sliding doors. This creates separation when required but also allows the space to be opened and fully utilised in the evenings and at weekends.

JW: The impressive ‘Zoom background’ is a new design challenge we now include within nearly every project brief; our clients want this to be appropriate yet give a hint of their personalities.

We see clients gearing up to entertain from the comfort and safety of their home. An impressive working home bar has become a fun bolt on to many of our projects at the moment with wine displays, games tables and naturally in the standard of their favourite London haunts.

What effect has the ‘Working from Home’ phenomenon had on interiors?

JW: The home office has, understandably, become very important but there is a difference in what people want from a home office and a home study. WFH means people require an office to use 9 to 5 but many people also want a space where they can read, perhaps have the laptop open, but it’s a space they would use in a more relaxed manner.

NS: While there will be a return to the office for many, there’s going to be much more flexibility in the ability to work remotely and people are realising that they will need a permanent space in their home from which they can work.

One of our recent clients wanted almost an entire floor of their home dedicated to work space, with a kitchenette and gym etc so they can keep the two sides of their lives very separate.

How is it affecting people’s purchasing decisions?

NS: More and more people are moving out to Surrey from the city because they no longer need to be there for work, which means they can afford to buy bigger homes and spend more making their home the best it can be. Seamlessly integrated AV and lighting is one of those things people seem to be spending more on, but it’s not just about practicalities – comfort really is king and bespoke furniture and upholstery is a key way to get the most out of a space.

JW: It’s our job as interior designers to get into the heads of our clients and how they live their lives to establish what ways the design of their home can not only be practical but a beautiful, comfortable space for them to enjoy.

What other local companies do you work with and recommend?

JW: We worked with Mark Kavanagh of Future Light Design and Cornflake Audio Visual on our stunning showroom, The Post House, in East Horsley, and would always recommend them. The space enables us to show clients our own furniture collection and how the different aspects of interior design can work together in a home.

NS: We collaborated with local artist Jan Erika [who has featured in a previous spotlight] on some of our pieces of furniture and would always recommend Saligo in Cobham for amazing antique mirrors. Tyson London is also a treasure trove of sculptures, lamps and rock crystals.

Natalie and Juliette’s furniture collection launches on LuxDeco this month as part of the Think Big Shop Small

Where you'll find them

The Post House, Ockham Road South,
East Horsley, Surrey, KT24 6RX.

Get in touch

To book a showroom appointment visit stephensonwright.com.

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Sadie Pizzey Interiors

June 27, 2022

Local Inspiration - Sadie Pizzey

Spring is on its way and if you haven’t already used the time in lockdown to revamp your home then now is as good a time as any. In the latest in our Local Inspiration series we get some tips from Guildford interiors expert Sadie Pizzey.

Former actress Sadie has turned her passion for renovating property into a full-time career and last year, her company Sadie Pizzey Interiors was shortlisted at The International Design and Architecture Awards. Here she talks about what inspires her and offers some tips on how best to embark on an interiors project, however large or small.

How did you get into interiors?

Both my husband and I are actors, that’s how we met. He is still an actor but while I absolutely loved the job, it’s not the easiest career to have alongside a family. I’ve renovated property since my early 20s. My husband and I have bought various properties and completely gutted them and we’ve never just had one main contractor, we’ve always had to project manage every single trade and learn the structural process along the way.

From that I fell in love with both the project management side of things but also the aesthetics. So, after the final one, which is the property we live in now, in Guildford, my husband said: “Either you do it as a career or we’re going to get a divorce.” Of course, he was joking but it made sense with all the experience we’d had.

Tell us more about some of your renovations…

From my very first property purchase in Peckham, I knew I never wanted to buy something that was ‘done’. My husband and I worked on that one alone. We managed to sell that just before the crash of 2008 and bought a place in Richmond, which nobody wanted because it had subsidence, it was falling down and had cracks in the walls. But, probably being quite foolish, we thought ‘How hard can it be?’

That was a massive learning curve because we had to learn how to underpin and basically put this crumbling wreck back together. We couldn’t afford to get people in so we literally did everything, from digging holes to project managing and scheduling – the whole thing. Most people would think that was a living hell, but I loved it!

That project and the others we’ve done since have helped me understand the entire process, including the technical side of things, which is so important when working with my clients. Lots of people think interiors is just choosing pretty colours and fabrics but it’s really knowing the mechanics of everything you’re putting in and how that might influence each part of the home.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m very passionate about the fact that our interiors should reflect us – they should be an extension of us and make us feel good about our lives. They need to be our ‘battery chargers’ – we need to be able to come home and recharge to enable us to get back out there again.

I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients. I don’t want to just provide a cookie-cutter service or just give them stuff that’s on trend. I might ask them for pictures of their favourite holidays, favourite places to visit, hotels etc to really get a feel for what they like, and then I’ll build a lot of that into their design. I personally favour modern, warm interiors with lots of texture and natural materials, but it obviously depends client to client what their preferences are.

Why should someone use an interior designer?

Running any sort of project, whether it’s a single room revamp or a whole extension, takes a lot more time and is a lot more stressful than you think it’s going to be. If you use a good interior designer it will save you time, can stop you making costly mistakes and can often save you money in the long run – we share our trade discounts with our clients for example.

What are your top tips for those carrying out their own interiors project? 

You need to have planned as much as possible before you even knock down a single wall, because once the process starts, it’s like a rollercoaster that gets faster and faster with decisions and questions being fired at you from all directions. So, my top tip is to have chosen all your materials and determined the layout of every space before you even put a spade in the ground.

And, if you’re planning on using an interior designer, don’t leave it until too late in the process. The best time to bring them in is when you appoint the architect so they can work collaboratively. There might be tweaks to the layout, such as internal door or window positions, which help the overall aesthetics of the interior design that are a lot harder to change once the building work has been done.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Finding great people to collaborate with, whether that’s architects, builders, carpenters or wallpaper designers. That’s what interior design is really – finding all these brilliant, talented people and bringing them on to the project.

Are there any businesses you particularly like to champion? 

So many – Castello Bespoke, Andrew Morton Furniture, Clear Out Clutter, House Alice, who you’ve featured before and is also Guildford-based, Lisa Harpe Art, Andrew Meakin Home Automation, Aspire Bifolds, GSk Venetian and Plastering and we use a company called Reclaimed Design a lot. They source reclaimed wood from across the whole of the UK so it comes off barns and beaches. These most amazing pieces of timber that he sources can be turned into cladding, tables, whatever you need.

Find out more:

Sadie can be found at sadiepizzeyinteriors.com and on Instagram @sadiepizzeyinteriors.