June 27, 2022
Shere Kitchens is a Surrey based, bespoke kitchen maker. Established by Andy Driscoll, Ella Driscoll and Mike Hill, 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.
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.
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.
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.
We love working with Cow-Shed Start-up who created our website & have been incredibly supportive since day one. They are integral to our team.
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.