We speak to Louisa Eggleston, the Creative Director at Humphrey Munson, who shares her expert tips on choosing the right worktops for your kitchen…
As the pandemic eases and businesses begin to unlock their doors, now is an excellent opportunity for homeowners to give thought to future improvement plans and renovation projects. Space has become a cherished commodity to all of us, and a new garden room or orangery will not only transform your property, it will give your family a multi-functional, open-plan room to enjoy.
It’s not just about adding more space to your home; the aim is to maximise the potential that your home has and ensure your new layout impacts your household in a positive way. The desire to come together as a family drives many of our clients to incorporate dining areas and seating areas with open-plan kitchens. These types of extensions can provide the most significant changes for a family, with everyday life in the home revolving around the one multi-functional space.
We often work together with Humphrey Munson, a design-led kitchen company based in Felsted, Essex. With their contemporary take on heritage British style, Humphrey Munson takes a detail-oriented approach to their kitchens, from the design stage to the manufacturing process right through to installation.
In any kitchen the worktops are key, especially if you have a large, open-plan room with an island in the middle. The style that you opt for can have a highly significant impact on the overall look, which is why you should always consider the specification of the worktops in conjunction with paint colours, flooring and other aesthetic impact choices during the design process. We speak to Louisa Eggleston, the Creative Director at Humphrey Munson, to discuss the different elements involved when choosing kitchen worktops, and the type of looks you can achieve.
Exceptionally durable worktops that look good for years to come
When your kitchen is a busy part of the house, your worktops are ultimately the hardest working part of the whole room. The idea of investing so much into a kitchen only for the worktops to scratch and stain after a few years is certainly not anyone’s aspiration, so it’s essential to choose materials with the best durability.
‘We always recommend quartz worktops because they have outstanding longevity and are low maintenance,’ says Louisa. ‘We always say we want our kitchens to look just as good in ten years as they do when we first install them, and quartz doesn’t stain or scratch, so it has a long lifespan. Marble has a lovely aesthetic, but it is an incredibly soft and porous material and won’t stand the test of time.’
We asked Louisa about her thoughts on granite, which has always been a commonly used material for worktops. ‘As granite is a naturally made material, it’s not always as reliable as something like quartz. Granite involves a longer ordering process, and you’d have to go to the supplier’s yard and select the piece you wanted.’ Being a natural stone extracted from under the ground, granite can have all kinds of pattern changes, colour tones and cracks running through, making it less suitable for larger worktops. ‘Quartz is man-made,’ explains Louisa. ‘We show our clients a sample of the material, and they know they are going to get an exact match in their kitchen. They can see what the end result is going to look like.’
What is the process for Humphrey Munson clients?
‘When we are designing a new kitchen, our first focus is to look at the layout, before we pay attention to how everything will look. Choosing the worktops, paint finishes and handles is a fun stage of the process, but you need to know where everything is going to go first,’ Louisa says.
Worktop swatches are available to view when clients come to visit the Humphrey Munson showrooms in Essex and St. Albans. Intended as ‘destination experiences’, a visit to a Humphrey Munson showroom feels like stepping into someone’s beautiful home. From the moment you walk through the doors, you’re greeted with fully functioning kitchens, utility rooms, walk-in pantries and boot rooms. ‘We have real-life working kitchens installed in our showrooms, so our clients can see the worktop materials in use. We cook and eat in these kitchens; they are not just for show! We like to show our clients we can put our money where our mouth is,’ says Louisa.
‘Always try and see your worktop in a larger sample if you can, either installed in a showroom or at the manufacturer’s showroom. It’s difficult to see a small swatch and tell what it’s going to look like when fitted. If you include a kitchen island, try to be mindful of the size and check with your specifier that worktops are available in one piece to avoid any joins.’ Louisa mentions that some Humphrey Munson projects have kitchen islands which are so big there is no way of avoiding joins in the worktops, but the key is to balance style and function.
Ever-evolving kitchen trends
About ten years ago, polished black granite was all the rage for kitchen worktops, but homeowners quickly got tired of their high maintenance, reflective black surfaces which showed up every speck of dust and finger marks. Lighter worktops are highly popular now, with homeowners appreciating their ability to lighten even the darkest of kitchens. ‘Quartz has come on so much in recent years, with so many options to choose from you can create a great look,’ says Louisa. ‘Darker coloured cabinets create an amazing contrast with lighter worktops which make your kitchen look fresh, bright and airy’.
Trends can move quickly when it comes to interiors, and Louisa shares her tips for keeping the room looking timeless. ‘Avoid too much detail with worktops and keep it simple, rather than adding in lots of different elements. You can create a range of looks, such as a bullnose edge for a more traditional finish, but we think a simple pencil edge on a worktop will always look clean and classic.’
You can achieve all the same aesthetic elements with quartz that you can with natural stone. Some materials feature the big swooshing lines and ripples akin to marble, which helps to show movement. Some can include a surprising amount of variation, with brown flecks and additional tones which add extra colour and shade elements to the room. ‘A good rule of thumb is to never focus on one element of your kitchen in isolation. Always consider all the elements together, matching similar textures and colours throughout the scheme. Looking at the room as a whole will make the kitchen look effortless and well designed.’
Many thanks to Louisa and the team at Humphrey Munson for sharing their insights! If you need assistance designing a sumptuous kitchen extension or open plan living space, please don’t hesitate to download our brochure and get in touch with us here at Westbury Garden Rooms.
All images featured in this article are attributed to © Paul Craig Interior Photography.