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Spring Inspired Kitchen

 

Spring inspiration for your kitchen

Spring is emerging in all its glory; a delight to each and every one of our senses, it’s the perfect natural moodboard for your Spring inspired kitchen. The colours seem to grow more vibrant everyday, from the cherry blossom to the tulips. The smell of fresh cut grass is beginning to pervade our walks and the cheerful sound of birdsong provides the ideal accompaniment for relaxing Spring days.

This is a time of rejuvenation and growth, it’s the ideal opportunity to let nature inspire your kitchen projects, allowing its influences to transcend your designs and ideas, be they big or small. After a long winter our senses are being awoken again by all that’s around us and we can look to them when planning our kitchens.

All that we see

Spring cleaning should be an integral part of any new kitchen project, providing the opportunity to declutter and restore some order to this busy area. You should avoid toxic cleaning products by choosing natural alternatives such as lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar and beeswax.

There are a myriad of ways you can bring Spring influences into your kitchen depending on your plans and budget, from a kitchen remodel to simply bringing freshly cut flowers into your home. Spring conjures up images of blossom, flowers and green trees and fields. Why not emulate this colour palette in your kitchen units, wall colours or accessories? If you are thinking of redecorating there are now non toxic paint brands available, better for you and the environment.

Leading colour specialist, Pantone, have sited greenery as their colour of 2017, a vibrant yet calming colour that can be used in all its various hues to create just the effect you are after. Why not paint your walls in your chosen shade of green, or add some tiles to bring in some tone or texture to a more neutral colour scheme. Plants or an indoor herb garden are the perfect way to add small touches of colour and Spring vibrancy.

Embracing the aroma and music of Spring

Fresh flowers always add life and focus in a room, they are an inexpensive way of bringing the outdoors in, adding a touch of Spring energy to your kitchen. Try gathering the family together for a walk and enjoy some quality time while gathering blossom, flowers and branches to create a Spring wreath.

Spring brings a shift in mood both emotionally and aesthetically, with our windows thrown open inviting fresh air and birdsong into our homes to create a rejuvenating and optimistic ambience. This can motivate us to be more creative and adventurous in the kitchen, sourcing local ingredients from farmers’ markets, to experiment with new recipes or to perfect old favourites. The use of fresh herbs always brings an intensity to the flavour of your recipes and these can be grown in your garden or in pots inside.

New year is often synonymous with resolutions for the year ahead, but Spring with its optimism and new life force feels like a more natural time to focus our minds on intentions and plans, whether that’s house projects or personal goals. It’s also a time where new traditions and rituals can be borne, with added impetus from brighter, longer days.

If Spring has inspired you to remodel your kitchen contact our team of kitchen specialists at Black Rok for some advice.

Coastal Inspired Kitchens

Coastal inspired kitchens

Coastal inspired kitchens are becoming a popular style and not just for beach front houses. If you feel a connection with the sea why not draw from its wealth of colours and textures to create a stunning kitchen? The sea is such a vast inspiration for many writers, artists and musicians and has attracted people to its beauty and power for centuries.

As we know the kitchen is the heart of the home, a place to eat, relax and connect with one another, so it’s only right it reflects our style and personality. You can create a haven of serene tranquility, the perfect place to unwind after a busy day.

Creating the Coastal look

Dulux’s colour of 2017 is a shade called Denim Drift, a grey-blue colour heralded as timeless yet modern. Let it transport you to memories of happy days at the coast while providing the perfect back drop for your coastal inspired kitchen. Combined with crisp white units, wooden floors and worktops this is the ideal colour to begin your nautical journey.

Reclaimed wood could be sourced and used to make kitchen worktops or flooring, creating a natural rustic look. This can be further enhanced with the use of white Shaker style cupboards, a farmhouse sink, wicker baskets for storage and finished with plants in distressed planters.

You could add subtle Coastal accents to a contemporary or traditional kitchen by hanging a painting of a sea view, a photo of stones put onto canvas or by placing sea shells round candles or on window sills. Another way is to choose furniture with curved legs to reflect the waves.

Add pops of colour with blue, green or turquoise, in your backsplash or tiles, giving a subtle nod to the sea style without having to redesign your entire kitchen. Iridescent tiles shimmering like the crystal clear water would work perfectly as a more daring backsplash. Rugs, stools, vases, and pendant lights are also great places to play with colour and experiment with themes.

Why not pay homage to the sea Nantucket style by mixing a vintage rustic dining table with green blue chairs to complement a kitchen design using shiplap or tongue and groove panelling? This will create nautical texture and could be further enhanced by painting a wooden floor, evoking a beach house vibe.

For a touch of kitsch, coastal style add aqua appliances, infusing beachy tones into a clean white kitchen.

If you are interested in entwining the Coastal influence into your new kitchen, Hacker kitchens have some stunning blue units in their range which are available from Black Rok kitchens. For further advice or information why not pop into our showroom in Uckfield.

Made in Germany, A hallmark and heritage of quality

Germany has long been at the forefront of the engineering and kitchen design world, at Black Rok, we take great pride in that.

Engineering tradition

German kitchen design in particular profits from an engineering tradition and with tradition comes great experience and superior knowledge. German design has always been focused on understanding the user on a deeper and holistic level, understanding the purpose of product but predominantly studying the surrounding environment and who will use the space. This leads to the thorough understanding of how can the space be ergonomically tailored to suit these needs in consideration of all known constraints. This philosophy is evident in all disciplines of German design and can be seen in everything from architecture and kitchen design to product and automotive design.

“Form follows function”, a tenet endorsed by the German arts movement ‘Bauhaus’ stands prevalent in all aspects of German functionalist design since the 1920’s. This can be seen throughout German design history from companies such as BMW and Audi to Braun and Bosch, who are continuously pushing the guidelines and exceeding expectations of demand with their sole focus on human-centered design.

Understanding the user

In the 1920’s, ergonomic efficiency in the kitchen was born with the creation of the bijou, but efficient, German Frankfurt Kitchen. Introduced in Frankfurt,Germany by the architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky as a solution to the housing shortage after World War I. The design was optimised for space to cost efficiency but also had a central focus on work-flow and ergonomics. Layouts were anthropometrically designed such that everything would be within an arm’s reach of the work zone. Although this sounds like standard practice for today’s kitchen, the concept of laying out the kitchen to make it more productive and efficient for the homemaker was revolutionary, and eventually gave way to the “golden triangle” theory. The design was hugely commercially successful in Germany and went ahead to replicate 10,000 units to be sold to home-owners and the principles learnt from this study are still applicable today to kitchen design.

Weinger, aber besser

“Weniger, aber besser” a statement made under the “10 principles to good design” by the iconic German product designer Dieter Rams in the 1950’s, translates as ‘less, but better’ appears ubiquitous throughout German design. This is relevant in the sense that German design is purposeful, well-thought through and sculpted down to the minimal, resulted in design that is pure, perfect and well refined. We at Black Rok pride our selves to this design philosophy and believe when applied, it creates beautiful design tailored to your needs.

Heritage

German companies take pride in their heritage and are driven by upholding quality standards set generations before. This can be seen in every aspect of care and precision from manufacture through to customer relations, there is a reputation to sustain and guidelines to achieve in German industry.

In our case, our suppliers work on a tight knit mesh of connections in Germany most of which founded decades ago who have worked together to form an efficient methodical system of supply. In particular Häcker, our cabinet and furniture supplier here at Black Rok was founded by Hermann Häcker in 1898 as a bespoke joinery and the brand name he produced has been upheld to the standard he set nearly 120 years ago. We, at Black Rok, promise to provide the professionalism and standard of German industry here in East Sussex.

The Linear Look

 

The linear look

Looking for a sleek, modernist kitchen with slim contours, neat lines, handleless units and a shiny gloss finish? The linear look perfectly evokes this style. German kitchen makers Hacker are renowned for manufacturing this ultra contemporary design and our team at Black Rok will be more than happy to impart their specialist knowledge to you.

Things To Consider When Creating The Linear Look

Handleless Kitchen Units

These will give your kitchen a refined, contemporary appearance whilst also being practical and safe. They have been popular in minimalist kitchen designs for some time, but have more recently become a staple in the kitchens of people seeking an everyday modern style. These units will blend impeccably with the rest of your kitchen, enhancing a fresh, polished finish.

Apart from the aesthetic appeal of these doors, they are also more hygienic. The fact they are smooth and handleless means there are less places for dirt and germs to accumulate. Simple to operate with a push to open system, they are safer for children and pets too, as there will be no injuries from them catching themselves on sticking out handles.

Integrated Storage

Integrated storage enables you to keep your kitchen tidy and streamlined, whilst creating a zen atmosphere. There are many innovative storage solutions available to choose from, for example corner cupboards to help utilise otherwise wasted space and deep drawers that can store anything from plates to saucepans, and many can be fitted with an internal drawer for cutlery.

Why not install a larder in your new kitchen? They come in various designs, from pull out cupboards to more regular cupboards with shelves or drawer options, which means you can keep all your food staples in one place. Unsightly bins can be banished into a drawer under your sink with different sections for regular rubbish and recycling. These can all be fitted with soft close runners or hinges.

Under oven drawers are perfect for storing oven trays and mean they are right on hand when you need them. Or why not impress your guests with a drinks cupboard climber unit, with touch button powered louver doors, which fold up like a blind. All your kitchen appliances can be integrated, further helping to create the smooth, linear look.

Induction hobs are probably the best choice for your sleek kitchen as they are neater and easier to clean than gas.

Quartz Worktops

Engineered Quartz worktops will beautifully complement this style and are considered by many as the crème de la crème of worktops. With a stunning finish and availability in an array of colours they will balance your kitchen colour scheme and are the icing on the cake of your linear look kitchen.

Integrated Or Freestanding Kitchen Appliances?

Kitchen appliances

Are you struggling to choose between out of sight or out on view? There are pros and cons with both integrated and freestanding kitchen appliances, the one that’s best for your family depends on your individual wants and needs! Here’s a heads-up to help make the decision easier.

What Are Integrated Kitchen Appliances?

An integrated (or built-in) appliance is concealed behind cupboard doors. This stops unsightly white goods from standing out and gives your kitchen a seamless appearance. This option works best in small kitchens as it creates an illusion of space.   

Pros:

  • Brings uniformity to a fitted kitchen;
  • When you move house, all those integrated appliances will give you extra bargaining power to ensure that you get the asking price;
  • Hiding tumble dryers, washing machines and dishwashers behind a panel reduces noise.

Cons:

  • Changing built-in appliances is a hassle and if done badly you could be left with dismantled units and torn up flooring;
  • As they are designed to only be used in enclosed spaces, built-in models have smaller dimensions thus less capacity than their stand-alone alternatives;
  • Product and installation costs are invariably higher.

What Are Freestanding Kitchen Appliances?  

A freestanding appliance stands on its own and doesn’t need to be attached to the structure of your units. While these appliances can often be slotted under your worktop, they are clearly visible and must be placed on the floor.

Pros:

  • There are a wider range of products available;
  • Whether you’re changing for new or pulling out to repair, freestanding appliances are far easier to get to get access;
  • Cheaper to buy.

Cons:

  • Bulky white goods can make a kitchen look cluttered and are faffier to clean;
  • You don’t have the ability to mix and match with your cooktop and oven, they are either both electric or both gas.

Planning your dream kitchen? Our expert team at Black Rok Kitchen Design can help. Get in touch or visit our showroom in Heathfield. 

The Resurgence Of The Slow Cooker

 

The Resurgence of the slow cooker

There is something intrinsically comforting about a warming, wholesome casserole, so it’s easy to see why slow cooker sales have seen a resurgence in recent years. A rise in the popularity of slow cooked meats such as pulled pork, championed by many famous chefs, has undoubtedly added to people seeking out their old slow cookers or purchasing new and improved versions. It ties in with many people’s aspirations to return to slow living, the antithesis to our fast paced, digitally driven lives, along with the desire to create healthy, nutritious food that doesn’t take hours out of a busy day.

The slow cooker was invented in 1936 by Irving Naxon in America, a design which he patented and named Naxon Beanery All Purpose Cooker. It began selling in the 1950’s but it was in the 1970’s, when many women were going out to work, that it really came into its own. It enabled them to be at work but still provide a home cooked meal for their families. At this stage Naxon began working for another manufacturer and the famous Crock Pot was born.

The 1980’s saw the popularity of the slow cooker dwindle with the invention of the microwave and the desire for fast food and ready meals. However in recent years retailers have reported a rise in sales again, people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of healthy eating, using fresh ingredients, as well as the many other benefits of slow cookers.

Cost Effective
They use minimal energy, about the same as a light bulb, so are both cost effective and environmentally conscious.

Healthy
The food cooks in its own juices so requires minimal oil, making them a healthy, low fat way to prepare food.

Prevents food burning
The food cooks very slowly so there is no risk of it burning.

Tenderises meat
Cheaper cuts of meat can be used as the slow cooker will tenderise even the toughest cuts of meat.

There are many delicious recipes available online or cookbooks dedicated to slow cookers, so whether it’s a hearty casserole or a tasty pudding you fancy why not give slow cooking a try. 

If you are thinking about updating your kitchen why not pop into our Black Rok showroom in Uckfield for some advice.

 

5 Ways To Use Chalkboard Paint In Your Kitchen

Chalkboard paint

 

Think chalkboards are just for classrooms? Think again. Popular on Pinterest and adored by crafters, chalkboard paint can revolutionise an uninspiring table setting or transform a dull wall into a space of endless creation. Swot up on how to apply this gold star design trend in your kitchen.

Accent Wall:

A chalkboard accent wall makes a top-marks alternative to a kitchen noticeboard! Incorporate a mail organiser, embellish with elaborate typography or coordinate the family by painting on a calendar. But, whatever you choose to do, make it your own.  

As a side note, although chalkboard paint is readily available at hardware and hobby stores, if you’re looking for a shade outside the traditional green and black, make it at home by mixing paint with unsanded tile grout.

Herb Pots:

Can’t work out whether it’s basil or lemon balm? Prevent a culinary disaster by updating your herb gardens terracotta pots with chalkboard paint for easy to write-on and rub-off labels.

Fridge Doors:

Keep track of what’s running low by painting your fridge doors with chalkboard paint. This is a great move for preventing ugly, old refrigerators from becoming an eyesore, whether or not you decide to decorate your doors with love letters or shopping lists!

Mason Jars:

Bringing together two major trends, chalkboard paint can add a little flair to glass canisters and help you keep track of snacks. Once the paint dries, chalk on what’s inside and its use-by date, then wipe off when the jar is empty. Prettify the decals by drawing on a few added embellishments.

Place Mats:

Step up your hosting game and cover your placemats with chalkboard paint. A step above crayons, they’ll keep the kids occupied at the dinner table, whilst adding a hint of school-days nostalgia to your soiree.

Dreaming of a kitchen that’s as fashionable as it is functional? Then contact our Black Rok Kitchen Design experts or visit our showroom in Heathfield now.

Cosy Up For A Fondue Night

 

Cosy Up For A Fondue Night

Although signs of Spring are finally making an appearance, the first snowdrops and catkins on trees, winter frosts are still nipping at our toes, so why not embrace the comfort of a fondue night. With Valentine’s Day approaching and staying in being the new going out, now is a perfect time to go retro, dig out your fondue kit and hunker down for a romantic evening à deux. Fondue nights are also a lovely way to cherish some family time and children will love the ritual of dipping bread into the oozy, melted cheese.

A Brief History Of Fondue

The word Fondue comes from the French word fondre meaning to melt. It was invented in Switzerland in the eighteenth century, and like many food discoveries, was born out necessity. Rural alpine villagers depended upon cheese, wine and bread to see them through the long, cold winter months. The cheese that was made in the summer had usually dried out by winter so to use up the stale bread and hard cheese they would melt the cheese with wine over an open fire and then dunk the pieces of bread in for a warming, comforting meal.

The popularity of the fondue grew in the 1930’s when the Swiss Cheese Union had a campaign to increase cheese consumption. People from all walks of life and various financial means began enjoying this delicious dish and after World War Two it became the Swiss national dish, representing unity and a national identity.

Swiss families still find solace in this traditional dish, enjoying it together as a family, embracing good food and quality time together. The fondue is conventionally made in an earthenware pot, known as a caquelon, which heats evenly and retains heat. The cheese used varies from region to region but usually contains two cheeses one of which is often Gruyere for its melting properties.

Different Types Of Fondue

Apart from cheese there are two other popular types of fondue:

Oil
You heat small pieces of steak in hot oil until cooked and then dip into the sauce of your choice such as hollandaise, horseradish or mustard.

Chocolate
This one will definitely be a hit with children and the chocolate lovers in your life. Heat some cream until simmering, add the chocolate, stirring until melted, and then enjoy with strawberries, bananas or even pieces of cookie.

If you’re looking for the perfect kitchen, contact our specialists at Black Rok for some friendly advice.

Geometric Design Is Here To Stay: Bring It Into Your Kitchen.

Geometric design

Whether it’s hexagons and herringbone or trapeziums and triangles, geometric design is taking over our interiors! Popping up on walls, upholstery and accent pieces, it’s easy to see why patterns have become so popular. To add instant visual interest to your kitchen swap out a boring old backsplash for hypnotic tiles or leave shapely hints hidden in furniture and fabric.  

Global Influences  

Intricate tile-work is the hallmark feature of Moroccan design. The repetition of these simple shapes creates complex compositions and vibrant geometric patterns, reminiscent of your holidays! To bring old world opulence to your kitchen, use Middle Eastern inspired mosaics across your countertops and window frames or dream up your own pattern for bespoke flooring.

Retro Themes

For those whose design preferences are more mid-century, liven up your kitchen with the clashing colours and bold shapes of Seventies style. Modern tastes have toned down this look a tad, using simpler, larger patterns that are more refined than their traditional counterparts. It’s ideal for breaking up wall-to-wall neutrals, as long as you keep in mind, a little goes a long way!

Contemporary Vibes

It’s a fact. Sharp lines and acute angles make magazine worthy interiors and they’re also incredibly easy to include in your kitchen! Tribal designs, maze prints and abstract patterns are the major influencers and can be found on everything from tea sets to scatter cushions.

Whether you opt for a pop or pastel colour palette, stick to the rule that simplicity is key. Allow for the geometric design to be the true focal point by finishing the rest of your kitchen with stainless steel or natural wood materials.

Considering a kitchen remodel and not sure where to begin? Then contact Black Rok Kitchen Design now. You can also visit our showroom in Heathfield.

Kitchen Trends Study 2017

east hoathly sussex cashmere with burgundy

Each year Houzz (the home-improvement, interior design website) conducts a kitchen trends survey amongst its extensive user base. Data was compiled from over 3000 of these users in the UK who either:

  • completed a kitchen renovation project in the past 12 months
  • are currently working on one
  • plan to start one in the next three months

The survey delves into the current state of new kitchen projects: the reasons, the money, and dare we say it, the ingredients. It provides real insight into the world of the new kitchen. The data is obviously very useful to professionals in the kitchen industry: the designers, manufacturers and retailers. But, it’s also a great resource for anyone who is planning a new kitchen in the near future. How much are people spending? Why are they updating? What styles, colours and materials are people choosing?

Here are a few details gleaned from the study that we think are either surprising or of greatest interest to you if you are planning a new kitchen.

Spend

This is the big one: how much do people spend on their new kitchen? Various factors affect this: rising costs, rising property values, ease of borrowing, abundance of architectural and design TV programming. None of us like to waste money on a poor investment, so it is reassuring that the quality of the kitchen is a hugely important factor in home valuations and the ease of selling a house; it is becoming an increasingly important living area of the home.

The most common cost range is between £10,000 and £25,000, with nearly a third of respondents spending within this bracket. A further 38% spent over £25,000 and the remaining 30% spending up to £10,000. Despite the rather uncertain economic predictions and the extraordinary political news of 2016, nearly 10% spent over £75,000 on their new kitchen.

On what did these people spend their hard-earned money?

More than half chose a contemporary kitchen (56%), with a surprisingly small amount opting for traditional or country styles (10% & 7% respectively).
The once standard kitchen wall finish: ceramic tiling has dropped quite markedly in popularity over the years, accounting for just 22%, whereas painted walls is now the preference for 84%.
The most popular layout style is the U-shape (32%), closely followed by the L-shape (28%). This is probably indicative of the move towards larger kitchens, opening out into other living areas of the house in 59% of new kitchen projects.
Another indication of the growing size of our kitchens is that nearly half (42%) feature an island. That once trendy, must-have peninsular is now only found in 12% of new kitchens.
One stand-out appliance addition, usually considered very much a luxury option: the boiling water tap, is now installed into very nearly a quarter of new kitchens (24%).

Colours

White remains the popular (and safe) choice, with grey now coming a close second, and beige a surprising third. Gone are the days of the large numbers of coloured kitchens being installed (who didn’t have a red kitchen in the 80s?). Appliance colour choice is firmly rooted in stainless steel (nearly half), with a significant quarter opting for black.
Worktops are quartz (24%) and white (27%) most usually, other popular choices are granite (20%), grey (17%) and black (15%).

Benefits of a new kitchen

A new kitchen is not just about impressing friends or keeping up with the Jones, although more than half of respondents say they now host more dinner parties and entertain more often since the kitchen refit — if you’ve got it, flaunt it! A whopping 69% say that since their new kitchen became reality they spend more family time in the kitchen and 35% of respondents say they now lead a more healthy lifestyle. Of course, it is unclear if this more healthy lifestyle is a cause or effect of updating the kitchen; more clues to this below.

Reasons to update the kitchen

Not surprisingly, the most common motivation for spending money on a new kitchen is moving house; we like to personalise our homes and this reason accounts for nearly half of the new kitchens in those surveyed, 26% cited a deteriorated or worn out kitchen, and 14% gave their reason as a change in lifestyle. Somewhat surprisingly there was no significant figure investment.

Who helps?

We probably all know that DIY is now a declining skill and trend. This is echoed by the figure of 93% who hired a professional during their kitchen project. Very nearly half employed a kitchen designer and a third used the services of an architect. This is hardly surprising given the large amounts of money people are now spending on their kitchens.

To get further insight and expert advice on your new kitchen, call Black Rok now on 01825 766976.

More details to be found in the published report on kitchen trends.
See Black Rok on the Houzz website.

The Quooker Boiling Water Tap

 

Quooker - The Boiling Water Tap

The Quooker boiling water tap is an innovative kitchen appliance that is fast becoming a “must have” kitchen item. It was designed by Dutch physicist and inventor Henri Peteri and, although comparatively new to Britain, it has been popular in Europe for many years. As our lives become ever busier time becomes more precious! Minutes saved not having to wait for the kettle to boil in that hectic morning rush will seem invaluable, as your morning brew will be ready in an instant. But the Quooker tap has many more functions too, including blanching vegetables, heating up dinner plates, cleaning saucepans, making baby formula and even peeling tomatoes.

The standard Quooker boiling water tap obviously enables you to obtain instant hot water, but there is also the Quooker Combi which can be fitted to supply all your kitchen’s hot water.

Space Saving

The Quooker tap will assist in our never ending quest to keep our kitchen worktops as clutter free as possible. Getting rid of your kettle will free up space for your blender or coffee machine. If you opt for the Quooker Fusion you will also only have one tap on your worktop to supply all your water.

Safer

This is obviously a primary concern especially if you have young children, as many accidents are reported every year involving kettles. The Quooker tap however is much safer as it has a special mechanism requiring the deftness of an adult hand to operate it, making it child proof. It is usually fitted at the back of the sink out of the reach of young children.

Plus, instead of coming out in a fast jet, the water comes out as a spray, further reducing the risk of accidents. The spout is double walled preventing it from becoming too hot to touch and is height adjustable stopping splashes of hot water and potential burns.

Energy Efficient

Quooker quote running costs of just 3p per day due to the fact you only ever heat the exact amount of water you require, unlike a kettle which is often overfilled, boiled and forgotten and then boiled again.

The Quooker Combi is installed directly below the tap in a kitchen cupboard meaning the water only has a short journey to travel giving you instant boiling or hot water whenever you need it resulting in much less waste.

If you would like see the Quooker tap in action why not pop along to our Black Rok Heathfield showroom where a member of our team will be happy to give you a demonstration and discuss the various styles and types of tap available.

 

How NOT To Clean Your Kitchen’s Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floor

When properly maintained, hardwood floors can last a lifetime, even in a kitchen! Although some argue that tiles, slate or marble are more effective flooring options for the hardest working room in the house, wood brings a natural warmth unequaled by other materials.

Don’t Wet Mop

Liquids are the enemy. Water and steam can dull the finish and irreparably damage the wood. Instead, use the damp mopping method.

Dip the mop into a bucket and wring it out until it’s almost dry. Next, go over the floor twice, once to dissolve the dirt and the second pass to remove it. Make sure no water has been left standing on the surface and finish by using a towel to buff the floor dry.

Don’t Buy Commercial Floor Cleaners

As lot of cleaning solutions on the market are not only expensive but also emit harmful toxins, always opt for natural cleaners instead. Simply using warm water and basic dish soap will take your floors from dull and grimy to gleaming and gorgeous! Then tackle scuff marks and small stains by sprinkling baking soda onto the affected area and scrubbing with a sponge.

Don’t Forget These Easy Preventative Tips!

A little forethought can go a long way. Cut down on cleaning time by following these tips :-

  • Position mats inside and outside your kitchen doors to reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked into the house.
  • Vacuum your wood flooring on either a weekly or bi-weekly basis, using the floor-brush attachment.
  • Harsh chemicals, steel wool and sandpaper should be strictly avoided as they can lead to permanent damage of the hardwood floor finish.

Bonus Tip: Solid or Engineered?

As the name suggests, solid wood flooring is made from planks of wood and nothing else. Engineered flooring on the other hand, is made from layers of plywood that have been bonded together to form a strong core board, finished with a top-layer lamella.

However, the biggest difference lies in how the two react to changes in heat and humidity. Engineered wood flooring doesn’t expand and contract to the same extent as solid wood flooring. This means it’ll withstand pretty much whatever your busy kitchen throws at it!

Discover our other helpful ‘How-To’ guides:

 

Expected In 2017 : Key Kitchen Colour Schemes

 

Key kitchen colour schemes

This year will see a return to more varied kitchen colour schemes. Whilst Scandi style and the industrial look are still very popular, the use of colour is seeing a resurgence. We have pinpointed a few of the key colour trends for 2017.

Green

Pantone who bill themselves as “the world authority on colour” have identified green as 2017’s colour of the year. With environmental issues becoming closer to the fore of our minds, green perfectly reflects our desire to balance the growing digital world we live in with our inherent need to feel connected to nature whenever possible. This feeling transcends into our living space and can help create a calm haven to restore mind, body and soul. Green can enhance an eclectic style or create a fresh zesty modern interior. It is a colour that is symbolic of Spring, a time of rejuvenation; trees coming into leaf, plants beginning to grow and, with that, optimism. As a versatile colour it can be paired with many other colours and used in various ways. Splashed on your walls, tiles, soft furnishings or added subtly with accessories and plants.

Grey

While white and natural wood still remain the most popular choice for kitchen cabinets, grey has now become an increasingly favoured choice too. Being a neutral colour it can provide the perfect backdrop to add colour to or can stand alone creating a sophisticated contemporary look. Combined with black or white worktops it provides the ideal base from which pops of colour can emanate.

Blue

With its ability to evoke hints of the sea and sky, blue is becoming a chosen colour to bring happiness and tranquility into your kitchen. Dulux’s colour of 2017 is a shade called Denim Drift, a grey-blue that’s timeless yet modern and can work in different ways depending on how it’s used.

If you are thinking about a kitchen remodel Hacker kitchens have just introduced various blue coloured kitchen cabinets which would work perfectly with neutral coloured worktops and walls.

Kitchen Trends Expected In 2017

Bringing Industrial Decor Into Your Kitchen

Kitchen Trends To Take On And Fads To Forget

Getting Back To Nature

High-Tech Kitchen Appliances

Top Tips For New Year’s Kitchen Organisation

 

Expected In 2017: Bringing Industrial Decor Into Your Kitchen

Industrial decor

Embrace chipped paint and tarnished surfaces by bringing industrial decor into your kitchen! As much about form as it is about function, the ‘warehouse look’ celebrates efficiency whilst using rustic metals and minimalist furniture to showcase the beauty of unfinished spaces.    

Getting The Lived-In Look

Characterised by exposed architectural features and distressed surfaces, this style isn’t just for converted loft apartments in downtown Manhattan. Be bold and bare all, whether that’s pipes, bulbs or brick. Live by the maxim, the more battered, the better. An unpolished concrete floor is something to take pride in whilst flaky paint adds yet another layer of visual interest.

Industrial doesn’t have to mean austere. Balance the bare-bones feel with soft furnishings and dainty antiques for a steel toe caps with a tutu contrast.

Kitchen industrial decor

Raw Materials

It’s back-to-basics with texture. Think black steel and burnished metals, weathered wood and worn leather. Pair a plank top dining table with gunmetal Tolix chairs or pick up a real-deal army blanket to cover a seat cushion. Remember to always opt for a monochromatic palette and keep detailing to a minimum.

Traditional Buys

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and few one-of-a-kind pieces can transform your kitchen instantly! Industrial design is all about utility. Beat-up lockers become storage and rickety old ladders can be transformed into a kitchen island. For edgy undertones, channel your inner steampunk. Make the most of mechanical ingenuity by putting a skeleton clock or scissor accordion lighting sconces on display, cogs and all!

It doesn’t matter if you can’t salvage from an old factory or lumberyard, there are plenty of authentic-looking reproductions on the market.

Industrial design

 

Kitchen Trends Expected In 2017

 

Kitchen Trends To Take On And Fads To Forget

Getting Back To Nature

High-Tech Kitchen Appliances

Top Tips For New Year’s Kitchen Organisation

Expected In 2017 : Top Tips For New Year’s Kitchen Organisation

New year kitchen organisation

 

Christmas feels like a distant memory now and our minds have moved to New Year’s resolutions. Why not make one of these intentions better kitchen organisation? It’s certainly an achievable goal and once attained, life will be much more straightforward, you never know you might actually find the process therapeutic!

Top Tips For Better Kitchen Organisation

Clean and declutter

After the whirlwind of Christmas, now’s the time to give your kitchen a thorough clean. Begin by moving everything off kitchen worktops, clean the surfaces and then, as you replace items, clean them too and think about whether you really need or love them. If not they can be recycled or sent to a charity shop. Focus on only having out items used or needed on a daily basis, everything else can be stored in cupboards or drawers.

Kitchens are a trap for post, papers and those ever increasing school notices and it doesn’t take long for them to clutter up your work surfaces. Avoid this happening by finding a storage basket to keep them in one place. Make time to regularly go through the box to prevent the pile from becoming overwhelming.

Cupboard organisation

Throw away any food that’s out of date before arranging the remaining items into groups e.g pasta and rice, tins, sweet items. This will save you time in the hunt for that illusive cooking ingredient hiding somewhere in the depths of your cupboard! A cupboard with shallow drawers or shelves on the inside of cupboard doors can also be beneficial for clearly seeing what food items you have.

Fridge and freezer

If you haven’t done so recently, start by cleaning your entire fridge and defrosting your freezer. Next, throw away any out of date food before organising both your fridge and freezer into zones. Why not get creative and use up any leftover bits and pieces in a new meal?

Recycle any unused items

We all have those “must have” kitchen gadgets purchased on a whim that are gathering dust in a cupboard. Be honest with yourself about whether you will ever really use them and if not give to a friend or donate to a charity shop. The ones you decide to keep can then either be placed on a worktop for convenience or stored in an easily accessible cupboard.

Write a weekly meal plan

Take a leaf out of your super organised friend’s book by spending time each week creating a meal plan and shopping list. This will ultimately save time and money as you are less likely to impulse buy. A chalkboard or notebook where you can have a running shopping list that anyone can add to when items run out is a good idea as well.

Under the sink cupboard

How many cleaning products do we really need? Check what you have and bin unused items, then sort the remaining items into organised storage boxes.

A place for everything

Now that you’ve decluttered, it’s possible to organise your kitchen so that everything has a home. This makes it easier for you to maintain a tidy, calm kitchen, allowing food preparation and socialising to be an enjoyable experience.

If you are planning a kitchen remodel, talk to one of our Black Rok experts for some friendly advice!

Kitchen Trends Expected In 2017

Kitchen Trends To Take On And Fads To Forget

Getting Back To Nature

High-Tech Kitchen Appliances

 

Expected in 2017: Kitchen Trends To Take On And Fads To Forget

Kitchen Trends

 

What’s hot…

Tuxedo cabinets:

For the James Bond of kitchen interiors, give your cabinets a two-tone finish. Iconic and timeless, this design winner dates all the way back to the Fifties. Whilst contrast is the end goal, the trick to making this trend work is to keep either the top or the bottom a neutral colour. If you’re struggling for a combo that works, then simply focus on varying the tonality of a single colour!

Stainless steel:

High-sheen finishes are currently dominating Pinterest boards, with stainless steel covering everything from shelving to surfaces. Mirrored metals are best placed in smaller kitchens as they bounce light around the room and improve the sense of space. Offset the shine with a dark matte colour and, for natural warmth, a reclaimed wooden table.

Basket-weave pendant lights:

A modern twist on a traditional craft, basket-weave pendants will light up your kitchen with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. These chic shades break up hard angles and are best placed in threes over an island. If you’re a dab hand at DIY, hunt through a junk shop for a lobster trap, give it a lick of paint and voila!  

… and what’s not.

Quote artwork:

Keep calm and remove your quote artwork. Born out of the millennial meme generation, the world has gone mad with these motifs! Instead of phrases in a can, gather together your most treasured objects and display your personality by creating a gallery wall. Symmetrical, patterned or freestyle are all good placement approaches.

Copper hardware:

Tarnished by cheap imitations, copper has lost it’s charm. Whilst we still have a soft spot for last years metal of the moment, 2016 did go a little overboard with this trend. Rather than going all out for just one type of metallic finish, mix and match! Soften a copper light fixture with mirrored surfaces or else opt for oil-rubbed brass accents as an alternative.  

Marble countertops:

We get it. The classic beauty of marble can be tough to resist. Be warned though, if you want to keep your kitchen looking pristine, marble is high maintenance. Compared to other materials, it’s softer, more porous, and prone to nicks and discolouration. Even a halved lemon can leave an ugly mark, we dread to think the damage from a spilt glass of red.   

Kitchen Trends Expected In 2017: 

 

Getting Back To Nature

High-Tech Kitchen Appliances

 

Expected In 2017: Getting Back To Nature

 

Expected In 2017: Getting Back To Nature

Our lives have become encompassed by technology, driving people to seek out the antithesis to this by finding ways of getting back to nature. This year we will see more organic materials and textures such as distressed wood, wool, cork and handmade earthenware making their way into our homes. Plants and indoor herb gardens will also be part of bringing the outdoors in.

Earthy Textures

Infuse your kitchen with an earthy feel by choosing wooden worktops and cabinets or with distressed wooden or stone flooring. For a less expensive way of creating an earthy vibe, wicker baskets are a great storage option.

Terracotta tiles and cork are also making a comeback this year, creating a rich warmth in your kitchen. Open shelving displaying clay bowls or your bespoke pieces of earthenware is the perfect way to personalise your space too.

Influences coming from our connection with the sea, will make greens, greys, blues and whites popular colour choices.

Escapism From Digital Distractions

As we spend more and more time connected to technology we are endeavouring to find a balance with mindfulness. Hygge was a much talked about trend last year and it’s influence will continue in 2017 as we strive to make time and space to nurture family relationships. Relaxed furnishings such as sheepskin or woollen rugs, loveseats, and candles or soft lighting can further enhance this mood.

Range Cookers

Is your dream kitchen item a range cooker? It seems you are not alone, this is becoming a very popular item on many people’s’ wish list. It follows the theme of generating a more family orientated living space, a place where bonds and memories are made while cooking as a family. Teaching our children to cook is one of the most treasured gifts we can pass onto them.

Cloth Doors

One other trend to keep an eye on is cloth doors which have become popular in Europe, used instead of wood or steel. They are constructed using clever framework that makes them easy to move, assemble and with the added bonus of being completely recyclable. They’re a great choice for the eco conscious among us!

Expected In 2017: High-Tech Kitchen Appliances

Smart kitchen appliances

Samsung Family Hub 2.0

 

Samsung Family Hub 2.0

Whether this is a fridge or your very own robot butler is up for discussion. One thing is for certain though, it’s a game-changer.

Features include View Inside cameras, allowing users to see what items need replenishing without opening the door, and a 21.5 inch LED touchscreen that acts as an interactive digital bulletin board. Most revolutionary of all though is the integration of Samsung’s advanced voice technology. With a command your fridge will add items to a shopping list or organise your calendar.

 

Whirlpool® All-in-One Care Washer/Dryer Combo

Turn laundry day from a chore into a charm! Whirlpool’s wi-fi-enabled washer/dryer includes downloadable cleaning cycles, phone alerts and ‘load-and-go’ bulk dispensing. An especially neat extra is, when synced with Amazon Dash, this unit senses if you’re running low on detergent and automatically orders more.   

 

Kitchen appliances in 2017

LG SIGNATURE Top Control Dishwasher

 

LG SIGNATURE Top Control Dishwasher

Combining style with performance, LG’s Signature brand is setting the bar high for state-of-the-art appliances. Equipped with all the expected necessities, including a large load capacity and adjustable racks, this dishwasher benefits from a few surprising additions too. Ultra-quiet wash cycles work at only a 40-decibel sound level and the TurboWash uses a multi-motion wash arm to spin and spray water in multiple directions for better coverage.

 

Panasonic Slow Juicer

Pulp haters rejoice! Slow juicing squeezes fruit and vegetables rather than spinning and dicing at high-speed. This causes less separation, eradicating bits and retaining more nutrients. It also comes with a frozen attachment for creating sorbets and is small-enough to sit discreetly on your worktop.

 

Dash Clear View Toaster

Keep an eye on browning bread using this toaster’s built-in viewing window. Offering more than just the expected grilling functionality, it also has a reheat option and extra long slots for perfectly toasting bagels and speciality breads.

 

Smarter iKettle 2.0

Get your day off to the best start possible! The iKettle is designed with water level sensors to prevent wastage, exact temperature control for hot drink connoisseurs and a ‘Wake Up Mode’ that syncs with your alarm.

 

Eco kitchen appliances

Zera™ Food Recycler

 

Zera™ Food Recycler

UK households throw out roughly 330 million tonnes of rubbish a year. The Zera Food Recycler promises to be the answer to curbing this waste. Scrape your plate into the opening and the incubator processes the scraps, turning it into ready-to-use fertiliser within 24 hours. No maintenance needed!

 

PicoBrew Zymatic

Home-brewing no longer means a bucket in your garage. The Zymatic is a fully automated, next level, beer brewing bonanza. The main draw lies in its capability to log data, allowing the user to methodically analyse their concoctions from batch to batch. Perfect for prototyping new recipes, this machine is a must for serious fans of craft beer.   

 

Braava jet™ Mopping Robot

Tackle those hard-to-reach places with this smart cleaning tool. Simply select one of three unique cleaning modes and put your feet up. A pad attached to it’s base does the main sweep, whilst a jet spray at the head targets stubborn stains, leaving your kitchen spotless. Plus, the robot can dodge obstacles using bumpers, allowing it to navigate even the most complex of floor plans.

25 Last-Minute Gift Ideas Your Favourite Foodie Will Love!

Gift Ideas

Getting the Christmas shopping cold sweats? If you’ve missed off a special someone from your list (and we’ve all been there), don’t panic! Ditch the socks and make their year by giving your foodie friends the gift of fuss free cooking. No gift receipts required.

 

The Student

Wonderbag

A non-electric slow cooker? It’s a Christmas miracle! Perfect for stews, soups and even porridge, simply bring your meal to the boil, pop the lid on and transfer the pan to the bag.

Boomerang Wok

Say goodbye to sticky stoves and hello to simplified stirring. Designed with a unique bowl-form border, this wok prevents stir-fry ingredients from being flipped out of the pan.

Multi-Tool Set

Putting the fun into functionality! Apple corers, graters, juicers and more are stacked on top of each other, creating an instant go-to tool for novice cooks.

Pizza Scissors

Let’s face it. Most twentysomethings live on the frozen food diet.

SodaStream

Better-for-you beverages at the click of a button.

 

The Entertainer

Moscow Mule Mugs

There will be good times galore with a set of these bang-on trend copper mugs.

Slate Cheese Board

Who said chalk and cheese don’t go together? Not only can you display your best brie in style, but you can also write on the board to prevent any mix-ups.

Stove Top Espresso Pot

Whilst the Bialetti Moka Espresso Maker may be the most iconic stove-top coffee pot, there are also plenty of cheaper alternatives available.

Monogrammed Linen Napkins

Elevating dinner parties from ordinary to extraordinary.   

Wine Glass Charms

Guests will never misplace their drinks again.

 

The Baker

Adjustable Rolling Pin

Pastry makers won’t know how they lived without it!

Baker’s Edge Brownie Pan

Designed to add two chewy edges to each slice, this ingenious brownie pan will prevent any bickering over the best bits.

Egg Separator

Separate yolk with ease using this classic piece of kitchen kit.

Decorating Pen

Just the thing for creating decorative designs on cakes and pastries. It works just as well when filled with chocolate and berry sauces, as with icing.

Precision Kitchen Scales

Accuracy is the secret ingredient to the perfect bake.

 

The Gourmet

Dumpling Cube

Because every seasoned chef already owns a pasta maker! For tasty oriental dumplings anytime, line the moulds, fill them and fold the cube to cut.   

Sous Vide Cooker

Not just for professionals.

Herb Diffusers

Diffusers are fast replacing bouquet garni bags as they allow the cook to add the intense flavour of fresh herbs to slow, simmering dishes.

Windowfarms Kit

Vertical farming is the future! This kit assembles into an edible urban garden, so even those without outside space can enjoy homegrown greens.

Digital Meat Thermometer

Cooked to order steak and an end to dry pork, what more could they want?  

 

The Person Who Has Everything

Himalayan Salt Slab

These sunset-hued blocks certainly look mystical, but the real magic lies in the incredible health benefits of Himalayan pink salt.

Handheld Food Smoker

Recreate Michelin starred meals at home!

Smart Butter Knife

This clever kitchen gizmo uses body heat to instantly warm up cold butter, making it super spreadable in seconds.

Oven Rack Puller

The tool they never knew they needed.

Bagel Guillotine

Chop-chop, it’s breakfast time!

Gas Or Electric Hob : Which Is Best?

 

Gas or electric : which is best

The demands on your kitchen hob are daily, so it will be beneficial to take time to research whether a gas or electric hob is most suitable for your style of kitchen and cooking. Remember to also consider the longevity of each type.

Gas Hobs

They normally have four or five burners with a manual ignition switch that lights the burner you wish to use. A gas hob must be installed by a professional fitter.

Pros
Gas hobs have been favoured by professional chefs for many years as they provide instant and easily controllable heat. Also, they have now become more energy efficient than they used to be.

Cons
The pan supports can be difficult to clean compared to a flat surface hob such as ceramic. The open flame also means they can be more dangerous than an electric hob.

Electric Hobs

Electric hobs come in two main categories; ceramic and induction. Although they provide different cooking styles they have some similar features. They both provide a streamlined glass appearance which also makes them easier to clean. Electric hobs are a good choice if you have children as they have various safety features including hot indicators and locks meaning the hob can only be operated if the correct combination of buttons are pressed.

Ceramic

These are a good choice if you are on a limited budget as they are less expensive than induction hobs. However, they are still stylish and come in various sizes and designs to complement your kitchen.

Pros
Due to their flat surface they are easy to clean and don’t require a specific type of saucepan.

Cons
They can be slower to heat up than gas or induction and it’s not as easy to control the temperature. The whole surface of the hob heats up, not just where the pan is placed which makes them slightly less energy efficient.

Induction

These are made in a different way to ceramic hobs. The technology uses a magnetic field between the pan and hob, this means that only the area where the pan is seated heats up enabling the food to cook speedily. Perfect if you’re on a time limit!

Pros
Induction hobs are extremely safe as they only heat up the area where the pan is cooking which reduces the risk of accidents during and after cooking. They are very energy efficient and the temperature controls allow you to increase or decrease the heat by tiny amounts.

Cons
They are usually more expensive than ceramic or gas and you can only use specific saucepans made from ferrous metals.

Still unsure whether to go for a gas or electric hob? Why not install a dual fuelled hob where there is normally a single burner next to a number of induction rings.

If you are planning a new year kitchen remodel contact our team at Black Rok for some expert advice.

Champions Of Kitchen Design: The Cocktail Shaker

The history of the cocktail shaker

 

Symbolic of speakeasies and the silver screen, cocktails have seen a resurgence in recent years with the shaker remaining an essential element for any bar. Before its invention in the 19th century, drinks were either stirred with long-handled spoons or tossed back and forth between two tumblers. This made for excellent showmanship as well as an excellent mess!

The concept of the cocktail shaker came about when an innkeeper discovered that it was much easier to mix a drink by fitting a larger glass over the top of a smaller one. Soon hundreds of designs flooded the market as bartenders sought to perfect the device. The three cocktail shakers still in use today are the Boston, the Parisian and the Cobbler, a two-part design with a built-in strainer. Although most are now made from stainless steel, their forms are not far removed from their original invention almost two hundred years ago.

As the rebellious culture of alcohol began to grow during the Prohibition era, so did the shaker’s popularity. Keen to sneak an illegal sip, liberated youngsters would drink cocktails with names like Fox Trot and Zanzibar in hidden saloons. Even the shaker’s design appeared to be breaking away from the norm, as tuxedo clad penguins and German zeppelins influenced the shape. The Second World War saw an end to these heady days, and it would be replaced by the push-button age of the 50’s and 60’s, when blenders took all the fun out of mixing drinks.

Today however, nostalgia is stirring up a thirst for cocktail culture. Mixologists are once again serving up drinks with style, and even at home, we’re experimenting with fixing our own concoctions. Cheers to that!

Bonus: 5 Winter Warmer Cocktails

 

Snowball

1 part Advocaat

3 parts chilled lemonade

Squeeze of lime juice

Ice cubes

 

Irish Mule

2 parts Irish whiskey

3 parts ginger beer

Juice of half a lime

Ice cubes

Lime slices and mint sprigs to garnish

 

White Russian

1 part coffee liqueur

1 parts vodka

1 part heavy cream

 

Cranberry Mimosa

2 parts champagne

2 parts orange juice

1 part cranberry juice

A splash of vodka

 

Candy Cane Martini

1 part vanilla vodka

1 part white chocolate liqueur

1 part peppermint schnapps

Mini candy cane to garnish

 

Read Our ‘Champions Of Kitchen Design’ Articles:

 

How-To Bring Vintage Decor Into Your Kitchen

 

Bringing vintage kitchen decor into your kitchen

There are a myriad of ways of bringing vintage kitchen decor into your family living space. By selecting a few carefully chosen pieces you can transform your kitchen to evoke a truly individual style. Antiques also bring warmth and texture to a more contemporary kitchen whilst enhancing the rustic taste of a more traditional style.

Antique fairs are a perfect place to pick up a vintage piece or try visiting your local vintage shop where you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the shopkeeper as well as learning the unique story behind each of your chosen items making them extra special. The Old Haberdashery in Ticehurst has a vast array of interesting and beautiful items ranging from the Victorian era to the 1970’s, it’s the perfect place to source some eclectic treasures for your kitchen and home.

The appeal of the unique is ever growing and you can entertain your dinner guests with the provenance of your vintage finds.

15 Ways To Bring Vintage To Your Kitchen

1.Hungarian enamel containers were traditionally used for storing items such as oil, but are ideal for keeping potatoes, onions or even kindling. They will add a stunning pop of colour to your kitchen.

2. Vintage scales or iron shop weights look perfect in a more  traditional kitchen.

3. Hungarian glass preserving jars are ideal for storing food and add texture and interest when displayed on a shelf or worktop.

4. Vintage crockery is a relatively cheap way to style your kitchen. Whether you’re after the soft 1920’s floral colours or the utility style of items from the 1940’s, there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

5. The last few years have seen a big resurgence in the use of copper, popular for adding warmer tones to your kitchen. You could display vintage saucepans or simply use copper hooks to hang tea towels or keys on. Or why not use copper piping to make taps or supports for shelving?

6. If you are feeling creative Hungarian linen can be used to make curtains or table runners. It’s a good quality, thick material that will last well.

7. Indian ladles made from iron create beautiful tea light holders when suspended from hooks on a wall.

8. Oversized French glass storage jars filled with string lights will add a festive touch at this time of year.

9. Why not upcycle fruit storage crates for shelving? This not only looks great but saves you money and is environmentally conscious.

10. Recycled industrial lights bring a retro feel to both modern and Shaker style kitchens.

11. A shelf with vintage tins will add colour and interest to a simple layout.

12. Add rustic open shelves to display your favourite and most useful items or cookbooks.

13. Use vintage recipients to store your cooking utensils in whilst enjoying the search for that special piece to complement your kitchen.

14. A rustic butcher style trolley is both aesthetically pleasing and functional, creating extra work surface space and storage.

15. An old wooden ladder can be upcycled to create a hanging storage rack for saucepans.

 

The Oven Cleaning Question: Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional?

Oven cleaning

Too embarrassed to open your oven in front of your mother-in-law? Tired of doing the dishcloth dance around the smoke detector? Grill shelf gunk putting you off your dinner? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to clean your oven.

Should I Clean My Oven Myself?

Let’s be realistic. Oven cleaning isn’t a 10 minute job. But if you happen to have a free afternoon, doing it yourself is certainly a cheaper alternative to hiring a professional. For a squeaky clean oven, most DIY-ers use the baking soda and vinegar method.

Mix the baking soda into a paste with a little water, and then spread it over the interior of your oven, making to sure steer clear of the heating elements! Leave overnight and then wipe clean. A spritz of vinegar and the edge of a plastic spatula come in handy for scraping off any burnt-on drips.

Oven cleaning hacks:

  • Most oven models have a small lever along the hinge that allows you to take the door off completely.  
  • Avoid store-bought oven cleaners as they often contain toxic chemicals that can irritate your skin and leave a nasty smell.
  • Consider investing in a steamer to blast that gunk away! With a change of a nozzle, you can even get to those hard to reach gaps.

Or Should I Have It Cleaned By A Professional?

If reading the above has already made you throw your rubber gloves in, hiring a professional oven cleaner is the way forward. As a stress-free solution to achieving an oven with a showroom shine, it’s well worth the cost. However, always read through reviews before hiring a company. A valeting service should not only include cleaning the interior surface of your oven, but also taking out parts like the fan and light bulb to give them a good scrub as well.

What you’re really paying for though, is experience. Imagine if you removed the wrong part! The money you saved skimping on hiring someone in, would end up doubling to cover the cost of a new oven. Our best advice would be, when in doubt, leave it up to the experts.   

Thinking about a brand new kitchen to match your brand new looking oven? Then contact Black Rok Kitchen Design now. You can also visit our showroom in Uckfield.

7 Crucial Tips For Calming Christmas Kitchen Chaos

Calming Christmas kitchen chaos

 

The start of December sees a flurry of activity in many households, especially if you are hosting a large Christmas gathering, with some planning and forethought and by following our tips for calming Christmas kitchen chaos, you can create the Christmas you envisage.

1.Write A To-Do List
Although food is a central part of the day, it’s the memories you create enjoying time spent with family and friends that will be reminisced about in years to come. Not whether you created the perfect gravy. A clear to do list will mean you can plan ahead including delegating tasks so it doesn’t feel like you’ve got such a big mountain to climb. You can even involve your children, they can showcase their baking skills by making some mince pies or Christmas biscuits. This will also give you some bonding time with them and a chance to create some family traditions.

2. Plan, Plan,Plan
Whilst creating your to-do list, spend time planning your menus not just for Christmas dinner but for the other days during the festive season too. Then you can write a clear shopping list to avoid any last minute trips to the shops. Writing a day by day list for the week leading up to Christmas can also help keep your plans on track. Why not take a leaf out of a celebrity chef’s book and write a clear time plan for the day itself? This way there’s no risk of forgetting to put the roast potatoes in the oven! It’s amazing how much calmer you will feel once everything is written down.

3. Saving Money
It’s so tempting to over buy at this time of year! But you can avoid overspending, and ultimately food waste, by adhering closely to your list or even do some of your shopping online so you are not distracted by all the offers.

4. Tables And Chairs
Ensure your dining table is large enough to seat everyone comfortably as there’s nothing worse than bashing elbows as you tuck into your turkey. If it’s not big enough now’s the time to dig out that spare trestle table or borrow one from friends or family. Don’t forget chairs, locate any spare ones or if necessary ask guests to bring extra.

5. Equipment
Check that you have all the equipment you need, including oven and freezer space. Have you got enough cutlery, crockery and serving dishes to avoid your guests being served from saucepans? This would certainly ruin the effect of your carefully planned table display! You could invest in some time saving/stress reducing items too, such as the hostess trolley. As kitsch as it, a trolley is worth it’s weight in gold as it will mean all your hard work stays warm until you’re ready to serve.

6. Avoid The Scramble For Food
If you are catering for a large number of guests, have extra bowls of potatoes and vegetables that you can place in different sections of the table to avoid food having to be passed round. Then everyone can serve themselves, whilst ensuring the food doesn’t run out.

7. Tidy Kitchen,Tidy Mind
It’s important to keep your kitchen as tidy as possible. Remove unnecessary items from your worktops to provide more food preparation space and clear areas to put prepared dishes on.

Now you are feeling more organised, you can focus on what Christmas is really about, family.

 

Deck Your Kitchen: 40 Christmas Decorations

Christmas decorations

Have yourself a crafty little Christmas this year with our list of decoration inspiration! Go further than the typical dancing Santas and get the whole family involved in turning your kitchen into a winter wonderland. It’s amazing what a little glitter and glue can do.

Santa’s Little Helpers

‘I’m bored’ is a comment that pops up all too often during the holidays, especially with chilly weather keeping them inside. Entertain the kids by getting arty and proudly display their creative talents in your kitchen.  

  1. Paper chains
  2. Snowman pom poms
  3. Elf on the shelf
  4. Recycled light bulb penguin  
  5. Santa’s belly marshmallow pops
  6. Scrabble tile ornaments
  7. Button baubles
  8. Salt dough hearts
  9. Cookie cutter decorations
  10. Popcorn and cranberry garlands

Make-Your-Own

Got a crowd coming over? Wow them with your DIY know-how! Plus, as the days draw in, it will give you the perfect excuse for staying in and hibernating.

  1. Gingerbread house
  2. Origami stars
  3. Bunting
  4. String art card display
  5. Mini embroidery hoop decorations
  6. Tin can lanterns
  7. Chalkboard sign
  8. Winter scene in a mason jar
  9. Gold dipped wine glasses
  10. Santa hat chair toppers

Festive Foliage

Let it grow! Just because your garden’s buried under frost, doesn’t mean your kitchen can’t bloom. Also, a few careful chosen arrangements can make your home smell fa-la-la-la-abulous.

  1. Spray painted pinecones
  2. A bouquet of traditional poinsettia, ivy and holly
  3. Rustic birch wood candle holders
  4. Miniature tabletop Christmas trees
  5. Bare branches for your mantle
  6. Dried fruits and spices potpourri
  7. Orange and clove pomanders
  8. Dried orange slices
  9. Sliced wood wallhangings
  10. Cinnamon scented ornaments

Treasure Hunting

Unfortunately, not all of us are arts and crafts whizzes. If you lack the touch, hunt through junk shops and Christmas fete bric-a-brac stalls in search of a few festive novelties. You can always bring them out next year too!    

  1. A drinks trolley
  2. Sheet music crimped into medallion ornaments
  3. Step ladder Christmas tree
  4. White ice skates
  5. Old wooden toys and nutcrackers
  6. Kitsch cookie tins
  7. Clothespin icicles
  8. Architect ruler stars
  9. Teacups filled with acorns and nuts
  10. Jelly mold wreath

Thinking about a kitchen remodel in the new year? Then contact Black Rok Kitchen Design now. You can also visit our showrooms in Heathfield and Uckfield.

Time For Tea: Gift Ideas For Tea Lovers

 

Time For Tea: gift ideas for tea lovers

Although coffee drinking has seen a dramatic increase in recent years there is still something quintessentially English about enjoying a nice cup of tea! With this in mind we have chosen a few gift ideas for the tea lover in your life. Tea drinking is often an integral part of our day, so why not make the ritual that little bit more special?

A characterful teapot 
Look for one that is the right size, durable, aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t have a leaky spout. There are a variety of shapes and designs to choose from.

The perfect cup
As we all know, when it comes to sipping on a cuppa, the mug you drink from makes all the difference. The homeware store, Emma Bridgewater, has a beautiful range of mugs with a multitude designs, you can even have them personalised!

A tea timer
This is a great gift for the true tea enthusiast who really values the precise art of cooking the perfect brew.

A tea stick
Use a funky little tea infuser at home or at work. Simply fill the stick with loose tea leaves and stir it around your mug until you get the strength you desire. Perfect if just want to make one cup of tea but still want the authentic taste of a freshly brewed pot.

A decorative tea canister
There are many quirky designs to choose from to keep those tea leaves fresh and at their best.

A cast-iron teapot
This is a gift for that really special tea lover in your life as they are quite expensive but are a real dream item.

Loose tea leaves
From classic English Breakfast to Rooibos, there are so many varieties of loose tea available that you’ll have plenty of taste testing to do to find the right one!

A glass mug and infuser
This enables your tea connoisseur to brew a delicious cup of tea for one. It has its own integrated infuser and acts like a mini teapot, allowing the water to circulate as it filters the tea. The added bonus is it’s clear glass meaning you can see when the tea is at your chosen strength.

There are a myriad of tea related gifts available, and with a little time and research the tea lover in your life will never be without the perfect brew.

While  you’re thinking about Christmas why not get your kitchen tidy and organised for all the festive feasting, if you need some inspiration read our article “organising your kitchen for Christmas.”

3 Cast-Iron Cookware No-No’s You Need To Hear About!

Cast-iron cookware

 

Hands up if you would dive fork first into that blissfully sticky pan above! Me too. But I bet the clean-up afterwards wasn’t quite so heavenly. A cast-iron pan is a versatile workhorse that often gets passed down through the generations, they are built to last and very difficult to ruin.

Saying that, cast-iron cookware does require more pampering than other materials. But don’t let this put you off! If you avoid making the mistakes listed below, you and your pans will have a happy, lifelong relationship.

1. Never simmer acidic sauces.

 

Okay, I’ll admit it! This point is mainly to save those newly purchased cast-iron pots and pans. With time and care your cookware should be well-seasoned enough to withstand tomatoes, citric juices and other acidic sauces. But firstly, what’s the secret to indestructible pans?  

Well, cast-iron’s durability comes from being repeatedly rubbed with oil and heated. This process creates a plastic-like substance that bonds to the surface of the metal, giving it a smooth, shiny, non-stick finish.

2. Never use steel wool.

 

There is no better way to scrub off all that worked in seasoning than by attacking stuck-on grime with steel wool or other abrasives. If you’re struggling to get rid of sticky bits, then the edge of a plastic pot scraper or even an old credit card will do the job nicely. With years of good-practice the seasoning with get better at doing it’s job and even fried eggs will slide right off!  

3. Never soak in the sink.

 

Water is the scourge of iron and leaving your pans in the sink or out to air dry, is a sure-fire way to encourage rust. If you’re afraid of gunk creeping into the cracks, then give the pan a rinse immediately after use, whilst it’s still warm. Most cast-iron owners prefer to wipe the surface clean with a cloth, then heat the pan on the stove for a few minutes to properly dry it dry out. The amount of heat it can take is enough to keep your cookware sterilised and sanitary.   

Looking for a quality kitchen to match your quality cookware? Contact Black Rok Kitchen Design now or visit one of our showrooms in Uckfield or Heathfield.

Cheat sheet: Organsing Your Christmas Kitchen

 

Organising your Christmas kitchen

You only have to step outside your front door or turn your TV on to realise the festive season is fast approaching so now is a good time to to start organising your Christmas kitchen. By following some of the tips below your kitchen will be clutter free and your cupboards tidy. You’ll be ready for decorating, feasting and socialising in no time!

Christmas Kitchen Cheat sheet:

1. Start by going through your food cupboards throwing away anything that is out of date or that you no longer need, this will clear space for all those delicious Christmas treats.

2. To maximise space in your cupboards why not add internal step-up style shelves? These enable you to clearly see all the items on your shelves. Afterwards you can organise your remaining food items, possibly repacking items from bulky boxes into more compact containers which can be clearly labelled. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage or utility room with spare cupboard space, use it store non-essential items, keeping them out of the way over Christmas time.

3. Instead of becoming a stressful task, make preparing Christmas treats enjoyable by decluttering your worktops. If you need extra space a butcher’s trolley is a worthwhile investment. They’re fitted with wheels so can be moved to wherever needed and then put out of the way to create more space.

4. To avoid the turkey juggling act, consider the size of your oven when planning your Christmas Day menu, making sure there are enough shelves for all the tasty trimmings. Also, now would be a good time to get that horrible job of cleaning the oven ticked off your list too.

5. Freezer space is another factor to think about. Get creative with all the bits you have accumulated in your freezer to clear space for the food you want to prepare in advance such as bread sauce or sausage rolls.

6. Check you have enough wine glasses, crockery, cutlery and saucepans in advance to avoid realising at the last minute you are short, and don’t forget the kitchen foil for your turkey.

A bit of forward planning to get your kitchen organised goes a long way. Once the boring jobs are out of the way you can focus on transforming your home into a cosy festive area where you can embrace and enjoy the festive season.

Let It Bloom: How To Grow An Indoor Herb Garden

Indoor herb garden

Doesn’t every chef yearn for the just-picked taste of fresh herbs? As the frost settles in, many of us begrudgingly turn our backs on gardening and put up with seasoning’s not-so flavourful, dried cousin instead.

Now imagine having that fresh zing year-round! Plant an indoor herb garden and pep your winter dishes full of summer flavour. Here’s how.    

Which Herbs Are Easiest To Grow?

Up your dinner game in an instant by establishing your garden with nursery-grown plants rather than seeds. Many of your most cherished flavourings are available in dwarf varieties too, specifically bred for growing indoors. Try ‘Groleau’ chives, they thrive on a windowsill and ‘Blue Boy’ is much more compact than regular rosemary.

Rosemary

  • Careful! This herb is easily overwatered, so make sure you give it’s soil enough time to dry.
  • Prevent powdery mildew by treating your plant with fungicide.
  • Rosemary’s piney scented leaves act as a natural air freshener. Even when you’re not cooking, your kitchen will smell delicious!

Chive

  • Chives don’t require as much light as other herbs. Perfect now the days are getting shorter.
  • Harvest anytime after it reaches 6 inches. Bonus tip, both the leaves and the flowers can be used for cooking!   
  • The aroma of this plant keeps pesky flies at bay.

Mint

  • This thirsty little perennial requires frequent watering.
  • Stop your mint from becoming lopsided by rotating it every couple of days.
  • A staple for your medicine cabinet as well as your kitchen. If you’re suffering from stomach ache, a soothing peppermint tea is just what the doctor ordered.

Caring For An Indoor Herb Garden   

Light

Ideally, herbs need at least 4 to 6 hours of light daily. Watch them flourish by picking a sunny spot on a south-facing window. Just make sure they aren’t touching the glass as foliage is easily nipped by the cold.  

Does it seem your plants are growing less leaves and longer stems? This is a sure sign that your herb garden isn’t getting enough light. Give them an added boost by installing a grow light or fluorescent bulb.  

Soil

Herbs are healthier when grown in loose soil, so go for a premium, fast-draining mix. If you’re adventurous though, make your own! Use equal measures of topsoil, compost and builders sand, you can always add a little all-purpose fertiliser to be on the safe side too.   

Potting

As long as it is at least 6 inches in size and has drainage holes, almost any container will do. Feeling crafty? Turn household items like tinned tomato cans, teacups or mason jars into planters. Don’t forget to label your pots though, or else you might end up with oregano in your ice cream and a minty flavour to your bolognese!  

Although we may not be green fingered, Black Rok Kitchen Design are experts at creating dream kitchens. Contact us now for more information. 

Kitchen Trends: 3 Fads You Should Avoid!

Kitchen trends

As we all know, a kitchen remodel doesn’t come cheap, and bad decision making can result in a design that you promptly end up regretting. Today’s must-haves, can all too quickly become tomorrow’s must-nots, so avoid jumping on the metaphorical bandwagon of current kitchen trends and instead opt for styles that will stand the test of time.

Of course it’s important to create a space that suits your personality and lifestyle, but also, if you decide to sell your property, then it’s vital to consider what a potential buyer might look for in the future. To prevent you from falling prey to these passé pitfalls, here’s a list of kitchen trends as out of date as shoulder pads and permed hair.

1. Distressed Cabinets

The waning popularity of ‘shabby chic’ means distressed cabinets are fast going out of fashion. The odd purposefully aged piece can still bring a little rustic charm, but avoid making over your entire kitchen in crackled, stained wood.

Replace with: Go for a contemporary vibe and paint kitchen cabinets in a solid colour. White or grey keeps things clean and simple, whilst lining a glass-front cabinet with a pop of bright wallpaper adds quirkiness, yet can still be easily papered over.

2. Kitchen Desks

These clutter collectors have been the bane of kitchens since the nineties. Sure, having an area where the kids can do their homework and you can check your emails keeps the family in one room, but kitchen desks are a magnet for keys, loose change and junk mail.

Replace with: Extra countertops! A pantry! A mud room! Think of all the options! Today, desktop computers have virtually been replaced by laptops and tablets. So ditch the desk and keep you tech juiced by installing a hidden charging station instead.

3. Appliance Garages

It can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle tidying away tangled cords, however appliance garages aren’t the solution. Not only are they more hassle than they’re worth, but hiding all your favourite gadgets can leave counters looking bare, giving your kitchen an impersonal feel. Not to mention how dated those tambour doors look!

Replace with: Deep drawers and pull-out corner cupboards are practical hideaways for lesser used appliances such as mixers and blenders. Although, don’t be afraid of reserving a little space on your surfaces to keep those items you use daily within easy reach.

For more advice on designing a kitchen with longevity, contact Black Rok Kitchen Design now.