Shining a Light on Great Design

Words Vicki Ravlich-Horan Images Ashlee DeCaires

They say birds of a feather flock together. This is evident when you see local companies like Treetown Kitchens and Mr Ralph Lighting working together, businesses that not only complement each other but hold the same values and outlook.

Rachel Williamson, owner of Mr Ralph, worked with Kevin Middlemiss (owner of Treetown Kitchens) nearly 20 years ago on her kitchen. It was a workman’s cottage on King Street in Cambridge and Rachel says, “No problem was too big for Kevin. He is genuinely lovely.” It’s that initial experience working with Kevin that has led Rachel to continue the relationship with Treetown Kitchens, not just for her projects but with her own growing business.

But it’s Rachel’s latest project at her house we’ve come to see. The kitchen in the 90s Huntington house was the last piece in the major renovation puzzle. Hayley Hohneck, Operations, Marketing & Design at Treetown Kitchens, says Rachel “had a really specific vision she was working to”. The key to making this vision come to life was working with the confines of the room. “Rachel was really open to our ideas,” says Hayley. “In the end we removed a door to make it work.”

Key to Rachel’s vision and an example of the craftsmanship of the Treetown cabinet makers is the exquisite bespoke rangehood cover. The team didn’t stop there to execute Rachel’s dream kitchen.  “Kevin went to such lengths,” says Rachel, “making up the cabinet profiles so I could see it.” At first sight, said cabinets may look like run of the mill Shaker profile but in fact they are a thinner profile that the team had to make by hand.

This attention to detail runs throughout Rachel’s gorgeous kitchen, from the brass taps and handles from Abi to the carefully hidden but easily accessible fridge. And of course, the lighting!

“People can often narrow down their cabinet choices, but lighting is so much harder,” say Hayley.  When choosing lighting for your kitchen both Rachel and Hayley agree you need to think about general lighting, task lighting and then aesthetics. This is beautifully illustrated in Rachel’s kitchen which has four different types of lighting. The rattan pendant is a beautiful feature but does not shine a light on what you are chopping or mixing, for this there is track lighting. Added into the mix are the Bernard lights that are a feature but also create spot lighting. And finally, there are the wall dot lights adding extra light to the room.

Hayley points out that “kitchens are no longer hidden away. They are now pieces of art, and lighting is a key part.” And this is why you can now find Mr Ralph lighting at the Treetown Kitchens showroom and will find a Treetown Kitchen in the newly expanded Mr Ralph showroom in Gordonton at the end of this year.

Hayley’s Kitchen Trends

  • Colour – White kitchens will always be timeless, but we are seeing clients being braver with colour. Increasingly popular are the moodier black or grey kitchens, and the introduction of a range of colours from Laminex has meant an increase in popularity of sage greens and deep blues.
  • Curves – While traditionally kitchens are very square, we are seeing a growing demand for curves, which helps to soften the space. We are seeing this in curved island benches, or the half-round panelling used as a feature on island backs or walls.
  • Feature panelling – This is becoming really popular, and with a range of feature panelling readily available it is both easy and affordable to incorporate this into the kitchen design; for example, on the back and sides of the island and then carry this through other areas in the home.
  • Bar areas – A kitchen is such a key feature in a home and where a lot of the living is done, so the designs are now extending beyond just a kitchen and including a bar area to extend the entertaining ability of the space.
  • Reeded glass – This beautiful glass is a great way to add some elegance and interest to a kitchen, whilst still maintaining some privacy (and less need for dusting!). This is particularly popular in over cupboards and bar areas.
  • Porcelain benchtops – We are seeing a growing interest in porcelain benchtops like Neolith, Dekton, Laminam and Florim. Not only do they offer a user-friendly benchtop that is less maintenance than natural and engineered stones, but the 12mm thinner profile is sleek and classy.
  • Shaker style – This style of kitchen continues to be popular, with its timeless sophistication and the ability to adapt to various styles. While the traditional thicker profile remains popular, we are seeing a growing interest in the thinner 20mm profile, which really modernises the look.

Rachel’s Lighting Trends

  • A move to natural, organic materials like clay or wood. People are wanting texture and warmth.
  • In kitchens more and more people are clustering pendants down one end of the island and relying on LED recessed or spots to provide the functional lighting. We’re also seeing the use of two gorgeous statement pieces or a move towards a simple, sleek lineal fitting over the kitchen island and then going crazy in the dining or lounge with super decorative lighting.
  • In the dining room the options are endless because you can lower the pendant here, which means that in a 2.4m stud situation, this might be your only chance to inject personality (except lamps and wall lights, of course). Opal glass and larger flatter pieces that hover are in demand, along with clustering (you can pick your absolute favourite small pendant and cascade them vertically or horizontally across the table).

TIP: Always make sure you have a dimmer! The dining table is a place of family congregation, homework and intimate dining – this way, you can match the need with the correct amount of light.

  • Excitingly people are becoming more experimental and confident with our lighting choices.
  • Wall lights are back.



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