Howard Stubbs, joint founding partner and designer for Heaven & Stubbs, established the high-end kitchen company in 1996. He now has his own workshop, the production team of designers and sales staff.
What are your top tips when designing a new kitchen?
That an optimum balance needs to be found between practicality and form. It’s important for the kitchen to look wonderful but it needs to be workable and functional too. Sometimes there is a slight element of compromise from both angles in order to produce the perfect design.
What do you try to avoid?
Trying too hard to emulate a lifestyle picture a client might produce, particularly if the pictured room is radically different in size and shape to that of the clients.
How do you deal with client’s expectations when they ask for something you don’t think will look good or work?
It’s important to always respect the client and to acknowledge their ideas rather than simply dismissing them out of hand; it’s a case of using our many years of expertise as both a designer and manufacturer to show them how their ideas could possibly work, but more importantly, to present them with possible solutions that you know will work better for them and their home. When design concepts are viewed side by side, the client will be won over by our design approach and reasoning behind it.
What kitchen designs are you most proud of and why?
The most gratifying projects are those where the client looks beyond simply playing it safe by going with a ‘same old, same old’ classical – almost expected design approach; usually a plain painted Shaker. Not that there is anything wrong with such a design; after all they have an almost universal appeal and for many, this is important, particularly if they are intending to sell their home in the near future. But sometimes you have that client where their home is very much their castle and they are intending to stay at the property for many years to come. In these instances, they want a design that indulges their desires rather than one that’s intended to please everyone else, that can mean unusual timbers, veneers and paint effects as well as cabinetry that’s designed with specific individual purposes in mind; for example a display cabinet to showcase a pottery collection or a special cocktail bar.
What is the most over the top or unusual thing a client has asked for in their new kitchen?
A project we recently worked on had to encompass a life size, multi-coloured sheep made from resin, a disco glitter ball, a large, valuable bust of Julius Ceasar (located above the refrigerator), a walk-in gun safe and two built- in dog beds with their names inscribed into the cabinetry – and all this whilst coming up with a period gothic design in keeping with the architectural style of the grade 2 listed home!
What advice would you give homeowners who are thinking about a new kitchen, but don’t know what they want?
Do your research – don’t rush into anything! Go on Houzz and Pinterest and look through the national home interest magazines, pulling out and saving any designs that appeal.
And finally, how do homeowners know which kitchen company and kitchen designer is right for them?
Once again – research is key! Don’t make a decision based on mere brand kudos or perceptions. It’s also important to find a company and a designer that is prepared to come and see you in your home. You need to get a feeling of confidence and assurance so ask to see testimonials and case studies.Heaven & Stubbs | heavenandstubbs.com