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Worktop Express Blog

Jul 18, 2018

Earlier this month, Adrian, our Social Media Specialist, took a trip to London to visit an organisation that we have been donating timber to. Goldfinger Factory, based on Golborne Road, is an award-winning social enterprise who fabricate sustainably designed and built bespoke pieces and commercial fit-outs. We cut down any wood we have that is unsuitable for worktops, producing smaller items like chopping boards – nothing is wasted as we fuel our heaters using timber that would otherwise be wasted. Last year we started donating some of this timber and Adrian met with Marie, the CEO and Co-Founder of Goldfinger Factory, to find out how they use this wood.

Hi Marie. Could you tell me a little bit about Goldfinger Factory?

We’re a social enterprise that designs and fabricates furniture from reclaimed materials, sourced from a variety of partners like Worktop Express. We also help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds become self-sustaining through craft be providing them with a variety of training programmes.

Your products look great! What are you working on at the moment?

We’ve got our head of design and operations fabricating furniture for a variety of different clients – he can be working on as many as 10 projects at a time! Right at this moment, he’s working on a huge table. We also have a trainee working with us – he’s been training with us for two years under one of the master carpenters but now does it all himself. At the moment he’s working on office desks for a big client, which is a great outcome for him and for us.

What do you do with the wood we provide for you?

First of all, we are very grateful for Worktop Express’ support. The wood we receive from you is a really fantastic change to our operations. The consistent flow of high-quality wood, although useless to you, is all perfectly usable for us and still encapsulates our “waste to gold” philosophy. We piloted it last year when we launched a very exciting range of cute desk tidies that combine plastic from Arup and the wood that you supply, which we turn into the lids. The lids are made from walnut and oak. That’s just one way we use your donated timber to showcase how tactile and beautiful it can be. It really shows people that reclaimed doesn’t mean inferior – it doesn’t mean sub-standard. We believe strongly that waste is a resource in the wrong hands.

What is your process for creating something new?

Alex, the head of design and operations for Goldfinger Factory, has a very multifaceted role that requires him to wear many hats. He’s basically involved throughout all of the stages of a project, from conception to delivery. When a client comes to us with a proposal, it’s his job to consider how to use the recycled materials that we receive. He’s always thinking of ways to use the Worktop Express table tops and benches for large and small projects. When we get the wood in, he’ll have a look and see where it’s most useful. A great example is when we used your wood in a café in South Ealing that provides a place for people with trauma to go for treatment. That’s one place the wood has been used extensively.

Apart from sustainable design and build what else do Goldfinger Factory do?

Our kitchen was the first thing that we started way back in 2013. We had the vision to provide reasonably priced food and drink in an approachable space where communities felt welcome. Our start-up chef is a real food entrepreneur. We provide a fully serviced kitchen space for peppercorn rent in exchange for providing service to the community in the form of a people’s kitchen. Food is a real passion of mine. The Italian chef, Giuseppe, gives us his surplus food every 3rd Sunday and volunteers cook up a beautiful feast. At 6 pm anyone is welcome to drop by for a free meal.

Could you explain a little more about the social aspect of Goldfinger factory?

Using the resources that Worktop Express can’t use gives us the opportunity to create products, which in turn creates jobs and training opportunities. It completes the cycle and makes our socio-economic model possible. More importantly though, it really makes young people feel empowered, giving them the confidence to turn waste into gold!

If you would like to learn more about Goldfinger Factory or perhaps pay them a visit, you can find all the information on their website. What do you think of the work that they do? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 13, 2018

With the launch of our new solid laminate kitchen worktop range, we thought we would explore some of the colour combinations that complement and enhance their aesthetics. Copper worktops are incredibly popular at the moment, and our Rouille Zenith Worktop exhibits the complex range of shades that make copper so appealing. It gives depth and texture to a kitchen, creating a different atmosphere depending on which colour it is used alongside – we have compiled a few options for you to consider pairing with your copper worktops below.

Navy

Bold and with a timeless appeal, navy is a great choice if you want to introduce a distinct colour to your kitchen without it being too dynamic. As it is dark, it absorbs the light allowing the lighter shades in copper worktops to pop out. Our Rouille Zenith Worktop is a deep copper colour so it has enough strength to be coupled with the rich tones of navy blue. Combining the calm and cooling colour of navy with the energetic and warm colours of the copper creates a perfect balance resulting in a harmonious and comforting ambiance.

Pink

There are endless shades of pink, and, whilst any can work with copper, we think that pale pink with copper worktops is a winning combination. Much like navy, it is a calming colour and often associated with romance, giving it a feminine quality that can be combined with copper to create a beautifully elegant room. Hot pink can also work but is best used in moderation as the bright shade can be overpowering.

Turquoise

Cool and calming tones tend to complement the warmer shades in copper worktops, which makes turquoise a great option. When combined, turquoise and copper have a naturalistic, almost earthly quality – perhaps as it is the colour that copper turns when it oxidises – that creates a grounding tranquillity. Lighter shades, such as aquamarine, offer a more refreshing feeling whereas darker shades like teal impart opulence. By utilising the full turquoise colour palette alongside a Rouille Zenith Worktop, you can create a blend of textures that will bring a kitchen to life.

Monochrome

Black, grey, and white can be used exclusively with copper worktops to great effect. A fully white kitchen has an airy feel that highlights the rich, dark shades in copper, whereas an entirely black kitchen will deliver an industrial or moody vibe. Whilst solely using a monochrome palette is effective, applying it along with the colours already mentioned can be much more dramatic. As there are elements of black and white in every shade of colour, monochrome is a useful design tool to bring everything together. It is also a valuable method for introducing another “colour” without detracting or distracting from your main colour scheme.

There is no doubt that copper worktops work well with a wide range of colours, hues and shades. We have only described a few here so why not experiment with your own colour combinations, just remember to go with calming tones for the best effect. Leave your suggestions in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages for even more inspiration.

Jul 10, 2018

Here at Worktop Express, we are constantly expanding our range. We are excited to introduce our beautiful range of new laminate worktops. A total of three have been added and all of them reproduce the exquisite grain patterns and colours of popular solid wood – Arlington Oak, cherry block, and black walnut block. They have been manufactured to that same exacting standards as all of our products and for your convenience are available in different sizes. Furthermore, we have also added matching upstands and splashbacks to help you complete your dream kitchen. Let us take a closer look at each of the new laminate worktops in more detail.

Arlington Oak Laminate Worktops

The lightest of our three new options, Arlington Oak laminate worktops offer a timeless elegance that can be effortlessly incorporated into a traditional style kitchen. Compared to standard oak, which has a deeper shade, Arlington oak has a paler colour which is almost white in parts – somewhere between maple and standard oak. This more muted tone makes it compatible with a wider range of cabinet colours, integrating perfectly to create a welcoming feel within your kitchen. Available from £105.00, our Arlington oak laminate worktop has a textured matt finish, with a squire edge and comes in two sizes – 3m x 600mm x 38mm or 3m x 900mm x 38mm.

Cherry Block Laminate Worktops

With a variety of rich reds and pinks, our cherry block laminate worktop perfectly captures the unmistakable character of its solid wood counterpart. The warm and welcoming tones make it ideal for using in a traditional design such as the ever-popular farmhouse kitchen. The cherry block laminate worktop has a standard, semi-gloss finish to imitate the effect of an oil solid wood worktop. Available from £77.50, our cherry block laminate worktop has a 6mm post-form edge and comes in three sizes – 3m x 600mm x 38mm, 3m x 900mm x 38mm, and 3.6m x 600mm x 38mm.

Black Walnut Block Laminate Worktops

This black walnut block laminate worktop is arguably the most opulent-looking of our new laminate worktops. Deep browns and chocolate colours combine to create a luxurious worktop with plenty of character and can be used atop lighter coloured cabinetry for a contemporary kitchen. The textured matt finish adds to the realistic appearance of solid wood. Available from £80.00, our black walnut block laminate worktop has a 6mm post-form edge and comes in three sizes – 3m x 600mm x 38mm, 3m x 900mm x 38mm, and 3.6m x 600mm x 38mm.

All of our new laminate worktops are made in the UK and are FSC and FIRA Gold certified. If you are undecided whether an Arlington Oak, cherry block or black walnut block laminate worktop would suit your kitchen, why not order a sample pack which includes all of our laminate finishes? Comment below with your questions or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Jul 4, 2018

We have a number of showrooms throughout the country, each with friendly, knowledgeable staff on hand to help you bring your perfect kitchen to life. Our showroom team are at the forefront of the latest trends, so we have decided to catch up with Lauren, our showroom manager in Gloucestershire, to find out what she would include in her dream kitchen!

So, Lauren, how long have you been at Worktop Express?

L: I have been here for 3 years and I love that I am still learning new things every day – variety is one of the things that makes me enjoy my job so much!

Blogger Kezzabeth's kitchen features dark cabinets and an ash worktop from Worktop Express for a look that is very close to Lauren's dream kitchen!

Credit : Kezzabeth

There must be a lot to keep up with, especially with ever changing trends! In your three years, you must have designed and redesigned your dream kitchen several times over. What is your favourite kitchen trend right now?

L: I really like dark kitchens, so I would go for Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue on my cabinets, with copper handles and accents. For me, balance is one of the most important aspects in a kitchen, so with such a rich, dark colour for the units, I would want a paler worktop. I love ash because of the unusual grain pattern it has, and as one of our lighter timbers, it would look great with navy blue cabinets.

Those are the colours and materials you would use for your dream kitchen – what is the most important aspect of a good kitchen design in your opinion?

L: The most important thing is making sure the storage works for you and that the space is utilised to its full capacity. This is essential in smaller kitchens but would arguably still the highest priority for me in a larger space. It is so easy to get caught up in the way a kitchen looks without fully considering how it will work in your home, and I think this is something people struggle with the most – especially in the very early planning stages!


And the kitchen planning – you must have some top tips! Do you have any advice for people looking to plan their own kitchens rather than seeking out the help of a designer?

L: Every kitchen and every home is different, and the best advice I think I can give is to really think about how practical each aspect of your kitchen is. Worktops make a huge impact on the overall appearance of a kitchen, so it is important to consider the practicalities, not just the aesthetics. If, for example, you do not have time to maintain a wooden surface but really want the look – consider a realistic wood-effect laminate top. Small children? Think about having the edges rounded off on a timber worktop to make them less sharp if little ones are likely to injure themselves! If you love a farmhouse look but frequently bake you may need to invest in a granite board – kneading and rolling do not combine well with wooden worktops.

We share our showrooms with our sister brand – Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets – so we often have people who are looking to purchase a full kitchen from us, and my tip for them is to start from the corners and work towards the middle of each wall. It is much easier to add a pilaster or wine rack along a wall than trying to reshuffle everything because your cabinets fall short of your corners.

Some great tips there, thank you Lauren!

Does your dream kitchen sound like Lauren’s? Let us know in the comments below or start a conversation with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Jun 28, 2018

In the second part of our two-part blog, we look at some of the non-native species we use to create our wooden kitchen worktops and learn a little more about them. Last week we looked at common British trees, this week we take a look at the African trees whose beautiful and exotic timber makes great kitchen worktops.

Iroko trees (Milicia) and Iroko Wood (Source Wiki)

Credit : wikipedia

Iroko

Iroko trees (Milicia) are African trees that originate from the tropics and are found from Guinea-Bissau to Mozambique where they can reach heights of up to 45m and live almost 500 years. The tree is revered by many cultures – it has historical associations with fertility and birth, with some believing that the tree housed the spirit of the Iroko Man and would offer gifts to show respect.

Although the timbers are unrelated, iroko is sometimes known as African teak because it makes a good alternative and is less expensive in comparison. The iroko timber that is used to make our iroko worktops is very durable – particularly that of the heartwood – which is one of the reasons why we use it. The other reason is its beauty -when new, iroko has a golden colour but matures to reddish brown or rich bronze over time.

Wenge tree (Millettia) and Wenge Wood (Source Wiki)Zebrano tree (Microberlinia) and Zebrano Wood (Source Wiki)

Credit : wikipedia

Wenge

Wenge tree (Millettia) is an African tree that is found in the tropical regions in countries such as Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They reach a height of up to 27m tall yet, amazingly, they are a relative of the garden pea. Wenge is an important tree in Africa and is used to help reforestation efforts on land that has been previously used for cultivation.

Known by some as faux ebony, wenge is an incredibly dark, almost black wood that contrasts spectacularly with Maple. It is commonly used for making musical instruments such as guitars but the wood can also be used to make a fantastic, luxurious wenge worktops. As well as colour, wenge is highly appreciated for its density which makes it perfect to use for our worktops.

Zebrano tree (Microberlinia) and Zebrano Wood (Source Wiki)

Credit : guitarbench

Zebrano

Our zebrano worktops come from Microberlinia trees which are found growing to a height of around 40m throughout the west of the African continent. This African tree is tall and straight which makes it perfect for cutting long timber.

Much like the animals found in Africa, zebrano wood looks exotic and has distinctive patterns. It gets its name from the dark grains on a light background, giving it the appearance of a zebra. This contrasting colouration makes it the ideal wood if you want to make a bold statement in your kitchen. Although chosen for its pattern, zebrano wood is strong and stiff and has a fairly high density which makes it ideal for worktops.

Sapele tree (Entandrophragma) and Sapele Wood (Source Wiki)

Credit : wikipedia

Sapele

Sapele (Entandrophragma) is another African tree that is native to tropical regions and is known colloquially as aboudikro. This is a big tree that can sometimes reach 60m in height, however more commonly grows to 40m. Mahogany is a close relative and has a similar appearance and quality and so sapele is sometime referred to as African mahogany.

Aside from musical instruments, the wood is commonly used for furniture including our sapele worktops. Sapele wood starts off with a pale rose colour but eventually develops a beautifully rich chestnut that is the perfect intermediate between iroko and wenge.

Do you have any questions about tropical African trees? Comment and share your thoughts below. Why not share some of your pictures on Facebook or Twitter showing us how you have used iroko, wenge, zebrano or sapele in your kitchen. If you prefer native timber in your home, be sure to read our blog post from last week which discusses which common British trees make good wooden worktops.


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Jun 25, 2018

Our recent DIY Dads competition has come to a close and a number of you nominated your DIY Dad for the chance to win £50 in Worktop Express vouchers along with a solid wood chopping board.

We have seen a variety of projects – from smaller tasks like fixing gates to bigger jobs like leylandii tree felling – showcasing the super home-improvement skills your dads have.

We also received a number of kitchens, sheds and even an extension – all built by the capable hands of your adept dads!

A winner has been selected at random from the nominations sent in and we are pleased to announce that the prize will shortly be on its way to Richard, for the fantastic work his father did fitting his kitchen worktops!

Of his father, Richard said, “such a knowledgeable man I’d be lost without him,” adding, “at 76 he’s still active and helping me out with projects.” We could not have picked a better recipient for the prize!

Thank you to all those who entered – follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know about new competitions to make sure you are in with a chance of winning!

Jun 22, 2018

When choosing your kitchen worktop one of the factors that you might consider is whether the wood comes from a native or non-native tree. To make our worktops, we use wood from common British trees although we source the wood from across Europe. In this two-part blog, we look at some of the native and non-native species we use to create our wooden kitchen worktops and learn a little more about them. Let us start with common British trees whose wood can be used to make both beautiful and hardwearing kitchen worktops.

Ash

Ash trees (Fraxinus) are found growing throughout Europe and the UK and can live 400 years or more. In the wild, they grow up to 35m in height and have a certain elegance which they also bring into a kitchen when used as a worktop. Ash timber has been used for many years and is especially prized for its versatility, hardwearing quality, and the ability to absorb shocks without splintering. For this reason, it was used to make handles for hammers, axes, spades, and oars but nowadays it makes the perfect timber to use as a kitchen surface.

Fortunately, as well as being functional, ash worktops are also beautiful. Almost white in parts, this attractive, light timber is packed full of characterful grain formations and distinctive shades. Its light colour makes it a great choice for a small kitchen that might not have a lot of natural light, brightening up the space and giving it a welcoming feel.

Beech

Beech trees (Fagus) are another native British tree that can be found throughout Europe. Reaching 40m in height, their huge domed canopy is certainly impressive, creating dappled shade on the woodland floor that encourages a range of important woodland plants including red helleborine orchids. This canopy also offers an invaluable habitat for insects and birds, whereas underground, ectomycorrhizal truffles attach themselves to the roots and form a beneficial symbiosis.

Slightly darker than Ash but no less beautiful, beech wood worktops have a timeless appeal. It is a pale wood with a good range of brown hues and a straight and uniform grain texture that lends itself perfectly to a more formal, rather than rustic, style of kitchen.

Birch

Birch trees (Betula) have a long history within Britain and are surrounded by symbolism and mythology associated with purification and renewal. A common tree that is often one of the first to become established in a new woodland due to its rapid growth, birch is very useful. Historically, the bark has been used for tanning leather whilst the wood was used to make reels for the Lancashire cotton industry.

Birch timber has always been used to make furniture because of its hardwearing quality, which is exactly what makes it so well-suited for our kitchen worktops. Birch worktops can be used in both traditional and contemporary kitchen designs and their attractive honey hue and subtle iridescence give your kitchen a warm and welcoming feel.

Oak

Last but not least is the mighty oak (Quercus). This is the tree that most people associate with Britain and there is nothing quite so majestic as a tall and gnarly English oak stood alone in a field. Much like beech trees, oaks also have an open canopy that lets through the perfect amount of light to reach the woodland floor allowing other quintessential British plants, such as bluebells and primroses to flourish.

Durable enough to stand the test of time, an oak worktop is ideal for a well-used kitchen. Beautiful and robust, with distinctive grain textures that deliver a classic charm, it is no surprise that oak is one of the best-selling timbers in our collection.

Comment below and share your thoughts about using timber from common British trees in your home. Perhaps you could share some of your pictures on Facebook or Twitter showing us how you have used ash, beech, birch or oak in your kitchen. If you prefer more exotic timber in your home, be sure to revisit the blog next week to find out more about non-native species.

Jun 18, 2018

If you have been following the football, you may be interested to know that we are offering you the chance to win a solid wood chopping board when England play.

All you need to do is correctly predict the score at the end of the match and comment on our Facebook post to let us know what you think the outcome will be. If none of the answers are right, we will simply go to the closest guess – but if more than one person guesses the right result, a name will simply be drawn at random.

Tonight’s match will see the England team pitted against Tunisia and kick off is at 7 pm. The full game can be watched live on BBC1 throughout the UK. We will be offering you the chance to predict and win every single time that England play – so make sure you like our Facebook page to be in with the best chance of winning!

Jun 15, 2018

Tiles are a fantastic way to ensure your kitchen walls can be wiped clean and can be used to add colour, texture and flair to your cooking space. Kitchen tiles come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, styles and colours, and can provide a striking finishing touch to your kitchen. With such a selection on offer, which tiles are best for your home? We have compiled this list to help you choose.

Neutral Kitchens

Many different types of tile suit a neutral kitchen, as the tiled area can become the focal point in the design. A neutral tile will work well to complement this kind of look, but a pared-back colour scheme can be used to create a fantastic backdrop for a more striking tile design – either using a pop of colour or an intricate pattern. This customer chose a mix of green and white subway tiles for their kitchen, arranged in an original layout, which adds interest and brightness to the cooking area.

Traditional Kitchens

A traditional kitchen looks great with subway tiles – as the image here illustrates – because the classic style blends well with the rest of the design. Choosing off-white tiles to match the kitchen cabinets is a stylish option for a cohesive look and the darker grout used ensures all the elements stand out individually. The oak block laminate worktop adds to the traditional farmhouse style. For a more contemporary twist, this style would work well with a herringbone pattern.

A modern kitchen with teal-coloured tile splashback

Credit : Pinterest

Contemporary Kitchens

Geometric tiles are a popular option for contemporary kitchens and are a fantastic way to inject colour and personality into a room. The sleek, glossy cabinets in this design provide the perfect backdrop for this vibrant kitchen tile design. Hexagonal tiles can be used to create an almost 3D effect, whilst there are a number of square tiles with intricate geometric designs available for those looking to create a bolder look.

Transitional Kitchens

A transitional kitchen blends influences from both traditional and contemporary styles. Often, this lends the space a timeless feel and can be more versatile than sticking to just one period. In this picture, a neutral colour scheme is reminiscent of a traditional kitchen, but the stainless-steel tap and stunning iroko worktop provide a more contemporary look. The tiles chosen here take inspiration from current trends as well as more timeless designs, ensuring they work well in the setting shown.

Which kitchen tiles have you chosen for your new design? We would love to see your photos – attach them in the comments below or share them on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Jun 11, 2018

High-gloss surfaces are often associated with contemporary kitchens, but with the increasing popularity of farmhouse looks means less polished finishes are back in favour. Wooden worktops suit contemporary styles well, and we have selected a few of our customers’ kitchens to show you how fantastic timber can look in an up-to-date kitchen. Which is your favourite?

Wooden worktops complement any kitchen – they are timeless, beautiful and incredibly durable. In this kitchen, our customer has chosen a fairly monochrome scheme with light grey cabinets, dark grey tiles and dark appliances. The worktop provides a dash of colour and warmth to lift the space – it is sufficiently lit to allow the grain pattern and colour to take centre stage.

This kitchen really stood out in our #WeekendWorktops competition on Twitter. The sleek, handle-less cabinets are incredibly modern, whilst the two-tone finish keeps the kitchen bright and airy. Smart navy blue base cabinets and the honeyed tones of our oak worktops are a simply stunning combination, giving the kitchen a premium appearance.

This customer’s kitchen is a perfect combination of traditional and modern. The lights are eye-catching and make it look like the wooden worktop is floating above the stylish base cabinets. A kitchen of this size is perfect for entertaining guests and hosting parties, and the island is an ideal gathering area which also provides a space to put drinks or snacks.

Whilst the other kitchen images we have featured showcase our solid oak worktops, this kitchen uses one of our solid black American walnut wooden worktops. We really admire this kitchen – in fact, we awarded it first place in our ‘Worktops Win Prizes’ competition earlier this year. A particular highlight for us is the way the expansive kitchen island flows out to the garden. The bar stools make the island a welcoming place to sit and spend time, ensuring the chef is not isolated when cooking.

Our exotic solid iroko worktops take centre stage in this stunning, neutral kitchen. The subtle green and muted tiled splashback allow the iroko surface to steal focus and adds warmth into the room. The overall effect is both luxurious and calming – perfect for the heart of the home.

Have you created a contemporary kitchen with our wooden worktops? You can share pictures in the comments section or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.