Making the cut
Tom Chapman catches up with an Arundel company whose skills were put to the test when designing one tricky kitchen.
The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the house.
It is far more than just a place where families prepare and eat food, it is a meeting place, a storage area, and often the hub of any dinner party.
Consequently, it is no surprise homeowners want to make this area their own.
A survey, published in 2013, interviewed more than 7,800 people and asked them a series of questions related to kitchen refurbishment. Once the results were collected, it was revealed that almost 95 per cent of the respondents planned to replace their worktops, with the majority choosing materials such as granite and quartz.
Furthermore, the research showed that many of these people would not stop there, planning to introduce such things as stainless steel appliances, larger ovens, and wooden floors – seven percent of the respondents even wanted a fridge specifically for their wine.
Although this survey was conducted in America, British homeowners are often exactly the same – they want a kitchen that is not only unique, but something they can be proud of.
Fortunately, this is where Arundel’s County Stone Granite comes in.
The company has more than 20 years of experience designing, installing, and fabricating a range of worktops but recently they encountered one of their most challenging projects.
Usually, installing new worktops is a relatively simple task.
Most kitchens and bathrooms have a square or rectangular shape and, consequently, modifying these areas can be quite straightforward.
However, when County Stone Granite was contracted to remodel the worktops in an Oast House in Kent, there was a problem – the kitchen was circular.
This might not sound like such a big issue, but the client had previously tried to complete the project through a number of different firms.
Yet, all of these had turned the job down, citing the complexity of the task.
“A couple of masons went in and didn’t have the necessary skills to complete the task,” explains expert fitter Lee Arnell.
“In terms of templating, making and fitting it, it’s not your standard three metre straight runs. Simply put, they did not have the confidence and the expertise to do the job.”
Instead, armed with the latest in stone-cutting machinery, the team at County Stone Granite got to work.
“I normally do two templates a day, but this one was probably the biggest template I’ve done,” Lee says when describing how different this job was from their usual projects.
“The client had a centre island that had been fitted by an independent mason around ten years ago and she wanted something to match that.”
Whereas professionals would normally do several templates a day, this project required Lee to work round-the-clock.
Next, the fabrication process needed to be completed, a job which also had the team working from dawn to dusk.
Using a specialist machine, with CNC (Computer Numerical Control), the masons painstakingly completed the curved design, making space for appliances such as the oven and hob while the back edge of the worktop was scribed and polished by hand.
While the fitters had a hard time designing the worktop, the installers also struggled to install the design.
Due to its unusual curve and weight, the team found it really hard to lift the stone.
“With this worktop, where it curves away from you, you’ve got nothing to put in to your shoulder,” explains Lee. “We were lifting double the height because of the swoop of the stone.“
The only way to carry the worktop was ‘by going blue in the face’.
This project was one the longest single jobs that County Stone Granite has ever had to perform, striving to complete it while ensuring the client’s expectations were satisfied.
Yet, all the hard work paid off.
“The customer was ecstatic,” reveals Lee. “Where she had people turn her down, the panic button started to go but she was over the moon.”
Although the company has described this as one of its toughest projects, it states it has also been one of their most fulfilling.
Furthermore, having to do a task of this complexity should prepare them for more challenging jobs in the future.
County Stone Granite is based in Units 4 and 7 Hooe Farm Industrial Estate, Tye Lane Walberton, Arundel, BN18 0LU.
For more information, call 01243 544770 or visit www.countystonegranite.co.uk