Attitudes towards home baking have changed in recent years. The popularity of TV cookery shows was already having an impact before the pandemic hit and we were all left with little other choice than to prepare meals and dine at home. Now, with grocery budgets and food prices tightening the rise in home chefs is continuing.

This all has an effect on the way that the domestic kitchen is designed and which materials are chosen. It’s no coincidence that we have seen professional-style kitchens become popular as the shift towards home baking has reached top gear. Designed with meticulous care for ergonomics, professional kitchens are perfect for those who love to cook, with heaps of storage, the latest appliance technology and materials that are ultra-durable yet super-stylish too. Despite the professional, sometimes even industrial feel of this trend, there is a need to balance the look with a sense of homeliness in the domestic setting, which is one of the many reasons why materials such as marble-inspired quartz fit so well with the aesthetic, bringing the best of all worlds to the look and feel of the finished space.

CRL Stone was recently involved in a project that was heavily influenced by both the rise in popularity of baking at home and the need for a professionally styled yet welcoming and homely kitchen setting.

The Food Hub Cookery School, based at Kenton Hall Estate in Suffolk, has grown organically since it was first established in 2014 and now offers two or three courses per week. To accommodate the increasing numbers of courses and guests, the cookery school, which sits within a converted cow byre, needed a refurbishment.

With the goal of creating a bright, light filled space that gives each customer the best cookery space in a large single rectangular room, one of the biggest changes was in the choice of materials for the worktops. Prior to the refurbishment the cookery school featured stainless steel worktops – practical yet also incredibly industrial in look and feel. Worktops are a highly visible part of the venue, and a softer look was wanted for the refurbishment. Looking for a surface that was non-porous, hard wearing and resistant to heat, the designers wanted a low maintenance alternative to stainless steel. Quartz surfaces were the perfect solution, with the marble-effect patterning adding warmth and softness to an otherwise practical environment.

As the school is cleaned thoroughly before and after each course, the worktops must be as hygienic, durable and easy to maintain as possible. Above all, the Cookery School wanted to create a state-of-the-art kitchen that its customers would love the learn to cook in. Verona from the CRL Quartz range mirrors the raw and unrefined beauty of natural stone, making this marble-effect surface extremely popular for those wanting to add a touch of warmth and character to their kitchen. With brown veins floating throughout, the softer, elegant finish to this surface brings a pleasing and aesthetic feel to the space.

While the white and grey colour scheme is timelessly elegant, the quartz surfaces are a stand-out feature of the finished space, conveying a sleek, modern look that everyone is impressed with. Thanks to the versatility of the material, the designers were able to home in on the attention to detail, with the quartz surface even used in the larder cupboard base, creating a cohesive look throughout.

With just a four-week window to refurbish the school in between cookery courses, installation needed to be just as seamless as the design itself. With a fully stocked UK warehouse, CRL Stone were able to accommodate, with surfaces that were straightforward to fit by the installation team, even while accommodating late adaptations to the original layout plans, making the demonstration area slightly smaller.

The finished, redesigned cookery school is a wonderful example of a professional yet homely kitchen. Walk in and the eye is instantly drawn to the end of the room, with a bank of six ovens. Along one wall are sinks and taps, set into quartz surfaces, while a row of hobs with matching surfaces runs along the other side. The same quartz surface is used for splashbacks too, creating a visually striking effect. Overall, this is a home from home for the cookery school’s customers to perfect their culinary skills, in an environment that is as big on style as it is on function.

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