• Andrew, Max and Teja Crean in their new kitchen.

Working with a Kitchen Designer

Kitchens By Design designed and created a modern, spacious and functional kitchen for a busy family of six, here in Takapuna. We chatted with them about their experience of working with this team of award-winning kitchen designers.

Could you tell me a little about your family, and also about your home – in particular the existing kitchen?

We are Robyn and Andrew Crean, and between us we have a little girl, Teja and Andrew’s three teenage boys. We’ve been living in this house just on five years. We love to cook and entertain, and with four kids coming and going, the kitchen is always busy.

The existing kitchen was around 15 years old. It wasn’t a particularly high quality kitchen and definitely needed upgrading to match the rest of the house. We put in the new kitchen as part of a bigger renovation of our living area, where we turned two rooms into one and opened it up to the deck area.


How did you come across Kitchens By Design, and why did you choose them to design your new kitchen?

Funnily enough, we first came across Kitchens By Design after reading an article in Channel Magazine, so we went along to their showroom in Byron Ave to have a look. We really liked the modern kitchen they had on display, and it all went from there. In the showroom, it was good to sit down and look at all of the different choices of materials and colour swatches that were available. That really helped.


What was your brief, and how did it evolve?

We’d had about five tries at finding someone to design our new kitchen, but none of them appealed. We didn’t want a standard kitchen and were quite fussy about what we were looking for. The kitchen had to have character, to match the style of our house, and it also had to have some design elements to make it stand out, but be not too pretentious. It wasn’t until we’d met Marianne Gailer, one of the designers at Kitchens By Design, that it all began to feel right.

Because we had been looking for a while, we had a good idea about some of the features and products we wanted incorporated into the design. We wanted Dekton for the benchtops, as we’d seen it before and liked it, and we also wanted to have wood somewhere. Miele appliances were also on our list – particularly the steam oven and induction cook top, because they’re much easier to clean and to use. Finally, we wanted a water tap on the island that delivered filtered, chilled water, both sparkling and still – mainly for the kids.


How did the designer translate your brief – and was it what you expected?

We’d had other plans from other companies in the past and thought that’s exactly what we didn’t want, but from the first time we saw Marianne’s plans, we thought, yes, she’s nailed it. From there, it was a matter of working through the finer details.

Apart from us choosing the marble for the splashback and requesting some wood, Marianne came up with all the rest of the design. We also ran with Marianne’s recommendation for the colour of the kitchen cabinetry, and we absolutely love it.

Marianne incorporated our request for wood in the L-shaped breakfast bar concept, and that has worked really well. Now we can all eat up here as a family, which is great. And because it’s a bar, people naturally sit there – it’s a natural destination when people come to visit, just like walking into a normal bar. It has really has turned the kitchen into the hub of our home.


What are some of the most enjoyable moments of the process?

When we rocked up to the factory and saw it all coming together for the first time – that was a highlight for me (Andrew). And of course being able to get in and use it for the first time, that was pretty special (Robyn). Getting to choose the added extras and seeing all the little design elements for the first time was fun, too.


What’s your favourite part(s) of your new kitchen?

The toe-kick drawers for storing big platters – our friends love those, the electric bin, and the soft-close components are all awesome, but we must say, we love the colours. The marble splashback and timber bar are both features we love. For the kids, the water tap is the best thing. Harry, who’s at Uni in Otago, loves the space. When he comes back he’s always in the kitchen, usually eating (laughs).


 What would be your advice to anyone who’s thinking of having a new kitchen designed?

Don’t rush into it. Do your research and your homework on what you actually want and need in your new kitchen, then tell your designer and let them come back to you with a design. Also, don’t regret spending that little bit extra on some of the special design features and appliances – over a lifetime of enjoyment, it’s a good investment.


How did you find the experience of working with Kitchens By Design?

Putting in a kitchen can be stressful, but because Marianne and Richard (Cripps) have got so much experience and have gone through the process so many times before, they made it easy for us. They knew what to expect and when to expect it, so the whole process was very smooth. They worked well as a team, too, with Marianne on the design side and Richard overseeing the installation and resolving any issues along the way. When you’re spending a bit of money on a kitchen, you expect that kind of service, and they delivered.

In our mind, it’s not an over-the-top kitchen. It’s quite understated, but it’s got some really nice design features, it’s very practical and has lots of space around the island, which is exactly what we wanted.