Real-life projects

Real-life projects | Japandi-style kitchen meets ideal vision

MD of Diane Berry Kitchens, Diane Berry explains why this Kbsa Designer Award-winning kitchen (over £50k) was one of her most complicated projects

22 Jan, 24

Managing director of Diane Berry Kitchens Diane Berry explains why this Kbsa Designer Award winning kitchen (over £50k) was one of her most complicated to date

Real-life projects | Japandi style kitchen

A focus on quality of materials, uncluttered and considered design were the thought processes of an Asian couple who chose Diane Berry, MD of Manchester-based Diane Berry Kitchens, to interpret their vision.

Diane states: “The clients were from Taiwan and have a passion for pure, simple design and living.”

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She created a display kitchen and a second working kitchen, where the functional task of cooking takes place.

The clients had a definite idea on how they wanted their kitchen to look and had spent years trying to find a designer to achieve their ideal, before selecting Diane Berry Kitchens.

The brief white gloss units to reflect light, with views through glass walls into the garden, styled by Japanese gardeners.

“I don’t do a lot of white kitchens”, admits Diane Berry, who adds the dark tiled flooring was already laid “but she knew she wanted a block of white, gloss kitchens that reflected the room”.

Presentation kitchen

Taking a bold step to block a window, it helped create the linear look of tall, white gloss units, which houses integral fridge freezer and breakfast bar for juicing, including its own sink and draining area.

There is also a dedicated drinks station, to store an array of teas. Diane explains the main kitchen space is just for the presentation of food “because, if you look at it there’s isn’t a hob or oven in that kitchen,”

Talking about the overall aesthetic with a centrepiece island, Diane says: “The showcase of the piece is very rare panda marble.

“It took us a long time to find the piece with all the marking and colours, and the client drove from Manchester to London to choose the slab”.

She continues: “Then you have the natural ash table coming off the side, which has got an Elica extractor above it.

“The client, quite often puts the food on a hot skillet, so the extractor is just to get rid of the cooking smells.”

However, all the cooking takes place in a second, smaller space: “A pocket door in the slatted wood wall reveals a cooking kitchen”, explains Diane.

Organic flow

Offering texture and an organic flow to the space, the fluted wall was created with recesses to host the client’s valuable pieces of art, which she wanted to display.

These were illuminated to showcase the ceramics and the wall was curved outwards around to a set of stairs with additional pocket doors to secret storage space below.

“It gives a very pure space”, says Diane who explains it offers a sense of quiet opulence. “In countries which are highly populated, it is pure luxury to have space. It is just the calmest environment.”

Letterbox challenge

She highlights the challenges of creating the kitchen was the bravery to encourage the client to block up a window to create the design and the organic design which featured a floating-style table.

Real-life projects | Japandi style kitchen 1

It boasts a riven edge, so it has a natural feel to it. “It took a while to get that table to settle down in the temperature of their big room.

“If you put a suspended piece of wood in room that’s got underfloor heating and glass walls, you’ve got heat coming from the glass and the floor and then you have changes in humidity.

“There’s actually sheet steel under it, but it still has to be able to move and it letterboxes into that amazing marble.”

The rare natural marble was fragile and expensive. Diane explains the company had to sign disclaimers that the stone may break due to natural flaws.

“We worked really well with our stonemasons to get that pulled together and it has a lovely, slightly organic edge.”

Marble pleasure

However, she says the marble is also the element of the design that she is most pleased about “because it goes against everything I’m about.

“I would always be trying to get a client to choose something robust and practical and we all know marble is porous and hard to work with.”

But Diane says the client understands the stone, loves it, and pays great care wen using the space, adding: “I think the worktop is just a delight to see. It’s got great depth in the colours, and you can really see into the marble. It’s just so beautiful.”

Smiling, Diane says don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the kitchen into thinking it was easy to create, adding: “That island and that piece of wood, locking together, with steel coming through is probably one of the most complicated things I’ve done.”

With plans to travel to Japan, Diane says she hopes to gain more inspiration from the parts of the world shown to her by the clients, concluding: “It’s a different kind of design and a different way of looking at materials and nature working together.”

Diane Berry scooped the Kbsa Designer Award for Kitchens (under £25k) in 2022.