HomeUncategorizedNAKED KITCHENS


Earlier this year I took a trip to the Norfolk coast. It was snowing. When isn’t it? But I wanted to go and visit the showroom of Naked Kitchens. I had included their kitchens on the blog a couple of times – in particular the fabulous green Ladbroke pictured below – and when they contacted me before Christmas to ask about working together I decided a trip up to see them was in order.

It’s always great to meet the people behind a brand and since so many of our big purchases are made from big, often faceless companies, it felt good to know that I was meeting the couple who set up the company, design the kitchens and oversee the whole process. The owners, Jamie and Jayne Everett, are fully involved with every aspect of the business and both were in and around the showroom on the day I turned up.

Now if you haven’t got time to go to Norfolk to see a kitchen before you buy one then the good news is that they are at the Ideal Home Show (until 2 April 2018) where they have worked with the 2LG Studio – aka Russell and Jordan, runners up in the first series of The Great Interior Design Challenge – and television presenter and GIDC judge Sophie Robinson – each of whom have put a Naked Kitchen in their love/work garden pod and show home respectively.

So who are Naked Kitchens? It feels like they suddenly popped up last year when that gorgeous green kitchen with its brass splashback started appearing in all the Sunday supplements and glossy magazines, but they have been around for much longer than that.

It began as a cabinet making business until, and how often have you heard this story – Jamie and Jayne wanted a new kitchen. And they couldn’t find one they liked. At a price they wanted to pay. So they decided to make their own. As you do. And the more they researched, the more they found there was a gap in the market for affordable yet good quality. And so Naked was born.

Of course it wasn’t quite that simple. They had already set up a company, Norfolk Oak, and they pride themselves on being the only professional woodworking company to do everything in-house – which means they start with the tree and end up with a cupboard. In other words they are in control of every single aspect of the product from start to finish.

Naked Kitchens was born from that business (which still operates and has undertaken commercial work for both M&S and The Royal Albert Hall) and the first one was created for their own house.

Their aim, then as now, was to provide high quality kitchens at a reasonable price. Everything is built on site at the Norfolk factory. There are no hidden costs and everyone has the same trade price. Hence the name Naked. There are no shops and no reps selling on their behalf. It’s all out in the open. And so yes, you will have to visit if you want to discuss your own project with them but it’s less than two hours from London and that is what keeps the prices lower.

When it comes to the kitchens themselves they are made with solid plywood carcasses and hardwood doors. Many other companies use Tulipwood which is from the Poplar tree. It is light and strong but, say Naked, it’s at the softer end of the hardwood scale, which is why they prefer to use birch ply.

The doors are then spray painted three times with UV cured paint – this is a drying process using ultra violet light which makes the paint tougher and more resistant to scratching. Naked will match any colour you like, that green is Little Greene’s Invisible Green should anyone be feeling inspired. Sophie’s kitchen below is Marine Blue by the same company.

The high quality birch ply carcasses are then covered with a timber veneer. They don’t use solid wood as it will buckle and bow, but birch ply is very stable and strong. The veneer looks like solid wood.

“We are very picky about our veneers,” says Jayne. “We specify very high quality and it looks like solid wood. But solid wood would bend and bow so we used laminated ply and put the veneer over the top. There are different grades of ply available but we use only the top birch ply for our Naked Kitchens.”

Indeed birch ply is so strong that it was used on WWII planes as I learnt when I visited the exhibition about plywood at the V&A last year. Just a little fancy that fact for you to take to the water cooler this morning.

The veneers on top are usually either oak – if you want pale – or walnut if you want dark.

“When we set up Norfolk Oak, after moving here following the birth of our first child there was either Ikea or Bespoke, there was nothing in between so it was either really cheap or really expensive with nothing in the middle,” said Jane.

“To start with we just made worktops and cabinets but we kept getting asked to make kitchens so we did. It was a nice sideline and it was all done by hand as we weren’t mechanised.”

Eventually they decided to expand and bought the former RAF Bomber Command hanger where the factory is now located. They invested heavily in the right equipment to mechanise the process and Naked Kitchens was born in 2012.

Three years later they set up Naked Doors for customers who couldn’t afford the full kitchen but who still wanted quality doors to fit to their carcasses. Then, at the end of last year 80/20 Kitchens was set up. This uses high quality chipboard called Egger board for the carcasses but it is covered in a melamine veneer. The same hardwood doors are used. This brings the price down dramatically and is the range that both Sophie and Russell and Jordan used on their Ideal Home Show kitchens.

Naked said yesterday: “The kitchen created with the coolest designers in town – 2LG Studio – is suave, sleek and modern. Sophie’s is bold, bright and beautiful – the marine blue with oak interior hits all the trends while maintaining the traditional timber element that Naked is famous for.”

So in short, you have full Naked – birch ply carcasses and bespoke sizes (should you require them) or the budget – just the wooden doors or now there is the between 80/20 range where the carcasses are made from egger board, the same doors are fitted and you buy online. I have looked at both the oak veneer and the melamine version and it’s pretty much impossible to tell the difference. But there is an enormous difference in price.

So if you’re thinking of refurbing then truck over to the Ideal Home Show and have a look. And if you go on Thursday 29th at about 4pm you will find me in the super theatre giving a talk on my top ten design hacks and selling and signing books. Did I mention my book was out tomorrow? If you miss the 4pm I’m on again at 6 by the way….

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