Make the most of your morning with these handy breakfast tips

Fuel for a morning meeting

For those of us with busy lifestyles – active hobbies and fitness regimes, or strenuous careers – a fast and efficient breakfast, packed with energy is a must. Overnight oats are the perfect fit. They can be prepped the night before, with very little work required, are ready to go in the morning.

All you need is a mason jar, rolled oats, almond milk (yogurt and skimmed milk work just as well) and your choice of toppings and fillings to create a really delicious breakfast which will keep you fired up till lunch.

Credit: www.blog.freepeople.com

We love this overnight oats recipe with chopped almonds and brown sugar.

School run snacks

If your mornings are a bit hectic now that the school term has started, breakfast egg muffins are a healthy and portable snack you can enjoy on the go.

These simple one-pot meals can be quickly bundled together and ladled into a non-stick muffin tray. Simple bake for 20 minutes – a good time to ensure teeth are brushed and shoelaces are tied – then pop in a napkin to enjoy on the school run.

If you have time, diced toppings like salsa and avocado, make a delicious nutritional extra.

Credit: www.justataste.com

Take a look at this easy weekday recipe here.

Lazy brunch with friends

The ideal lazy brunch requires very little preparation and labour time – because of course you’d prefer to spend your morning relaxing, reading a newspaper and enjoying a filter coffee in the quiet of your new kitchen.

If you’re having friends round for a mid-morning meal, now that your children and grandchildren have skipped back off to school and left your days more relaxed, this breakfast casserole recipe – packed with eggs, beans, potatoes and avocado – is perfect.

Packed with delicious and hearty ingredients, this yummy one-dish meal will leave you feeling full and satisfied – with the added bonus of being infused with vitamins. There’s plenty to go around a large group of friends, and can be prepped and cooked on a low-heat overnight. Win, win.

Credit: www.cooknourishbliss.com

Check out this lazy morning recipe here.

Find your dream kitchen on the Virtu website, and enjoy your morning routine in style.

Ken & Vanessa’s ‘Refined Simplicity’ Expression Contour in White Matt

Driving instructor, Ken, and his wife, Vanessa, began looking for a new kitchen after paying off the mortgage on their home on a quiet estate in Morecambe.

“We’d already had the bathroom refurbished so the kitchen was the new priority,” Ken tells us – as the couple’s dog, Klaus, settles on our lap for a cuddle. “We wanted something quite clean and modern, which would give our kitchen a bit of an update.”

An archway serves as a divide between food preparation and socialising areas

The pair visited independent kitchen retailer, Think Interiors, and were struck by the Virtu Expression Contour on display in their showroom.

“The fine edge really appealed to us. And we liked how fresh and simple the design looked.”

The decision certainly appears to have paid off – and the refined fine-frame and smooth surface, sits well against the neutral walls and dark work surfaces in the couple’s home.

The Contour kitchen offers an evolution on the modern slab door. The design underpins a sophisticated and understated aesthetic – taking inspiration from growing trends in the German kitchen market.

And it was a perfect choice for this couple.

A tall unit provides plenty of household storage and offers a modern look

“I do a lot of work from home,” Ken tells us. “As a driving instructor, I keep all my paperwork and files in the kitchen – it’s a handy space to work.

“And our new breakfast bar allows us to enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat in the mornings. We probably spend more time in the kitchen than anywhere else in the house.”

ABOVE: The finished kitchen BELOW: The kitchen before was tired and unloved

Ken and Vanessa’s experience with Think Interiors was a very positive one.

“We did shop around initially and got a couple of quotes,” Ken says – offering Klaus a treat in the hope he’ll pose for the camera.

The refined frame of the Contour is clearly visible as Klaus pauses for a snack

“But the team at Think Interiors were really on the ball. They were genuinely interested in what we wanted, and went the extra mile to get everything right for us.

“Tim, the showroom manager, had a few ideas on the initial design. So we bounced them around between us, until we found an arrangement which best suited us.

“It felt like a partnership, and it made us feel valued.”

The breakfast bar offers a space to enjoy a coffee and sit together at mealtimes

In fact, the Think Interiors team were so well trusted by the couple, they were able to get on with the installation while Ken and Vanessa enjoyed a holiday overseas.

“It was brilliant, because it meant we could avoid all the mess and disruption you’d usually expect with a job like this, and we came back to a kitchen almost complete.

“It took all the stress and worry out of the whole project.”

The double electric oven from Prima is a joy to cook in, and keeps meat juicy and tender

Ken and Vanessa also opted for Prima appliances to complete their new kitchen.

“We both work full time, so we enjoy to spend time cooking at the weekends. We previously had a gas oven, but what a difference that electric oven makes.

“I don’t know why, but food just tastes much better from our new oven. The meat is more juicy and the flavours are much clearer.

“Although I think if we were to do it all again we’d maybe opt for an induction hob. Gas rings are just so difficult to clean!”

Under cabinet strip lighting offers a warm and ambient glow in the evenings

Ken and Vanessa are a sociable pair. They enjoy having friends over for dinner and drinks at the weekend, and wanted a space to reflect their personality.

The Contour door is relaxed, with a little twist of interest. It offers the ideal balance between fresh and refreshing – and the easy-appearance creates the ideal backdrop for this couple’s social activity.

“Have you seen the bar in the back garden?” Ken asks, as we nosy around the cabinets and cutlery drawers. Excitedly, he leads us through the kitchen and out onto the paved exterior, where a custom-designed bar and beer garden awaits.

Ken’s custom built outdoor boozer is an extension of their sociable home

It’s highly impressive – and once through the door, we’re led through a cavern of rooms and lounge spaces, which we can only imagine transforms into a bustling hive of activity come nightfall.

“We do spend a lot of time with our friends out here. And now that the kitchen looks so nice, they walk can through and get that immediate wow factor – before settling in the bar for a drink.”

We leave the family (and Klaus) to enjoy their new space – suddenly hankering for a refreshing G&T.

You can see the inspiration for Ken and Vanessa’s new kitchen in our Virtu display at Think Interiors, Morecambe. Ask to see the Expression Contour in true white matt.

The Rise of ‘Broken Plan’ – The Kitchen Tech You Need for a Truly Integrated Living Space

As the trend for open-plan living grows ever more popular, so too does the demand for high-tech kitchen gadgets.

We’re beginning to evolve the open-plan living craze – leading experts to coin the phrase ‘broken plan’ – a clever use of design trickery which borrows the relaxed, sociable atmosphere of open-plan, and lends itself into carefully segmented zones.

So what exactly does that mean?

Basically, that we prefer our open-plan living to feel a bit more cosy.

Sliding partitions and folded doors are great tools to separate cooking and dining space. So too, are lovely sweeping drapes and elaborate room renovations, with ornate pillars and glass panels.

We love this grand kitchen extension, which snuggles an island unit between two beautiful room dividers. This clever design offers separate spaces with a clear division, but still provides a relaxed and easy environment – which allows the homeowner to move seamlessly between cooking dinner and catching up on a TV drama.

Credit: Home Stratosphere

But a more subtle way to introduce a new zone is to use lighting and technology in a clever way.

Flexible and adaptable, our Duoflex strip lighting can be applied under cabinets and along plinths, to highlight food preparation areas and provide ambient lighting to a dining area.

LED’s offer a choice of cool, warm and natural white light – which can be chosen in accordance with your chosen room colours.

For example – warm whites work well with marble work surfaces and heavy oak cabinets, while cool white provides a lovely accent to granite worktops and ashy tones.

I love this idea. But where do we start when creating zones?

Think about the sort of things you enjoy doing in your open plan living space. The kitchen area itself has various ‘natural’ zones – food preparation, cooking, waste disposal – perhaps even somewhere to work through the laundry process.

Credit: Homedit

But away from the kitchen itself, open-plan living encourages somewhere to sit and enjoy your meal after cooking, a space to relax and pour a drink afterwards – perhaps even a dedicated area to do homework, or play with the children before bed.

If you’re a keen cook, and prefer to make the most of your cooking space, our Power System & Shelf offers a useful complement to a broken-plan kitchen. This wall mounted kitchen accessory allows you to browse recipes from an easy-to-see vantage point.

Slot your tablet into the ergonomic shelf compartment, and you’re free to access thousands of recipes from the world-wide-web – much more efficient than flicking through a recipe book with floury hands.

There’s power outlets integrated too, plus USB ports and two mini speakers – handy if you’re watching a video recipe demonstration and have your hands full.

And what if I like to host dinner?

Remember all those parties which ended in the kitchen? There’s a reason the kitchen always becomes the hub of the party. Dinner guests enjoy having easy-access to the contents of your fridge.

Credit: Bread & Olives

Whether you start off the evening with canapes and nibbles served on an island unit, or you spend the day slaving over a three-course-dinner – your guests will always hover where the drinks are flowing, and within easy reach of a late-night cheese board.

So why not make the space more lively?

Our Pull Up Power Pods are integrated into your work surface and are easy to tuck out of sight when they’re not needed. But they’re great little tools to have, and really benefit your broken-plan arrangement.

Ideal for ambient dinner music or to blast out the party-starters, simply plug in your tablet or iPod and press play.

Pull Up Power Pods include power sockets and USB ports, with selected models boasting two miniature speakers too.

Great! But what about my chill-out space?

If you move away from the kitchen, possibly through a glass partition door or an archway framed with linen drapes, and into your living space – what would you expect to find there?

Seating arrangements, floorspace with beanbags and a dedicated dining space are good staples to have. We love this leather sofa and tucked-away dining area, with feature lighting to signal the start of a new zone.

Credit: This Place I Call Home

Ambient and feature lighting allows the mind to easily adjust to the mood of each zone.

Our Illuminated Bluetooth Speaker Light offers a soft glow and gentle background music. Ideal to fit under wall cabinets or in alcoves, this versatile speaker light can easily change the mood of your room – and offers the perfect escape when your dinner party gets too much.

Find out more about our kitchen tech.

 

Industrial Kitchens – Work This Smart Trend the Easy Way

Industrial kitchens are a huge trend in the current climate. Many restaurants and bars are taking on the popular urban look – but this is fast moving into residential renovations too.

Open shelving, exposed pipework and copper accents all work well to create an industrial feel – but more subtle details can also pull the look together, such as feature brickwork, rustic woods and raw-edged furnishings.

Four Steps to an Industrial Kitchen

Play around with handles

A full kitchen renovation can be a costly and time consuming task. If you’re already happy with the condition of your kitchen, and feel there are many more years to enjoy from your sturdy cabinets and soft-close doors – consider playing around with accessories to achieve your industrial goals.

Mix & match kitchen handles to create a whole new look to your room

Kitchen door handles can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your finished room. Try a copper effect or chunky rose gold handle. Our Black Copper T-Bar Handle pulls two trends together, with a matt black finish and copper accents. One to try if you prefer a subtle nod to the working world.

Take a working lunch

A chunky wooden dining table, with visible knots and grains, is a perfect addition to an industrial kitchen. The Borough Wharf Carwill Dining Table, from Wayfair, offers a rustic appearance with all the brute strength and raw aesthetics of a steel girder.

The feature A-frame is finished in a heavy iron-like material, and contrasts perfectly against the wooden top. Polished just the right amount, with a little bit of grit showing through – this industrial dining table is finished well will mismatched dining chairs.

This dining table marries rustic wood and chunky steel girders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think about furnishings

Furnishings can make or break a room. Soften an industrial look and bring in some warmth, with chunky drapes and raw-edged rugs. The heaviness of material will play to your industrial feel, whilst still proving and overall ‘cosy’ feel.

This handwoven wool rug from, RnR Wool, is designed with a chunky knit body and handwoven fringe – this offers a sturdy appearance which doesn’t disappear within the finished look.

Choose a heavy linen drape or waffle-weave curtain to line the windows, or separate cooking and dining areas. Play close attention to small details – curtain poles can look out of place if not chosen correctly.

Industrial curtain rod available in a choice of metals to suit your taste

This industrial curtain rod, from Industrial Envy, is available in a choice of metals to suit your preferred look – and with a little imagination, can create a stunning feature in your room.

Consider using this to hang lighting, or picture frames too.

Try feature lighting

One thing which really makes an impact in any room is the type of lighting used. This can easily take your kitchen from cold and unappealing, to bold and interesting. The Harley Floor Lamp from Made.com, has an instantly striking appearance which can help to fill a sparse space.

Versatile lighting with adjustable lamps makes a strong statement in a sparse space

Really versatile and easy to style, this industrial lamp can be stood upright as floorstanding piece, or horizontal as a quirky uplighter. Each individual lamp can be adjusted to suit your lighting preferences.

Alternatively, our copper pendant ceiling lights offer a subtle nod to the industrial kitchen trend. The brushed metal surface and soft colour creates a focal point, which still allows the rest of your room to talk.

What do you love most about the industrial trend? Tell us in the comments below.

Virtu Real Kitchens: Janet & Maurice’s ‘Big City’ Expression Neo Lava Gloss

It was a tale of two halves when Maurice and his wife, Janet, decided it was about time for a new kitchen. The couple had differing priorities, which they worked into the design of the room with the help of approved Virtu supplier, D.R Kitchens.

Janet was keen to capture the lights of the big city, after a falling in love with the atmosphere during a recent trip to New York. Maurice, meanwhile, felt it important that the space be practical and easy to maintain.

“I’m a kept man,” he tells us, with a laugh. “I’m retired now, and my wife still goes out to work every day. So of course, I want to ensure my cleaning and cooking duties are as easy as possible.”

We certainly admire his dedication.

The maintenance of the kitchen was at the forefront of Maurice’s mind during every aspect of the planning stage – and Darren from D.R Kitchens, offered advice and alternative arrangements to accommodate his needs.

“We had the high wall units boxed in, so that the finished look was not only very streamlined, but very clean. There’s no space on top of the units now for dust to gather.”

Every aspect of this kitchen’s design was chosen for its ease of use, and longevity.

“Our previous kitchen was a bit of a mess,” Maurice explains. “The units were cheap and had started to fall apart, and the chrome handles had already started to rust. We wanted a kitchen which was guaranteed to last.”

Maurice and Janet chose the Neo kitchen from our Expression collection – in stunning lava gloss. This is an integrated handle design, which immediately gives the appearance of straight lines and streamlined edges – whilst the rich colour hides any finger-marks and stains well.

So how did the New York theme work its way into the arrangement?

“Janet enjoyed a trip over there a few years ago,” Maurice explains with a smile. “It was only a long weekend, but she really fell in love with the place. She just has these ideas you know – and who am I to stand in her way?”

We have to agree.

One of Janet’s ideas for the kitchen – as well as having a wine cooler integrated into the units – was to include a mural of the Big Apple on one side of the room, with small splashes of colour echoing throughout.

Janet was also keen that the space would benefit from additional storage and work areas.

“The original kitchen was much smaller than this,” Maurice says. “We knocked down a wall and opened out from two smaller rooms into one large one – Janet was pleased because it meant we had the space for an island unit.”

“We have a much more useable space now, and we have more room to move around. Which is great because it means we can both be in the kitchen together when we need to be, and it does feel more sociable.

“Yesterday Janet was preparing her lunch for work on the island unit, and I was chopping vegetables for dinner over by the kitchen sink.”

The couple tend to eat together in the evenings, and have a small dining area which is dedicated just to this. There’s also plenty of space to expand when family come over for dinner at the weekend.

“We have children and grandchildren, so we need to have room to accommodate the whole family when we’re all together.”

Another example of how this kitchen has been designed to suit the family by D.R Kitchens, is the clever pull-up power pod integrated into the island unit.

“Janet works from home on occasion,” Maurice says.  “She’s also involved with the local darts club and spends time on the computer keeping all the scores up to date.

“The pull up power pod is really useful. There’s plenty of mains space, and USB ports too – so we can have the laptop on, and charge our mobile phones at the same time.”

You can have your own dream kitchen, just like Maurice & Janet. Check out the Expression Neo kitchen on our website, and contact Darren, from D.R Kitchens to enquire about installation.

Project cost: £15-£20k