Saturday, April 04, 2009


Kitchen designer Mark Hanner, from Trowbridge, has opened a ‘recession beating’ kitchen showroom at Trowbridge Garden Centre.

His company, The Kitchen Designer, took the bold step of converting a standard 20 foot shipping container, into a fully operational kitchen showroom, complete with a full kitchen display.

Opening in the middle of a downturn and recession is always a concern for any business, especially with other businesses in the industry not surviving. But as Mark explains, thinking ‘out of the box’ has really paid off:

“It took almost 2 years for me to find a suitable and cost effective way to open my showroom, and I looked at all the local high streets without finding anything suitable. I considered everything. Then I found out about converting a container, and started researching. I soon realised it was the ideal solution for me to finally open up”

Mark had seen a vacant site at Trowbridge Garden Centre, and had approached them about the project.

“Trowbridge Garden Centre has been very accommodating with my ideas. My plans weren’t exactly conventional, but it has resulted in the transformation of a formerly blank site for them, and a great little showroom for me. I didn’t want to follow the crowds; I wanted to create something unique”

“It now also provides me with a fantastic basis for expansion, as the containers can be treated like giant building blocks, allowing me to expand the first site and look at others”

Mark is also keen to point out the green credentials of what he has done.

“Once these containers have served their purpose, they often litter shipping yards with no further use. Re-using them in this way helps recycle them and giving them a purpose. People have even built properties using containers.”

The showroom now provides Mark with somewhere to showcase his kitchen furniture and design work to the public. He has also had interest in converting more containers for another local firm.

Some extra photos, before and after:

10 Kitchen Design Trends for 2009


With an ever increasing interest in environmentally friendly products, many people are now questioning the green credentials of their new kitchen. These can include using wood from sustainable and renewable sources, energy efficient appliances, and the inclusion of recycling systems.

Tip: Why not ask the wood being supplied in your new kitchen has the FSC stamp?


Over the past few years, the popularity of open plan kitchen/living spaces has really taken a boost. This year, with house prices falling and many of us choosing to stay put and improve, open plan spaces will be high on the wish list. Integrating a kitchen/living area has never been easier or more practical – whether it’s simply knocking a wall down or building a large, open plan extension.

Tip: Planning rules changed in October 2008 meaning planning permission isn’t always required (depending on size)


In the age of the IPod, integrating music and television into the kitchen is fast becoming a must. And, believe it or not, you don’t need huge budget to achieve it. Simple cost effective options are available for a few hundred pounds, and even a good quality ‘whole house’ system can be supplied and installed for as little as £3-4k. Televisions integrated into wall cabinets, wireless radios, and micro PC’s are just a few ideas.

Tip: Got an MP3 player? Why not invest in a compact speaker dock and use it in the kitchen


The retro handle-less look associated with the 70’s is making a comeback! Most suited to plain, flat doors of high gloss or wood grain finish, you can create a sleek contemporary look by integrating the handle. If you don’t like handles at all, you could opt for a ‘push-to-open’ system which works using spring catches.

Tip: ‘Push-to-open’ systems are great for storage under a breakfast bar, saving any painful knee clashes with your handles!


Now that we’re all getting a little braver, many are choosing to make a bit more of a statement with their kitchen. A statement can be made in many ways, including chunky worktops, bold and bright colours, coloured glass, and bold feature walls. Another way to achieve this is to use shapes – curves are becoming much more affordable and are available in a wider range of styles.

Tip: Add a splash of colour to a neutral kitchen using coloured glass splashbacks and upstands


Contrasting different colours and textures provides a great way to add wow factor to the kitchen. This is also a great way of drawing attention to one particular area or section of the room. This can be achieved with worktops, the kitchen itself, the appliances, or on the walls by using panelling and cladding.

Tip: Neutral gloss creams and whites contrast well with dark wood-grains


This year will see the return of black appliances, but not as we’re used to seeing them. This time, black steel and black glass is being used to create contemporary appliances, mixed with blue LED displays and stainless steel detailing. A far cry from the black enamel we saw many years ago.

Tip: Many appliance brands offer co-ordinating ranges so you can create a feature out of your appliances


Strong wood grains are making their mark on the kitchen industry. Woods such as Zebrano, Walnut and Wenge are popular choices, as they offer a striking look. Because of their strong appearance, they’re usually best reserved for use on feature units or accent colours, though if you personality requires, why not do the whole kitchen!

Tip: Why not use strong wood grains on an island, with a more neutral colour for the surrounding kitchen


It might sound strange, but design and temptation can mean we don’t always choose the best value options, not just in choosing a kitchen. So with the current downturn affecting many of us, it’ll be vital to get the best value for money that we can. There are many aspects of a new kitchen where the big name brands don’t always offer the best in value for money. This year and for some time yet, we’ll be looking for a sustainable and good value design as well.

Tip: Products aside, value for money also needs to be found in the service offered to you


Whilst not overly practical as a worktop, glass comes in very handy with splashbacks and upstands, and we’ll be seeing more of it. Patterned glass is likely to be a trend for 09, adding another design element to the equation – from simple standard patterns to bespoke made to order designs. Be sure to add some interest to those glass cabinets!!

Tip: Patterned glass can look great underneath breakfast bars and islands with stools.