It’s hard to imagine a time when cool and contemporary kitchens – lofty and open plan, sleek and minimal, white and glossy, granited and oaked, – were not an integral part of modern living. These days whatever kind of property you buy - rustic cottage or warehouse apartment - if it’s been ‘done’ that means a state of the art kitchen.
Tom Bayley set up kitchen design firm Quartet Interiors in 1993 a little ahead of the curve, when kitchens were just somewhere functional for cooking (rather than a statement). A few years later interiors got fashion-savvy, the trend for uber kitchens exploded (my kitchen is cooler than your kitchen) and Bayley found himself in the right game at the right time. He says: "Lifestyles have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades with the kitchen becoming the central hub of any house.' Today Bayley has carved out a niche creating bespoke living spaces which reflect the lifestyles and tastes of their inhabitant – IKEA kitchens these are not. He says: “People tend to come to me if they have challenging spaces or specific needs or when an off the shelf kitchen feels like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.' Before he begins the design process he spends time getting to know clients so he can comprehend their lifestyle and needs. "A hardcore cook who likes to get the kiddies involved in the cooking needs a lot of prep space so that will be built into the layout. It's a question of taking time to really understand what is needed.' Bayley honed his art first as a cabinet maker, then running a design workshop and these days makes around 18 kitchens a year. Each project is tailor-made and feels entirely different from the last one, he says. The hottest trend in kitchens right now include zinc worktops, seamless stainless steel islands and the Georgian scullery look pictured below.
Essentially, though, Bayley can design whatever you want. Pea green splash back cradling a mammoth TV, central island and desk for home working? No problem.
As a trained cabinet maker, Bayley excels at creating storage solutions that really work. Check out this beautiful dresser below made from a fallen Pippy Oak in West Sussex which a client had fallen in love with.
Quartet Interiors often step in when a design project becomes complex - like the highly minimal London kitchen Bayley is currently overseeing which has been designed by a Japanese architect. He says: "The feel is very simple and minimalist but actually executing it is a real challenge because the house is listed.' Quartet Interiors kitchens start at around £30,000 but can cost up to £80,000. Bayley says: "Bespoke kitchens have become the new mode of self-expression and people are prepared to spend to get the desired look.'