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Beauty Style: Cooking up a stylish storm; Fancy, flashy kitchens are all the rage. Gabrielle Fagan finds out how to get a cooking area that would make Gordon, Nigella and Jamie green with envy.

Byline: Gabrielle Fagan

High-tech kitchens have never been so hip, with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay confessing he spent pounds 500,000 on his home kitchen - plus a separate one for his wife.

The man who grilled hapless celebrities on TV's Hell's Kitchen treated himself to state-of-the-art appliances. They include a pounds 67,000 Rorgue stove, cupboard handles mimicking the shape of a Ferrari gearstick, and a walk-in size fridge.

His kitchen was designed by Richard Baker Furniture. 'I wanted a large square sink, granite worktops and splashbacks, none of which have square edges so nothing chips easily.' says Ramsay Another celebrity chef, Antony Worrall Thompson also has a bespoke kitchen, created for him by furniture designer, Mark Wilkinson. It has a bright yellow range cooker, which stands in the centre of the room furnished with Provence fitted units.

'The kitchen is the heart of our home, and also where I film the Food and Drink programme,' he explains. 'I needed it to be user friendly and also comfortable and welcoming for the family.'

We might not all be able to afford a Ramsay room, but slick, sleek kitchens are hot.

Kitchen design companies report that home owners are spending huge amounts on what is now seen as the most important room in the house, and a perfect place for not only showing off our cookery skills - hopefully! - but also gadgets, stunning units and expensive lighting and decor.

Designer Sebastian Conran says: 'People are much more interested in food and they want a great room to cook it in. Says designer Sebastian Conran 'Gone are the times when the kitchen was set aside and guests wouldn't enter it. Jamie, Nigella and others have shown you can cook well from raw materials and you don't just have to stick a plastic box in the microwave.'

'The luxury kitchen market is certainly growing'. The kitchen is no longer a functional room, but a reflection of people's design aspirations and lifestyle.' says Graham Hayden, chief executive of Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association Luckily there's plenty of wellpriced, quality kitchen ranges around. 'People are favouring seriously sleek kitchens, much more than the country look'. Says David Roth, marketing director at B&Q. 'We are selling lots of birch or beech units, stainless steel granite work tops and splash backs.

'The emphasis is on uncluttered, practical worksurfaces making it easy for people to look like star chefs.'

Kitchen Style

Richard Baker Furniture: Call: 020 8336 1777

B&Q: Call: 0845 222 1000

Mark Wilkinson Furniture: Call: 01380 850004

John Lewis Of Hungerford: 01488 688 100

Create a celebrity style kitchen

Rebecca Tanqueray author of new book 101 Ideas Kitchens gives her tips on how to create a contemporary kitchen.

. Opt for clean-lined units and keep them simple, no fussy handles.

. Choose sliding unit doors, swing doors are so last century.

. Use glass and stainless steel wherever you can. Frosted glass can also work well as a unit front.

. Choose a chunky worktop - slate, concrete, recycled plastic.

. A floating island unit in an open plan kitchen is ultra fashionable.

. Hide everything behind closed doors, uncluttered surfaces are key.

. Keep walls plain, or if you want pattern, opt for textured plaster finish or a retro 1970s wallpaper.

. If you opt for wood, make it dark.

. Floors should be sleek and unfussy, smooth stone, wide floorboards, or a sweep of coloured rubber.

. Choose a streamlined sink in steel or stone and dress with modern taps.

101 Ideas Kitchens by Rebecca Tanqueray is published by Quadrille, priced pounds 14.99.

A survey on kitchens by John Lewis Of Hungerford has revealed that our cookery habits are influenced by where we live.

. In general 41 per cent of people find cooking therapeutic and relaxing, while 80 per cent of us are inspired to cook for special occasions.

. Only 4 per cent of us pass off caterers' food as our own. . 30 per cent of newlyweds suffer nerves when cooking for in-laws causing them to have accidents or ruin the food.

. Most common mishaps are forgetting to turn the oven on, and leaving food unattended and finding that family pets have eaten it.

. Midlands: Cooks here are extroverts in the kitchen and thrive on showing off their cooking to an audience. They love the social aspect of cooking for family and friends with 70 per cent finding that visitors in the kitchen improve their skills rather than distract them.

. North East: Cooks here love listening to music as they cook, while 40 per cent find singing helps their creativity in the kitchen.

. North West: A glass or two of wine helps cooks here improve their creativity. The vast majority in this area cited a corkscrew as the most useful kitchen gadget - but a wine cooler the least useful!

. South East: Cooks in this area don't just love the kitchen they live in it - and name it as the most popular room in the home. 50 per cent of people confessed to midnight feasts and sneaking down to the fridge for late night snacks.

. South West: Cooks here favour fish dishes and prefer to stamp their own creativity on dishes rather than copying dishes seen on television.

Gordon Ramsay's kitchen designed by Richard Baker Furniture, and showing his state-of-theart Rorgue stainless steel stove in the centre


B&Q Birch style Shaker kitchen Inset: Antony Worrall Thompson and his Mark Wilkinson Furniture Provence kitchen; Creme de la Creme kitchen by John Lewis of Hungerford; Gordon Ramsay's kitchen which was designed and supplied by Richard Baker furniture
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 16, 2004
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