Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What sort of wood do you use?
We manufacture using many timbers including oak, walnut, sycamore, maple, cherrywood, ash, tulipwood and pine. We are generally happy to work with other woods too, subject to their suitability, availability and sustainable source. Typically we make a sample door for each client, that is because we offer an almost limitless variety of woods, colours, stains, styles, door details, distressing levels (or none), door furniture, and mouldings. Each project is genuinely original and bespoke, we even offer our oak furniture in either American or European grown timber, selected, or various levels of character in the graining, pippy, plain, stained, bleached, and so on......to suit our client's taste.
Q: Why do you use tulipwood to paint over instead of mdf?
Our painted furniture is predominantly solid tulipwood (poplar), with the exception of the panels which are from MDF. Clients who are shopping for a painted kitchen (or indeed furniture in other rooms) will expect the hand painted finish to be as near perfect as possible, and to remain that way for years to come. All solid wood moves in tune with the relative humidity conditions, which constantly change, especially seasonally. (We have all experienced a back door that is tight at certain times of year but not others.) The risk of hairline cracks in the paint, along the panel joints, is therefore negated by using mdf panels, which do not move due to humidity. If we are making a solid wooden door that is not painted, we are able to allow the movement within the method of construction, and no one would be aware it was occurring. The difference with painted furniture is that to date there is not a flexible paint available and no way to disguise the movement, which manifolds itself as a hairline crack. We do not consider making the doors all from MDF as it has no "body" unlike solid wood. Thus screws eventually work loose, hinges wobble and doors drop.
Q: How do you start to design a kitchen?
In our opinion there is not a right way to design a kitchen, and neither is there a wrong way. We believe there is ONE way that suits our particular client better than the alternatives, and it is our job to find, and create that way. We all work differently, and we all have our own tastes. We work with our client to achieve this, their input is crucial in the design process. We do not expect our clients to actually design the room themselves, but we will involve them in every step, our advice will be based upon over 30 years experience and will be honest.
Q: How long does it take to install a kitchen?
Typically the installation process can take about 4 weeks. This would break down into the removal of old kitchen, electrical and plumbing works, making good old plasterwork, flooring, fit new cabinets (about 1 week), template for tops then 1 week later fit the granite, any painting that might be involved. Obviously some projects are more involved and complex than others. The room is not necessarily out of action for the entirety of that period.
Q: Do you use your own installation team?
Our fitting team is lead by one of the Directors. His role is hands on but also to "project manage" the job, as typically numerous trades are involved. Our fitters are employees of the Company. We do use some sub contractors (electrician for example) but they have worked for us over many years.
Q: What’s the difference in quality of granite?
Granite has been a popular choice of counter top with us for many years. There are a huge number and variety of granites surfaces available. This is true in colour, texture, look and finish, with leathered and mat finishes becoming more and more popular. The reason one granite is more expensive than another is down to a number of things, 1 where in the world it comes from. 2 how "rare" a material it is 3 slab sizes required to make the tops 4 complexity of shapes and overall design. All of the above is also true of Quartz and other "solid" surfaces available.
Q: Can I see some kitchens that you’ve designed and installed?
We show here on the website a number of actual installations and the comments received from those clients. Our portfolio is huge and widely varied. If you do not see what you are looking for here, please let us know what you require and we can let you know if we can fulfil that brief.
Q: How long have you been designing, building and installing bespoke kitchens?
Whilst Grand Union Designs have been around for 6 years, we all have much longer backgrounds in bespoke kitchens. The three principals have a total of over 80 years experience.
Q: What if I wanted a cabinet making? Can you do this as well?
We are furniture makers first and foremost therefore any "free standing" pieces are well within our remit. We would refer you to this section of the web site.
Q: What care do I need to give my new kitchen once it’s installed?
The furniture we produce is designed and manufactured specifically for the purpose. There is very little "special" care required to keep the finishes looking good and performing well. We do provide, at the end of each project, a box which contains a booklet on how to look after the furniture, along with sinks, taps, appliances, counters etc, also within the box are "spares" including any screws, hinges, handles, lacquer, stain, paint and waxes used during manufacture. This is a "First Aid Kit" should you have a accident with the kitchen at any time in the future.
Q: What’s the process of deciding on a new kitchen, designing and installing it?
We have almost unlimited choice of colour, style and finish so it becomes essential that we work very closely with our clients. Part of the attraction of having something hand made is that you should finish up with exactly what you want and not the same as everyone else. We give good, honest advise and opinions. Usually we put together colour boards and samples to help you make the decisions. More often than not we can pull up photographs of previous work with similarities. Having agreed the design we re survey with our Installation Director who then produces a program of works.
Q: Can you help with electrical work, plumbing, plastering and flooring as well?
We provide a service that will include carpentry, plumbing, electrics, plastering, decoration, tiling and even smaller scale building works to whatever extent may be required for the job. Sometimes a client will prefer to use their own plumber and or electrician, and we are happy to work in this way too.
Q: Is your wood from sustainable resources?
We try to ensure that all our wood is from sustainable sources.