Tag Archives: Hacker kitchens Dubai

At Home | British journalist, published author and mum of two, Annabel Kantaria, takes us into a home to show us a project of another kind, her stunning new Hacker kitchen

Photos by Alex Jeffries Photography Group

Annabel Kantaria is a published author, who in 2013, won the inaugural Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.  This lead to being discovered by top London agent, Luigi Bonomi, who helped her secure two defining contracts as an author, a three-book contract with Harlequin’s MIRA and another three-book contract with HQ at Harper Collins.  

Annabel first moved to Dubai in 1998 where she worked as a freelance journalist and a radio producer, and later become the Editor of Emirates Woman before leaving in 2007.  She lives in Dubai with her husband and her two children, and for 7-years shared as an ‘expat blogger’ for The Telegraph her experiences and encounters of life in the Middle East.  Her debut novel, Coming Home, was published in 2015, and Annabel has since published two other books, The Disappearance and The One That Got Away.  The One That Got Away is out in the shops this month.

Annabel has since taken a project on of a another kind to renovate her kitchen.  As we are huge fans of interiors, we wanted to share her stunning kitchen that is homely, perfect for a family and its calming colour scheme.

Why did you choose Hacker Kitchens?

I looked at a few companies but I chose Hacker in the end because of the company’s reputation for quality, and because I believed the team would deliver the job without cutting corners. I’d had my kitchen updated eight years ago using a local contractor (now out of business) and it had been a disaster: I paid a fortune and ended up with a substandard job that started to deteriorate just months after it had been completed. I was determined that if I did the kitchen again, it would be a ‘forever’ job.

I talked to a few companies when researching the new kitchen and I can’t recommend Hacker Kitchens highly enough. They held my hand throughout the entire design process and then worked with me to fit my budget. They delivered everything when they said they would and were lovely to work with throughout.

What was the most important aspect for you as a family in terms of design and functionality?

I obviously wanted the kitchen to look amazing, but everything had to work efficiently as well, as I spend a lot of time cooking. We moved a few things around in order to make the ‘flow’ of the kitchen work better. This was no small job but I’m so glad we did it as the layout of the kitchen now makes so much more sense.

How long did the process take and how did your family manage during the installation period?

The design took a few months as I was backwards and forwards with our very patient designer at Hacker Kitchens, as I made sure I got everything where I really wanted it. Then the entire job took about two months. The bulk of this, though, was contractor work prior to the units being installed. The actual installation of units doesn’t take long at all, maybe just a few days, then it’s another wait for the worktops to be measured for and cut and fitted.

We basically set up a makeshift kitchen in the living room by moving the fridge/freezer in there and setting up a camping table on which I had the slow cooker, the microwave and an electric two-pan hob. I’d planned to buy in lots of food but I don’t think we even had one take-away in that period… I got creative with the slow cooker and even made a lasagne in it. Otherwise I cooked one-pot dishes such as curries and Bolognese on the hob and always made large batches that I could freeze and re-heat in the microwave. It didn’t seem a hardship at all. Doing the washing-up in the bathroom was the worst bit.

What made you choose this stunning soft cashmere style?

I love pale colours. I find them very peaceful. Our house is largely white and our last kitchen had been white with black granite tops. I felt the black and white was looking dated so opted for this more modern look, and I absolutely love it. Polar White high gloss cabinets with integrated satin steel handles contrast beautifully with the cool grey quartz worktop and interior drawers in lava grey. The worktop was extended into the splash back giving continuity and also great durability. It’s so calming and looks very luxe.

You chose Miele for appliances. What made you choose this brand and how has this worked out for you in terms of practicality?

Hacker Kitchens recommend Miele and work closely with them. Miele themselves offer a super service of fitting the appliances and then sending a technician to ‘train’ you in how to use them. I’m very pleased with all the appliances: the induction hob is really fast, and both ovens are lightyears ahead of the cumbersome old one I had previously. It never ceases to amaze me how fast they heat up!

Has the kitchen made a lifestyle impact on your family?

The kitchen makes me smile every single time I walk into it, and I really, really love using it. Everything flows; everything’s in the right place; the cupboards close beautifully; and everything’s well organised and has a home.

In terms of the family, we fitted an island that seats five people and we often end up eating family meals together there, instead of setting up the dining table. It’s also great when I have people over for dinner and I’m just finishing up the cooking – guests sit there with their drinks and chat to me while I get the food ready.

Did you manage to stay within your allocated budget within the project?

Yes, Hacker was very good at helping me make choices that worked with my budget. I hadn’t realised you could tailor things to match your budget. I did blow it a bit on the Miele appliances, though. This is my fault because I chose to install a 90cm oven that has the most amazing features and automated programmes such as proving dough, steam-cooking meat and so on. Maybe if I’d stuck to the 60cm one I’d have come in on budget!

What are your three favourite key features of the kitchen?

I love the deep drawers. I get so much joy from not having to scrabble inside dark cupboards to find things. I love the soft-close on all the cupboards and drawers, and I love the larder units with the glass slide-out drawers. Small things that make me happy!

Your latest book, The One That Got Away is out in September. Can you tell us a little more?

The book’s about a pair of teenage sweethearts who meet up after 15 years and get back together. But things are not as nice as they may appear on the surface. It’s quite a dark story of obsession, coercive control, secrets and revenge.

How has winning the Montegrappa Prize at the EAFOL in 2013 changed your life as an author?

Ultimately, winning that competition turned me from an unpublished writer into an author with a three-book deal from Harper Collins. It’s very hard to get an agent and a publishing deal in London: the Montegrappa prize won me the attention of Luigi Bonomi, a top London agent. He then took me on as a client and secured me a book contract. Before I won the competition, I thought the prize would simply be a validation of my work: looking back, I now see that winning that prize was the beginning of my new career. Last year I won a second three-book deal with Harper Collins so I’ll have six books out by 2020.  I honestly feel I can call myself an author now!

How do you discipline yourself to write while juggling your children’s routine?

I work when they’re at school. The children leave with my husband at 7.15am and, as I’m most productive and creative first thing in the morning, I get straight onto the computer and work as long as I can before taking a break. I try to do some exercise late morning, otherwise I’d just be moulded to my seat then, after lunch, I have another session of about an hour before picking up the children and starting on the whole after-school sports / homework  / dinner-cooking palaver. If I can get any work done in the afternoon it’s a bonus, but I don’t rely on that time: the children are my priority, and I cook dinner every single day.

In the school holidays, I try to finish work by 10am so the children and I can spend the bulk of the day doing something together. I find if I’ve got my work out of the way early, I can relax. If I know it’s still got to be done, I’m on edge all day.

What do you hope to instil in your children as they grow up in Dubai?

I’m very keen that they learn to be self-sufficient and not get used to having things done for them; and that they keep their feet on the ground. I also try not to over-schedule them into activities – it’s important to me that they learn to amuse themselves with whatever limited resources they may have to hand rather than being in organised activities all the time.

Your favourite restaurant for date night?

We don’t have one. Generally, we‘d both rather stay home and hang out in the garden than go anywhere really fancy. The last place we went that I really enjoyed, though, was Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. They had a lovely vegetarian Wellington. I love it when restaurants make an effort to provide something interesting for vegetarians that goes beyond the ubiquitous mushroom risotto, pizza and pasta Pomodoro.

Your favourite place to write?

At home in my study. Sometimes at the dining table. Occasionally in a café. But generally anywhere where no-one’s going ‘Mummy… mummy…’

Find out more about Annabel Kantaria’s books.

Interiors | The Hacker Kitchen revealed

Photography: Alex Jeffries www.alexjeffriesphotographygroup.com

It was like giving birth to our fifth child – the whole process and anticipation was the same (ok, maybe those were ambitious choice of words but just for a moment we were very close to that feeling). The joy of meeting for the first time, our new kitchen.

Words simply do not describe how delighted we are with the results. Christmas has come early this year.  The beautiful photography by Alex Jeffries himself, one of the most talented photographers I have had the privilege of watching at his craft, really does say it all.  

In my last post on Hacker Kitchens where we discussed the process, I described how we wanted more than just a kitchen, we wanted a new family space for our family to spend time in.  We have spent the last couple of weeks testing out the new space, appliances and kitchen.  It has certainly lived up to the hype and expectations of the brand.  It was like test driving a brand new car.  I have spent time cooking with the children in the kitchen already feeling more inspired with the space and the light.  Cooking has become more of a joy again. I know, some cynics will say like everything else this new shiny event will wear off.  Perhaps cooking 3 meals a day will return to tediousness but  whilst my enthusiasm reigns, my cookbooks deserve more time again, and we are trying out new recipes all the time as a family.

This new kitchen has also helped us declutter the unnecessary.  How many of you secretly know that at the back of your kitchen cupboard lies a few kitchen relics that are too good to throw out but the truth is they are never used.  Now, everything in the cupboards are only the items we will use time and time again.  That’s my definition of a working kitchen.

The new kitchen has forced us to make choices about appliances; we are much more streamlined as a result, and still we have space in our cupboards.

In my fantasy world of motherhood, I had always dreamt of baking with two children, whilst my other two children sit diligently completing their homework in advance; caption underneath my fantasy photograph would be Motherhood in the 1950s.  Whilst the reality is much more messy, I do get time to do some of that now in our family’s version.  I spend time with the children cooking and baking in the kitchen, having breakfast and dinner as a family, build lego on the countertops, do homework, and work on the blog.  It helps me achieve what I want, which is essentially to spend as much quality time as I can with the children.

I am a firm believer that even if we are blessed with help at home, it is important that our children see us, as parents, cooking, and to have the children interact in the kitchen too.  It gives them early on an understanding of what is healthy and that food should be prepared from scratch and not from bottles, cans or jars if possible.

We have used the steam oven and the regular oven by Miele together, and we have cooked teppanyaki meals inspired by our trip to Japan, and fried Japanese fried rice using the induction wok.  For moments when gas is easier, that is an option in the kitchen too.

One milestone in the kitchen upgrade was when I laid my eyes on the fridge and freezer unit, the highlight for me.

As dramatic as it sounds, the Hacker Family Kitchen has certainly transformed the space in our house but it has also changed our lifestyle as a family to be able to do more together in the home.

For more information about design check out www.hacker.ae

10-minutes with Hacker’s Senior Interior Designer Leigh-Ann Steele | How to upgrade your kitchen on a budget

We are currently living most of this summer without a kitchen, and it has not been easy with young children, and thank goodness the team at Hacker and Roseville have tried to make it as painless as possible but I am hoping that when school starts, it will be finally done. 

At some point, we will all face wear and tear from heavy usage of our family kitchens and some will need a temporary or permanent facelift. It is always so satisfying when renovations are finally complete no matter the scale of the project but it is also a big commitment especially if you are on a tight budget, short of time or have young children and not everyone is up for dramatic changes.  

So if you need ideas to make worthwhile cosmetic changes to the kitchen without ripping the whole room out, I sat down with Leigh-Ann Steele, Senior Designer, from Hacker Dubai to ask her advice on affordable tips on making effective changes.

 Change the worktops

There are lots of different materials that you can use for worktops. They each have pros and cons and varying price ranges.

Laminate- The most cost effective material and quite readily available locally. There are some really nice new laminates available that have textures & funky colours. They aren’t as cold to the touch as marble granite or quartz material. They are easily installed by a skilled kitchen fitter too. The drawback is that they never look like a natural stone or quartz material.

Marble & granite – These are natural materials and come in many colours with unusual textures and veining which are different in each slab. This is the beauty of using natural stone. You can visit a stone yard and choose the exact slab for fabrication. The fabricator can do varied thicknesses by mitring the edge to make it appear that the stone is thicker than the slabs actually is. The can also do under mount sink cut-outs with polished edges all round. If you have an under mount sink with drainer grooves cut into the stone you give the illusion of more counter space as there is no need for a large sit on sink with an attached drainer.

Quartz– this looks and feels like a stone worktop but it’s a manmade material. There are many different manufacturers of quarts material. They are not all made of the same quality though. Be sure to go with a reputable supplier of the stone and a really good fabricator who cuts worktops regularly, or you may be disappointed! A well-produced quarts will not stain as it is completely non porous. Even if you were to leave turmeric on it overnight, as long as you scrub hard enough it will come out. Be sure not to use anything acidic though as this could harm the surface. It comes in lots of different colours that you wouldn’t find in natural stone slabs. As well as solid colours. Solid white is very popular at the moment as is anything in more neutral colours- cool greys, taupe & light brown. It also comes in a volcano finish which is a roughened texture to see and touch but still very practical in a kitchen. Suede finishes are also popular as they have a matt appearance   The fabricators of quartz material can do all of the things listed above with regard to the sink cut-outs and overall worktop thickness.

Wooden worktops– These are not that popular in the UAE as they are a natural material which is susceptible to climate changes. If the AC is switched off in the warmer months they can begin to warp. Water and heat damage are the most common problems. If you were to leave a glass with a rim on the surface overnight you would more than most likely see a permanent ring on the top as it will have penetrated the surface. They are not suitable for wet sink areas for the same reason. A hot plate or bowl will also mark the tops quite easily. The tops will need to be oiled every few months to keep them in tip top condition.  So although beautiful the maintenance and day to day use can be tiresome. 

Change the splashbacks

Natural stone or quartz- if you are replacing your worktops you may want to consider having the splashbacks done in the same material. The beauty of a single piece of stone is that you won’t have grimy grout joints appear over time in cooking and wet areas. The cost is going to be substantially more than a mid-range tile would cost.

Glass- you can have a glass back painted splash back. Again you will need to find a really good company as a template needs to be done. Cut-outs for plugs etc.. once this is done the glass needs to be toughened for safety reasons. After this it is painted and has a film applied. The supplier will then come and install the glass onto your wall with a silicone adhesive. The drawback of this is that if the glass is even a few millimetres out it cannot be re cut. Once the panel is toughened that’s it. You can’t change it or cut it anymore. Be sure to check that the paint work is perfect before they install. Again as it is behind the glass there is nothing you can do to touch up badly finished areas or rectify bubbles etc…  

Tiles- there are so many trendy new tile shapes and finishes available from Hexagonal marble to slithers of natural stone. Of course the cost range on these can vary greatly. If you didn’t want to break the bank there are options which are reasonably priced and can easily be installed by a contactor. The downside is of ours the grout lines. These may get dirty over time in your cooking and sink areas especially. Make sure the contractor who installs uses a waterproof grout.

Change the flooring

Some properties in Dubai are looking a little tired especially the flooring- there is a great product called LVT which is perfect for use in a kitchen. It has the appearance of a very realistic wooden floor. It is only 6mm thick so can be applied directly over your existing tiles. The surface is waterproof making it the ideal choice for a kitchen area and running it through the rest of the villa or apartment. This will also give the illusion of the space being a lot larger with eh same finish. The installation is fast and clean. No need to lift the existing flooring.

A resin or concrete floor can be applied over your existing tiles in a number of colours. This is a very thin layer in a multitude of colours giving you a more industrial look throughout. Again it is quick and won’t require you to lift the existing tiles which is a very messy job!

 Change the lighting

Bad lighting is one of the most common issues in a kitchen. It can make everything look dull and unappealing.  Changing the ceiling from those awful tiles to a freshly painted flush plasterer board finish could be just the answer. You can get warm coloured lighting which can be movable ( I call them rock and roll lights). You can angle the lights to highlight the features. For instance if you have a funky piece of art or furniture in your kitchen. Make it a feature. Under cabinet lights make a huge difference as they bring a different light source into the mix. You can switch them separately for mood lighting when the kitchen isn’t being used to cook or do anything that requires full task lighting. 

Re-decoration & internals

Clean freshly painted walls in neutral colours are always good. If you wanted to do something a little different there are lots of paint effects offered by Jotun that can transform a wall into a feature wall and really make it stand out. From a texture brick finish to something that appears as a hessian look and feel. These won’t break the bank.

If you use wall paper in a kitchen make sure that it is suitable for areas with a high moisture content. Try not to put these anywhere near the coking or washing up stations. Wall paper and water or  steam don’t mix.

You can change your knobs or handles on the kitchen doors. Just be sure that you line up the holes. There are handles available that have a flat back plate and would cover any existing holes from with a single knob or handle with 2 screw holes.

Clever storage solutions inside the cabinets-re organise your cabinets internally with baskets and additional shelves- plan in advance what you’re going to store in each cabinet and crate spaces for items to fit in.  

Replace the sink  and tap. By replacing an old dull sink and tap you can make the entire space feel clean and more user friendly.

Calin a steam cleaning company to give your existing cabinets a good once over. They will come back to life and feel fresh. Even if they aren’t brand new! They can also steam clean the appliances. Your oven will look & feel brand new!

The Hacker Showroom in Dubai is located on the Sheikh Zayed Road between The Change Initiative and Al Zahra Hospital. 

For more information go to www.hacker.ae

Mood board | In the market for a new kitchen and trying to find inspiration | Fell in love with some of these Hacker designs

With 4 children and a dog, the current storage in our kitchen is busting at its seams.  We love to cook as a family and, as a result, our store cupboards are full of flour, chia seeds, goji berries, organic spelt pasta, spices, and kombu sticks, and when we travel we cannot help picking up special dry food items from all over the world.   It can be frustrating to cook when I can’t see where I have put anything in the kitchen.  It’s time to investigate the possibility of a new kitchen for this year or next year and it doesn’t hurt just to have Hacker on my wishlist right?

I have mummy friends who are extremely gifted in interior design, and whilst I know what I would like my house to look like, design isn’t my forte, and I do need the help of someone to bring my vision to life.  I am Asian, and practicality sometimes trumps design.  My husband on the other hand being Italian needs design over practicality.  We also need someone to blend both our needs diplomatically.  We have been going back and forth about the idea of re-doing our run down kitchen.  We have searched the shops, and some, whilst beautiful, were too expensive and others looked like overpriced Ikea hacks (there is nothing wrong with Ikea but value must match design).  Friends of ours designed their kitchen with Hacker and Miele appliances, and I had always assumed Hacker was out of our price range – that’s the myth.  Sitting with the Hacker team more recently, I soon realised that they had such a wide range of kitchen cupboards, appliances and finishing and can create design projects from AED100,000 to AED600,000.

One of my inspirational places to search for stunning kitchens has to be Pintrest, and here are some of the best ones I am putting together for a Hacker mood board.  Do I choose modern or traditional?  Open plan and closed kitchen? Island or peninsula?  Whilst I love more traditional designs that I find on Pintrest, they are not suited to Dubai properties.  My mood board here comprises only of Hacker fitted kitchens for Dubai properties for villas on the Palm, Dubai Marina apartments, villas in Umm Sequim and apartments on the Palm.

The one thing that has impressed me so far about the Hacker Dubai  is their organisation and efficiency – they don’t let down the Germans here.  Whilst other companies don’t always take you seriously as a client because it is just ‘a house’ and not a large commercial project, Hacker take everyone seriously from apartment kitchens to large homes in Emirates Hills.   Hacker, so far, never let me feel rushed.  Their in-house designer, Leigh-Ann Steele, is inspiring, full of amazing ideas, and they don’t try to push the most expensive items on you.  Note to self –  better start saving! #wishlist

For more information please visit Hacker.

You can also call them on +971 4 399 0425 to get an appointment with their amazing in-house designers.