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Small details create big impression

Kitchen sculleries, walk-in wardrobes and ensuite bathrooms are enviable additions to any home – but one Avenues couple has taken these spaces to a whole new level thanks to an eye for detail, design flair and impeccable workmanship.

Sue and Doug Eng built a stunning 284m² house with harbour views on 13th Avenue last year after returning home from Melbourne in 2017. They engaged Sean Wood from Creative Kitchens & Interiors to design, manufacture and install the cabinetry in their kitchen, scullery, laundry and bathrooms plus create a walk-in wardrobe that a Hollywood star would be proud of.

“We thought: ‘If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right’,” Sue explains.

Creative Kitchens & Interiors were voted ‘Most Trusted joinery manufacturer’ in Tauranga last year and the couple asked director Sean Wood to design a kitchen and scullery that had a classic Hamptons feel with a modern twist.

All panels, doors and drawers are ‘shaker style’, constructed the traditional way with mortice and tenon joints.

The kitchen island’s cabinetry is lacquered in Resene Indian Ink which perfectly complements the Smartstone Calacatta Blanco benchtop. “I wanted something a bit different for the kitchen island,” Sue says. “I had seen navy blue cabinets on Pinterest and showed it to Sean. When our cabinetry came out of his spray booth, he texted me to say: ‘Indian Ink is really out there’. I texted back to say: ‘Out there good or out there bad?’ He replied saying: ‘Out there amazing!’ Sean is so lovely to work with. He makes you feel good about your choices.”

Sue wanted brushed brass knobs for her kitchen cupboards to match her tapware and Sean came up with a novel way of delivering the goods. “He couldn’t actually source the knobs but he didn’t tell me that.

Sean’s big on getting you want you want, so he bought shiny ones and sanded them all. They arrived looking exactly how I wanted them to, but he had made it happen.”

Glass panels have been inserted into several cupboard doors to create interest and floating shelves – made of American white oak – are a key feature in the scullery. “They were Sean’s idea. He showed me the raw timber and said: ‘That’s for you’.”

A double-door fridge, built-in wine rack, large sink with waste disposal and an instant hot-water tap are all tucked away in the scullery where there is ample storage and a mirrored splashback to visually extend the space.

“It was a really good process working with Sean. He’s very good at listening to what you want – not telling you what you should have,” Sue says.

Two dishwashers are included – a full size version in the scullery, hidden behind white cabinetry, and a single dish drawer underneath the main kitchen island. “It’s very practical. We had 16 people over for dinner recently and I brought all the dishes out to the scullery and put all the glassware through the dishwasher in the main kitchen. The layout makes it very easy to entertain a crowd.”

American white oak has also been used to create dividers in the cutlery drawers and as an extra special touch, Sean also fashioned a matching floating mantlepiece in the couple’s living room.

“Often what goes on behind the façade of the kitchen is forgotten,” Sean explains. “The right choice of hardware and inserts play a huge part in the finished kitchen. For us, Hafele is our preferred choice. Oak cutlery and utensil inserts are an obvious replacement to the off-the-shelf plastic ones. Again, ours are hand-made to suit the client’s needs.”

Aesthetic beauty and attention to detail is also evident in the walk-in wardrobe and two bathrooms vanities that Sean has created.

In the wardrobe itself, a beautiful island cabinet with a glass top sits in the middle of the space, displaying Doug’s collection of watches alongside ties, necklaces and other trinkets. A series of drawers sit directly underneath and two upholstered seats are positioned either side, allowing Sue and Doug to sit down if they wish to contemplate their sartorial choices or put on shoes. 

Extensive ‘his’ and ‘her’ cabinetry made from Bestwood Dark Oak Woodgrain surround three walls and feature a mix of drawers, shelves and sophisticated clothing racks from Germany. “We’ve got seven drawers each so it’s really well designed,” Sue says. “Sean picked up on the fact that we needed a lot of functionality as well as wanting it to look good.”

The extensive shelving allows plenty of space for shoes, handbags, hats and other accessories to be displayed – items which are normally hidden away at the back of wardrobes and often forgotten about.

An elegant chandelier adds to the luxurious feel and a large gilded mirror finishes off this enviable wardrobe which is most definitely a ‘room’ in its own right.

Custom-made 1800mm and 1200mm vanities have been installed in the master bedroom’s ensuite and downstairs bathroom respectively. They’re both lacquered in Resene Surrender – a soft grey colour which ties in beautifully with the marble tiled floor. “We couldn’t find any pre-made vanities that we liked so Sean designed these ones from scratch,” Sue explains.

Beneath each vanity’s cabinets, Sean has fitted a single slatted shelf so rolled-up towels can be displayed – another point of difference that Sue and Doug appreciated. “He’s really good at suggesting ideas to create a bit of interest.”

Sue wanted brushed nickel handles for the vanity cupboards (rather than standard chrome) to match her tapware, and she was grateful Sean managed to source them for her.
The laundry is often an after-thought when building or renovating – but the Engs worked with Sean to create a large functional space that looks as high-spec as the rest of the house.

Beneath the 3.5m-long laundry bench are multiple cupboards and a concealed basket to store dirty washing, which is delivered from the bedroom via a laundry shoot. “I wanted a good laundry,” Sue explains. “I like to be able to fold my washing here and sort through everything. I’ve also got so many shelves that I’ve struggled to find items to fill them!”

Looking back, Sue and Doug are thrilled with the choices they’ve made and the level of service they received from Creative Kitchens & Interiors. “A lot of people are pushed around to do what fits the supplier. But at the end of the day it’s your home, so you’ve got to stick to what you want. Sean really stood out because he had great ideas, he listens and he’s open to change. The quality of our cabinetry is exceptional and we’re thrilled with how everything turned out.”

Sean says quality and the client always come first at Creative Kitchens and Interiors. “We don’t live day-to-day in the spaces we create, our clients do. We have to ensure our clients are left happy with their choices and safe in the knowledge our joinery will last them for years to come,” he says.

“At the end of the day, we are only as good as our clients. We always invite our clients to view their assembled kitchen in the factory and we knew we had Doug and Sue’s right when they came in. Sue started to cry so we had the tissues ready!

“We approach each project individually and guide, not coerce, our clients,” Sean says. “We also endeavour to change the relationship from clients to friends. Our relaxed approach, honesty and quality craftsmanship serves us well. Our ‘friends’ see and understand that. It is very rare the relationship ends after the project is complete; we always stay in touch, go back to the home to adjust and tighten anything the client may feel needs a tweak, and in return, we get a smile and some home baking which is always the best reward.”