Interiors: Exeter’s Ralph Winter Kitchens has the perfect recipe for your home – Exeter Express and Echo
WINNERS of the Express and Echo business award for excellence in customer service, with clients including a world champion racing driver and royalty, Echo Property finds out more about Exeter-based Ralph Winter Kitchens’ rise from humble beginnings to becoming one of Exeter’s most respected kitchen suppliers.
Launched in 2007 with just two members of staff, Ralph Winter Kitchens has come a long way in just 10 years.
The brainchild of qualified carpenter and joiner Ralph Winter, the business’s first showroom was opened at Basepoint Business Park, Marsh Barton, with just two display kitchens, in 2010 and the company never looked back.
Company director Lynn Winter, who is married to Ralph, said: “We recruited an extra member of staff to handle administration and I joined the company around this time to run and oversee the design and ordering side of the organisation.
“In 2012 we moved to Marsh Green Road West to a much larger showroom and office with store and workshop and were able to have five working kitchen displays.
“We extended our showroom in 2015 and now have 11 working kitchen displays, allowing customers to really have a chance to view our range and gain inspiration for their project.”
Lynn said that the business prides itself on having a great reputation with a larger percentage of inquiries coming from referrals.
Winning awards like the Express and Echo excellence in customer service and obtaining a second year of WHICH Trusted Trader status has only validated the calibre of the company.
With kitchens starting from £15,000, Ralph Winter Kitchens customers can choose from the German-made Classic and Systemat ranges in a vast range of styles and finishes to cater for individual needs.
Signature touches include worktop climber units in a wide range of glass colour finishes, widths and depths to add extra wow to any kitchen while also providing a functional storage space.
Lit pan drawers with LED glass-lit sides, paired with glass-fronted interior drawers are a special finish. Bluetooth speakers can be fitted behind kitchen plinths ready to be connected to phones, iPods and iPads.
Even utility rooms can receive the Ralph Winter Kitchens treatment, with a wide range of units to cater for storage and laundry needs, and high-rise washing machine and tumble driers to make backache a thing of the past without forfeiting style.
The family-run business also supplies Siemens, NEFF and BOSCH appliances but covers many others.
Lynn said: “There isn’t anything we can’t source. We are open to our customers’ requirements. We supply the Quooker kettle tap which in our opinion is the best on the market currently. We also supply Karndean flooring and bedroom furniture.
“Ralph has a wealth of experience under his belt. By having this knowledge and working background he knows what he’s talking about. He’s able to offer fitting/buildings advice.
“We can do as much or as little as the customer would like us to. We will run the whole project if you’d like or simply turn up and fit the kitchen whilst liaising with your own electricians and plumbers.
“If it’s an extension you’re looking into then we can do this for you right from the start of planning applications through to building works and project management, allowing us to do everything under one roof for you from conception to installation.”
Lynn, who is the business’s head designer, works with customers to help them achieve their dream kitchen.
She said: “Buying a kitchen is a big deal and we hope to make it as stress free as possible by listening, providing the customer with a relaxed environment and process to discuss their needs and design ideas.
“We aren’t into the whole hard-sell process. Our kitchen designs are presented in 3D drawings and we strive to provide imaginative designs – something different from the norm.”
While separate dining rooms and kitchens were once all the rage, the kitchen has now become the heart of the home for most households, somewhere not only to cook and eat, but also to socialise, work and relax.
As a result of this lifestyle change people are craving kitchens which are not only practical but are also the height of fashion.
Lynn said: “The way we live has changed, people are paying more attention to what they eat and eating has become more of a social event.
“We want style in our kitchens as well as practicality. The kitchen tends to be the main hub of the home, so it’s used for a number of activities and all of these need to be taken into account when planning and designing a kitchen.
“The choices of appliances and different cooking styles have given us more choice and flexibility which has resulted in more appliances needing to be housed in a kitchen.
“It’s very common to have two ovens in a kitchen as standard instead of the standard double oven.
“Fridges, freezers and dishwashers are now hidden as integrated appliances to allow for designer clean lines and minimalist looks.
“Kettle taps are very popular in kitchens, removing the need for the kettle. Kettle taps free up worktop space whilst being more cost effective. Washing machines and tumble driers have moved from the kitchen into utility rooms.
“Lighting now plays a significant role in kitchens and kitchen design. There are numerous ways to set moods in the kitchen, plinth lights, pendant lighting, spotlights, lit drawers, lighting under or above wall units/tall units, handleless channel lighting and more.
“And customers are more aware of quality and longevity in products and are sourcing German kitchens for this reputation.”
And it seems that even world-class sportsmen and royalty are aware of quality and service offered at Ralph Winter Kitchens.
Lynn said: “We have sold a kettle tap to Lewis Hamilton and the Princess of Bahrain recently bought her kitchen from us.
“She was lovely to work with and her kitchen looked fabulous. She commissioned bedroom wardrobes from us as well.”
But what if you opt for high-tech appliances in your stunning new kitchen but don’t know how to use them? Ralph Winter Kitchens has got that covered too.
Lynn said: “During the design process we encourage our customers to try the appliances for themselves in our showroom.
“As part of our after-sales service we offer demonstrations on appliances in people’s homes specifically catered for their needs and the appliances they have purchased.
“It’s great to have the latest product on the market with all the fancy bits, but useless if you’re unsure how to use it properly. Sometimes all you need is half an hour spent in your own home practising on your own appliances with an approachable person.
“Ralph also visits at the end of every installation to go through everything in our customers’ kitchens and answer any questions.”
Moving into 2017, Lynn said the company, which now has eight members of staff, is excited to introduce a new German bedroom furniture range with a new showroom to accompany the launch.
And while handleless kitchens are still proving popular for a sleek minimalistic finish, with gloss and matt flat doors a desirable choice, Lynn said that the shaker door is still a favourite with traditionalists.
She said: “With our Oxford door we are able to offer traditional shaker style with a contemporary twist. It also has the advantage of being available in curves.
“As far as colours are concerned, greys are very popular and a colour we have called Satin is an excellent alternative from the standard whites and creams.
“Bronze and copper tones are also showing a trend currently and I see this continuing.
“For 2017, I think we will see the continuation of greys but also different textures being introduced in door fronts. Our AV7030, which is a stone veneer door, is proving to be very popular.
“We also have our new kitchen door ranges that will be available later this year to preview.
“Exeter is a great place to live and work and we are very excited about creating more individualised, inspiring kitchen designs and working with more great customers this year.
“We already have some exciting designs secured and are really looking forward to installing them.”
To find out more about Ralph Winter Kitchens visit the showroom at 47 Marsh Green Road West, Marsh Barton, call 01392 433620 or visit ralphwinterkitchens.co.uk.