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RIXONWAY Kitchens Of Distinction 

Cooking up quality kitchens for the social housing sector

They say history repeats itself. Kitchen design trends are testament to this adage and have come full circle over the last 30 years. The original white doors with aluminium trims, familiar in social housing up and down the country in the early 1970s, is now being recreated as a fashionably retro kitchen in private homes.

Thirty years ago kitchen designs were based around the standard and practical, with white 15mm carcases and limited door colour choices of teak and white. In the social housing sector, kitchens were designed with little input from tenants which led to council homes looking uniform.

The Government supported Tenant Empowerment Programme was created to increase the effectiveness of social housing management and improve the lives of tenants. Residents are now able to influence decisions on the delivery of housing services leading to an increase in pride and respect for their community.

When Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen burst onto our screens with his lifestyle programme ‘Changing Rooms’ tenants began to take an interest in interior design and the social housing ‘retail experience’ was born. Social housing kitchen manufacturers began working with the explosion of bold, primary colour in kitchens at the time.

Similarly high-gloss, once the reserve of the private retail market, began creeping into the social housing sector’s product ranges. The wood laminate technology has also become much more sophisticated, with foil-wrap doors now closely resembling real wooden surfaces.

The trend of offering tenants a ‘retail experience’ was easily incorporated by manufacturers such as Rixonway Kitchens. Rixonway, the only UK kitchen manufacturer working solely in affordable and social housing, has followed private design trends closely since the company was formed in 1978.

Those familiar 15mm carcases remained, but a demand by tenants for the retail specification 18mm carcase meant that the social housing sector product range was increasing vastly. Colour coordination was becoming important in interior design as well, so manufacturers like Rixonway followed with matching doors and carcases.

The most recent trend in kitchen design is the soft-close door and drawer, designed to protect the hinges and units and social housing kitchen manufacturers have recently begun to include this technology in their product offerings too.

The design stage is crucial to the ‘retail experience’ and Rixonway’s 40 designers and project managers criss-cross the country visiting each home talking to residents to understand their requirements before producing a full CAD design showing how the finished kitchen will look. Currently Rixonway produces in excess of 1,000 designs a week for tenants and residents all over the UK.

Whereas kitchens used to be flat-pack, nowadays carcases are produced and shipped out rigid, thus reducing installation time and improving efficiency and quality. Speed of delivery is key in the social housing sector, with empty ‘void’ council properties exasperating the current housing shortage.

Another trend to appear in the ‘noughties’ was social responsibility, with businesses endeavouring to become more aware of the environmental impact of its actions. Replacing kitchens en masse produces a lot of waste material and this all needs to be disposed of responsibly and ethically.

Rixonway has led the sector in eco advances. Salvaging 100 per cent of the wood waste from its production process and using this raw material to create biomass fuel is one of the firm’s many environmental strategies. Additionally the material used in the manufacturing process is accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Rixonway has developed a tailor-made recycling service involving both local and national partners. The CO˛ emissions produced by the Rixonway’s fleet is also measured and offset.

The last 20 years has seen some big changes in the production of kitchens for the social housing sector. More sophisticated technology has led to bigger ranges, greater choice and more bespoke elements. But with this development has come a sense of responsibility and modern businesses strive to be as environmentally neutral as they can. The ‘retail experience’ has become an important element and companies are now able to offer social housing tenants the same choice as private home owners.

Rixonway’s Commercial Director Julian Dudley said: “When I joined Rixonway Kitchens in 1990 the social housing sector was rapidly growing into a large industry. The recession had given way to a desire to vastly improve the social housing sector. Forward thinking companies recognised there was going to be huge investment in the sector and for this reason we moved Rixonway away from the private development market positioning it as the pre-eminent social housing kitchen manufacturer. Rixonway has continued to develop its processes and services to remain in line with current private development trends providing bespoke designs and up-to-date kitchen ranges to all its customers.”

It is an interesting time in kitchen manufacturing. Rixonway is well placed to drive the sector into the future with the latest interior design trends, a new focus on customer choice and a firm awareness of environmental strategies.


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Arundel Jones Associates Ltd Registered in England and Wales No. 07334149
Hill Farm, Linton Hill, Maidstone, Kent ME 17 4AL
Tel : 01622 745333 email
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