From our place to yours – an interview with the Everett family

Naked Kitchens uniquely combines superb quality and keen pricing. How do they do it? The key is that it’s a very particular family business –  a partnership between family members, each with a particular skill set and vision, and all fully committed to the creation of incredible kitchens.

Writer and broadcaster Terry Stiastny met the family and discovered how their unusual location – a former RAF aerodrome in the North Norfolk countryside – directly inspires the unique Naked Kitchens combination of beautiful design and technological innovation…

By Terry Stiastny

Jamie, Jayne & Alexander. The small scruff in Jayne's arms is Monty, one of two family dogs.

“...Even the white fur of the seal pups on Blakeney Point has suggested a colour for the family’s hand-finished kitchens…”

Every time Jayne Everett goes outside her home near the north Norfolk coast, she’s inspired by the constantly-shifting range of colours that she sees. ‘Whenever you step out of your door,’ Jayne says, ‘the sky’s a different colour.’ That sense of place runs through the whole process of designing a Naked Kitchen, from the first inspiration to its final testing and installation.

The Norfolk countryside surrounding the Everetts’ home and their company’s headquarters provides new ideas every day. If Jayne looks out at the Blakeney Channel, where the river Glaven winds its way to the sea across the marshes, she says, the water can be black, grey, blue or purple. The trees change from green in spring to dark and raw in shape in winter. Even the white fur of the seal pups on Blakeney Point has suggested a colour for the family’s hand-finished kitchens.

The view out at Blakeney Point, Norfolk

She finds it easy to bring the natural colour combinations of the outdoors back inside, where they help to create beautifully-crafted kitchens with an element of earthiness. Those elements can include wood veneers, polished nickel plate or brass splashbacks. Jayne likes to think of Gustav Klimt paintings, with those gorgeous gold layers illuminating the colours.

‘It’s true that we are very knowledgeable about materials,’ Jayne says. The family and their team understand what the best use is for them, how to bring them together and how they function. That deep understanding is born of years of experience which helps Jayne really know what makes a kitchen flow. She will always ask a client what’s important to them in their own home and how they want to use their kitchen. Will it work as a place for children to do their homework as well as somewhere that will look stunning?

The kitchens are designed and built in a former Air Force hangar in Norfolk, with the old runway still outside. It’s a base with a rich heritage of endeavour and inventiveness. Their headquarters provides Jayne, her husband and co-founder Jamie, their son Alex and a 60-strong Naked Kitchens team with dramatic surroundings to work in. Jamie, who once served in the RAF himself and still has a passion for flying, feels a strong obligation to respect the place and the servicemen and women who were once based there. Those gleaming touches of metal and the founders’ precise attention to detail also owe something to the HQ’s aviation history.

Some of Jamie’s obsessive interest in unusual ways to test their products might have been familiar to his air force predecessors. ‘We test to destruction,’ Jamie says. Those attempts at destruction have even included loading kitchen cabinets with a thousand pound Harrier practice bomb (non-explosive, don’t worry) and putting a Land Rover on top of four cabinets. This have-a-go attitude is typical of Jamie, whose heroes include Barnes Wallis, that brilliantly inventive, outside-the-box thinker of Dambusters fame who devised the bouncing bomb.

As you might have guessed, he loves to find a solution, particularly if it’s a unique approach to a problem that others find too hard. Jamie’s a focussed person who believes ‘we’ll always find a way’. Whether that’s finding a home for the business on the former military site or creating the perfect bespoke kitchen, his dedication is clear.

Jayne and Jamie Everett have put down deep roots in Norfolk. When the couple left the City and London for a new life bringing up their family here, they were determined to create a business that would have a legacy. Their son Alex, who started working in the family firm three years ago and has made his way up through the production side, says he has ‘an absolute passion for it’.

Sometimes it’s his job to find a way of combining his mother’s love of beautiful, creative design and his father’s enthusiasm for technological efficiency and innovation: the sweet spot where art meets science, where Gustav Klimt meets Barnes Wallis. That synergy is clear as each kitchen is produced to the highest specifications. Naked Kitchens are individual and efficiently produced. Jayne says ‘no two kitchens are the same’.

Making kitchens is a serious business...

Naked Kitchens have created a 3D planner that will help you to visualise your kitchen before it’s built — then each piece is cut and shaped accurately by machine before being finished by hand. Jamie thinks that while some parts of the process get the best results with automation — ‘there’s a reason people don’t paint cars by hand’, he says — others are improved with the human touch. ‘You still have to have somebody finishing everything by hand’. That combination, for Jamie, is the ‘real game-changer’.

With these solid foundations in place, the company now aims to grow even further. The family’s looking forward to creating new showrooms and building more kitchens, with their trademark precision and efficiency. But ultimately, what matters for all the Everetts is not only that a kitchen should make you say ‘wow!’ when you walk into it, but that it works. From a design that fits the user and flows naturally, to rigorously-tested, enduring elements, finished with individual attention, each Naked Kitchen will make your place your own. 

Terry Stiastny is an author, broadcaster and former BBC News journalist


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