A Speedy Kitchen

A Speedy Kitchen



V8 supercar driver Jason Richards shows Kate Telfer around his stunning new kitchen

“I’m very fussy,” laughs Jason Richards, V8 supercar racer, when explaining how he came to choose Blum products for his home kitchen renovation and ended up landing a sponsorship deal.
After a series of big location changes, Jason and his wife, Charlotte, settled in the Bayside region of Melbourne. When the time came to renovate their ‘80s-style kitchen, they decided to come up with the major design concepts for the kitchen themselves and after extensive research, reading magazines and taking inspiration from other kitchens and commercial environments, Jason set out to find suppliers.

“I went out to many different manufacturers to look at their products and thought Blum was the best,” he explained. “It had the best motion in the way (the drawers) closed.”. Jason phoned Blum to talk about his kitchen and what he needed and after some initial discussions, ended up organising a small contra deal. During a following meeting, David Noakes, Blum’s national sales and marketing manager, noticed that Jason and his brand aligned quite well with Blum’s company values and saw an opportunity for Jason to become a Blum Ambassador. “It works well because I’m a true ambassador of the product. I am the one who chased them down!” Jason says with a grin.

Jason began his successful racing career in karts and mini 7s in his homeland, New Zealand, before moving to England for the Formula Ford Championship. He returned to New Zealand as a BMW touring car driver, winning the New Zealand Touring Car Championships along with many other races. Since his début in V8 supercars at Bathurst 2000 with Team Kiwi, Jason has become an integral part of the Holden Commodore team.

The kitchen is set at the rear of their single-storey home which runs longways down the block. “The original kitchen was quite cool, but it was very ‘80s,” explains Jason. “It had a breakfast bar at the front and no window on the side, so it was quite a lot darker.”

Jason and Charlotte decided to completely renovate the entire kitchen, starting from scratch. “Originally we thought of having a big island bench, but everyone else was doing that,” says Charlotte. “We came up with the concept of having two island benches and our builders made it happen.”

The final result is a set of tremendously sleek dual benches that provides a surplus of storage space and could play host to a mini Masterchef cook-off. “The two benches give us separate working zones,” says Jason. “We generally use one for breakfast as it’s right near the pantry and the fridge.” The benches are an entertainer’s dream, with one providing enough space for preparing and assembling a meal and the other perfect for plating and resting the finished dishes.

Jason and Charlotte opted for a thin, stainless-steel benchtop. “Stainless steel was my idea. I thought it would be easy to laser cut,” says Jason. “I’m in the motor racing industry so we use all of these processes in the job.” For the family of four, the stainless-steel top provides a great work surface that isn’t prone to scratching or damage from foods.

One of the most interesting aspects of the kitchen is that it has no connecting structures that join to make a corner. Rather, the space features the dual island benches and a detached pantry unit. This was a carefully planned design strategy to allow for more drawers to maximise storage space. “The Blum drawer systems have been fantastic,” says Jason. “Everything comes out to you. The plate storage units actually lift out of the drawers, which enables you to line them up on the bench — perfect for a party,” he adds.

When asked about Jason’s favourite part of the kitchen, he excitedly answers “the rubbish bin” before jumping up to demonstrate how it works. Jason and Charlotte had a Blum Servo Drive drawer installed for their rubbish bin, which gently opens when softly pushed or kicked with a foot. “This is great when you have your hands filled with rubbish,” Jason says.

The kitchen is fitted with 30 drawers, five of which make up the pantry. The free-standing pantry unit is equipped with a Blum Tandembox system which consists of pull-out drawers so that everything is visible and easy to reach. This is further organised with Blum’s Orga-Line stainless-steel inner dividing systems, which divide the drawer into compartments for each food item.

To an onlooker, this kitchen is so organised and discreet it resembles a gallery. The Franke oven and microwave are ingeniously hidden in the ends of each of the two benches and the toaster, blender and other appliances are secretly nestled away in a large benchtop compartment. “The appliances are plugged in and ready to use, but they’re hidden away so the kitchen always looks clean and tidy,” explains Charlotte.

The only real adjustment to the external walls of the space was fitting a large glass window over the sink. In the original kitchen, this was a solid wall covered with cabinets, but Jason and Charlotte thought it was a good opportunity to bring more light into the kitchen as well as creating an opening to watch their kids play in the courtyard. “Putting the window in is probably the best thing we’ve done,” Jason and Charlotte comment. “It gave us external access which was good, but it also connected the front of the house with the other end from a visual point. You can now see what’s going on in the lounge at the front of the house.”

The window is built on a sliding system, enabling it to glide open and lock and providing access to and from outside. Dishes, food and food scraps can be passed straight through the window and placed in the kitchen when entertaining outside. This window also gives outside access to the waste disposal bin by the sink, which Charlotte says “is great for barbecues as Jason can walk over and put the scraps in through the window”.

From his challenging career, it’s clear to see that Jason has a passion for technology, specifically technology that moves well. This kitchen, with its many drawers and advanced closing systems, plays tribute to his passion. “I guess it’s because I’m in a very technical sporting industry so I like technology and knowing how stuff works,” he enthuses.

Jason admits to being exceptionally happy with the new kitchen and excited about new renovations, commencing with the lounge room. After many moves around the world, he plans to stay in Melbourne for some time and continue racing. “I think I’ll finish off my career in V8 supercars. I can’t see myself moving away from Australia now,” he says. “The V8 supercar racing championships have been exceptionally strong,” he proclaims, “and there are a couple of races world-wide I’d like to do before retiring.”

JASON RICHARDS blogs at www.jasonrichards.beinvolved.com.au/