Award-winning kitchen and bathroom designer Kerr Drummond is due to hit our screens soon in his first foray as a TV presenter in Kitchen SOS with Nadia Sawalha in a new series exclusive to Home. He tells Lynda Clark how his life has changed as he sets out on his latest career path >>
From award-winning bathroom and kitchen designer to TV presenter – for most people this complete change of lifestyle would come as quite a shock to the system, but Kerr Drummond has taken it all in his stride. When meeting him for the first time, he is articulate and obviously extremely talented and creative and is coping with his new found stardom very well indeed. “As soon as I met Nadia [Sawalha], we really hit it off, and obviously this helped me a lot,” says Kerr. ”She is a lovely person and very inspirational, and we had a lot of fun making the series.”
Kerr, 27, was born in Glasgow but moved to a small village outside Oxford when he was about three. At school he loved acting and sports and originally had aspirations to go to drama school, but his father didn’t feel it was a good career for him so he decided to train as a designer instead. Kerr definitely made the right decision because he started working for a kitchen and bathroom company as a senior designer and during that time won several awards including getting highly commended in the Design Awards for Bathroom Designer of the Year in both 2007 and 2009.
“It was a great start and I learnt a lot while I was there, but then in 2008 I decided to start my own business,” he says. “I thought Oxford was a good place to set it up as there is a good range of clients in the area, and they are all very different. So I knew I would be doing everything from designing very traditional kitchens and bathrooms to ultra modern ones. I really enjoy problem solving and getting the best possible design to suit the client, in fact I pride myself that I have never done the same design twice so everything is totally unique. I offer a really bespoke service and was brought up to think outside the box and not off-the-shelf. That doesn’t mean that it has to cost a fortune, as there are some tricks to save money along the way. The hardest part is asking the right questions and listening to what the client wants but also trying to educate them. I try to tick off their wish list, but if something isn’t going to be practical, there is no point in adding it to the design. Often people don’t consider the space they have and how to make the best use of it. Storage is really important, though, and that’s always a priority.”
Kerr was happily running his business, when he received a call from Doghouse Media, an independent production company owned and run by Nadia Sawalha and her husband, Mark Adderley, asking if he had ever considered working in television. The Home channel was planning a new show called Kitchen SOS, and Doghouse Media had searched the internet for a kitchen designer and had come across Kerr. “I didn’t have to think twice, and I went down to Brighton to meet Nadia and we hit it off straight away – there was an instant chemistry,” he continues. “I then met her husband, who is the executive producer, and we got on really well, too. I did a screen test at Nadia and Mark’s home. Her mum was there, and she pretended to be the ‘victim’ – the person who wanted their kitchen made over. There was no script, and in fact the whole series was never scripted so it’s all very natural. I must admit, though, it was quite scary when you suddenly realise you have a camera zooming in on you, but I soon got used to it.
“Our mission was to turn the nation’s drab kitchens into dream living and eating spaces and to prove there is a solution to suit all pockets and lifestyles. We use CCTV-style fixed cameras to find out the ways in which the featured families use their current space. After Nadia and I saw the problems that needed addressing, we used Nadia’s culinary skills and my design know-how to help provide stylish, effective and ergonomic solutions for cabinets, worktops and the general layout of the space. Every installation is different, and the budgets ranged between £4,500 and £40,000. We came up with the best methods and materials to create the ideal kitchen, and we also showed them what a positive difference getting it right can make to their lifestyle.”
The series highlights some fascinating case studies. Lucy and Chris, from Brighton, faced a kitchen crisis as they tried to cope with a small windowless space and 70s units. Nadia and Kerr come to the rescue, though, and help transform this dark, dingy room into a bright, bold modern area. Kerr adds: “One particular kitchen that will always be special as it made such a massive difference to her life was that of a single mum, Amber, from Streatham in south London, who had been battling with a kitchen that should have been condemned. The cupboards were falling down, the drawers were collapsing and there was absolutely no storage, so she was constantly getting stressed when cooking. We literally started from scratch, and the end result was amazing.”
Kerr and his partner, who works in catering, are saving for a deposit so they can buy their first home. “It’s tough for everyone,” he says. “At the moment, I rent a lovely Victorian terrace, which is actually on a tiny island and is one of Oxford’s best-kept secrets. It’s only minutes from the station, but it’s a small village, and once you walk over the footbridge you are in another world with boats, wildlife and the tranquility of the river. The house is tiny but a real gem with a lovely terraced garden, and we also have an allotment and grow our own vegetables. We do love it, and it will be hard to find anything vaguely similar that we could afford to buy.”
Having had so much experience in kitchen design, Kerr has many tips and ideas on how to improve the most important room in the house. “Take time and decide how the kitchen works for you, and picture yourself living and cooking there. For example, how far is the fridge from the cooker? Storage is vital, and there is a wide variety of different styles you can choose, with everything from wicker baskets to carousels inside cupboards. I’m not a great lover of traditional wall units, but I love floating shelves, which make the room brighter and the space appear larger. It’s also easy to change kitchen doors – it’s a cheaper option, and it will totally transform the room. When it comes to colour, I feel that gloss white has had its day, but black and dark grey are very popular just now. I like to add splashes of colour, though with maybe a bright orange splash-back, for example. As for the flooring, rubber is fashionable but expensive, so for a cheaper option consider vinyl as it looks great and works well, and there are some really wonderful colours and designs nowadays.”
Kerr absolutely adored his time presenting Kitchen SOS with Nadia and says: “It was such an amazing experience, and I loved every second of it. I’d definitely go back and do another series if I was asked. It’s been totally life changing and a change that I wouldn’t have missed for the world!”