We all know that the kitchen is the hub of the house. It’s one of the most occupied rooms in the home and where much of a family’s connection time happens.
For this reason, a kitchen needs not only to function well, but it needs to look great too.
Whether renovating a kitchen or building new, the first thing you need to consider is the layout. If new, make sure the layout is practical, has a view of the outdoor area, and has good interaction with other spaces. If renovating, decide whether the current layout works for you or needs changing to incorporate a view or other things you want in a kitchen.
The old way to design a layout was to have a triangle – the sink and prep in one spot, your oven in another, and then your fridge in a third spot. Modern kitchen designs use zoned areas such as the prep zone (benches used for prepping a meal), cooking zone (for the oven, microwave, thermomix), storage zone (for cupboards, fridge, pantry) and cleaning zone (sink, dishwasher). Do what works for your space. You might even be able to incorporate both schools of thought.
Decide on the overall style of kitchen you want. This could be anything from ultra-modern to a Hamptons beach-style kitchen. Whatever you choose, take into account the style of the house.
Putting a super modern kitchen into a Queenslander or a country-style kitchen into a city apartment is not a good idea in my view. However, remember that you can create an in-between style; for instance, a modern twist on a heritage-style design.
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Colours and materials
Options include two pac, vinyl wrap, laminate or timber. Make sure your choices are suited to your circumstances, for example, if you’ve got small children or you’re planning on renting out the property, you might be best off with vinyl wrap or laminate. Some people shy away from vinyl wrap, but these days they’re a pretty good option and come in a range of styles and profiles.
Again, carefully consider the style of the home and kitchen. You could choose pull handles, knobs, chrome, satin chrome, gloss, matte, coloured, white, black, nickel – the list goes on. There are a multitude of styles, colours, shapes and finishes available. There are even handles that are so discreet it looks like you don’t have handles.
The main choices here are tiles or glass. I prefer tiles because they’re practical and come in a broad range of styles, sizes and colours. If your cabinet doors are plain, using a smaller sized tile for your splashback can introduce some texture to your kitchen. If you’ve got a bit more going on in the kitchen and cabinetry, you could opt for a simpler splashback to balance it out.
Although popular in recent years, glass splashbacks usually only look good in a very modern home. Keep in mind that glass is painted on the back face, so any splashes of oil will not only show the splash itself, but also the shadow of the splash.
Mirrored splashbacks are another option (not on my watch though!), but they also show up splashes of oil or cooking more than tiles do.
Stone is a good option here and there are numerous styles available. You could go for a moderately priced white with flecks style to a plainer, but more expensive option, with a vein running through it. Don’t restrict yourself to a white benchtop though, other neutrals can work well.
I advise against using laminate unless it’s an investment property or it’s a lower value build or renovation.
Wooden benchtops are another possibility, but this may not be practical in the long run. If you like the warmth of a timber look, you can always add it through some feature shelving or other accents instead.
You can do a very general lighting plan, but keep in mind the overall look you’re trying to achieve. Putting two large or three smaller pendant lights over an island bench can really add a bit of pizazz, so don’t underestimate what lighting can do to set off the kitchen.
Jane Eyles-Bennett is one of Australia’s leading home renovation and interior design experts. She is an award-winning interior designer with more than 25 years’ experience designing the interiors and exteriors of homes; specialising in kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces.