Sidebar: Details, features, trends
Back when kitchens tended to be cramped, cluttered spaces quite separate from the living and dining area of the home, this was a slightly awkward truth for hosts.
Nowadays, with open living becoming the norm, and kitchen design being integrated with a residence’s overall style, homeowners have no issue with parties gravitating towards the kitchen.
To ensure a kitchen is both functional and beautiful, engaging the services of a designer is a wise investment.
“It’s therefore best to consult us before the foundations are laid, so that the design can be fine tuned to what you really want,” says Patrick Haag, kitchen designer at Pooley Cabinets.
Designers will build up a picture of what the family’s needs are, how big a role cooking and entertaining plays in their lives, their budget and their style preferences, before coming up with a design.
From a practical standpoint, storage is the most important issue to consider, according to Michelle Butler, of The Design Studio.
Every inch of storage space counts in the kitchen, and particularly with the current preference for a modern look with clean lines and clear surfaces, it’s vital to avoid “dead space” in awkward corners and where pre-made cabinetry does not fit the space exactly.
Kitchen designers will always guide clients towards custom cabinetry, budget permitting, which puts a kitchen into a different league entirely.
“Aesthetically, custom cabinetry allows you to really fine tune the look and achieve your vision for the kitchen space,” explains Michelle.
“The other great advantage is practicality, because with a custom kitchen you can make every inch count.”
“Another reason custom cabinetry is so important is that installation is a pivotal component in the overall success of a kitchen – a poor installation can make a beautifully-made kitchen look and function terribly,” adds Lydia Uzzell of Designworks Ltd.
“Custom cabinets that have been crafted on island will be installed by the craftsmen who actually made said cabinets, ensuring a perfect fit for an amazing finished product.”
“Custom cabinetry fits precisely into the space you have,” says Kenny Wulffsberg, co-owner of Mario and Son, a company that creates and installs custom cabinetry. “It fits wall to wall, with the same spacing all the way round. Everything lines up exactly.
“Because cabinets are custom made, we also install the light fixtures in wall cabinets, so that all wiring is hidden. It all looks very clean.”
New hardware, in the form of hinges that allow cabinet doors to open upwards, instead of swinging outwards, full extension drawers that allow easy access to the far reaches of a drawer, and easy access blind corner shelving that maximises storage space in corner units, all add to the appeal of custom cabinetry.
Minimalism rules in contemporary kitchens, and ever-more inventive storage solutions keep the clutter at bay. Angled spice racks are built into drawers, deep drawers allow easy storage of pots and pans, customised knife drawers do away with the knife block of old, coffee makers are built in, and large appliances are concealed behind panelling.
Although cabinetry can be created in almost any colour, as well as with different textures (and even animal prints for the truly avant-garde), it is advisable to think about the resale value of your home, says Patrick, and keep a fairly neutral colour scheme.
“A kitchen is an area that should last you a long time, so trends by definition are something to be avoided,” agrees Lydia.
“If you want to introduce something playful and possibly trendy, do it with the backsplash or accent paint so that this is an easy-to-change item down the road” advises Michelle.
Alternating solid cabinet doors with frosted glass fronts, can create a more visually appealing look, as can alternating the colour of the cabinetry on different walls.
Stainless steel appliances are increasingly chosen to complement the contemporary style kitchen, but it can also go the other way, say Pooley’s professionals, and a fire-engine red fridge can be a dramatic focal point.
At the other end of the spectrum, says Lydia, fully integrated appliances continue to grow in popularity.
“Appliances are the first thing to age a kitchen as their technology and design changes so quickly, so completely obscuring them really adds years to the life of your kitchen,” she points out.
To create the kitchen of your dreams, you need, by definition, to create something totally unique. Custom cabinetry is the way to do just that.
“While custom cabinetry comes at a price, it definitely offers a premium product which in my mind is completely worth it,” Lydia adds.
A well-designed and installed kitchen can certainly add to the value of a property. But more importantly, the kitchen is the heart of the home – and that is something well worth investing in.