Whether you’re building, renovating or simply looking to update, Amanda Lewis asks the experts for their top tips for a fashionable and functional space.
1. Splash out
Glass continues to be the first choice in splashbacks, according to Western Cabinets designer Kia Douglas, and there are ever- increasing design options if you want something different to the norm. “Glass companies are continually offering new exciting options, including printed options which you can create from a fun holiday snap, iconic skyline or a beautiful pattern, ” she said. “Clear glass can also be used to protect textural paintwork or a timber feature.”
2. Cook in colour
Colour isn’t just for small appliances. You can inject some fun into your kitchen with a coloured cooker, fridge or dishwasher. Smeg’s new FAB range of retro-inspired dishwashers and fridges come in red, black and panna. The fridges also come in blue, yellow, orange, pink, lime and even candy stripes. “More often our kitchens are open-plan and form part of an extended living area and because of these factors, consumers are wanting to add a pop of colour and individuality to their kitchens, ” Jim Kalotheos, of Smeg, said.
3. Window dressing
Ms Douglas said a desire to bring the outdoors in meant window splashbacks were increasing in popularity. “They add appeal and continue the relationship between our interior and outdoor space, generally adding a view of our garden and a splash of natural colour, ” she said.
4. Get moving
A portable section of an island bench or a trolley that can be stored in a designated space under the bench can increase bench and storage space as well as aid in carrying things outdoors, Jo Lively, of Brush Interiors, said.
5. Colour with confidence
Bold colours make a refreshing change to the ubiquitous white kitchen, according to Ms Douglas, who said to think outside the square when it came to adding pops of colour — think coloured bar stools, installing a bright splashback or choosing your favourite hue for a bank of overhead cabinets.
IKEA interior designer Chantelle Penny said accessories in a variety of colours could revitalise a kitchen at the fraction of the cost of replacing it.
6. Be bold with your bench
There are more options than ever when it comes to benchtop materials. Make a statement with hardy yet sleek stainless steel, large slabs of marble or even rough stone benchtops, and contrast with ultra-sleek or stone-veneer cabinets, said Scavolini’s Wanda Bresa. “The juxtaposition of finishes can make a huge impact, ” she said. Kitchen Choice designer Zoe Maynard said polished concrete benchtops were also a growing trend.
7. Shelf life
Open shelving or wine racks at the end of an island are a functional feature, Ms Penny said. “Bookshelves are also increasingly popular thanks to the huge interest in cookbooks, ” she said.
8. Don't forget to decorate
Excuse Me Miss Indie Interior Styling’s Wendy Martin said to consider the kitchen as an extension of your decor by incorporating art, furniture and lighting normally reserved for living areas. “In general, people are proving far more adventurous and are wanting to add items such as upholstered bench seating with complementary cushions in a gorgeous fabric, ” she said. “Other ideas include bold wallpaper, coloured stools or chairs as this is a safe way to bring in colour without committing too heavily.”
9. LED the way
LED strip lighting fitted under or inside cabinets, along breakfast bars or kickboards, or incorporated into splashbacks gives a striking effect. “Another exciting option is colour-changing LED lighting, ” Ms Douglas said. “This can be placed underneath your cabinetry to create a colourful glow or used in splashback areas to provide an option for a different coloured splashback every night.”
10. Cover up
Want a magazine-worthy, seamless kitchen look? “Integrate appliances to streamline the overall appearance of the kitchen and add the illusion of space, ” Ms Lively said.
11. In the hood
Whether it pops out of the kitchen wall, sits suspended over an island bench or is concealed in cabinetry, there are myriad choices when it comes to range hoods. Ms Douglas said though integrated range hoods remained popular for a sleek look, feature range hoods in different shapes or materials were a great way to add interest.
12. Mirror, mirror
Ms Maynard said demand for mirrored splashbacks was growing, especially for people trying to make their kitchen appear larger. “This design tricks an individual’s eye perception into seeing a more spacious and animated space, ” she said.
13. Fine dining
Add a slightly higher or lower benchtop to the end of the island bench as an alternative to a dining table, according to Ms Douglas. “They offer a separate area to the main preparation zone and form the ideal space for breakfast, dinner or just a drink with friends, ” she said.
14. Go below
Ms Lively said installing an under-counter, drawer-style fridge was a great way to gain more bench space as it eliminated the need for a big fridge recess. “The added surface space is not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional, ” she said.
15. Step up
Instead of a standard rectangle island bench, consider one with multiple height surface areas, Ms Douglas said. “Layering of cabinetry and benchtops adds a point of interest and can contribute to a more dynamic working space and added visual interest.” Ms Maynard said multiple-height working surfaces were also ergonomically beneficial.
16. Illuminate your space
Retreat Design’s Shaye Starr said pendant lighting hung over island benches was a great way to inject personality into a kitchen. “Feature lighting around an island, especially with a plinth of mirrors, gives a gorgeous floating effect, ” she said.
17. Best kitchen colour
Choose a shade of grey when painting kitchen walls, Ms Lively recommended. “Light, warm grey shades are the perfect neutral for the kitchen, ” she said. “Easier to maintain than white, grey combines beautifully with bold accent colours like red.”
18. On the outer
Make a feature of the outer side of the island bench with a concrete tilt-up panel, mosaic tiles or a mural, Ms Lively said. Another idea is to choose a favourite photo and have it blown up on vinyl and mounted onto a piece of MDF cut to the island’s shape and size, suggested Ms Penny.
“Correctly done, two-tone cabinetry can enhance a space in various ways, including adding textural layers and visual depth, ” Ms Lively said. Ms Penny said natural wood-grain textures were popular teamed with modern white or black finishes, while Ms Maynard suggested pairing wood with stainless steel.
20. Keep it simple
Choose only a handful of colours and textures for maximum impact, Ms Starr said. “The more textures and colours, the more confusing the space appears and reduces the impact, ” she said. “Use colour for visual impact but ensure that it is where you want people to look in the first place.”