Whether you’re designing a kitchen from scratch or remodelling an outdated one, the key to achieving the perfect space for your style and budget is ticking off the non-negotiable inclusions. These 10 must-haves cover form and function for a kitchen you’ll love.
Consider your lifestyle and the way you use a kitchen to determine functionality that works for you, suggests Cameron Gray of Kaboodle Kitchen.
“An optimal kitchen layout has everything readily accessible. The kitchen ‘work triangle’ concept – based on the three main work areas of the sink, refrigerator and cooktop – is a start, but it’s not a hard and fast rule,“ he says. “The three work areas should be near enough to each other to allow for efficient meal preparation, but also not feel restrictive. Marking up a floor plan and plotting in cabinetry and appliances with masking tape on the floor allows you to walk around the space, and feel what your kitchen is going to be like.”
Start with big-ticket items such as the oven, cooktop, rangehood, fridge and dishwasher to determine the budget leftover for cabinetry, benchtops, walls, floor and lighting.
When choosing an oven, Tane Poulson of Monaco Corp (Everdure and Blanco) says there are three key considerations: function, size and maintenance. “Do you cook the basics or more adventurous recipes? This will dictate what type of cooking functions you require,” says Tane. Then factor in how many people you cook for. “Is it just the family or do you like to entertain often? This will direct you to the size you need,” he says. Also think about how you plan to clean the oven. “Some models have pyrolytic cleaning,” explains Tane. “This function heats the cavity to upwards of 400+ degrees, turning all residue to ash.” Correct installation is essential for this type to allow extra heat to escape.
Choose a look that lends workability to your design, and decide if you want it to complement the era and style of your home or deliver a contrast. Shaker-style cabinet profiles are a perennial favourite and work well in almost any home. Modern flat-front cabinets are also popular, fitting with the trend towards uncluttered and minimalist spaces.
Utilise internal storage devices, such as pull-out baskets for cabinets, drawers and the pantry. Problem areas, like corner cabinets, can be solved with rotating systems. “Drawers are a great accessibility solution – you don’t have to get on your hands and knees to get to the back of the cupboard,” says Cameron. “The general rule now is, install as many drawers as possible.” Maximise vertical space with overhead cupboards. In a compact zone, open shelves provide a less closed-in feel.
“You want a benchtop space that has a good run so you’ve got a decent amount of space to work with,” says Cameron. “Also consider the benchtop landing space next to appliances.” Choose the best quality material you can afford and be practical: if you’re on a tight budget, bear in mind that timber and easy-care laminate can be fitted D.I.Y., but surfaces like engineered stone will need to be installed by professionals.
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Ambient, task and accent lighting all should be in a kitchen plan, zoned for separate duties. It needs to be functional, particularly in food prep areas. Safety is paramount, especially when dealing with sharp knives and hot pots. A mix of downlights and pendants will illuminate work spaces, as well as allowing you to adjust the ambience.
Tiles are affordable, easy to clean and available in a wide range of colours, patterns and finishes. Natural stone (such as marble, slate, granite and travertine) adds a touch of luxury, but requires more care than ceramic tiles. Engineered timber flooring lends warmth and is more forgiving underfoot. For the look of stone or wood, vinyl is budget-friendly, hard-wearing and water-resistant.
For tapware, the key thing to think about is how the kitchen is used, says Luke Di Michiel of Caroma. “If you enjoy cooking, tapware with a pull-out or pull-down retractable hose system is great for quick clean-ups and practical for big, deep sinks,” he says. “Additional features can provide streams for different tasks, such as a gentle mist for washing vegetables to stronger water flow for removing cooked-on spaghetti from pans.”
For the finish, Luke suggests looking to your appliances or door hardware. “Consider how the tapware fits with the rest of your kitchen. Be conscious of the metallic finishes, making sure they complement each other.”
Maximise benchtop space by choosing an undermount sink. “They give a clean look and are practical,” says Luke. “Printing out the size of your sink on paper is a great way to visualise how it will sit. There’s nothing worse than losing too much benchtop because you’ve underestimated the size of your sink, or choosing a sink too small for your needs.”
White kitchens won’t date, but a bold finish might bring you more joy. “We’re seeing a trend toward woodgrain and timber-look cabinets paired with white, forest green or light blue cabinetry,” says Monique Parker of Kaboodle Kitchen. “Blacks and black woodgrains work well in larger spaces with natural light, whereas softer tones tend to work better in more confined settings to help open up the space.”
For impact without going too bold, look at the splashback; this can be equal parts functional and feature, especially in a small space. Slab splashbacks are a clean, modern look, while tiles come in a myriad of sizes, colours, patterns and finishes, including irregular texture for an artisanal feel.
Follow our expert tips for creating a D.I.Y. U-shaped kitchen.
Photo Credit: Kaboodle Kitchen, Alejandro Sosa 3D, Kate Calridge and Jody D’Arcy.
Some photographs feature products from suppliers other than Bunnings.