Kitchen Design

Last weekend I attended a kitchen design course that I won from Jason Windows. Although I work as an architect, I don’t do any residential work so I thought it would be interesting to see what new products are out there, and you can always learn new design tips.

So off we went to Homebase in Subi at way-too-early-for-a-weekend o’clock. I haven’t been for a proper look around Homebase for ages, and I didn’t realise there was so much there. A great place to get a bit of inspiration and see new products.

I want to start designing my new kitchen fairly soon and my wish-list is pretty simple – I really need a dishwasher. Ok, a dishwasher might not be strictly in Maslow’s hierarchy, but it would make such a difference to have one less job to do at night when we both get home so late. So, my intentions for a new kitchen were fairly modest when I started the course – create a new kitchen that includes a dishwasher. By the end of the 8 hours, I had learnt much much more.

Here’s some of what I learnt:

1. You probably already know this if you’ve watched any recent renovating show. Kitchens these days have sculleries, butlers pantries, cool rooms, multiple fridges and walk in ‘caterer’s kitchens’. My house will never have this, it’s way way too small. It’s interesting though, that this is becoming standard. One of the reasons I want to change my kitchen is that it is hidden away in a separate room, so when one person is doing anything in there, they are missing all the action. I think the same would happen with a scullery? Just my choice, but I already resent the separation, and don’t know why we’re encouraging our houses to keep someone quarantined in another room doing all those dirty dishes we’re hiding from ‘guests’. And how much would a cool room cost to run each year? Very interesting to know that these things are becoming more popular in modern houses.

2. Kitchen placement is the house is so important. It is still the hub of the home and open plan kitchens are more popular now, so everyone can be in one space and have vision to adjacent areas. (As long as you can put all your dirty dishes and appliances in a separate other room and close the door.) This is part of the reason why I want to move my kitchen, even though I know it will be a bit expensive, to provide a better flow with the lounge room and outdoors.

3. Plan your appliances in advance so they can fit exactly, especially I’d you want the integrated look. And there are so many appliances. We had a guy from Winning Appliances come out and talk to us at the end of the day and I’m pretty sure he had us all convinced to include three ovens, two fridges and two dishwashers as a bare minimum in any kitchen. There are so many great things out there now for cooking, so if you’re keen on letting the machines do the work, check out the appliances first! But also try to allow a little future proofing; while most things come in standard sizes, fridges are getting taller and American imported appliances are emperial sizes, which don’t match European brands. So definitely something to get sorted first.

4. Within the kitchen, there should be separate zones to make the functions easier. People tend to go to the fridge more often, so this should be away from where people are working in the kitchen. Similarly, a tea/ coffee nook could be created on the outer edges to make this activity quicker and safer. A ‘drop zone’ (for keys, mail etc) and an IT hub are also helpful, still acknowledging the kitchen as the heart of the home. But again, this all adds up to a lot of space. I think our modern lifestyle is leading to more space required, not less, as we have more and more stuff that needs a home.. How did we manage in years gone by?

5. Cabinet design. Ooo, you could pay a lot for cabinet design. While it seems the majority of kitchen renos are of the Ikea/Kaboodle diy persuasion, there are a lot of options out there at the moment to make kitchen designs more functional, beautiful and really efficiently use every last square mm. Corner drawers, extending hinges, matt finish doors, drawers within drawers and spaces for every utensil you could possess. Of course these all add up and are not available with your standard off the shelf kitchens. But it was good to see all the different options available, there are some really clever designs out there. I was really impressed with the Blum drawer systems and the beautifully tactile matt Fenix finish of cabinetwork.

6. There’s really two types of kitchen renos: one for future buyers, and one for you to enjoy and make your life better. This course was definitely dealing with the second option, and there are a lot of products and appliances out there that can make big improvements to an expensive and frequently-used space, if you can afford it. It was interesting to spend the day learning about what is out there in the domestic market and I look forward to utilising some of this info in my own future reno.

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