A typical family of 2 adults, 2 children & 1 dog, who live in Geelong and have decided to leave behind the 1980s Tuscan inspired kitchen and welcome a stylish new kitchen into their home.
Complete with terracotta tiled flooring in the kitchen and throughout the adjoining dining and living areas, the peach coloured laminate bench tops and cupboards were looking very tired and everything was beginning to feel old and outdated. This included a noisy and non-effective fan and a cooker that needed manual lighting – definitely time for a change!
With all due credit, this kitchen has worked well for the family over the past 20 years, with a lot of cooking and entertaining enjoyed during this time. Features of this current kitchen include long windows stretching to ceiling height behind the sink area allowing the north facing light to flow in, a gas stove, dishwasher, double fridge, walk in pantry and not one but two electric ovens, large bench space and easy access to the laundry. The existing kitchen is below:
What additions can be made to this kitchen to make a significant improvement both functionally and visually? The first priority is to increase storage, with a larger pantry and more built in drawers replacing the dominance of existing cupboards. Aesthetically, a new bench top, preferably in stone (to avoid the maintenance of marble) and new flooring to replace the terracotta tiles. Lastly, all new kitchen appliances except for the stainless steel fridge which was purchased a year ago.
Our client stated: “As we have an open plan house, the new modern kitchen will bring up the whole tone of the house up enormously as it such an integral and dominant part of the house…..a clean kitchen which has no old dirt/grime and is spick and span.” That’s the brief, now let the project begin!
For the purposes of modern interiors, the first consideration must be the floor. Space wise it’s the biggest decision and subsequent decisions with regard to rugs, joinery and furniture stem from the floor once it’s been finalized. Remember to layer from the ground up! In order to create continuity throughout an interior scheme it’s important to keep the flooring in the same material for as long as you’re able to. Try to avoid changing types of flooring until you have to and if necessary do so at the doorway junctions. This creates a threshold into the new rooms and saves the transition from looking out of place. In the instance of our clients they wanted to remove the terracotta tiles, and replace them with a more contemporary look. As the tiles flowed from the open plan kitchen, dining and living areas, there was a large area to consider. Given the size of the investment, it’s important to consider all the options on the market and look at the function of the space, traffic patterns, comfort, cleaning and style.
In order to give a seamless look throughout the rest of the house, our clients decided on wooden floorboards. Hardwood flooring has many quality features such as evoking a natural warmth, timeless style and durability against spills and stains. For those who spend long periods in the kitchen, floorboards are naturally softer underfoot than tiles or concrete, and even more so with the addition of a rug or mat.
The floorboards chosen were Bandora Plank in oak, which have a lovely colour and feel. Whilst the oak is a pale colour, it doesn’t have the yellow tones of other timbers, but still manages to have warmth.
Other factors to consider when choosing to lay timber floorboards, are whether the existing flooring needs to be leveled or removed, such as the terracotta tiles which in this case needed to be chiseled off. The dust factor is huge and sound proofing for apartments and sub floor ventilation must also be taken into account before laying floors.
Having decided which floorboards to use you need to visualise how they will flow throughout the remaining rooms. In this instance, it was hoped that the tiles in the entry and powder room could remain to avoid additional costs. But due to the height difference at the living/entry threshold, it ended up that the tiles did need to be pulled up and floorboards placed down instead.
So, beware of the knock on effect, and try to identify possible issues which may arise in the planning stages. Unexpected ‘minor’ issues often arise and can amount to being costly and influence whether you stay within budget or not.
Replacing the flooring will be a big disruption to a household, especially in a kitchen, which is the busiest room in the house. Our clients found the dust created from pulling up the tiles overwhelming and so much worse than anticipated so cover up as much as you can.
Usually the layout of a kitchen follows a working triangle, linking the 3 key items of use – sink, cooktop and fridge (see diagram below). Using this format as a guide, efficiency should increase and traffic in the space minimized. Ultimately the layout should focus on what’s best for the way you work in your kitchen. Also, remember to consider the natural pattern of movement, especially if you are a left-hander!
Kitchens are usually designed in standard formats: U shaped, L shaped, single wall and galley. Our client’s original kitchen was a U shaped format and it was decided this would still be the best plan.
This accommodates work areas, bench spaces and appliances and still keeps everything within reach (allowing at least 1.2m between opposing benches to open doors and move around). It also keeps guests out of the main work area, but remains open to the rest of the living/dining space.
Consider how you use your crockery, glassware, utensils, pots, containers etc. If you have to bend too low or reach too high for items, it could mean they are not in the ideal position (eg. wall cabinets should be at least 50cm above bench top). Think logically as well. Pots and pans should be stored near the cooktop and better still in drawers for easy access to pots positioned at the back, and bins/recycling next to the sink.
In order to keep costs down, keep wet areas in close proximity to existing plumbing. In this instance, the position of the kitchen sink under the windows will remain the same (although the sink itself will be replaced). For improved accessibility, the new dishwasher will be moved from RHS under sink, to underneath the bench (facing living area) on RHS corner.
The major design change for this kitchen is moving the cooktop from against the wall to the bench facing the living area, and adding a bulkhead extractor directly above the cooktop. The idea being that our client will be able to cook without having her back to the entire room, which will allow for greater engagement with family and guests during mealtime. Also, this allows for the triangular format (as discussed earlier) to be applied to the space.
The bench space facing the living area, previously accommodated stools for people to sit and dine. Due to the new position of the stove, a breakfast bar at the end of the bench has been incorporated.
One last tip, existing electrical outlets, switches etc. can all be moved, so don’t feel you have to dictate your layout around these placements.
How to choose appliances? There are so many brands on the market it can be very confusing. Normally we stick to products we know and trust and have all the features required. Don’t forget that smart technology makes our lives easier so research new products available.
In keeping with the stainless steel fridge, we have continued to choose this finish with all of the kitchen appliances. Schweigen is one of the most powerful rangehoods and most importantly….is silent! The square and modern style suits this new kitchen and helps to open up the room (placed over bench top) rather than make it smaller. The oven and cooktop are both from Smeg – superior products which combine technology with Italian style and the Siemens dishwasher is energy efficient, sleek and versatile.
There are many splashback colours, patterns and materials available such as glass, tiles and stainless steel. To create continuity from the bench top to the splashback, I client has chosen to use the Silestone in Helix. This will create a feature on the rear wall underneath the cabinets and is durable and easy to clean.
When renovating an open plan home, it is important the entire space flows. The classic Dulux Brilliant White was previously used throughout the home, so it will be continued in the kitchen/laundry areas.