A kitchen that works for you

When it comes to the kitchen, award-winning interior designer Ingrid Geldof says it’s never too early to think about the features you’d like. You may find they need to be planned well before final drawings are issued – so if you like any of these clever ideas, make sure they are in your designer’s brief.

Built-in vacuum cleaners are an novel way to use the once wasted space behind the toe plinth. Simply sweep your crumbs to the unit, tap it with your broom and the mess is sucked away.

You can also use the floor level space for an extra drawer (great for storing baking trays under the oven) or a concealed step ladder that you can pull out when you need to reach high cupboards.

Whatever you place behind the toe plinth, you’ll need to ensure your finished flooring extends under the cabinet in question – which needs to be planned way before the installer arrives.

Remote motors for rangehoods are gaining popularity when it comes to reducing the conversation-killing noise of extractor fans. Place the light, filtration unit and switchgear at the cooktop and put the motor out of earshot perhaps in the ceiling space or on the roof. Why aren’t we all doing this? Because you ideally need to plan ducting paths (not the flexi type, which reduces airflow) and motor locations prior to construction.

Induction cooktops have been around since the 1930s but are only recently coming into vogue, with Ingrid saying 90% of her clients have purchased them in the past few years. They are quicker, safer and easier to clean but they don’t all perform equally well, so try before you buy and become familiar with how they work. You will also need to check that your power supply is sufficient to run your cooktop, before you buy it, as they require more than normal.

Concealed audio systems hidden behind cabinets to play music from a remote paired device or an inbuilt radio receiver. If you are short on space or want less clutter this is an alternative to having a radio on the bench.

Heat-free and efficient LED lighting can brighten a blind corner, deep drawer or pantry, highlight your splashback, negative detailing, uplight the ceiling or highlight open shelves. The electrician and joiner will need to have a plan for these as well as any ceiling lights or pendants.

On stage, back stage

At first glance, you might feel you’ve entered another living room rather than a kitchen in this Fendalton home. Instead of appliances, guests gathering for drinks at the monolithic island bench see merely a furniture-like sideboard made especially for the back wall. If they look carefully, they might notice the sink. And that’s just the way the avid entertainer owners planned it.

Their brief to Davinia Sutton was for a ‘dual zone’ kitchen design. The first zone is a space to be an ‘on show’ architectural space, to entertain from and link strongly to the contemporary main living area. The second zone was to have a strong connection with the first, but be a hidden ‘work horse’ where a creative mess could be made out of sight of the entertaining zone.

So while the island is equipped with a dishwasher, wine fridge and storage for entertaining and serving, it is almost utilitarian in nature. The design uses warm browns and gold veneers, light and texture to enhance the use of space and modern form.

A cutlery sculpture hanging on a partition wall signals the entry to the second kitchen zone, also in galley format. This contains a long stainless-steel bench the length of the back wall area which houses the cooking and washing zones. Practical storage has been hidden behind cabinets, including integrated appliances to minimise clutter and maintain clean lines.

On the adjacent walls, tall elements are grouped together and concealed behind joinery, which houses refrigeration, wall ovens and essential pantry requirements. The white colour palette in zone two also reflects its lesser pegging in the dual kitchen hierarchy.

Trending now

  1. Slimline versions of benchtop favourites, like Corian, moving to clad door and drawer fronts
  2. Narrower edge profiles as products only as thick as tiles, like Neolith and Dekton, make inroads on stone and marble
  3. Hinges and door runners in dark metallics and matt silver to complement darker joinery tones
  4. Stainless steel in gold, copper and black tones or in a linen texture
  5. Electronic door hinges and drawer closers – great for high cupboards
  6. More use of textured materials, like ply or natural products
  7. Soft-touch matt laminates in darker tones that won’t show fingerprints like gloss does

Davinia Sutton combined texture with clean bold lines in this striking kitchen by using a black engineered veneer and matt lacquer finish to achieve a steel effect on the island. Note the slimline Caesarstone benchtop rebated to ‘float’ above and contrast with the strong vertical elements.

Renovation reaps rewards

There were challenges and opportunities in equal measure when Davinia Sutton took on the kitchen renovation in this large family home in Wanaka. The dominant cast concrete bench and a sense of ‘rawness’ was to stay but the odd little pantry accessed halfway along the back kitchen wall could go. To one side of the kitchen was a narrow under-utilised storage room. More than anything the scale of the existing kitchen didn’t match the grand proportions of the modern home.

The solution was to rework the floorplan, turn the storage room into a scullery, and add height to the back wall and heft to the flooring to give the kitchen more form and function. And the missing wow factor. The result was Supreme Kitchen Design Runner Up in the 2017 National Kitchen and Bathroom Association awards.

Taking advantage of the rectangular-shaped space, the kitchen is now set out in a galley format linking directly to the working scullery on one side. Three integrated fridges are set into the common wall, two opening to the main kitchen, the wine fridge to the scullery. A honed marble bench and splashback runs the length of the back wall, housing the cooking zone and storage drawers. Above this sit deep brown cabinets rising to a slatted timber louvre that both conceals the home’s heating vents and adds architectural layering. The cabinetry and louvre are custom-stained American white oak and new floorboards in wide French oak have been stained a complementary lighter tone to ground the space. The magnificent stone bench now has seating at one end, a new sink and completely reworked storage and dishwasher spaces. “Creating functional spaces within the island around all the steel supports for the concrete benchtop was like putting a jigsaw together,” recalls Davinia.

The scullery provides the luxury of separating food preparation from the main kitchen space when entertaining. It is equipped with stainless steel benchtops, a second sink, coffee machine, microwave, dishwasher, and storage for wine and small appliances.