The trend of combining the kitchen and the living area in one open plan space has changed the rules of kitchen design. We look at practical and style elements that blend best.
If you’re planning to renovate your kitchen, it’s wise to do your research. Cut pictures from magazines and make notes about the layouts, styles and colours you prefer so you can get an idea of how attainable your dream kitchen is -especially on your budget! Kitchen specialists also recommend that you make a list of all the things you don’t like about your current kitchen and decide which appliances you’re going to keep. These days many kitchens are designed to accommodate essential electrical appliances so if you leave space to add a dishwasher or a tumble-dryer at a later stage, make sure that a power point and water source are already installed.
‘Kitchens used to be about practicality, but the contemporary kitchen strikes a balance between practicality and beauty with lighting being key to creating the right mood,’ says Valerie Poyurs of The Radiant Group. She recommends installing a number of lighting options – both function (for food prepation) and mood (for its enjoyment) and also suggests considering LED lights, which use less power and last longer. The advantage of one central light is that it’s easier to keep clean and to replace bulbs. But Eben Kruger of Eurolux warns that lights can become dirty without an extractor fan, thanks to steam and dust. So use fluorescent lighting or recessed lights, rather than glass, perspex or spotlights. ‘Undercounter lighting is ideal when you don’t want to turn on your main light all the time, and it creates a tranquil mood. If you want to show off china or glassware in a cupboard, install glass doors with recessed lights above the crockery,’ suggests Eben. Lighting over your tables can also be much more dramatic; crystal and crown chandeliers in various colours are high fashion now.
The work triangle
Fifty years ago the natural path the average housewife followed between the sink, the stove and the fridge was referred to as the work triangle. The distance between each – and their accessibility – is still used to determine good kitchen design.
Floors and walls
Traditionally, tiles are the first choice for kitchens – they’re affordable, practical for an area where water is splashed about, and offer endless options. According to Nellie Botha of Union Tiles, using the same tiles on the floor and wall creates the illusion of more space. Contemporary kitchens also use seamless concrete to create the same spacious effect. Laminated wood is cheaper than solid wood, while parquet flooring that may have been hidden under vinyl tiles for decades are also fashionable now. According to Nick Gluckman of Oggie Hardwood Flooring, wooden floors are highly popular in kitchens, as they extend the living area. And you needn’t always worry about appliances making dents in your floors, he adds. ‘Our floors are aged by hand, so any new marks and indentations on the surface contributes to the wood’s unique character,’ explains Nick. Tiles mark, crack and break more easily than wood, while wood retains its beauty if maintained properly. As to walls, Julie Cosyns says strong colours on vertical surfaces – be it paint, wallpaper, splashbacks, cupboards or tiles – are in demand worldwide.
Beverley Maas contends that the kitchen island is here to stay, as it gives you extra workspace while family gathers around, or the children do their homework.
• Make provision for enough storage drawers, a slide-out bin, and space for saucepans and large mixing bowls. If space permits, a small basin is a welcome bonus.
• Make sure there’s space to move around the island – ideally a metre all-round – so someone can pass when a drawer is open.
• If there’s a hob in the island, make sure there’s enough space between the plates and seating to prevent hot oil from splashing on to anyone keeping you company as you cook.