Kitchens, cabi-nets and count-ers

The kitchen has regained its place
as the centre of the home. Especially in open plan designs, this room can
become the showpiece of an entire house if done right, or play a big role in its

A renovation is one of the few
opportunities for home owners to shape a kitchen around their needs and
lifestyle. Central to this is selecting the cabinetry, as it defines the look
and function of a kitchen.

“The kitchen is no longer just a place
for meal preparations, and the entire family now spends more time than ever in
the kitchen, truly making it the heart of the home. The kitchens that we design
are used for many purposes including cooking, eating, entertaining and as a
home office area,” says Helen Thomas, owner and manager of Pooley Cabinet Industries.

There are many elements that should
be taken into account when designing a kitchen, including the style of cooking
likely to take place in the kitchen and how visible the kitchen will be from
the rest of the home. If there are children in the home, the kitchen will also
need to be designed to be child friendly, with any appliances they may need to
use placed within their reach, while dangerous objects need to be kept well
clear of grasping little hands.

Many kitchens, especially in condo
complexes, are built to be easy to construct and affordable, rather than being
designed to make the best possible use of space or contain many user friendly
features. It might therefore be worth investigating a different layout before
deciding on other elements.

“Small spaces can be worked with to
appear larger and more functional, and larger spaces can be modified to improve
the workflow. Our consultations will determine whether reconfigurations are
possible, or if it is necessary to work with an existing layout,” Thomas says.

One of the popular options is the
introduction of a kitchen island, which can add a lot of functionality to a
kitchen. However, it is also important not to place an island in the kitchen
merely for the sake of having an island, as not all floor plans can happily accommodate
the feature.

“Islands are primarily incorporated
as a food preparation area but we may also incorporate a seating area, either
raised or at the same level. The island may also incorporate the main cooking
centre as it has the advantage of facing away from the wall which is a
preferred option for some. A prep sink may be included, for preparing fruits
and vegetables, and it may also incorporate refrigerator units,” according to

Although more traditional kitchens
are still very popular, the clean and modern look of European kitchens has been
gaining an increasing market share recently. These designs are often
characterised by features including high-gloss painted finishes, paired with
minimalist hardware, or even a complete absence of hardware.

“The look is very sleek and very
functional and is becoming very popular,” Thomas says.

The most popular style remains more
traditional kitchens, often with a flat or shaker door style and a wood finish.
However, darker finishes with strong grain, the so-called wenge look, is also
becoming very popular.

Although the outside of the
cabinets are often the first consideration, the inside can have an even great
impact on the functionality. It is always difficult to utilise the space in
corner cabinet units, so installing a lazy susan can make a big difference.
Other popular options include pull-out pantries or spice racks. The clean lines
of a kitchen can also be greatly improved by an integrated trash pullout, as it
eliminates clutter from the floor area of the kitchen.

Soft close drawers and doors are
also very popular, as it makes the whole kitchen experience somewhat more
civilised by removed the sound of slamming drawers and doors from the mix.

Although some prefer hanging pots
and pans from the wall as part of the decor, a deep drawer for the storage of
pots is also very popular.

These are merely some of the
choices available when choosing to have a custom kitchen installed.

“A customised kitchen will improve
the functionality of the kitchen workspace by ensuring an efficient workflow
and this will be achieved by incorporating the right accessories, ensuring
efficient storage solutions for utensils, serving pieces and small appliances,”
according to Thomas.

The selection of a countertop tends
to follow the selection of the cabinets, as the preferred cabinet finish will
influence the most suitable countertop.

There are a large variety of tops
available and while granite remains the most popular material, especially for
higher-end kitchens. There are widely varying patterns and colours available,
with options suitable for most kitchen designs.

There are many options for those
who would like something a little different as well.

Engineered stone such as Silestone
is very popular for the durability of the product, as well as the range of
colours available. Because of the uniformity of the product and the more
vibrant colours available, this presents a good option for modern European-style

Some are also turning to wood
countertops, which adds unique appeal to any kitchen, but requires greater care
and more maintenance than the stone countertop options.

Solid counter tops like Corian also
have advantages, as scratches can be buffed out and the countertop can be
shaped to integrate perfectly with your kitchen. Laminate counter tops also
remain popular, as they come in at a lower price point that most other
offerings and are available in a wide variety of colours. However, these are
more susceptible to damage than many of the other offerings available.

Ceramic tiles, glass and even
stainless steel are some of the other options available to those looking for a
unique kitchen counter.

With so many options
available, it makes sense to consult a professional before making a decision
about the layout and style of a new kitchen, as the perfect option for you
might be one you have not considered before.