Finally, I can say that the kitchen is finished. Unfortunately a delay on the pendant light fittings over the island bench meant that almost 6 months after installation, it's finally a space that is complete.
I've written quite a few posts on the kitchen design, finishes, appliances and various other things do do with the kitchen, so I will try not to rehash those posts, and instead concentrate on the finished space. I'll provide a list of links to those previous posts at the end of this post if you're interested in the process.
The design for the kitchen was a tedious and frustrating process. I love designing kitchens as I love to cook, but there were a few things that I struggled to reconcile along the way. Part of this was that Mr AV wanted a far greater input into the kitchen design than I had envisioned (he does not cook and does not work in Design, so this was unexpected). The major issue we had was the open plan concept. Open plan living is essentially a non-negotiable in modern Australia. We live and entertain casually, and it is now expected that a modern home will have a large open plan kitchen/ dining/ living zone at the rear of the house opening onto the garden and outdoor entertaining areas.
The problem with that is that a kitchen is on display constantly, and kitchens are by necessity fairly messy areas. I don't like sitting at the dining table and viewing the mess from cooking in the kitchen - as we don't have a formal Dining room, but like to entertain in a slightly more formal manner from time to time, this was doubly important. (On this topic I was recently at a large Dinner Party where caterers had been employed. The dining table was right next to the very open plan kitchen, so essentially we were right in the middle of the preparation/ cleaning up and there was no separation of the catering staff and the guests. It was not exactly hugely problematic, but some form of separation would have been reasonably appropriate in that instance.)
So, the typical response if you view this as a problem is to have an island bench with an up stand on it to block the view when sitting at the dining table into the kitchen, or to have a second kitchen (a Butlers Pantry) where food preparation and mess can be contained and a 'show' kitchen is in front of it. Instead, in our kitchen with a lack of wall space to accommodate the appliances, pantry and oven, I looked at blocking the view from the dining area into the kitchen with a wall of kitchen units, which was reasonably radical in concept to cause Mr AV and I to have a lot of… animated… discussion. The end result was that cupboards do not go all the way up to the ceiling so it still gives the open plan concept and feel.
It's been really successful and works so well. If you're cooking, you're still part of the action… but when I'm sitting at the table with guests, the kitchen can be a huge mess and no one has a view of it.
The second point that differentiates this kitchen from a lot of current kitchen design is that the island is reasonably small, and in fact the kitchen itself is not overly large - it's really a very average sized kitchen for a family home. It's in fact the same size as the old kitchen we used for 3 years, but more efficient use of the space means it functions with triple the storage, and is much more user friendly. My younger sister was surprised the first time she came over at the size of the kitchen, as she expected I would have done a cavernously large, flash kitchen instead. But I have designed kitchens like that in the past, and I don't feel they work very well from an ergonomic perspective (the design was client driven - they wanted large kitchens). This kitchen is SO easy to work in. Everything is a few paces from where you need to be, there are large areas of bench space, and it takes no effort to clean up.
So, onto finishes. The kitchen cupboards are painted melamine. They are (hand) painted in a semi-gloss pale grey enamel paint, and are easy to wipe clean when spills occur. I did the door profile in a very simple shaker style panel - my aim throughout the extension design is to do pared back semi-traditional, so simplified detailing is part of the design. The skirting is flush to the doors - there is no kicker, which has not been a problem ergonomically speaking (if you're interested), and the bench top is also flush to the cupboard panels. I was trying to make it look like cabinetry. There is a simple header at the top of the full height cupboards to make the cabinetry look 'finished'.
The wall around the steel windows are tiled in a large format subway tile that butt up against the very simple window architrave. The tiles have an undulating/ handmade look to them, and are a matt finish (rather than shiny), so give a bit of textural interest. The grout is in the palest grey grout to match the cupboards and the veining in the bench tops.
The bench tops are in a composite stone that looks like marble. I'm really happy with how it's performing. As I said when discussing finishes in previous blog posts, I love the look of marble, but know that my family will ruin it fairly quickly… so this has been a good alternative.
The handles are a brushed brass, and I chose very simple modern and timeless handles, rather than a more ornate or traditionally styled handle. I've tried to do a blend of old and new throughout the new extension.
The flooring is sheet linoleum, which has probably been one of the best decisions we made with the extension. It looks fantastic, stands up to the rigours of family life, and is very easy to clean. I really don't know why more people don't look at putting it in - it's environmentally friendly, lasts 150 years, and is dirt cheap.
Lighting in the space required a bit of thought - I didn't want down lights in the ceiling as the ceilings are very high (nearly 4 meters), and you'd need a lot of them to get enough light on the bench tops. I decided on a recessed strip LED light in the underside of the window architrave over the sink area. In the day, you don't notice it at all, and at night it provides good task lighting.
The island bench has three pendant light fittings that appear to be hand blown glass - they have a mottled quality in line with the aesthetic I was trying to achieve… a bit of a hand made/ textural feel. They compliment the light fitting made by the Jam Factory over the Dining table in the adjacent dining area.
Almost all appliances are concealed in the kitchen. With the kitchen visible as soon as you walked through the door into the new extension, I didn't want a wall of stainless steel fridges/ dishwashers etc to be the first thing to visually distract. I wanted the kitchen to look like cabinetry, and to be simple and in the background when needed. I think the overall space feels quite serene and uncluttered because of this too. Concealed in the cupboards are a Fridge, Freezer, bifold doors to the walk in pantry, and two dishwashers. The unit with the visible cabinetry is not seen from the living area and contains the double oven, warming drawer, range hood and cooktop.
Of course, opposite the kitchen is the visual interest for this space - the wall of steel windows around the stairs leading down to the cellar and Mr AV's study. This is wallpapered with Library wallpaper in sepia tones, which provides a nice view when standing at the island bench. The view out of the steel windows to the garden is slowly improving too as the landscaping continues.
The only regret that I have with the design is that I could not fit three stools at the kitchen bench for my three Children. Unfortunately I was space constrained - I would have had to lose space in the adjacent Children's playroom to accommodate a larger island, and the playroom was at what I considered the appropriate size, with no room to squeeze another half meter out of it. It's rare to be able to accommodate everything in a design, but this also means that we are disciplined in always eating at the dining table, rather than the island. The island stools are used more for chatting to the cook or a quick snack.
So, onto the details
Cupboard paint: Dulux "Ghosting" in Semi Gloss Enamel
Wall paint: Dulux "Fair Bianca"
Wall Tiles: from Eco Tile Factory
Flooring: Forbo Marmoleum from the Dutch Design range "Piet Hein Eek" M0512
Joinery pulls: Colonial Bronze "306 Cabinet Pull" in Satin Brass available here
Benchtops: Bianco Venato Quartz from Designer Finishes
Stools: Hay Denmark "About a Stool"
Pendant lights: "Bolla" Light from Gineico
Wallpaper: Andrew Martin "Library" in Sepia
Previous blog posts on the kitchen design
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