I want my kitchen to feel spacious and welcoming, where do I start?
A great starting point is looking at what areas of your kitchen you dislike or need replacing; and what you would like to have to renew your love of your kitchen. Next step is to look at how much you can invest in your kitchen renovation – quality is important as this is a well-used space so durability and reliability are a must-have. Once the investment amount is identified then you start looking at what needs to change versus what you want changed!
Two elements that cost next to nothing that will make your kitchen feel spacious and welcoming are natural light and decluttering of benchtops or open shelves. Whether you need to capture natural light from the clever use of glossy or reflective finishes; or from changing a window covering that currently smothers the light filtering from outside. Next, look at adding various levels of artificial light to create “moods” – pendant lights to define a space, downlights to provide an all over task light or LED strip lighting to create ambience, interest or accent. The finishing touch would be adding something from nature – fresh fruit in a bowl or fresh soft scented flowers in a vessel!
Before the planning, think about how you use your kitchen day to day. Think about how you cook, how you buy and store your groceries, what appliances you need to store and which ones are out on display. Then take a look at where your kitchen will be. What is the light flow? What is the outlook? How does it fit within the rest of your home?
Now the layout. Try to create separate 'zones' that work both as independent areas and as a part of the whole. For example, the cleaning zone would include the sink, dishwasher and cleaning chemicals but is close to the storage of plates, cutlery and glassware. Also try to avoid 'awkward' areas within your layout. Such as doors that open past the access point or in front of other often used appliances. Finally, look at the lines of your kitchen. Where possible draw long straight lines. Line up your drawer fronts and doors, integrate your appliances, under mount your sinks, keep your splashback the same height and ample space between benchtops. These lines will help to trick your eyes into thinking the room is larger.
How do I choose a colour scheme or materials that I know I'll still love in 10 years time?
How you are going to use your new kitchen will greatly impact the colour scheme and the choice of materials you use. There are so many products on the market that are available. Each one has its pros and cons. For example, you have a lot of different quartz benchtop brands, all very similar in construction and performance. However, none are warranted if used outside, even in a covered alfresco. The only options here are natural stone products or compact laminates.
One of the trends at the moment is to use more than one colour where possible. This can be achieved by using two or more colours in the cabinetry, two different benchtops, feature overhead cabinetry and veined quartz or porcelain splashbacks. The benefit of today's products is the choices in colours across all of them. The trick is in getting the balance right across the design of the kitchen and the surrounding rooms. Regardless of colours, knowing how your products will perform over time is just as important.
Classic and neutral is the simplest way to choosing a colour scheme that will stand the test of time, whether as a trend or as an individual taste. The key, however, is adding an accent colour to create interest - it will give you the versatility to change without the expense of having to replace the whole kitchen! The accent colour can be a flavour of the moment or a current colour trend used in small amounts. It could be added in decorative items such as a fruit bowl, LED strip lighting, bar stools, pendant light shades, splashback or even tapware!
As for materials, kitchens are places that experience the highest traffic, host a variety of activities and a must-have in every home. Materials that are durable for their purpose is extremely important. Sticking to the neutral/classic colour scheme will ensure the materials you choose; you will continue to love; however, practicality is the key to making the right decision. Pure white looks great but will it be practical for a family situation if chosen for the floors or the benchtop? Your love will diminish over the years with the maintenance of keeping it clean!