The A-Z of kitchen renovations

Illustrations by Tom Bingham

Illustrations by Tom Bingham

You’re set to build the kitchen of your dreams but you don’t know your staving from your shark nose? Stylist Megan Morton has an A-Z guide to renovating terms so you can speak the lingo.

AA
The acoustic arrangement. This is about the whirl of a NutriBullet and the gurgle of a coffee machine - you want to contain noise pollution. It's helpful to bed this down early because it will make you think about how many small appliances the new kitchen will have so the PP (power plan) can deal with the demand. There's nothing worse than a sexy new kitchen where a surge-protecting double adaptor takes centrestage.

Aris
This is an angle-edged finish given to the top and bottom edges on a benchtop to prevent chipping. It can only be done on a benchtop that's more than 20mm thick. It's also called an eased edge.

Chamfered edge
A truly magnificent title for a clever cutaway right-angled edge which, given to the top edge of a cupboard door, acts as the handle. Request these if you want to save yourself hundreds of dollars and hours buying handles.

Cove
An inward-curving crumb-catcher that runs the length of your island or benchtop. Unless you're prepared to wipe out this dust and food trap daily, opt for the opposite profile, the aris edge (see above).

COS
An arse-covering exercise where designers see their order is "checked on site" to make sure everything fits and nothing has been overlooked by the suppliers. It is topped by a signed CMW (check measure waiver), when, for whatever reason (the property is still being built or otherwise inaccessible), the cabinetry is ordered without a COS. This means the joiner will make the cabinetry to the nominated dimensions in the design and if for some reason the final dimensions differ from the cabinetry and it doesn't fit, you are then looking at a VO (variation order), which usually means an extra change. Confusing? Yes. Designed to be that way? Absolutely.

Dovetail
The grand cru joint of cabinetmaking. It's a technique for joining pieces of timber without the use of nails or other fasteners. A series of interlocking tails and pins are cut in the end of each board so they fit together snugly. Even if your budget runs to the finest Burgundy be aware that this will cost you a bomb.

Garage
Slang for the little roller door that usually conceals the toaster, kettle and other small appliances. The technical term is a tambour door. In layman's terms it's referred to as an "aluminium rolling shutter", but someone I know calls it the "carb cupboard".

Hand-finished
This is when you pay a surcharge for the ever-so-subtle evidence that a real human has had contact with your kitchen doors/ drawers/benchtops. Yes, it flies in the face of last decade's preference for two-pack polyurethane finish, but who wouldn't want to know that a retiree sitting in a semi-rural workshop with a pot of English Breakfast had hand-painted every door of your new kitchen to the sounds of bossa nova.

Honed
Think of the statue of David. Well-honed refers to the flat finish of the statue, achieved by time-consuming and finicky wet sanding. No, not what you were thinking and, yes, it is as expensive as it sounds.

HPL
High-pressure laminate, commonly known as laminate, which is essential when you can't afford BBM: budget-breaking marble.

Kiln
Slang for when double ovens are positioned side by side as opposed to the tower, when ovens are placed on top of each other.

Lamb's tongue
Imagine a benchtop that ends in a cascade of rounded edges. This and its unfashionable cousin the shark nose (see below) were an anti-design reaction to the hi-tech minimal kitchens of the 1990s, which means they're either very hot right now, or very cold, depending on your interior architect.

Nakiri
As in the cult Japanese knife brand. If your kitchen designer drops this word into the conversation, you'll know he or she is testing how seriously you take your tools.

Quad
A quarter-circle bead. In layman's terms it means someone has stuffed up and needs to cover up their error. You will hear it uttered in a manner something like this: "Oh, we can just dummy it up with a bit of quad." If you hear it, throw a tantrum.

R&R
If you see these letters written on your file at your first meeting, it doesn't mean your designer thinks you need a holiday; it means he or she thinks you should "remove and replace" your joinery. This means hanging onto the bones and replacing the doors. So, instead of signing off on their abolish plan, consider living with your existing framework, updating the cosmetics and taking the money you saved and spending it on real R&R.

Serviceware
The stuff you have in your kitchen and dining room. A kitchen designer will need a realistic stocktake of just how many items of serviceware you need to accommodate and that includes Aunty Fi's massive ham platter and that funky but awkward designer citrus juicer.

Shark nose
A semi-flattened and then rounded benchtop edge. It's the design equivalent to asking for a caramel frappuccino when everyone else is ordering single-origin macchiati.

Solid surface
It may seem like baby talk to explain this but it's a real sorting hat when it comes to kitchen speak. It relates to any product that begins in liquid form and sets hard (such as Corian). This is, of course, a benefit because it doesn't scratch, stain, mark or chip, making it A-game durable.

Staving
A fine routing detail that produces a surface made of solid planks of wood. It boasts the allure of solidity and old-world craftsmanship. Not to be confused with starving, which you might be if you select this detail on anything longer than two metres.

TTT
Thermo-treated timber, a kiln process that beautifies timber by releasing its natural tannins through heat and steam. This rewards you with handsome variations in the natural grain while appearing darker than in its natural form. Unlike staining, which applies a block colour to the wood. It's like the difference between a DIY supermarket hair-dye job versus six hours with your superstar colourist - well worth the time and money.

Vide poche
Translates from the French as "empty your pockets", and once you've assigned a designated VP spot in your kitchen(or anywhere in your house), it will change your life. A VP - a small container of some sort - means your keys will never be MIA and you'll always have macchiato money.

VOC
Good-quality products will proudly use paint or vinyls that have been deemed to emit low concentrations of volatile organic compounds. Yep, fewer harsh chemicals floating around your kitchen.

Waterfall
When your counter-top material drops down the side of your benchtop in one continuous piece. It speaks of smug in that "I can afford this huge slab of marble cascading down the side of my kitchen bench" kind of way. The jury is out on whether this sits on this year's Lust List or last year's.

Wet kitchen
Where the real cooking happens, often outside and at the back of a house. Common in Asia, wet kitchens keep the smells and kitchen heat away from living areas. By contrast, a dry kitchen is where the service, eating and cocktails happen.


The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Listen
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Fiendish

Globetrotting coffee-obsessives, meet the Rok espresso maker...

Cake stands

Raise your gateaux to new heights with a glam cake stand.

Winter design trends

Accent marble with timber and metallics for wintry cool.

BindFold napery

Between her backyard and laundry in Melbourne, Victoria Pemb...

Mortars and pestles

Extract the most from your spices with mortars and pestles; ...

Mugs

Be it ever so humble, there’s few things as homely as a good...

Hank pepper mills and salt bowls

Subtle in style, strong on character.