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Kitchen design trends

As one of the most substantial expenses in any home renovation or new build, choosing the right kitchen design and finishes can be daunting, even before you consider the latest trends. What’s in and what’s out? Is this kitchen going to look as good in five years? These are among the questions to ask, or consider, before embarking on a kitchen project. Lifestyle trends play a big part in the modern kitchen. Even so, today’s kitchen designs present an eclectic line-up of enduring styles to suit myriad lifestyles and spaces. While we often look to Eurocucina in Milan and other overseas design fairs for inspiration, our own diverse restaurant and bar scene and love of travel have dictated many of the new directions, and local kitchen design has developed a confident personality all its own. Let’s take a look at 10 of the stand-out trends that are shaping our kitchens today.

1. The scullery
Including a scullery or butler’s pantry in a new kitchen design is increasingly popular. It’s like an extra, smaller kitchen tucked out of sight – the perfect place to house an extra oven, dishwasher, microwave or wine fridge. “Sculleries are a must-have for the passionate cook and entertainer if there’s enough room and a generous budget,” says interior designer Justine Hugh-Jones. “If you’re a serious cook, entertain a lot or have a large family, the extra bench space and room for appliances are wonderful. A lot of my clients have collected a huge number of kitchen items that they use regularly and want to keep. A scullery is the perfect place to house all this without cluttering the main kitchen.”

2. Freestanding kitchen pieces
The death of the formal dining room has brought meal times into the open, merging the kitchen and living-room spaces. This has heralded the arrival of the almost-freestanding kitchen with features such as islands, tables and cabinetry that appear to float. Thus, the kitchen and living areas blend seamlessly into one. “When we are planning a kitchen, we like to consider all the pieces as you would if you were designing a number of items of furniture,” says interior designer Greg Natale. “We treat islands like beautiful over-scale credenzas and use glass and mirrors in overhead cabinetry so they can be used for display. And adding moulding details on the joinery gives cabinets a bespoke custom-made feel.”

3. Dark glamour
There’s a move towards kitchens with dark, dramatic features. In sophisticated spaces where it isn’t desirable to have a distinct line between the living room and the food preparation area, these kitchens perform a practical function and look as stylish as their surrounds. Major appliance companies have designed black products to accommodate this growing market.

4. Organic shapes and raw earthy finishes
Timber, stone and polished concrete are all popular finishes. Often the practicality of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and integrated appliances can be softened with the earthy feel of marble and timber. Varying bench heights and dining areas allows the kitchen to blend beautifully with the living room. The likes of woven pendant lights enhance the look.

5. The streamlined integrated kitchen
The very Italian minimalist kitchen hasn’t gone away. Companies such as Poliform, Bontempi and Porcelanosa do them very well indeed. These very blocky, integrated, almost cubist designs work well in contemporary homes.

6. Soft industrial
There are many takes on the at-home industrial kitchen, and it’s a look that is perennially popular, but soft industrial seems to be where things are heading. Finishes such as exposed or painted brick, natural timber and steel, freestanding benches and open storage as well as shelving and commercial (or commercial-looking) appliances accentuate this feel.

7. East Coast style
Less formal than the classic English or European kitchen, the US East Coast vibe suits Australia’s more relaxed lifestyle without sacrificing finishes such as painted cabinets, stone bench tops, vintage-inspired handles and lighting and dark steel-framed windows and doors.

8. The café kitchen
Our love of cafés, bars and restaurants has seen their influence popping up at home. Bistro-style seating, suspended lighting and commercial wine storage are being incorporated into residential kitchens.

9. Indoor-outdoor integration
It’s been happening for some time in Australia, and considering our climate, it’s both logical and practical: the indoor kitchen that flows seamlessly to the outdoor entertaining space. Appliance companies have rushed to satisfy the needs of this increasing trend by offering a growing range of outdoor products, not just barbecues but cooktops and even specialised outdoor dishwashers.

10. The hidden kitchen
For those tight on space and with only a limited need to use the kitchen (perhaps just to mix drinks in the pied-à-terre, prepare canapés and make the odd omelette), the disappearing kitchen is an excellent solution. Fully contained behind a sliding or mirrored doors is a fully functional kitchen that can be completely packed away or concealed.


This article was published in the October 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.


Having been usurped by stainless steel, glass and stone as the surfaces of choice, the humble tile is making its way back into the kitchen in many different applications, from range hoods to splashbacks and bench tops.

Painted cabinetry
Some designers are seeking an alternative to the more minimalist polyurethane look and are exploring hand-painted finishes on kitchen joinery.

Tech stations
The tech station is the new hub of the home: many contemporary kitchen designs feature a place to charge and store phones, tablets, laptops and music.

Suspended lighting
It’s been de rigueur in most kitchen design for some years. Suspended lighting doesn’t replace all-important task lighting, but it’s a stylish addition and can provide warm ambient light.

Everything runs smoothly
Ensuring the smooth inner workings of cabinetry is now almost as important as their outward good looks. Blum, for one, has an extensive selection of options to optimise the internal efficiency of your cupboards.


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