by Lisa De Silva
Once you’ve sorted out the practicalities of a new kitchen and set a budget, it’s time to unleash your creativity and imagination. Part two of our kitchen guide helps you to navigate the choices that await you.
Most fitted kitchen units comprise of a carcass made from egger MFC board, a type of chipboard. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the board, the greater the durability, strength and usability of the unit. The fun part is choosing the style, colour and finish of the doors. All kitchen suppliers offer a range to choose from and below is a brief outline of the three most popular styles.
The warm and cosy farmhouse kitchen will always remain a popular choice when it comes to style. The main characteristics of this type of kitchen include open shelving, wide sinks, a big kitchen table, a fireplace and the use of lots of wood, stone and brick.
Shaker styles also remain a firm favourite. The attraction of a shaker kitchen lies in its timeless simplicity. Understated with no fussy mouldings, the style can be dressed up to look traditional or modern and looks equally as good in a country cottage as an urban town house. Popular colour choices include cream, muted greens, pale blues and greys.
The desire to create a contemporary, minimal and sleek look has seen the popularity of the modern kitchen soar. Often handleless, these kitchens usually incorporate integrated appliances to keep the look as streamlined as possible. This type of kitchen favours the colour white, which emphasises the clean lines, allowing the maximum amount of light to be reflected around the room.
When choosing a matt or gloss finish for doors it’s helpful to know that gloss will create more of a polished and reflective surface. Matt will still reflect light around the room but will not reflect any other elements of the kitchen.
As the kitchen evolves into more of a living space, there is also a growing trend for kitchen units with integrated appliances to look more like designer furniture. This has led to innovative developments, such as hide and slide continued from page 64 doors, magic corners and pull out larder systems.
The main decision here is whether or not to integrate the kitchen appliances. This will depend on the style of kitchen. For more traditional rustic charm, vintage style appliances can be a major feature of the kitchen. However, those wanting to create a minimal look will appreciate the opportunity to hide their appliances within a bank of units.
Smart technology has also had a major impact on appliances themselves. Timer devices can now be operated by a smart phone, meaning you can cook your dinner, wash your dishes and do your laundry without even being home. Many ovens now offer self clean options and some fridges can even order the shopping for you. As we advance further into the 21st century, these features and developments are set to become an increasingly important element of modern lifestyles.
The choice of worktop will enhance both the style and functionality of your kitchen, but the options can be bewildering.
The most cost effective choice is laminate, which is incredibly durable and can be made to mimic more expensive materials, such as granite or stone. Laminates are easy to maintain and clean, as well as offering both different edge and thickness profiles.
Solid wood is also popular, bringing warmth to a kitchen, but requires regular maintenance to prevent staining and scratching.
Natural stones, such as granite and marble, are more expensive but add a touch of luxury and can last a lifetime. Each worktop is unique and once sealed, natural stone is able to withstand high temperatures, along with being mould, bacteria and mildew resistant.
Growing in popularity are engineered stone worktops which are usually made of a composite of quartz and resin. These offer the same benefits as natural stone but are non-porous, so do not require sealing. They also offer a huge colour range, with more uniform colour than natural stone and can be finished to look glossy, matt or sparkly.
Relatively new on the scene are solid surface worktops which are manmade from a mixture of acrylic and mineral fillers. This creates a smooth nonporous worktop with seamless joints. As the material can be moulded into any shape, the worktop can include integrated sinks, upstands, draining boards and curved profiles.
Other worktop surfaces growing in popularity include stainless steel, concrete and glass, but these still remain a niche market.
For those with an island, the latest trend is to ‘wrap’ the island in the same material as the worktop.
While tiles will always be popular, there is a growing trend for coloured glass splashbacks. This is a great way to inject a pop of colour into a neutral scheme.
What’s more, advances in technology now allow some companies to print anything onto your glass splashback, such as a favourite photograph, image or graphic.
The most efficient way to light a kitchen is to have a combination of recessed downlights, under cabinet strip lighting and pendant lighting. This combination will offer the task lighting needed for a well-lit work area, as well as softer options for dining and entertaining.
Interesting effects can also be achieved by positioning lights below units and islands, which will make them appear to float. Advances in LED lighting now also means that it is easy to add a rainbow of colours to your lighting scheme to add interest and drama.