Top Trends and Tips for how to choose a Kitchen: Expert comment from Sara Wells, Regional Sales & Business Development Manager at Doca UK
Look at the space you have to work with and then be guided by your own style and taste. Whether you err towards contemporary or traditional designs, it is always wise to research the different type of products and interior options available, as this will inevitably change and expand on your initial ideas.
With such a variety of home magazines specific to the kitchen, it is easy to gather inspiration and ideas that will help gauge exactly what you want, as well as find the professionals to help you achieve it. Research independent kitchen retailers in your area, being aware that the better outfits have a website you can explore prior to visiting. This resource will not only explain what the retailer offers but also show examples of some of the beautiful projects they have already commissioned. Approach two or three that have impressed you most, however should you prefer to use trade bodies you can such investigate the KBSA, SBID, iKBBI and BIDA to assist in your search. When it comes to fees, most retailers will charge for designs but usually rebate this against the cost of the project, should you order from them.
Contemporary kitchen design lends itself perfectly to the concept of a living kitchen with two strong trends presently; concealment of the functional elements, and secondly the use of ‘furniture’ proportions and details to soften the impact on the space. This modern approach plays to the popularity of open plan living, which has completely changed how people use and view the kitchen area. Generally the kitchen has now become a space that needs to be part of a larger integrated area, with the cabinetry blurring the boundary between kitchen, living and dining areas. The cabinetry should be desirable and luxurious, and non-specific to the kitchen area with flush cabinetry and minimal handles.
Appliances can be concealed with the use of pocket, bi-fold doors, whilst functional storage systems or additional preparation space is integrated to ensure every item of functionality remains out of sight, allowing the units to disappear into the overall design of the open plan space. This type of unit design will ensure a clear worktop, free from cookware and electric gadgets and give maximum usability of the furniture without affecting the desired aesthetic. For example, a double oven can be concealed within a stylish unit where pull out racking, drawers and potentially larder storage can be accommodated. Bi-folding furniture units with pocket doors, when open, could reveal a hidden sink or prep area with handy wine cooler or drinks bar, so it is important to change your approach when considering the kitchen cupboard.
Effective spatial planning, a clever choice of materials, considering the treatment of the overall design and more importantly, the multifunctional elements hidden from sight, will ensure a hidden aesthetic with contemporary style and simplistic beauty. It may not be on display but it ultimately controls the function and overall finish of a room. With such a unique range available on the market, such as drawer fitments that provide innovative compartments, rails, racks and specialist shelving to suit the individual, means you almost have undefined creativity when deciding on the design and interior arrangement of your custom furniture. For example, the benefit to having a hidden utility area in your kitchen will offer greater organization but more importantly the concealment of your necessary appliances and laundry supplies. This will ensure a flawless aesthetic by providing discreet storage that can be easily reached, without fuss.
When you think of a practical modern kitchen interior, your mind is also drawn to ultra-thin profiles, uniformity of design and a visually lightweight aesthetic that offers practical living. As such, slender products with slim profiles are becoming more commonplace in the kitchen but, are no longer being achieved through the standard matt/gloss laminates or stand alone worktops.
Moving away from the typical laminate with MDF core, it is now possible to echo 3-5mm thin countertops made of stone throughout your kitchen cabinetry, dispelling the myth that heavier weight materials such as stone cannot be clad to both door and drawer fronts without cracking. Innovations such as aluminium backed stone have allowed the 21st century homeowner to twin both worktop and cabinetry in the same slim design. Stone effect porcelain or ceramic, textured and sawn veneers and metals are a new wave of materials in the kitchen that are no longer considered bulky and impractical, but instead a unique design solution for creating a thin, minimalist kitchen interior.
Furniture that seamlessly becomes part of the interior is a great way to introduce varying tone and texture in the room. You can combine select pieces of furniture that encompass a whole host of finish, material, colour and form all the while creating the ultimate practical, yet highly desirable living space. Colour that is cleverly introduced into an interior will also dictate the overall look and feel of a space. Pastel shades such as pale green, mellow yellow and duck egg blues and tones of grey are a popular choice right now and suitably, all work extremely well together. I feel this is because each of these shades creates a muted back-drop, yet still invites a subtle point of difference with the use of varying colour. Neutral tones twinned with bold accents are equally fashionable and will suit contemporary interiors by presenting a minimalist look whereas, rich deeper tones of colour will create added depth and drama.
The introduction of atypical materials and finishes has fast become the latest look in interior fashion, compelling the need for more unexpected, advantageous design. As such, two tone kitchens remain a front runner for kitchen designers, creating a real design advantage to them now and also in the future. Not only accommodating changing trends and/or personal tastes, two tone kitchen designs can also minimise the cost of your project, allowing you to inject small areas of personality and oomph via a brightly coloured high gloss central island, or strategically placed wooden breakfast bar.
We are definitely noting a move towards metallic finishes in the kitchen, with many of you recognising that appliances don’t need to be the only thing that creates flair and pizzazz. For example, a desire for mirrored, steel effect cabinetry is proving a keen choice for contemporary interior schemes, giving an almost metallic, futuristic aesthetic. That being said, this type of material also lends itself to a classical interior scheme. Imagine a mirrored splashback or steel worktop partnered with a backdrop of traditional shaker style cabinetry. Even though this would create an instant contrast of style and era, if done correctly, the different characteristics can complement each other and provide a transitional look that balances both old and new.
As design possibilities open up so do the choice of materials and the freedom of expression to use them. The joy of open plan living has settled into being the desired norm and so the next thing is to continue to push the boundaries. It is important to think about the bigger picture, how the materials work with the architecture and interior scheme, so to change the ordinary into the extraordinary. This will of course mean that more unusual materials such as ceramic stone and textured materials such as rough cut or 3D veneers, glass/mirror or metal finishes will be used. Other new materials such as porcelain create an eclectic and structured interior style, evoking a strong, dramatic look and feel. By combining select pieces of large furniture in robust textures such as stone effect porcelain, textured and sawn veneers and metals, you will find greater alternatives for creating unique design solutions where your kitchen can sit quietly in the overall scheme to then come alive when used, and reveal its functionality.