Kitchen designer Annika Rawson says there is a real movement towards natural stone and wood veneer in our kitchens. Photography / Gina Fabish
The kitchen serves many purposes throughout the day: it is a quiet place of solace, comfort and thought. It’s a bustling place with chaos, nutrition and teamwork. It’s the place
Everyone gathers at a party – elbows on benches, noses in refrigerators. It’s where you feed your family and where you may have turned one end of the island into a temporary home office.
More than ever – and whether you’re forced to close or you’re always happy to cook in your home – the kitchen has become the place we consider the heart of our homes.
The Herald spoke to award-winning kitchen designer, Annika Rowson of Rowson Kitchens and design expert Mike Thorburn, owner of ECC, which provides exclusive lighting, furniture and designer brands to New Zealand, to find out what makes a kitchen more luxurious and a luxury-working space.
From gorgeous natural stones, to smarter designs, to decluttering your kettle, Rowson and Thorburn discuss nine luxury items that will make your kitchen worth all the time you spend in them.
wipe the seat
It might be time to throw in your beloved Breville or Sunbeam espresso machine and have one permanently in your kitchen. And while you’re there, ditch your kettle, filter from the fridge and SodaStream because if you’re in the market for a fancy kitchen, you’ll need a built-in coffee maker and a water tap instead.
“With a built-in coffee maker, you don’t take up space on the bench,” Rawson points out. “Fischer, Paykel, and Millie do it. Everything is perfectly organized and more of a set with your devices.”
“Water taps are non-negotiable,” Rawson says. “It changes your life because you remove clutter from the kitchen. You eliminate the need for multiple appliances. You have hot, cold, filtered, cooled and sparkling. It combines a lot of things into one really efficient faucet. Once that was done it was hard to get it back. Depending on the finish, They have a retail range of $6000 to $7000. There are three different price brackets on them.”
A lesson in planning
If you like Thorburn, the kitchen counter or island is where you eat most of the time.
“These days we eat dinner there more than the dining table. So the bench is very important. It should be functional and comfortable.”
Or, to increase the price on your island, you might consider eliminating the bench altogether.
Rowson says her team has “recently built a few islands in blocks that have no seating. And in a roundabout you’re kind of saying you don’t need the space. It’s quite a luxury look to give up the bar stools and get a really nice block shape.” Where materials are applied both horizontally and vertically.”
Rowson says by moving your stove to your kitchen island, along with your sink, you create the ultimate interactive space while you cook.
“When you’re cooking, you don’t have your back to everyone. Kids can do their homework, you may be entertained and guests can sit on the island and have a drink while the food is being prepared. It’s very connected and also much safer in that it’s just a side step into the sink instead of turning around and crossing your kitchen “.
A luxury kitchen won’t let you open and close drawers with nothing but your strength.
Rowson says they’ve installed a lot of push-to-open electric drawers.
“They have a full back bounce, so it opens the full length of the drawer. It’s excellent but a favorite. It’s a smoother soft close too. It’s also really good when cooking, if your hands are dirty you can just push the container with your knee, you can bump something and open the cabinet without Having to touch it all the time. You can really get into your groove when cooking because you can move around so softly.”
Statement bench and sink in the same
When it comes to countertops in your kitchen, statement panels made from natural materials are there, Rawson says.
“We’re seeing a really strong movement back into organic stone: granite, quartzite, limestone, marble too. That’s only been in the last 12-18 months, but I’m really feeling with Covid and delays and supply issues, it seems like people want to know where things are coming from and they want a product More natural in their kitchen. Also, exclusivity and not knowing anyone else wouldn’t have the same palette.”
The marble, quartzite, and granite that will appear next year are “very bold,” Rawson says.
A particularly luxe look is to integrate your bench top with your sink. So instead of choosing a chrome or porcelain sink to insert into the beautiful bench top, the same material—marble, granite, or quartzite—is also used.
“It’s a really nice look that’s a little more luxe. When it’s on the island, it’s really a compliment to say granite and have that as the sink as well.”
When you invest in a natural stone highchair, says Rowson, it’s a shame not to make the most of it.
“Putting a stainless bowl on, it doesn’t really do it justice. Especially if you want to make it more luxe.”
Steam dream and run effects
Thorburn, in his opinion, says a steam oven is the best appliance out there in the kitchen these days.
It offers “the ease of cooking in a fast-paced contemporary world” and works by cooking food in its own juices, reducing the need for oils and fats.
Meanwhile, range hoods may have been a feature in our kitchens for a while, but getting rid of them completely might be the way forward.
Instead, Rawson says, “Induction cooktops with a bottom draft in the center are gaining in popularity. They create a really clean, modern look without the need for a heavy overhead range or hanging unit.”
Light it properly
Thorburn says creating ambiance in the kitchen is key to giving the space a premium feel and highlighting high-quality materials. He suggests, in particular, “good lighting over task areas, which can be dimmed for mood lighting later.”
“We use a lot of magnetic track systems with very low glow points and downlights, where the light source stays separate, creating a great ambiance that enhances the finishes used in the upscale kitchen.”
Using LED strip lighting on the backsplash can also “soften the ambiance” while “decorative pendants above work tables can be used to link into home décor and make an impact,” says Thorburn.
Cabinets and knobs
In keeping with people’s desire to use natural products, Rowson says there’s been a real movement back to veneer in the kitchen cabinet.
“Veneers are really elegant and timeless. We don’t see many matte surfaces anymore. They come back to a really nice grain.”
Instead of displaying a massive double-door refrigerator, Rowson suggests incorporating whiteware by placing cabinets on top of it.
“Integration is really key to creating a really neat and clean kitchen. It’s a good way to give the space a more furniture-like look by removing the utility side of the refrigerator, for example. And you can do the same with dishwashers and dishwasher drawers.”
When it comes to knobs and faucets, the past 12 months have seen a rise in the use of smoked bronze, a dark and moody take on traditional metals.
“The copper was really strong, we have rose gold and copper tones. Now we’re seeing more bronze in the natural patina that will naturally rejuvenate over time, which is really cool.”
Rawson says the recent shift from bright white kitchens to dark is starting to move again, too.
“We’ve found that there are a lot of neutral tones that show up in a lot of natural stones. If we’re using a darker color, it tends to be, for example, in a back wall of veneered cabinets. And they’re really complementary, so still There are dark elements in the kitchen, and part of that is also complementary to the strong movement of black appliances like ovens.
“Black really blends in with the cabinets while the stainless steel really stands out. Black looks great with wood and really smart with white cabinets too. We do a lot of black hardware.”
Tabletop that charges your phone
Corian stone provides docking stations that go under the tabletop material for wireless charging. So, you can open your phone or tablet next to you and revive its battery while cooking.
Corian stone also allows for recycled hotspots, so instead of a power point complete with a board and switch, all you’ll see are three pins to connect to.
“It’s really cool, really simple beauty,” Rawson says.
• Annika Rowson is a New Plymouth-based kitchen designer working throughout the North Island, she has won numerous awards for her work and has been featured in national and international publications.