When shopping for a new kitchen, you’re bombarded with imagery of the latest trends – all photographed in huge warehouse-like spaces with lots of interesting period features and double-height ceilings to make even the most basic design look visually interesting. It can be very hard to figure out the practical side of the purchase from the fashion-led aspects.
Even on sites like Pinterest and Houzz, where there is a focus on real-life homes, the content is image-led rather than offering much depth on real-life experiences by experts. The industry insiders featured below practise what they preach.
By letting us inside their homes to see what works in their own kitchens, three design professionals offer tips and tricks on how to make the most of what you’ve got and where to splurge the money when you want to invest in a new design.
Making the most of a traditional family kitchen
Clever and affordable updates and insider staging tricks can make the most basic of kitchens look more than the sum of its parts.
What can you do with a kitchen that has more than earned its keep but that you can’t afford to change it – at least not yet?
Twenty-six yeas after she moved out, Deirdre Walshe, interior designer and home stager, who heads up estate agents Hunters estate agent’s interiors business, has moved back into the family home. Her parents have downsized and she bought the house, inheriting the kitchen that formed part of her childhood, an Arco Design made of solid oak that came with their new-build house when her family moved in in 1979.
It was a country oak-style that has been painted a rainbow coat of colours – it’s been light green, dark green, cream, yellow and as it is now, an off-white. The worktops too have been replaced several times since then, as have the tiles.
While Walshe plans to do a big job on the room next year, for now she’s practical enough to make do, to bring her staging talent to the fore, starting with a paint refresh where she plans to paint the base units a different colour to the wall cabinets, keeping the colour light on top, probably the same colour as the walls, so that they will recede and make the space look less cluttered by its cabinetry. “It will feel more spacious,” she explains.
If a colour is too on-trend, it will date in three to five years. If you want value for money, she suggests Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke
But what colour will she go for? If a colour is too on-trend, it will date in three to five years. If you want value for money, she suggests Farrow & Ball’s Green Smoke, a grey shade of green that will feel fresher than the already over-Instagrammed deep Prussian and marine blues.
For a truly professional finish, Walshe suggests spraying the units rather than painting them and uses All Surface Respray, a Bray-based firm, whose work ensures the doors, gables and reveals all get the same attention so the whole kitchen is done to the same finish, something most painters can’t achieve, she says. If you have glossy units, she suggests using a laminate paint that will adhere to the finish. Another option is to change the doors – if you don’t have an inframe design. The Panelling Centre, Cash & Carry Kitchens and Ikea all sell fashionable options.
If you decide to go for a dark colour under-counter, then team with a light-coloured floor to make the room look fresh and crisp, Walshe says. “Some of the high-quality laminates now available are also worth considering as long as you make sure it has a thick base, 1.8cm minimum, to stop it sounding noisy underfoot.” Easy-to-maintain laminate doesn’t scratch, which helps if you have pets. If going for tiles, go for a large-format size, 80cm by 80cm, she says. “A good quality porcelain tile with a matte finish stone effect will look like the real thing.”
Think about lighting options too. “Glass doors on wall units can be back-lit to add indirect light. Strip lighting under wall cabinets will also add warmth and installing pendant lighting over the island will create points of interest.”
Finally, Walshe suggests keeping one drawer in the kitchen as a dumping ground for clutter that finds its way onto the counter tops.
Going for an upgrade in finishes
What do you do when you love your workspace but the units you have are tired?
Interior designer Collette Ward loves the layout of her kitchen but 18 years after she installed simple sheeted doors to create a contemporary country kitchen, the units need upgrading.
Being surrounded by colour and pattern at work, Ward wanted simplicity at home so it’s painted in plain white. The units have been built around her pewter-coloured Aga. Above it is a boxed-out chimney breast designed to draw the eye towards her beloved cooker. Ward has used the area to hang three hand-painted plates she found at a show in Milan. Each is a Mexican face awaiting a kiss: there were four originally but one broke – such is family life.
“All I have is the Aga. It works but it would be great to have the flexibility to switch it off.” Save for the addition of a single electric oven, everything will pretty much stay where it is.
The oven she likes is by Siemens and offers 13 different ways to cook, is self-cleaning, doesn’t need to be pre-heated and can be controlled remotely using a downloadable app. She’s planning to put it beside the Aga and to use the void over the range cooker to install an extractor fan.
Currently, the countertops are a black freckly granite, a practical surface that hot pans or pots from the oven can be put down on but Ward thinks the composite stone options offer a more high-performance solution and a chance to have fun with colour.
When I’m working at the island, the fridge and Aga are behind me and I have the dishwasher on one side and the bin on the other
Ward’s next door neighbour is Ed Rhatigan of upscale kitchen design company Rhatigan and Hick, and he has suggested a pantry cupboard with pull-out drawers for dried goods like pasta and rice and shallow racks on the doors for spices, along with some simple upgrades to the new island – shallow cupboards to the front to keep glasses that are easily accessed by guests and family members, as well as salad bowls and flower vases.
“The kitchen works well. I’m changing nothing about the layout. When I’m working at the island, the fridge and Aga are behind me and I have the dishwasher on one side and the bin on the other.”
The kitchen, which featured in an episode of the 2017 series of RTÉ’s Home of the Year, continues to take the abuse that a family with dogs, cats and even bicycles give. Even as she speaks, her 10-year-old son is doing laps of the island on a hoverboard. “I just couldn’t have gone for a high-shine, high-maintenance floor,” she laughs.
Pushing the boat out in Gorey, Co Wexford
One kitchen company is testing its design ideas in a family home.
Just over a decade ago, brothers Aiden and Dominic Ryan took over the family business, set up by their father Andrew, and in that time have established themselves as a high-end firm with showrooms in Gorey, Monaco and London. They have even travelled to far-flung destinations like the Caribbean and Lithuania to install their work.
Aiden, who lives by the sea, wanted to create a prototype kitchen to test new technical and design ideas. “I wanted to push the boat,” he explains, a suitable metaphor for his collaboration with interior designer Minnie Peters.
They chose a door design that’s been around for about 200 years, mixing the classic look with a sharp-cut canopy over the white, four-door Aga. The worktop here is basaltina, an Italian lava stone.
He insisted on a large island to which he added wooden counter tops for the warmth they bring to a room. The free-standing unit can be moved.
The family eats round the island, with Aiden insisting on a pot-board, a foot rest at its base that stop feet hanging from the deeply upholstered but high bar stools that surround it. These have removable and washable covers and the foot rest means the family can linger rather than just perch.
The sink is situated on the island and he concedes that a reconstituted stone surface would have been less maintenance than the wood he selected. The Kohler sink was a good choice though. It is big enough to accommodate the Aga’s full oven trays and includes a hand-spray tap. Each of his three children were bathed here as babies and with another child on the way, the sink has proved to be a smart choice.
Andrew Ryan can do cabinetry for between €25,000 and €35,000 but it is the appliance choices and worktops selected that ramp up price, Aiden explains
The kitchen includes a large floor-to-ceiling double-door larder unit. As well as being home to spice racks and shelving, it has a slim, almost indiscernible ‘empty your pockets’ drawer where they can decant keys, coins and anything else they’ve picked up.
The high-end kitchen features dovetail joints and is made using mainly European oak. The high-grade plywood carcasses can be laminated in any RAL colour so buyers can opt for a classic colour on the exterior, and something with more zing on the interiors.
Andrew Ryan can do cabinetry for between €25,000 and €35,000 but it is the appliance choices and worktops selected that ramp up price, Aiden explains. He says in the upper market, Gaggenau appliances offers some of the best value. In the utility room he installed a Siemens oven, the sister brand to Gaggenau, to act as a back-up to the Aga. It doubles as a microwave.
The kitchen’s crowning glory is the specialist decorative paint finish by Don Knox of Knox & Knox that gives the units a crackled paint effect that looks like a patina that could have been in situ for 100 years. Underfoot is a weathered oak floor by Oscar Ono. “The whole exercise has been a great lesson for me in selling our designs,” he says. It also offers first-hand experience on how the materials work in real life.
Source : https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/interiors/time-to-get-real-in-the-kitchen-1.3465556