By Mari Sciarappa
It’s a known fact that a functional, aesthetically pleasing kitchen can improve the overall resale value of your property, but for people who are not considering selling, a kitchen that serves these functions is equally, if not more, important. When commissioning a house design or a renovation, it is vitally important that the kitchen gets as much attention as the rest of the house, since this is the heart of any home.
Martin Shadbolt from Franke Kitchen Systems emphasises that your kitchen should reflect your personal style and touch, and express your lifestyle requirements. “Having a minimalistic, open-plan kitchen is a definite trend; using stainless steel and polished chrome fittings with integrated appliances as well as a freestanding island dedicated to food preparation with a second smaller sink is also becoming very popular,” says Martin.
One of the most imperative kitchen planning principles is referred to as ergonomics. According to www.interiordesign.net, the word ergonomic stems from Greek origins: ergon (work) and nomoi (natural laws).
When it comes to ergonomics in today’s kitchen, the planning for efficiency and ease of use remains more important than ever. Even in the kitchen, ergonomics is now a new ingredient in the overall design.
Jean Cary of Jean Cary Interiors explains that the most successful remodels are those where the home owners have done detailed planning prior to hiring a contractor. “Then they can work in concert, rather than at odds, to achieve their mutual goal with minimum frustration and delay,” says Jean. According to www.continuousproject.com, there are five steps that need to be taken when planning your kitchen. These include: be clear about what you want; use experts; set a budget; plan carefully; and choose your finishing touches.
Experts from the Eclipse Group maintain that ergonomics is the best way to plan your kitchen spaces. Research shows that a kitchen will last about 20 years if created correctly.
The kitchen is the room we use most and according to the Eclipse Group, Blum Dynamic Space is an initiative that helps to include personal requirements in the kitchen planning process, improving on storage space utilisation. Eclipse Group outlines the following tips to achieve your perfect kitchen:
• Plan sufficient storage.
• Plan the kitchen in five zones: consumables, non-consumables, cleaning, preparation and cooking.
• Select fully extending drawers and pull-outs to access items easily.
• Use fittings that function perfectly.
While designing the kitchen, it is important to consider the following rules, explains Landiwe Madlopha from Whirpool SA: “Keep the distance between all areas short, so you avoid too much walking, get ergonomics right, and take advantage of the various current solutions for internal cabinet fittings.”
“One of the most vital considerations of an open-plan kitchen is how the form relates to the internal architecture and the interior layout,” advises Chantelle Koen from Inside Living. Historically kitchens have been concealed and this was mainly due to the functional nature it held.
With the transformation that people have experienced in the social context of home life where the kitchen has now become a gathering area for friends and family, there is increasing demand for open-plan areas, and with this comes the responsibility of the designer to create with sensitive consideration of the aesthetic impact that the kitchen will have on the home.
Storage in the kitchen takes up a fair amount of space and has the ability to make or break the design and decoration of the surrounding room.
Therefore there should be a synergy between the styles of the cabinets which links to the architecture of some other style principle in the home. The kitchen can also be treated as a sculptural architectural element in its own right, thereby providing a point of interest or a splurge of creativity.
When it comes to trends that experts are noticing in the industry, Stephenie Forbes from Kitchen Specialist Association outlines the following: “Many of the latest trends are in the form of hardware with the advent of electronic drawers, sliding door mechanisms and specialised cabinet lighting. There have also been a lot of innovations taking kitchens into the green era – environmental consciousness is the way of the future.” Philip Richards from blu_line adds that he has noticed that the most popular theme or style is definitely a more modern/contemporary theme or style and this makes sense as our lifestyles are demanding spaces that are uncluttered, functional and calming. “The modern style affords the designer the opportunity to therefore create spaces that are clean and simple without being cold or harsh.