Cooking up a clean design
The only way is up for this new kitchen, writes Catherine Nikas-Boulos
This single-front Victorian cottage in Waverley had undergone several renovations in its life, but a dated 1990s kitchen was probably the worst offender.
Not only did it not marry up to the rest of the house in terms of heritage features, but it was dark and awkward in its design.
Cantilever Interiors’ Travis Dean was tasked with renovating the kitchen to maximise space and light. His first job was working out what to do with the awkward bulkhead running across the ceiling.
“It was a real dog’s breakfast,” he says. “Essentially, behind the fridge is a staircase to the second level that was cut awkwardly and plastered over inside the kitchen space.” Travis says the design is typical of its time. “In the ’90s, this type of work was often done by a draftsman and not a single layer of design was thought through,” he says. “Things just worked around structural elements and done in way that was economical.
“So we had to reinterpret the space and make it look like it was meant to be that way.”
The owner was a new mum who felt the drab colour and design of the kitchen did nothing to boost the mood of the house. Having spent a big chunk of time at home with a baby gave her the nudge she needed for a do-over.
“The idea was to get in there and disguise this horrible staircase that was projecting into the kitchen space,” he says.
First up, Travis removed the dark timber framed window above the sink and put in a splashback window. He added one more window above the overheads to draw even more light through the kitchen.
Travis and his team looked at various layout options for the kitchen, but decided the U-shape that was already there worked best.
The kitchen was also in dire need of a pantry, which had spilled into the hallway. A new pantry was installed next to the fridge, where the stovetop once sat. The stovetop moved to where the sink once was, and the sink has relocated on to the benchtop.
Finally, the unsightly bulkhead was covered in plasterboard.
Hanging a cluster of pendant lights above the breakfast bar distracted the eye from the squared off bulkhead.
Handing it back
This project was very much a collaboration, with the owner quite specific about how she wanted to use her kitchen.
Other than hiding the bulkhead, she wanted seating at the breakfast bar.
Travis put in open shelving around the cabinetry to allow his client more scope to personalise her kitchen.
“This is specifically done so the client can add her own touches to the kitchen,” he says.
“That’s something we are wary of in terms of resale as well. Someone else can walk into this kitchen and put their own spin on it.”
Shelving is made of hoop pine plywood and the benchtop is reconstituted stone.
The design process did take some time as the architect is based in Melbourne, but the on-site build took about eight weeks.
Travis is pleased with the result, as is the owner who now has a modern, sun-soaked kitchen — minus a glaring bulkhead.
“It’s nice to have the sink orientated towards the back of the house so she can see where the kids are. That’s something that comes up a bit when designing for families with young kids,” he says.
The kitchen wall is tiled, and while this is usually something Travis recommends clients organise themselves so they can inject their own personality into the kitchen, he was onboard with what the owner did in this home.
“I am generally on the same page with my clients, but it’s always nice to see what they come up with. In Australia, people inherently want to be involved. It’s not a case of, ‘No, you do it all’. It’s a more engaged process.”
The streamlined kitchen includes open plywood shelving and blown glass pendant lights to add warmth. White joinery helps storage blend into the wall above.
The staircase and dark cabinetry used to dominate the old kitchen.