Living Neale Whitaker on why kitchens steal the show.
The kitchen is the control room of the house – and steals the show when it comes to design
No spoiler alert here. Far be it from me to ruin tonight’s kitchen reveals on The Block. My lips – never mind my contract – are tightly sealed, but let me offer just one style clue to whet your appetite. Tracy Smedley, director of marketing and retail at Freedom Kitchens (freedomkitchens.com.au) calls it the “tuxedo look”, and I can’t think of a better way of describing the current kitchen colour-blocking trend. That means contrasting base and wall cabinetry and yes, you’ll see it used to brilliant effect tonight. It’s a thing.
On both The Block and Love It Or List It Australia (launching September 27 on Foxtel), kitchens steal the show. No other rooms are such deal-breakers in a sale or renovation, or better barometers of the way we live today. Hard to believe there was ever a time when the kitchen was behind closed doors. On The Block, I always say that when the kitchens are installed, it’s as if the homes’ hearts have started beating. Kitchens are the nerve centres, the control rooms, of modern homes and it’s not a stretch to describe contemporary life as – quite literally – a kitchen-sink drama.
When I attend Milan Design Week, a visit to the showroom of Italian kitchen manufacturer Boffi (boffi.com) is a priority. It’s the kitchen equivalent of Dior, Prada or Gucci. What Boffi does today, the industry will do tomorrow. If there’s such a thing as a kitchen hemline, it’s here. Italian maestro Piero Lissoni’s designs for Boffi – like this year’s brass, onyx and marble – are the Hermès Birkin bags of the kitchen (and bathroom) world. And the presence in Milan of brands such as Miele, Smeg, Caesarstone and Silestone demonstrates the relevance and importance of kitchen design.
Closer to home, Tracy Smedley identifies predominant kitchen trends in Australia. Black is the new normal (can’t bring myself to say the new white) in cabinetry; metallics – gold, brass, copper and gunmetal – are a sophisticated choice for tapware and sinks; and contrasting textures, such as matte cabinetry offset by concrete, timber or marble, make an important design statement. Feature tiles are the new go-to for splashbacks (yes to glazed, hand-cut subway tiles), but storage is still king. Whether it’s a butler’s pantry, clever dividers or pull-out drawers, the kitchen devil is in the detail. We may want our kitchens to look amazing, but they still have to earn their keep. Neale Whitaker is editor-at-large of Vogue Living.
“No other rooms are such deal-breakers in a sale or better barometers of the way we live today”
SCENE STEALERS (from top) The “tuxedo look” of contrasting walls and cabinetry is a big design trend this year; splashes of Tuscan pink offset the vertical blue tiles at Moby 3143 cafe in Melbourne’s Armadale; glazed, hand-cut subway tiles make a statement splashback and have Neale’s seal of approval.