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

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Stellar - - Contents -

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 (free­domk­ 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 ( 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.

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