THE EN­GINE ROOM

Keep­ing up with the Jone­ses is now about kitchens – not cars

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - By Neale Whi­taker Neale Whi­taker is co-host of Fox­tel’s Love It Or List It Aus­tralia on Life­style, and a judge on Nine Net­work’s The Block.

If you com­pare The Block with the Su­per Bowl (stick with me), then Kitchen Week is the half-time show. So, the big ques­tion is: will tonight’s kitchen re­veals on The Block be Madonna, Bey­oncé or Bruno Mars? Kitchen Week is the big drum roll of each apart­ment, its mir­ror ball, its ooh and ahh. I’ve of­ten de­scribed the kitchen as the apart­ment’s heart – yes, in the med­i­cal sense. Once it starts beat­ing, ev­ery­thing else comes alive. A good kitchen ( The Block kitchens are once again sup­plied by Free­dom Kitchens, free­domk­itchens.com.au) can el­e­vate a medi­ocre apart­ment; a bad one can bring a promis­ing apart­ment crash­ing down. The show’s con­tes­tants know this.

Far be it from me, how­ever, to di­vulge any de­tails about tonight’s re­veals, except to say that one cou­ple wins and four oth­ers are grumpy. And as it is on re­al­ity TV, so it is in re­al­ity. Kitchens have be­come a na­tional sport. There was a time when we eyed off the size of each other’s TV screens and sound sys­tems – re­mem­ber those? Keep­ing up with the Jone­ses was all about the cars we drove or the sub­urbs we lived in. Now it’s about kitchens. To be spe­cific, size of is­land bench (Tassie = good, Lord Howe = bad) and num­ber and brand of ap­pli­ances, prefer­ably in­te­grated. For quite a while, the coolest kitchens have kept us guess­ing as to what’s be­hind each sur­face, but it seems that might be about to change.

Eurocucina, a kitchen de­sign expo held ev­ery sec­ond year in Italy’s style cap­i­tal, Mi­lan, is an im­por­tant barom­e­ter of fu­ture kitchen trends. At this year’s expo, th­ese in­cluded open-plan shelv­ing where ev­ery­thing from pots and pans to fresh pro­duce are on dis­play; two-tone cab­i­netry (Mel­bur­ni­ans in par­tic­u­lar may be pleased to note black is the new white) and cab­i­netry with metal­lic fin­ishes; tim­ber bench­tops and work sur­faces com­bin­ing a con­trast of ma­te­ri­als such as tim­ber, con­crete and mar­ble; thin­ner­pro­file bench­tops and en­gi­neered sur­faces that mimic the look and feel of fab­rics like linen and suede. While kitchens have long been the en­gine house of most homes, the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of open-plan liv­ing de­mands it be­comes more a place in which to live, and not just work. And a word to the wise: if you have school-age kids I guar­an­tee it will not be long be­fore they are ask­ing when you’re get­ting down­draft in­duc­tion. The Jone­ses al­ready have it.

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