Neale Whi­taker on what your kitchen says about you.

Per­haps no room in the house works quite as hard – or re­veals so much about us – as the kitchen

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - by Neale Whi­taker

Ihave a the­ory that kitchens speak vol­umes about their own­ers. Some – let’s call them hon­est kitchens – are gen­uinely fit for pur­pose, serv­ing ac­tual needs and cook­ing re­quire­ments. While oth­ers, the more as­pi­ra­tional ones, sug­gest the lives we would like to lead if only we had the time, the req­ui­site num­ber of friends to im­press and – let’s face it – the abil­ity to use half the gad­gets.

I still haven’t fig­ured out how to use my new oven (for­tu­nately my part­ner David has) and as for the oven clock… let’s just say it’s still day­light sav­ings at our house. Butler’s pantries have taken things to a whole new level. Orig­i­nally in­tended as dis­creet, prac­ti­cal spa­ces to deal with the kitchen over­flow, they’re in­creas­ingly seen as the en­gine room, while the main kitchen be­comes an ex­ten­sion of the liv­ing “zone”.

That trend is re­flected in a new re­port from Aus­tralian kitchen man­u­fac­turer Free­dom Kitchens (free­domk­itchens. com.au). It talks of the cur­rent pop­u­lar­ity of the “anti-kitchen”, one with ap­pli­ances con­cealed and in­te­grated to blend into a “seam­less, luxe liv­ing space”.

Trends, how­ever, are never ab­so­lute. Ev­ery yin will have its yang. While the kitchen-cum-liv­ing-room might be gain­ing mo­men­tum, a par­al­lel trend for open shelv­ing and glass-fronted cab­i­netry pro­claims more tra­di­tional values. Not quite Nana’s crock­ery cup­board, but close. Other trends in the Free­dom re­port in­clude dark kitchen cab­i­netry in “new neu­trals” such as French Navy and Green Slate; tex­tured stone bench­tops; matte black open shelv­ing; and splash­backs that ex­tend to the ceil­ing, of­ten with ar­ti­sanal tiles.

When David and I moved into our new home, we knew we wanted a kitchen that landed some­where be­tween coun­try and cool. We also knew it would re­ceive a daily work­out – we’re sev­eral kilo­me­tres from restau­rants, su­per­mar­kets or Uber Eats. And while – OMG – it doesn’t open to an out­door deck, our kitchen is nev­er­the­less the true heart of our home.

We have opted for grey Shaker-style cab­i­netry, a gen­er­ous island bench, Sile­stone bench­tops, deep butler’s sinks, brass taps and over­sized wicker pen­dants to loosen things up. And yes, our butler’s pantry earns its keep with a sec­ond dish­washer, mi­crowave and a gen­er­ous fridge. It’s not a kitchen that pushes any de­sign en­ve­lope; in fact it looks as if it’s al­ways been there. And that’s pre­cisely why we love it. It’s hon­est.

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.

“I still haven’t fig­ured out how to use my new oven (for­tu­nately my part­ner has)”

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: DEREK SWAL­WELL; SHA­NIA SHEGEDYN; MAR­CEL AUCAR. STYLING: DOHERTY DE­SIGN STU­DIO; ALANNA BOURKE

THE NEW BENCH­MARK (from top) Dark cab­i­netry has emerged as a pop­u­lar choice in kitchens, as seen in this one by Doherty De­sign Stu­dio; a cafe-style creation with open shelv­ing by con­tes­tants on The Block last year; Green Slate has re­cently been named as a dom­i­nant colour trend by Free­dom Kitchens.

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