Why you’ll find that one kind of kitchen is never enough
This room is expanding inside and out to create the ultimate cooking spaces, writes Catherine Nikas-Boulos
If the kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms in the house to fit out, then how do you feel about it doing it three times over? Much like the bathroom, where a family bathroom, ensuite and powder room have become standard in a new home, the kitchen has also multiplied.
In modern design, the traditional kitchen in the main living area now has its own offshoot, the butler’s pantry, while the alfresco, which is very much a part of the modern Australian home, often accommodates a fully-fledged outdoor kitchen.
The original and best
Traditionally, the kitchen has always been the place where the family gathers. It’s where family meals are prepared and memories are made. Now, more than just a functional space, the kitchen not only has to be well-appointed with top-end whitegoods, but it needs to look like a showroom.
With open-plan living/dining and kitchen design favoured by most architects, a messy kitchen is less than ideal.
One of Italy’s most renowned kitchen makers, Snaidero, has just opened in Sydney, and the new flagship showroom is nothing short of luxe. The showroom floor showcases eight Snaidero designer kitchens, including the Ola 25, which was conceived by the renowned Italian engineer and industrial designer for Ferrari, Paolo Pininfarina.
Snaidero Sydney CEO Robert Migliorino says despite the glamorous stone benches and designer hardware, the kitchens are not meant to be showpieces.
“These are functional and clean kitchens, that are meant to be used,” he says. “Yes, you have the butler’s pantry where a lot of the mess happens behind closed doors, but the kitchen, even though it’s high end, is meant to be used.”
Unlike the formal living room of old which is only used on special occasions, Robert argues the main kitchen in the home should not be relegated to some redundant role in your home.
Butler’s got style
The butler’s pantry is where it’s at, with many display home builders including them in their designs. More than a walk-in cupboard, the butler’s pantry is packed with storage, along with a sink, preparation area and appliances such as dishwashers and microwaves.
But Phil Ryder, Freedom Kitchens design manager, says the butler’s pantry serves a very specific purpose.
“In a modern kitchen, the main area has become a social space just as much as it is for cooking and eating,” he says. “The island benchtop is a place where family and friends gather, and often we also use these light airy spaces as a place to work on our laptops.”
In open-plan designs the kitchen is connected to the living space, so it’s an area you want to keep free of clutter.
“The beauty of a butler’s pantry is that it can play the role of a ‘kitchen within a kitchen’ if you put in the right elements,” Phil says
It can serve as a hidden prep and clean-up area. A butler’s pantry is also used to store most of the packaged food items so cabinets and shelves in the main part can be reserved for cooking utensils, tableware and decor.
“The main kitchen is usually where your oven and stovetop are located and the bigger space allows for better air flow and ventilation for smoke and steam for the cooking.”
Phil says that we’ve been inspired a lot by the beautiful kitchens being created on shows such as The Block, in magazines and Pinterest.
“There’s a lot of platforms for ideas and inspiration, and I think that the idea of a butler’s pantry is now viewed less as a luxury for elite homes and more of a kitchen design that everyone can aspire to if they have the space for it,” Phil says. “It definitely complements the modern lifestyle and the way we like to live and entertain.”
If you’re lucky enough to have the space to fit a butler’s pantry, the basic elements to include are sufficient benchtop space for food preparation, storage areas for food items, and a well-organised space for small appliances such as the toaster, microwave and coffee machine. If you have room it’s also handy to have an extra dishwasher and sink, where all the mess can all be hidden away from the main kitchen. Be sure to include power-points to make the whole space run smoothly. More: freedomkitchens.com.au
Australians’ love of entertaining outdoors is a key reason the alfresco room is so sought after in new builds. It’s not just a place where family and friends can take in the sunshine and fresh air, but somewhere to entertain groups of people, all the while keeping the house clean.
IXL Home marketing manager, Malcolm Russell, says the outdoor kitchen trend is booming.
“Outdoor rooms and alfresco areas continue to be one of the biggest trends in Australia,” Malcolm says. “In this country, we’re blessed with great weather almost all year around and we also love to entertain outdoors, so it’s only natural that we want to start bringing as many of the luxuries from inside the home to our outdoor space.”
To set up an outdoor kitchen, first and foremost, you need some sort of cooking facility, whether it’s a pizza oven, a classic barbecue or even a proper kitchen with oven and sink.
When it comes to seating, you can experiment with different options to suit your entertaining style. Malcolm says lounges would be great for cocktail hour or you could opt for an extendible dining table for family gatherings.
“Some sort of cover, whether it’s a roof, or canopy is also essential for enjoying the space in all weather conditions,” he says.
For added luxury, Phil suggests installing a bar fridge, “so the chef is never too far from a cold beer or glass of wine”.
No matter the set-up, the main difference between indoor and outdoor kitchens is the durability of materials and products used.
With anything outdoors, especially anything that requires electricity, it is crucial to have adequate cover to avoid damage from the elements or safety risks. If it’s just a barbecue, a simple tailor-made cover will protect it from wind and rain. However, a more complete outdoor kitchen will need a fixed roof or pergola.
He says kitchens are often the key room that buyers consider when purchasing a home and an outdoor kitchen is a great way to build upon this important selling point.
“Combining a kitchen with an inviting alfresco entertaining area gives you an additional place to entertain and, if the indoor kitchen is on the small side, the outdoor kitchen is another well-equipped space to prepare and cook meals,” he says.
Malcolm says we’re going to continue to see the growth of the outdoor kitchen and alfresco entertaining trend with more elaborate outdoor kitchens and other luxury features, such as a lounge areas with home theatre options. Or, you could go the traditional route and install a pool. More: ixlappliances.com.au
This Snaidero kitchen is as much a show piece as it is a work station.
The sleek lines of a Snaidero island bench offer a welcome spot for guests.
This outdoor kitchen from IXL even has a rangehood to manage steam and smoke.
These butler’s pantries (above and left) from Freedom Kitchens extend your working area without extending the visible mess. A well-planned pantry should include plenty of open and closed storage as well as good lighting, bench space and a sink. If funds allow, a microwave and dishwasher are welcome additions.