Matt Pre­ston has cooked in a lot of kitchens. And not all im­pressed. For hard­core food­ies and ren­o­va­tors alike, here are his new kitchen rules

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - @mattscra­vat @Mattscra­vat MATT PRE­STON Visit de­li­ for more of Matt Pre­ston’s kitchen hacks.

The se­cret to cre­at­ing a great kitchen.

THE KITCHEN has be­come not just the cen­tre of the home but, with our trend to­wards open-plan liv­ing, a state­ment of who we are. Or, more ac­cu­rately, how we wished oth­ers would see us… whether sleek in­ner-city monochrome, retro throwback, Hamp­tons bleached oak or in­dus­trial steel.

While few of us can af­ford that kitchen of our wildest dreams, if we could we’d prob­a­bly ac­tu­ally want to cook in it. This is at odds with the be­hav­iour of some of the su­per rich around the world. The big trend with In­dia’s su­per wealthy is to put in a glam­ourous $250-500k dis­play kitchen that you sit around in chat­ting with your guests, while your team of cooks con­tinue to stir their pots down in the old work­ing kitchen.

I’d blame Masterchef for this if I hadn’t heard from builder mates of fancy beach houses in Port­sea and Palm Beach that also have two kitchens for rea­sons of style rather than it be­ing a kosher house­hold.

I’ve cooked in hun­dreds of home kitchens around the world, from crum­bling cas­tles to dingy squats. Some work well, oth­ers don’t, so draw­ing on this ex­pe­ri­ence and the wis­dom of my builder mate Scott (no, not that one) and Stel­lar de­sign guru Neale Whi­taker, I’ve nailed what makes a great kitchen.


No one wants to be seen as bor­ing, but chas­ing fash­ion has its own, much more dam­ag­ing, risks. The trou­ble with fol­low­ing trends with a mega-dol­lar kitchen is that trends date so quickly. Re­mem­ber, to­day’s black cab­i­nets are to­mor­row’s pi­o­neer pine cup­boards.

How­ever you choose to ex­press your char­ac­ter, it should mesh with the rest of your house or ad­join­ing spa­ces. The ad­vice from our own de­sign guru, Neale Whi­taker, is sim­ple and down to earth…. don’t be swayed by what­ever’s on trend.

“You can’t go too wrong with any com­bi­na­tion of white, grey, neu­trals, tim­ber, gran­ite, con­crete, brushed steel, stone, quartz or lam­i­nate. My ad­vice is to avoid colours – in­clud­ing black – and highly dec­o­ra­tive tiles that will date quickly,” he says.

Neale might be the Love It or List It reno mas­ter but even he was se­duced by mar­ble for his own kitchen and it’s now show­ing signs of wear. “Next time I’ll pick Sile­stone’s Dek­ton or good old Cae­sar­stone,” he says wryly.


This is one of the most ex­pen­sive things in any kitchen reno. I’ve found that draw­ers work bet­ter than cup­boards be­low waist height as they give you more use­able space and it makes it eas­ier to find ev­ery­thing. With the cur­rent trends for fin­ger touch-open­ing and slow-close, re­sist the temp­ta­tion to make the draw­ers too wide or once filled they will be too heavy.

It’s cup­boards all the way for me above waist level. Glass fronts to your cup­boards can make the kitchen feel more airy but per­son­ally I think see­ing even a sus­pi­cion of the may­hem and dis­or­gan­i­sa­tion that might lurk in­side can make things look messy.

Also, don’t for­get a shelf – ide­ally above the fridge – for all your cook­books and neatly an­no­tated copies of de­li­cious.


An eon back in a pre­vi­ous – and far more glam­orous – life, I wrote reams about small ap­pli­ances. Back then, as the new Chi­nese im­ports busted prices, toast­ers, ket­tles and irons all cost about $10. Now things have swung way, way the other way and ze­ros have been added to small ap­pli­ance swing tags with the sort of wild aban­don usu­ally re­served for the Easter bunny giv­ing out chocolate eggs.

If you have spent $320 on a ket­tle, over $700 on a stand mixer or over $500 on a smoothie maker how­ever, it’s un­der­stand­able that you might want ev­ery­one to see it. And if it’s out you are more likely to use it – es­pe­cially in these days where we de­mand im­me­di­ate, here and now, ac­cess to ev­ery­thing. This can make your ap­pli­ance area clut­tered, so it’s a great idea to put a slid­ing or fold­ing door on it so you can hide away the crumby toaster and the jum­ble of power cords when guests come call­ing.


I lust af­ter walk in pantries where ev­ery­thing is in match­ing plas­tic tubs. Sadly few of us have the space or bud­get (or time) for that. In­stead, meet your meaner bud­get and go for a pantry cup­board with shelves above waist height and draw­ers be­low that make ev­ery­thing eas­ier to find in a busy pantry. Don’t for­get half shelves in those cup­boards to help keep ev­ery­thing you’ve got vis­i­ble.


If you have kids, the kitchen is likely to be the first stop when they come back from school so a large cup­board with shelves for school bags and an­other for a phone / tablet / lap­top charg­ing sta­tion is well worth the space if you have it.


If money is no prob­lem – so I’m talk­ing to any­one who is a CEO or in­stalls kitchens – in­clude a vac­uum cleaner suc­tion point in your kitchen. Be­ing able to sweep rub­bish to it and have it im­me­di­ately sucked up rates along with the knee-pres­sure-ac­ti­vated mo­torised door be­neath the sink (mak­ing ac­cess to the bin un­der­neath hands-free), un­der­floor heat­ing and hav­ing some­one called Pierre make brioche ev­ery morn­ing. The rest of us will still have to make do with the dust­pan and brush, pulling open doors with our dirty hands and wear­ing slip­pers in the morn­ing.

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