WORDS: ANNE SCHAUFFER IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

A kitchen needs to be a strong marriage of functionality, flow and good looks with the integration of the owner’s tastes and preferences. “Each customer’s kitchen is unique — innovative and stylish, sure, but also functional, well thought out and easy to use,” says Brendon Watkins of Capital Kitchens.

Sustainable

Gas has long been the fuel of choice for cooks – induction or gas stoves are the greener options. For all other appliances, check the ratings – it not only saves money, but importantly, is less harmful to the planet. Look for fridges, dishwashers and washing machines rated A or A+ when you replace yours – close to 60% of energy used in a washing machine goes towards water heating, so the less water used, the less energy.

Hardware innovation

The focus on hardware has ramped up considerably. “Now we’re looking at small, luxury details that make life easier,” says Watkins. And provide good design elements.

Slow-close drawers, gas-stay cupboard doors, anti-slam doors, Tiptronic (touch) doors and drawers, carousels, butler larders, counter pop-up plug points and dedicated cellphone or tablet chargers are items that fit the bill.

Storage

“Many homeowners forget how much storage space they need to make the space functional. Use the available space for creative storage solutions,” says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO, RE/MAX Southern Africa.

“Much revolves around invisibility – conceal the fridge, the microwave, even the door handles and light switches. Cupboards are customised to hold everything unsightly, and cupboard doors and floors are all pared down to a stylish simplicity,” says Watson.

Countertops

Some style trends are shifts rather than complete changes. “Like the old, thicker 32mm granite countertop,” says Watson. “Now the market wants sleeker ones, which are not only more cost-effective and use less material (the greener option), but just look better.”

Uncoloured concrete surfaces – sealed, matt or sheen finish – are relatively inexpensive in chunky, slim or sleek. As a countertop, bamboo is a sustainable material with antibacterial properties, in differing thicknesses and finishes.

Lighting

With kitchens as much living spaces as workplaces, the lighting needs to accommodate the change between a living and working environment.

Balancing mood and functional lighting can be tricky, making dimmers and timed lighting settings popular. The greenest option (quality LED downlighters) is not only more affordable, but last years longer than incandescent bulbs.

“The trends range from large metal industrial pendant lamps to massive and glam chandeliers. This is often predicated on the size of the kitchen and whether it has distinct zones – cooking, eating, storage and so on,” says Watkins.

Clever kitchens

Remote control via cellphones or timers allows lights, ovens, music stations and televisions to be managed from a distance. A green and smart food recycler turns your food scraps into fertiliser. Watkins recommends integrating a recycle centre into your cupboards, with partitions for recycling different materials.

Work flow

You don’t want to be avoiding poorly positioned islands while wafting from one end of the kitchen to the other piecing together supplies. “The age-old rule of thumb still applies: design your kitchen to form a triangle between your sink, refrigerator and stove to ensure the best flow of traffic through the space,” says Goslett.

Now we’re looking at small, luxury details which make life easier” BRENDON WATKINS, CAPITAL KITCHENS