Contemporary home and kitchen design

If you desire a contemporary designer look for your new kitchen or bathroom, read on.



Once upon a time, it was a case of out of sight, out of mind when it came to kitchens and bathrooms. That is no longer the case, with both spaces having undergone an amazing metamorphosis from the purely practical to the utterly indulgent.
Today, the kitchen is the social hub of the home -– an open plan space to gather for a casual brunch at a stone-topped breakfast bar, or to share a glass of wine with the cook while she (or he) puts the finishing touches to a gourmet meal cooked in a restaurant-quality oven.
The bathroom has undergone a similarly exciting evolution, shrugging off its cloak of drab functionality and slipping into its new guise as a place of sanctuary. In the 21st century, the bathroom is a place of retreat –- somewhere to luxuriate and linger. Your own personal day spa, if you will, complete with a deep soaker bath, heated floor and towel rails, mood lighting, quality finishes and designer fittings that befit its new status.
In recent times, the pared back, somewhat geometric look has prevailed in the bathroom and while the look continues to be sleek and contemporary, new trends have emerged, such as more organic shapes for bathtubs, basins and fittings, and warmer colour schemes. The latter is finding expression in the increased use of stone for vanity tops and tiling, and the use of frosted or colour-backed glass for shower or partition walls.
Creating a sense of spaciousness is often a priority in the bathroom and there are now myriad ways to achieve this -– concealed cisterns, wall-hung toilet pans and basins, freestanding bathtubs, floating vanities, glass shelving, recessed storage, strategic lighting, frameless glass shower screens, and larger format floor and wall tiles in pale, clean colours.
Where space is at a premium, a custom-designed solution may be necessary, such as a corner shower or fold-back shower doors. And sometimes compromises must be made. If there isn’t room for both a bath and shower, you might have to forgo the bath and opt for an indulgent ‘built for two’ walk-in shower.
In the kitchen, space rationalisation is also critical, which is why integration is the byword of the modern kitchen. This means integrated appliances (from under-counter dishwashers to built-in coffee machines), sinks set into benchtops, flush-line cooktops sunk into benches and, ultimately, the kitchen itself integrated with meals and living areas, both indoor and out.
Kitchens have also evolved to cater for the popularity of home entertaining. This means commercial-quality ovens, second sinks and fridges (the latter often integrated into island bars, along with an ice-making fridge), additional work centres for multiple cooks, extra bench and cupboard space, and a layout that allows people to move around freely.
Clever storage solutions are part of the equation and might include roll-out fittings and wide drawers with internal dividing partitions or full extension glides so items at the back of a drawer can be easily reached. Shelving can also be integrated into islands and turned into a design feature.
Clean lines, uncluttered surfaces and subtle detailing continue to prevail in the modern Australian kitchen. Open shelving has been popular for some time now and the trend shows no signs of abating. Also popular are cabinet doors with clear, opaque or textured glass panels.
The trend towards clean lines is also mirrored in the use of thick benchtops made from solid materials, such as natural or engineered stone, mirrored or glass splashbacks, and door handles which are long and lean.
To make a personal statement, you can mix materials –- perhaps two or three different benchtop surfaces, or contrast a stone work surface with a stainless-steel splashback. You can also use an island bench to make a design statement. One way is to make it multi-level, with the breakfast bar a different height to the work surface.
In terms of appliances, stainless steel continues to be the finish of choice, complementing any decorating style. While fridges and dishwashers tend to be disguised, the rangehood has become a focal point and you can now find them in an array of sleek designer configurations.
Smart appliances are also becoming more prevalent, ranging from fridges with Internet access and an in-built television screen, to induction cooktops that automatically switch off the element if a pan boils dry.
An important trend that cannot be overlooked is the use of water efficient products in the kitchen and bathroom –- tap aerators to reduce water flow, dishwashers that recycle water, smart flush toilets and low-flow showerheads.
Water efficiency is an integral part of bathroom and kitchen design thanks to such mandatory initiatives as the NSW government’s Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) and the Federal government’s new Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme. The WELS Scheme, a new one- to six-star rating system (with six being the most water efficient), replaces the previous AAA to AAAAA rating system. This applies minimum water efficiency standards to household water-using products such as taps, showers, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines and should be in place around Australia by the end of 2007.
For the best result, call on the services of a professional designer. HIA certified kitchen and bathroom designers have the training, skills and experience to create a space-maximising layout tailor-made to your lifestyle needs. They also have the most up-to-date knowledge on materials, fittings and fixtures and can safely navigate you through the design and construction processes..



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