Here’s our guide to creating one that suits your lifestyle and blends harmoniously with the rest of your home.
No longer strictly functional, kitchens have become great-looking spots for entertaining guests or children while you cook. Follow our tips for a kitchen that seamlessly integrates with your living and dining spaces.
PLANNING YOUR KITCHEN LAYOUT
A smart space with good flow will help make whipping up your daily meals a cinch.
1. L-SHAPED, U- SHAPED OR GALLEY KITCHEN?
A galley kitchen is practical for small spaces. This narrow layout is usually complemented by a kitchen island, which physically divides the area from the other living spaces. An L-shaped kitchen maximises space by utilising the corner of the kitchen and opening up plenty of potential for storage. A U-shaped layout places units on three sides of the kitchen, with the top of the ‘U’ left accessible, and increases the storage capacity along the wall.
2. WORKTOP HEIGHT & ELBOW ROOM
Note the dimensions required for counters, built-in appliances and aisle spaces. The standard height for countertops is between 85cm and 90 cm. Consider going higher if you are tall to avoid backache from bending over to chop veggies or wash the dishes. To avoid squeezing between counters, the ideal aisle width would be 1m for one cook and 1.2m for two cooks.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to kitchens. Its design depends largely on its size and primary uses. For instance, do you bake often, do heavy cooking or use it for entertainment? Evaluate your appliances, too. “Busy families may prefer ovens with multiple heating modes to save time on defrosting and heating food,” says Adrian Kok, Head of Marketing ASEAN, BSH Home Appliances.
Available at Bosch.
4. STORAGE SPACE
Don’t underestimate the amount of storage you’ll need. Make an inventory of all the items you already have and potentially need, including appliances such as a sleek and stylish fridge, a combination microwave oven and an air fryer.
Well-planned lighting can elevate the look of your kitchen and improve your food preparations. The three main types are basic light for the area; task lighting, which highlights a specific work area such as the cooker top or countertop; and accent lighting, which can create a focal point.
Available at Sol Luminaire.
“When it comes to open kitchen concepts, having a consistent Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) of 3,000K throughout the home allows homeowners to create a soft ambience within the kitchen and the rest of the home,” says Joseph Ho, Co-founder of Sol Luminaire.
The countertop is the centrepiece of a kitchen and determines how its design will be perceived in terms of function, weight, durability, proportion and cost.
Its distinctive veining makes this natural stone luxurious and grand. However, marble is not as durable as other materials. One mistake with a knife and you’ll have a permanent scratch on your beautiful countertop It’s soft, porous and stains easily as well, so it must be sealed often to protect it from damages.
Just like marble, no two pieces are alike, so your counter will be unique. One of the most preferred materials, because it’s solid, durable, and long-lasting, this igneous stone is resistant to scratches and heat, but that doesn’t mean you should place hot pans on it without a trivet. To ensure longevity, it needs sealant, but not as often as marble does.
Available at Cosentino.
This cost-effective alternative offers lots of design options. It’s also pretty durable and non-porous. However, to avoid scorching, you should avoid placing hot pans directly onto it. A sharp knife can easily nick its surface.
Available at EDL.
This is made from layers of kraft paper and resin. Although just 6mm thick, the panels are hardy, non-porous and resistant to heat, water and steam. Choose from designs that mimic natural wood and even stone.
Available at KompacPlus.
5. SOLID SURFACING
A mix of polymer resins, minerals and colourants makes this manufactured material non-porous and resistant to stains but it is susceptible to scratches. On the flip side, it can be sanded down to make it appear new. Great for L- and U-shaped kitchens, the solid surface sheets can be glued and sanded to erase the seams.
Available at Evershine.
6. ENGINEERED QUARTZ
Made of at least 90 per cent ground quartz with resins and pigments, it comes in an array of styles. It is also tough and non-porous so no worries about stains. However, although resistant to heat, too high a temperature could damage it. It may also cost more but you could save on its upkeep in the long run.
Available at Caesarstone.
In most cases, a mild detergent is enough to keep a Caesarstone surface looking like new. If necessary, use a non-abrasive soft soap along with a non-scratch or delicate scrub pad. Afterwards, thoroughly rinse with clean water to remove residue.
- Vivian Feng, Head of Marketing, Caesarstone South East Asia
SET YOUR STYLE
Consider these design ideas while conceptualising your space and its key elements.
1. A CLEAR VIEW
Avid cooks may find that an open kitchen exposes the rest of the home to cooking fumes, other odours and grease. Nip these issues in the bud with glass windows or sliding doors that don’t take away from the sense of spaciousness. Frameless glass panels are ideal for minimalist homes.
2. GO BOLD
An open kitchen design complements your home’s overall feel. Introducing elements that pop such as coloured appliances, like Smeg’s FAB28 fridge (Ruby Red), invites attention. The “soft touch” rubberised effect adds character to a kitchen, especially when cabinetry is kept simple.
Available at Smeg.
Define distinct sections with different floor finishes, pony walls or an island. A common plan involves the wet and dry zones. The wet usually comprises the sink, hood and hob, and is often closed off with glass windows or doors. Think of the dry kitchen as a pantry of sorts for preparing light meals and the location of your fridge.
4. AN ISLAND OR A PENINSULA?
Nothing makes a statement like a free-standing island you can move to the centre or to one side. Aside from serving as a countertop for prepping food, it’s handy for dining and storage, too. The peninsula serves the same purpose, but is an extension of the kitchen as it attached to a wall on one side and separates the kitchen from the rest of your living space.
5. KEEP IT FUSS-FREE
Handle-free, flat-front cabinets help reduce visual bulk when there’s the absence of a wall. Hide appliances behind panelled shelf designs or go for built-in ones so they don’t take up space on your countertop. Aesthetically speaking, an induction hob with a glossy finish makes for a sleeker-looking kitchen.
Available at Miele.
STRETCH YOUR SPACE
Make the most of a small kitchen’s dimensions with these tips for a streamlined, ergonomic space.
1. MULTIFUNCTIONAL AND COLLAPSIBLE FURNITURE
Furnishings that pull double and even triple duty can save you money and space. For instance, the island can be used as a workstation, dining table and storage unit. It can also house the sink or stove. Drop-leaf or gateleg tables and extendable counters can be easily folded away to free up the space.
2. NIFTY STORAGE SYSTEMS
Pre-built kitchen systems save you the hassle of designing your own. A customisable and modular system like Hafele’s Meister collection is designed with an advanced modular technology and pre-drilled fixtures for fuss-free assembly, so there’s less hacking and construction work.
3. THINK VERTICALLY
Save precious floor space with cupboards and tall cabinets that extend to the ceiling, and utilise walls with floating shelves and racks. Often-used items go on the lower
4. SWOP SOME BASE CUPBOARDS FOR DRAWERS
It’s way easier to pull out a drawer and see all its contents than it is to reach for crockery or condiments at the back of a cabinet. Increase storage space with wider pull-out drawers instead of multiple smaller ones.
5. DON’T CUT CORNERS
Don’t let details like drawer dividers and storage compartments be an afterthought. Pull-out larders, carousel cupboards and lazy susans help maximise hard-to-reach areas and dead space.
Available at Hafele.
6. INTEGRATED KITCHEN- CUM-DINING AREAS
If you don’t have the luxury of space for a large standalone island as well as a dining table, combine them. Similar hues and textures give a more cohesive look. Alternatively, separate the two with different colours, materials and heights.
COOL WITH SUB-ZERO
Sub-Zero’s Built-in French Door Refrigerator is ideal for galley kitchens as only half of its double doors swing out.
Available at The House of Sub-Zero and Wolf.