Our panel stylist Lisa Koehler shares her expert tips for creating a stylish and functional kitchen.


where to begin

The best way to start with a kitchen refresh is to assess what’s working and what elements can be repurposed, before moving forward with a new design. “Look at the ‘kitchen triangle’ as an option. It’s a tried-and-true way of positioning your oven, fridge and sink in a triangular layout,” says Lisa. “Then you can look at grouping the areas into different activity zones – cooking, food preparation and a cleaning centre” – for an efficient layout”.

>> See tricky kitchen floor plans


kitchen seating

Lisa is a big fan of having seating areas or “breakfast benches” in family kitchens. “Arrange the seating at right angles, in an L-shape,” she says. “This will make the kitchen feel inviting to linger and encourages conversation.”

>> See 10 kitchen design ideas


getting the colour palette right

Lisa’s top tips for selecting colours and textures in a new kitchen? “Select the floor and benchtops together, then cupboards and splashback, followed by the paint colours for the walls.” If you have a kitchen with both a benchtop and an island bench, take the opportunity to add contrast. “Selecting different surfaces helps a neutral kitchen scheme work better,” says Lisa.

>> See how to choose a kitchen surface

eye on the details

When selecting a benchtop and other kitchen surfaces, Lisa advises thinking about how you intend to use the kitchen. For a sophisticated look, Lisa suggests a beautiful honed-marble benchtop, along with touches such as a burnished-brass tap and metallic accessories. The marble is expensive, but easy-care, while a mix of metals in the accessories will add a hit of bling in an otherwise neutral space. “Don’t be afraid to mix metals,” says Lisa, “it keeps things interesting – you don’t always want everything to match.”

>> See buyer’s guide to kitchen taps & mixers


Want more? Try:
>> how to arrange your shelf displays like a stylist
>> how to upcycle furniture: 6 top tips from a stylist
>> 4 stylist tips on how to create a vibrant home