What do you need to think about before you start your kitchen? Mark Elmore from Fisher & Paykel shares his expert advice.
1. What is the key to great design?
Create the kitchen that works best for the way you live. The days of the traditional ‘work triangle’ with fridge/stove/sink in an efficient triangular configuration are gone. Today the kitchen is used for a variety of purposes – cooking, entertaining, homework, home office – and the layout should reflect that. Appliances should be arranged accordingly, which may mean two smaller dishwashers not necessarily co-located.
2. How hi-tech should a family go with appliances?
Just as hi-tech as you feel comfortable with. Technology in appliances provides an ever-increasing range of benefits, from energy savings to improved performance and efficiency, to a reduced work load.
For example, pyrolytic cleaning is becoming increasingly popular as consumers appreciate having the hard, dirty and smelly work taken out of oven cleaning. Now, one push of the button and a wipe down and you’re done.
Great family-driven tech advances include dishwashers with eco-wash settings, so this should keep frequent users of the appliance happy. Some new fridges include humidity control options to help fresh food last longer and, conversely, holiday modes to save consumption when the home is empty. When it comes to ovens, you can now choose the perfect setting for the optimum result for a dish and intuitive controls that allow for precise cooking.
3. Is there an ‘on-trend’ colour I should choose?
Naturals are the colours du jour. From wood veneers and rough timbers to raw concrete in muted tones (such as stone or slate that echo the natural landscape), people are embracing all things organic and that’s reflected in popular kitchen colour palettes.
4. Are French-door fridges best for big families, or is the standard freezer-at-the-bottom model a better choice?
A French-door model will give you more space without necessarily reducing the freezer room below. It will also accommodate larger platters for entertaining large numbers of people. Another option to consider for the bigger family is a side-by-side model, which gives equal fridge-freezer space.
5. Is integrated always better?
Not necessarily. It’s a cleaner look, but it really depends on personal preference. Some people aren’t fussed about hiding everything away. Architects, kitchen designers and their customers tell us that people who prefer to have their appliances on display prefer a seamless, cohesive look. That’s why Fisher & Paykel’s kitchen appliances are
all deliberately designed to match, from handles and dials to finishes and dimensions.
Sleek system: Pull-out pantry options are fantastic for those short on space, such as in this kitchen by Studio Mint. The look is well suited to kitchens that feature integrated appliances.
6. What are the top three trends in kitchens at the moment?
A movement away from the traditional ‘work triangle’, with appliances distributed in ways that uniquely suit the way the owners live.
Drawers. We’re storing everything in drawers, from cookware to dinner plates, and you’ll even see this in appliance design.
Integrated finishes that make a kitchen feel more part of the extended living room. It’s less about sectioning off the kitchen than incorporating the lines into a broader space. Renovators are looking for appliances that can be hidden behind cabinetry, and then those that can’t – such as ovens and cooktops – need to have a coordinated aesthetic.
7. Does that mean families are buying multiple fridges?
Yes. For larger households, more than one fridge accommodates the growing desire to have refreshments on hand in entertaining areas – from a games room or home theatre to the increasingly ubiquitous outdoor entertaining zone.
8. How much should I spend on kitchen appliances?
There’s no prescribed hard-and-fast rule, but on average you should allow around 20 per cent of your overall budget for appliances.
9. What are the pros and cons of induction vs gas?
Gas: The pro is that gas gives people close control over cooking temperature. There’s a visual element to gas cooktops that people love; they like being able to see how high and low the gas is.
The con: a naked flame can be dangerous for young children.
Induction: On the pro side, induction also gives extremely good temperature control. The hotplates remain cool to touch immediately prior and post-cooking, so there is less chance of accidental burns, and the surface space can double as a preparation area when not in use. The cool surface also helps to make these cooktops very easy to clean. But the con is that you may have to invest in the right cookware (you can tell if it’s induction compatible by seeing if a magnet sticks to the base). Having said that, the ‘right’ cookware doesn’t have to be expensive.
10. Is the butler’s pantry still number one on everyone’s list?
It may not be number one on everyone’s list but it’s certainly very desirable for those people whose budget and space allow for it. A butler’s pantry hides a multitude of sins and is the perfect place to store glass or plateware that’s not used every day, or to stack and clean the dirty dishes out of sight mid-dinner party. For many, a butler’s pantry is the ultimate kitchen luxury.
Image courtesy of Impala Kitchens
For more advice from Mark Elmore on purchasing appliances, go to