Kitchens are being integrated into living areas. Rather than using one dominant surface, grey, black, dark timber or veneer is teamed with a contrasting shade or texture, including gloss or dark mirror glass, to simulate the feel of a living room. The preparation area might be stainless steel with an integrated sink and the central bench elongated for dining.

Upmarket kitchens have a second pantry – effectively a mini kitchen – so that preparation is out of sight. The pantry houses the dishwasher, coffee machine, kettle, toaster, microwave and big sink, with a smaller sink in the main kitchen.

The interest in plain glass splashbacks is on the wane, with pale glass is being replaced by stronger colours. Patterned wallpaper is also being placed behind glass, using mirror or black glass. Textured splashbacks in oversize tiles reflect textures in doors and drawers.


Steam ovens are nudging microwaves aside, which can come built-in or freestanding. Combi ovens can be used with or without steam. A Gaggenau in-bench steamer costs $3800 and a combi steam oven $4500.

Must-have bench-top appliances are a steamer, gas wok burner and a two-burner induction hob. Extras include a barbecue, deep fryer and a teppanyaki plate. Coffee machines are also increasingly popular.

Another modern component is St George appliances’ Cool Touch technology, which ensures their quadruple-glazed oven doors are always cool.

The outdoor kitchen is the new must-have and almost as glamorous as its indoor counterpart. Defining features include the trusty barbecue, sinks, stainless steel benches, cupboards, drawers, overhanging rails, char grills, wok burners, kegs, wine coolers, deep fryers, fish smokers and pizza ovens. Warmth is added through a patio gas heater, chiminea or brazier.


How about being the definition of “cool” by replacing your refrigerator with a walk-in coolroom.

The coolroom, which some designers say is a growing trend for large families and keen entertainers, will run in an L-shape under the stairs. Most-used items, such as milk and butter, will go in door shelves and the walls will be fitted with pull-out drawers and shelves for everything from wine to fruit and vegetables.

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Benchtop Facts:

Granite and Carrara marble have to be sealed:

No. The sealer is toxic, shows marks and has to be re-done. Leave them honed and matt and scrub with a cream cleaner and scourer.

Stainless steel looks too commercial.

Who cares It’s practical for hot pots and can be teamed with something organic such as timber to integrate it with the living area.

Reconstituted stone has to be sealed and is hard to clean.

No, it doesn’t – and it scrubs up with cream cleanser. Just don’t put super-hot pots on it.

Laminate doesn’t wear well

Yes, it does if you look after it.

Concrete is the toughest option.

It’s unpredictable. You can’t be sure of the colour, finish or texture and it needs sealing.

Timber doesn’t stand up to wear

Keep it away from water, oil it three times a year and it will last for years.