Europe has long been at the forefront of kitchen design with Australia taking cue from these international trends. Based in Europe, Freedom Kitchens’ consultant, Wendy Morris-Lea, predicts five top kitchen trends that will make their way into Australian homes in 2011.
1. Living Large in Small Spaces
Technology and ease of access to the internet has led to a more flexible workforce; demanding that modern kitchens also become a flexible space. As Wendy Morris-Lea of Freedom Kitchens points out, benchtops are doubling as planning and cooking areas whilst storage drawers are allowing for computer spaces as well as iPods and iPads. “We’re not only cooking, eating and socialising within the hub of the home, we can now facilitate online conference calls, presentations and meetings from the comfort of our kitchens,” says Wendy. “The world is no longer outside but a virtual space within the home. The only way to spend time together as a family is to do different things in the same space.”
2. Illusion of Space
The illusion of space is key to material trends with lighting, reflection and transparency dominating design and interiors across Europe. According to Wendy, reflective surfaces such as mirrored cabinetry provide a clean, contemporary look. “This works particularly well to open up smaller living areas creates a serious ‘wow’ statement when set against clearly defined visuals of colour,” says Wendy.
Lighting in the kitchen is becoming more sophisticated – LED fitted within cabinets allows for more storage space and provides ambient lighting for the homely interior. “This trend is set to grow as more refined and elegant solutions are applied across the environment,” comments Wendy.
3. New Traditions
Design classics are being reinvented again and Wendy says it’s the modern interpretation of the 1970s that’s gaining greatest prominence in the kitchen environment. “Not only are the 70s influencing fashion, home styling is employing the sleek and stylish design simplicity of the 70s,” says Wendy.
The handleless kitchen demonstrates a modern classic; it’s clutter free and an easy to clean solution. “This has been particularly popular in Mediterranean countries and is filtering through to Northern Europe at speed. The German’s have added touch to open systems making the drawers easier to glide open and close without using your hands,” explains Wendy. “This is the next step on from the standard soft close drawer and looks set to be the most influential functional introduction for the volume marketplace.”
Freedom Kitchens’ new aluminium channel system has taken the handless look to the next level – vertical. Recesses offer a streamlined look whilst providing a practical opening system to large doors such as pantries.
4. Understated Decadence
Home owners creating a natural link from kitchen to the living room environment are using colours created from natural dyes such as ‘bitter chocolate’ and ‘platinum pale’. These neutral tones merge seamlessly with home accessories and interior styling. Wendy also says patent finishes in pale tones and metal are becoming stronger to contrast one another. “Greys, bronze, violets and stone tones play a key role in this look,” she says.
Functional kitchen appliances like sinks and hobs are becoming more aesthetically pleasing, not only making benchtops more usable and practical but creating a softer feel to the whole room. “Chandeliers are currently favourable as extractors. And new to the market are extractors sunk into the benchtops which hide away, and are raised electronically only when needed to retain the sleek and simple lines,” says Wendy.
Solid surface lids with metal inserts cover sinks to allow a durable resting place for hot pans. Glass and stainless steel sliding surfaces offer access and discreet solutions to the sink area.
5. The Look for Less
Savvy shopping is the new buzz word for the consumer as we enter the next decade, with everyone wanting to achieve ‘the look for less’. Benchtops are the driver with the craftsmanship of the materials and the rich textured surfaces making them more exclusive and tactile than ever before.
“We see influences from fashion house Armani moving into the kitchen environment and creating tops with slender edge detailing, giving the illusion of floating surfaces adding a lightness and elegance to the material,” says Wendy. This has filtered into the solid surface and quartz stone market with the look being emulated in these materials at a fraction of the cost and complexity.
Wendy says that combining benchtops in varying thicknesses to define differing cooking zones remains popular while polished stone and solid surface benchtops complimented with glass in matte textures adds to the exclusive feel for the boutique market.