Won’t-date items and classic styling for the home

The white slab-faced kitchen still fascinates for 2014, and it's the design investment for lasting style. Eggermann Laminate in gloss white. Surreal Design, Galway. POA.

Kya deLongchamps gives a run down of won’t-date items and classic styling for the home that will last tough times.

THE recession has taught us a lot. In our appreciation of longevity and quality imagined up to last, a fresh respect for great design is back.

And think carefully when it comes to kitchens, if you’re being railroaded at the showroom into new heritage ‘country’ styling, bold veneers or searing cabinet colour, stand your ground. Barry Blaine of award-winning Surreal Designs, explains:

“When you have the design right, in a neutral colour and superb contemporary cabinetry, changing the kitchen becomes about ripping out a splash-back and replacing that, or updating with accessories for shots of colour.

“The kitchen itself will last the course of appliance changes and interior trends. The more dramatic choices in figured wood, for example, might suit the complete aesthetic of a new build, but for renovating a decades old property, white, bright, clean is often the way to go”.

Trending : Contemporary neutral with slab doors is a look to stay the course, and that’s several decades. If you’re renovating or extending, a white or cream minimalist kitchen in the classic sleek styling made popular in recent year in German kitchens, could see you through 30 years or more.

Whether you have €5,000 or €30,000 it’s the quiet sophisticate of every kitchen showroom. Recessed handles polish the look. Integrate the fridge or set it slightly apart to maintain an uninterrupted blocks of cabinetry.

Determined on paint? Grey takes a step away from hard masculines to a softer tone, but is still a winner in a wood kitchen.


If you are going to spend significant money on a holistic lighting design, concentrate your biggest efforts and investment per room in the kitchen.

Whether you go heritage-chic with voluptuous pendants or German sleek in recessed spots and edgy tracks, remain practical.

General lighting is vital to flood this popular space; functional spots and strips highlight task areas requiring perfect illumination, leaving ambient arrangements to generate atmosphere and beauty.

These three key lighting families will lift a simple blocky kitchen out of all recognition. Position carefully to avoid unwanted glare from directional lamps and tracks.

Trending: With its bold intensity of light, an attractive colour index, and superb energy efficiency, new 8-10kW LED lighting is leading the market.

The units can be as much as 80% more expensive than a standard halogen spot, but the total wattage to light the kitchen can be cut to two figures. The latest low kW units are cooler, and won’t heat counters if under-mounted on overhead cabinets as task light.

In terms of future-proofing, attractive LED from as little as 2kW per lamp is a superb standard.


With a receptive colour chosen for your cabinetry, take colour and texture to your walls. Panelling, tiling and paint will bring out the figuring in a wood kitchen, the lines of a modern linear lovely, and can play with colour if you have dived into brightly toned units.

Splash-backs are not merely grease guards for the wall, they’ve come to bold new life following the more traditional path of tiling behind all worktops, cookers and sink areas.

Fastened to a protective glass front, choose from designer graphics, photographic murals or a block of mouth-watering colour in coloured glass panels. If money is tight and you want to cheer up and protect plain painted walls by the stove or sink, take a look at Fasbo panelling from IKEA in melamine and stainless steel. €12 for a 60cm by 50cm panel.

Trending: Pavement flooring, where the tiles or stone slabs abut each other with little visible join, takes its lead from the unexpected glory of a polished concrete floor. In a larger kitchen, go for large format choices with less interrupting seams. Popular greys and those perennial creams are likely to continue in 2014.

With splash-backs competing with tile for our attention next year, combine down-lighters on the underside of mounted cabinets for a raking, glare free glow. Cork Glass install made to measure splashbacks, www.splashbacks.ie, for a quote on backs, counters and slender returns.


It’s typical in times of economic uncertainty for consumers to look back. Expect yet another chapter of our love affair of vintage styling in everything from textiles to toasters in 2014, as our craving for the old and comfortable but fully functional shields us from modern pressures.

Vintage now encompasses the 1950s right through to the 1970s with wallpapers, paint colour, tea towels and even small appliances, taking on retro colours and previously issued shapes and graphics.

If you stick to a white or cream cabinet, there’s a broad stage of counters, walls, hooks and shelving to cast with more personal ingredients and wallops of sheer colour that you can mix, match, circulate and update, when money and mood allows.

Trending: Bold illustrative graphics include Sian Elin’s groovy Moorish textile collection for House Envy, Jennifer Slattery’s Grannie’s China range, and Betsy Benn designs, (we love her monochrome MP3 tea towels and mugs).

All cheap as chips and ready to individualise any space.

For fabrics suited to covering chairs, making blinds or again as small textiles, a more rustic or classic kitchen can also wear the fabulous new releases by Scandinavian house, Linum, available here at www.linumireland.ie


Sleek silestone stunner

No matter how politely you might conduct yourself initially in your sparkling new kitchen, in the rough and tumble of daily preparation and cooking, we are all thugs. Kitchen work tops must withstand the abuse, retaining those good looks for many years with little more than a hot wipe down. The same surface throughout a kitchen gives it a unity of design, but there may be a compromise on price.

By designating different areas of the kitchen you may be able to afford something durable and relatively expensive such as corian or granite for your sink area and its surroundings and use a less forgiving material such as a laminate in areas where a chopping board or pot stand will take hot and heavy falls.

In wood, stone and timber, pick the thickest work top you can afford, and that includes laminates from 40mm plus. Depth not only delivers more strength, but has better visual weight. Allow for the price of fitting and cutting-out in your budget and this can add considerably to a linear metre pricing. If you’re going pale in cabinetry, our choice in tough, beautiful investment composites would be this newly launched Silestone Nebula, with veining that recalls scudding clouds. www.silestone.com


Fully operating drawers are now available in appliances from dishwashers to cooling units. A mid-range example is SMEG’s two-door, two-drawer fridge freezer. Sub-Zero in the UK have launched an innovative fully integrated cold drawer for bespoke kitchens in two widths with pricing starting at a cool €4,900 for a fridge/freezer arrangement. Subzero-wolf.co.uk.

Neff have tackled that great canopy of cooker hood most of us just tolerate in the kitchen, with a superb new downdraft hood. Set behind the counter, it slides up from the back of the cooker and retracts via a counter mounted glass control panel when not needed. Air Deluxe 300. €2,499. www.neff.ie.

If you refuse to surrender the dream of an Aga, well you might as well have it in the brand new colour for this winter — the Aqua has just been released on the market www. New Aqua Aga from €5,995 for 2 oven/oil, aga.ie

Kenwood’s iconic Chef, has been reimagined with that hip 1970s va-vavoom that includes an 800W motor, a generous 4.6L bowl with 3 bowl tools and a 1.5L blender. €349.99. www.kenwoodworld.com.


‘Children of the Troubles’ recounts the largely untold story of the lost boys and girls of Northern Ireland, and those who died south of the border, in Britain and as far afield as West Germany, writes Dan Buckley.Loss of lives that had barely begun

With Christmas Day six weeks away tomorrow, preparations are under way in earnest, writes Gráinne McGuinness.Making Cents: Bargains available on Black Friday but buyer beware!

From farming practices in Europe to forest clearances in the Amazon, Liz Bonnin’s new show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat, writes Gemma Dunn.New show seeks solutions to some of the damage done by the world’s appetite for meat

Louis Mulcahy reads in Cork this weekend for the Winter Warmer fest, writes Colette Sheridan.Wheel turns from pottery to poetry

More From The Irish Examiner