Shades of grey can add a sense of light and space to a kitchen

If your creativity is hampered by your budget remember that a kitchen is a sum of all its parts and careful choices can ring fabulous changes, writes Kya deLongchamps.

Shades of grey can add a sense of light and space to a kitchen

Rules are made to be broken. If you thought you had to have a standard slab kitchen then think again.

The mid range to high-end kitchen refuses to be put in a box and so, where your creativity is cramped by budget, keep in mind that the kitchen is a sum of all its parts.

Pore over the catwalk offerings then take your lead from this Go beyond units.

Careful choices teamed to walls, floor, fixtures, and fittings can ring fabulous changes for a lot less

The New Bespoke

A quality painted kitchen in traditional style cabinetry has a bespoke feel, and you can find a mid-range 8-12 unit example with oak ply carcasses, with polished oak tops and finished in Farrow & Ball from as little as €8,000-€10,000 installed.

Whether your taste is dovetails and Victorian unfitted, or unremittingly whip-crack modern, there’s still ever chance to personalise.

John Sims-Hilditch, co founder of Neptune Kitchen, shares his insights in mid-range to high-end super kitchens.

“Customers are becoming braver with inserting elements such as reclaimed wood surfaces with new cabinetry and making stylised choices such as removing the backs of cabinets to see features such as original brick walls.”

Units are being teased apart into new volumes, balanced-like boxes, floating from walls and legged on steely stilettos rather than wooden posts.

Concrete, granite, dramatic marble counters and wood (the aggregate can be neatly faked with paint effects and laminates) signal our return to natural themes everywhere.

However, organic might be the inspiration, but these adventures are all edited back to practical working sophistication.

For the entry level kitchen, Voxtorp kitchens from IKEA with their recessed handles and attractive laminates (from €52 per door) matched to black appliances and a pewter sink, would be a polite introduction to the new modern warm woods.

Lift a square door off the floor with Limhamn legs if you want to misbehave (€32 for a pack of two).

My pick for a good example of what’s happening at the tippy-top of the market (€30,000 plus) would be the Eggersmann & Hacker Unique collection at Surreal Designs, which makes dramatic use of mouth-watering wood laminates, limestone, and even soapstone in minimalist kitchen units stretched over the floor space that read as fabulous sculpture.

Key tip: Revealing the architecture and features in your home as John suggests, can influence layout and configurations, perhaps relegating almost all the cabinetry to the floor for example.

Try a run of low shelving (one or two runs) to make up for lost storage.

The Beauty of the Unseen

No matter what its outer styling, keep in mind that the beauty of a great kitchen is as much about what you don’t see as what you do.

John Sims sees this as crucial for this year’s look, but settles on two classic storage additions to allow the kitchen to relax into its role as that extra eating and living space: “The trend for multi-functional, hidden storage solutions will continue into spring and summer.

For organising daily essentials and creating a space for entertaining and relaxing, the larder and kitchen island remain as great options.”

The S-box is just one of the new ‘pop-up’ solutions than make use of the furthest reaches of a base cabinet delivering utensils straight to your hand on the counter. Power S-boxes start at €299 at

The internal tailoring and operation of storage, soft close doors and drawers, and quality construction allows the carcass to welcome new doors and counters if, after a decade, you tire of your current darling.

Timber units with hand finished in-frame doors softly whisper their class and can carry a new colour which can potentially run with the house for life.

Key tip: Internal storage features can have a devastating influence on a quote, so consider what you might do with after-product solutions.

Challenge your unit supplier to stick with him/her on internals with a great price.

Glossy and handle free

The true handle-less door is pulled open from a squared-off top edge with no recess for your fingers whatsoever.

Without that slim finger grab, there’s also less chance of a wrapped or resin door chipping at the molded top edge.

If you still like something to grab, take a metal 70s style handle to the top edge of doors and drawers, ensuring there’s a rounded edge for any full width handles of this kind.

The Arizona range at Kitchen World demonstrates the top-edge kitchen look beautifully.

Cash & Carry’s Venlo range again offers that uninterrupted line of a slab, handle-free kitchen.

Grey continues to show its talents as the new neutral, and you can take this to fragile dove grey or rich aggregate.

Anthracite, shown by Cash & Carry kitchens, nails the look in a fabulous high gloss, ideal for increasing light in a small space while channeling the gentle industrial look that’s unlikely to date for a good 10 years.

That robust acrylic/PVC door is an affordable choice too. Packages from €2,900 installed,

Want a touch of dusty blue? (Lighting up interiors for 2016.) Zurfiz in a blue acrylic with neat German in-door grabs that are cool and clean to the eye.

In-house, like many suppliers have hundreds of shades beyond their showroom so bring your mood board with you.

Key tip: In a truly tiny kitchen, where the traffic is beating on perhaps two key runs of units, it’s worth considering upping the spend to robust quality. Wood traditional with Scandi’ lines are making a return.

Economy combinations, textures and colour

Two choices in cabinets, whether entirely different in finish, (sizings and style should obviously agree) are an easy way to individualise even a tight spend. Take a colour or stronger neutral to wall-hungs for instance.

Cash & Carry are mixing things up with two looks in one unit — teaming their highly popular white Reflections range of glossy doors and drawers in walnut kickboards, counters, and surrounds, dubbed their Combination range.

Duleek in black and red over at Express Kitchens is a daring alternative.

Can’t afford to tinker with the cabinetry? Take the look to one feature, standalone piece (Steam-punk tables, trolleys, and shelving in copper plumbing pipes studded with valves are everywhere on the eclectic market and easily made up by any welder).

Clad your walls with reclaimed timber or smooth marine ply as a feature wall. Or go for reclaimed brick, or stone, if the budget allows.

John’s final piece of advice is good for whatever level of kitchen you choose: “work with your home’s layout to create a kitchen that gives you the rhythm that best suits your lifestyle.

“It’s easy to focus on the bigger things when designing a kitchen — the style, the appliances, the worktops. They’re the building blocks, the bread and butter.

“The filling is what transforms a kitchen into a living space. It’s the part that makes your kitchen feel intuitive — the part that takes it from a joy to look at to a place to be lived in.”

Key tip: Rough to smooth, dark to light, texture and contrast creates fascinating interest.

Toffee dark applied timber wall panelling against icy white cabinets — its woodwork 101 to any clever carpenter that can be sealed behind acrylic or glass if you’re nervous of clean-ups.

R2-D2 comes home

Trade shows offer a fascinating spectacle, a tease of what’s to come to our shelves and showrooms for interior goods of all kinds.

Manufacturers with prototypes have the chance to gauge interest with buyers and nerdy members of the public and press.

None of these circuitry circuses surpasses the 20,000 items paraded at the Consumer Electronics Show in the US every January.

All eyes at the CES in Las Vegas this year were on the R2-D2 refrigerator by Haier.

A collector’s item, with its signature limited edition number, it comes with in-built film projector, all R2’s ‘binking-bong-ding’ noises and rumbles up into position with a remote control. But will appliances operated by mobile phone really ever be useful? I think not.

Let’s get back to real practicalities. Samsung showcases its new smart washing machines, which have delivered one seriously interesting new feature — the ability to add items during the wash cycle.

This is in addition to a stunning chassis, gleaming in brushed metal and blue glass porthole.

LG have turned the now commonplace robot vacuum into a security spy that can creep around the house transmitting surveillance images to your mobile device.

If all’s quiet (could we trip an intruder with the little fella?) you can ask Hom-Bot to give any area of the carpet an extra lick.LG — who wowed last year with touch-operated transparent fridge doors to peer inside without warming the cavity — now delivers the first auto-door function.

The doors glide open from a projected sensor when you stagger forward with an armful of groceries. Look for LG Signature models later this year.

The pleasure of pantries

The pantry cupboard might seem an archaic idea gleaned from the days of bottled goods and dry stuffs below stairs, but increasingly, its role has expanded into lofty single breakfronts to entire walls of period inspired cabinetry.

If you want to go for this larder look in the kitchen rather than stepped off it, ask your supplier for ideas for built-in units finished with hardwood, in-frame doors, ventilation on show, or off, and serious decorative pediments.

This level of detailing marks your kitchen out immediately.

Interior lighting, wine racks, pull out shelving and counters, and on door storage — the level of finish for these deeper units can be as sophisticated as your budget allows.

Pare back the panelling and hardware for an unfussy Georgian style purity and choose a signature colour.

Go for a harmonious palette to marry with the rest of the room, or rock up a colour such as deep petrol blue, icy crisp blue or a celadon green, hugely favoured in the 1800s.

Flat finishes should be strong enough to scrub, so throw the money at a durable quality, pigment rich paint such as Colortrend Historic, Mylands or Farrow & Ball.

Prefer unmitigated modern but want some honesty in materials? Large in-kitchen larders can carry fabulous timber veneers, act as room dividers and mixed up with handle free performance and simple lines, flow seamlessly to living spaces in an open plan home.

In a contemporary kitchen, this swathe of classic storage can inhabit one wall, hide the fridge, stage the oven and take away the need for intrusive wall cabinets elsewhere.

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