Discreet, floating, framed and handle-free — the most exciting visual and ergonomic changes to our kitchens are taking place in the starkly urban varieties this year and next. Keep in mind that with sleek simplicity come versatile aesthetics, mannerly enough for most eras of home.
The most highly specific trend simmering through to 2020, is the kitchen that represents itself as a fluid non-culinary extension of the living-space.
This is not just in terms of spatial planning (no walls between say the dining area/family room and the kitchen), but in the lack of outward, traditional signals of kitchen units at all.
Design tricks include reducing wall-mounted cabinetry, no pull handles to drawers and cupboards, seamless counter-tops, and removing the open presence of large appliances.
Slab kitchens with matt, wood or mirror lacquer finishes and simple volumes, can read as furniture softly abutting lounging/sitting areas.
This is all lovely in the relevant/redundant roll of fashion, but for total success the refined, anti-kitchen must be clean over the counters with oodles of storage to swallow culinary hum-drum.
In-counter extractors that mechanically lift when needed, power towers, touch control induction hobs without rude hob hardware — invisibility spells expense.
Taken to the last degree, the anti-kitchen could be completely impractical.
Look for materials that straddle the living-room looks in a timber veneer or stone finish.
Dekton is an interesting counter alternative in a glass, quartz and porcelain mix, popular with architectural designers. It’s priced from €300 a linear metre, Cosentino products, suppliers include Kitchen World (Cork).
Taking the standard kitchen cabinets off the walls, where does the ballast go?
The move towards feature open shelving and airy, metal hanging units presents some dramatic possibilities, from large open steel frames suspended over (and visually anchoring) the island/peninsula to dedicated, illuminated areas within the runs of cabinets with a curated display with dedicated illumination.
Contemporary or classic, the display must be perfectly managed. Budget for some good looking ware and/or cookware to dress these spaces. Reeded vertical semi-opaque glass is creating a lot of interest in the UK, Germany and Ireland, and can shield the view into cupboards.
Look at the “compositional rigour” of the Mia range from Scavolini at Vita Italiana (Dublin) with built in storage/display walls and island frame shelving hung from the ceiling. I was impressed by the magnificent Zurfiz Ultragloss kitchen in Copper Leaf and Dust Grey doors at Express Kitchens (Cork). Corner cutouts to blocks of islands and long niches storage with glass fronts and shelving take shining bites out of runs of neutral and titian gold base units.
The Opaco Nero kitchen concept in two exquisite runs delivers a superb bruise black anti-kitchen; expresskitchens.ie.
In blind storage — pantry cupboard of 2400mm or more — presented in a single monumental, floor-to-ceiling block which incorporates one-two eye-level ovens, is a streamlined storage alternative to a run of wall mounted cupboards.
Try a rich, toffee wood finish to the doors with a warming, organic note to vie with gloss of matt slabs.
The world “frame” in the past referred to the construction of the doors on a typical timber kitchen unit — today, revealed metal framing in sophisticated accent finishes is lifting kitchen slabs up off the floor, allowing light to flow and the units to float free.
This hovering, horizontal coffer is a great look for an island. Disconnected from plumbing and electrical points — the island can even wheel into another position!
Poggenpohl has a number of modular, architectural kitchens that really rock the look, including their lightweight Venovo kitchens — which again attack what the firm describe as the “static boundaries” between living spaces and the kitchen, poggenpohl.com.
German and Italian square bar legged pieces deliver defining geometry in the kitchen, with squares and rectangular structures in steel or gilded metals set below wall hung cabinets as integrated, open shelving. Together with cantilevered bar areas, and large rectified tiling, the look is sculptural and dramatic with a bold Bauhaus-inspired underpinning.
For a tease, check out the Grey Anodised Aluminium open shelf detailing, and modular oak veneered imaginings of Eggersmann kitchens at Surreal Design (Ballybrit, Galway), surrealdesigns.ie.
Want to conceal everything you can — even the handles? Again think relevant/redundant. If you’re not interested in the fashion or finesse, stick with those cup handles, buttons and character pulls.
Otherwise, a top edge recessed handle for drawers and base cabinets with side grooves for larder cupboards and even the fridge and freezer, will simplify the plains of a highly linear kitchen — removing visual stutter.
Siematic went handle-free in 1960, and its new recessed pulls for their 90th anniversary with polished grip channel and dedicated lighting is mout watering; arenakitchens.com.
It’s much easier to open a door/drawer with full hands with an elbow than a hand.
When putting your hands on the door, smudges are a potential issue. We love the new touch-friendly finishes utilising nanotechnology such as IZOVAC for Evoke Kitchens (Waterford) — superbly easy to clean. Not ready to go without? The single-fix, T-bar pulls from many suppliers, including UK brand Dowsing & Reynolds, are crisp, practical and self-coloured to black units and all but disappear.
Hungry for colour? The message from the market is to go deep, dark and matt — even black isn’t off the board. Timber kitchens can be refinished in darker shades for a budget renovation — test, test, test to avoid light swallowing misery rather than luxuriance.
Prepare the surface well and pick the right product — for true black, Johnstones Speciality Paint For Wood And Metal Black Satin (750ml) is €15.70, and other satinwoods are available in a wide array of colours.
If you’re considering an IKEA kitchen, the chalky Lerhyttan soft black or Bobyn olive green are right on trend and pleasingly familiar with a rustic wood texture, or what about Dust Grey in a Modica kitchen from Cash & Carry?
If you’re not sure you want a midnight shade or that jolt of searing colour all over the room, try taking it to one wall or one run of cabinetry.
Despite the rush to moodier shades, it’s hard to fail with a white kitchen. The new Pasilla range from B&Q has unusual slender profiles with tiny GoodHome Saffron cylinder knob pulls, diy.com.