It’s a globally acknowledged fact that kitchen design is vital in increasing home resale values, in addition to the enjoyment of a comfortable and efficient daily lifestyle. Contemporary design R&D helps define modern kitchen trends, improve the interior signature – and introduce advanced kitchen appliances – while overall creating functional and beautiful spaces.

For many of us in South Africa, across the income spectrum, the kitchen is the hub of the home. It’s where the family convenes for lunch and dinner, it’s where homework is often completed, tablets and smartphones used and where family and guests gather. So there’s something about the kitchen that makes it far more than merely a utilitarian area and, if updating of this vital space is to be considered in 2017, Habitat showcases and illustrates the opinions of certain leaders in the field.

Hot trends? Maybe so to some, but valuable pointers definitely – at least those that make kitchen living easier.

Muhammad Garda of Italy’s Poliform has a few punch points: ‘Extra tall cabinets with one door 2700mm high – the ‘kitchen closet’, dark hews – black being the new white; new technology framing literally any finish with an anodised aluminum tension grip, so that in the core of the door there is no wooden structure, and a strong presence of visual glass in grey / bronze translucent.

‘Dekton surfaces are growing in popularity. Marble worktops now have chamfered edges. Wooden snack-tops are laid on top of stone country-style tops. The presence of plinths and shaped handle profiles in liquid metal, namely gold and nickel-plated.’

Inês Sabino of Portuguese import Fabri adds: ‘Fold-away doors with various smart internal accessories. Warm neutral colours in dark greys and beiges. Wooden accents and displays. Islands with stone cladding and doors with porcelain materials like Neolith. And doors with a marble look, especially with a full white background and dark veins. Matt finishes with textures. Dark mirror for doors and claddings. Wood breakfast tables and marble-look porcelain and quartz countertops. And in the 2017 kitchen there will be more of a focus on high-tech gadgets, such as integrated speakers with Bluetooth functionality, colour-changing lights and even pop-up plugs for phone charging.’

Cabinet-wise a recent useful trend is to have sections of the upper cabinet extended onto the worktop. Accepting that most home cooks enjoy the use of small appliances, is it necessary to have them on display continually? And the multipurpose kitchen island meanwhile has evolved as the go-to solution to disguise / conceal certain appliances: microwave and dishwasher perhaps. But unless the island is three metres in length, it’s perhaps impractical for the unit to house those small appliances in daily use on the work surfaces. Having the upper cabinets extend to the counter – and small appliances behind doors – can achieve a sleeker design statement.

Indications are that in 2017 cabinetry will continue to be painted white and various shades of grey. Yet it’s likely there may be warmer neutral tones in evidence such as grey / beige, taupe and mushroom. Islands in a contrasting finish to that of the perimeter cabinetry may become more popular – as they are in the U.S. In addition, handcrafted islands with legs that look like furniture will facilitate the unfitted kitchen look, an element that also adds personality and charm to a kitchen, which may then appear to have evolved over time.

Ramón Casadó of bulthaup South Africa comments: ‘For countertops and worktops ‘super thin’ is in. We offer a variety of work surfaces and countertops at just 10mm, and also fronts at only 13mm – these are the thinnest profiles in the industry.

‘In two contrasting directions, the trends for wood cabinets converge on the importance of tactile effects in the kitchen / living area; structured wood provides unique textures and sensations. For example, structured oak has the feel of a much rawer material and can introduce an organic look to an otherwise sleek kitchen. A rough-sawn front reinterprets the typical, strikingly sleek grain and brings out the wood’s natural character. This new front, with the coarse structure of the original saw cut, is also coated with natural wood lacquer, which not only offers the wood maximum protection but is also virtually invisible. Structured wood can be coloured or left as a natural shade and is available with vertical or horizontal grain patterns.

‘bulthaup has created solid ‘engineered’ wood, with a material thickness of just 13mm. This unique solid wooden front is produced using equally unique technology. Its highly innovative, high-tech construction incorporates three solid wooden layers combined with two stabilising alumium sheets. This guarantees the product will not warp or bow while delivering the tactile feel of solid wood. Wall panels and side panels can also be produced using this technique.’

It’s worth noting that quartz and engineered stone for countertops will likely see continued growth as consumers become more aware of their benefits.

Alon Sachs from WOMAG: ‘Kitchen countertops are an excellent example of a feature that can look good while being functional. When remodelling, countertop space is often a major concern and the solution is to install a large stone countertop that serves as a space to prep food, but also an area for dining and guest entertainment.

‘Quartz has fast overtaken granite as the countertop of choice and it’s more durable than granite. Phoenix Stone’s superior quartz surfaces are made from 93 percent quartz combined with high grade resins and pigments to create sleek, smooth interior surfaces; these are non-porous, shock, scratch, heat and stain resistant. Beyond this being far more practical to maintain than natural stone, the surface does not require a sealant, there are no cavities and no need for special cleaning solutions. Phoenix Stone offers a vast array of colours, quartz grains, sizes and edging choices, ensuring countless aesthetic options. A warm beige, light stone and concrete finish are high on the current palette.’

For the full article see Habitat #258 March / April 2017