The Loft

The Home Base blog

Add Some Sizzle

Designing a stylish and functional space can turn cooking from a chore into a pleasure


It’s official, the hub of the home is no longer the formal lounge or dining room – it’s the kitchen.

Kitchens play host to daily family gatherings. Mums and dads chat about the day ahead while grabbing a bite to eat and packing the school lunches. At the end of the day, adult children stop to have a drink and offload their frustrations about their new job while someone peels vegetables or tosses a salad.

Modern kitchens incorporate not only chef-style appliances and fridges with water coolers, they also house an area to dine, a view to the television, and more often than not bar seating where anyone from neighbours to extended family and unexpected guests can pull up a pew.

As our interest and knowledge about cooking grows, more people are mastering the art of culinary brilliance at home and so our kitchens need to be equipped with all the appropriate tools of the trade.

Kitchen Designer Sue Jansen says a kitchen that functions well will definitely be the eating and meeting place for the whole family.

“Nothing brings a family together like great food and nothing is more important than family gatherings,” she says. “To have a space to create simple or exotic meals that is comfortable and safe to work in, and pleasing to the eye, and that is functional and has reliable appliances, makes the difference in preparing food either being a pleasurable experience or a chore.”

Town & Country Designs’ Melanie DeMelt says people are often time poor and need their kitchen to be super functional so that preparing meals takes less time and is as stress free as possible.
With people being more health conscious than ever, they also need their kitchen to be able to deliver better-quality meals.

“People seem to be interested in cooking meals that are really healthy,” she says. “So they expect quite a lot from their kitchens with all the gadgets available.”

Sue says designing the perfect kitchen is a matter of considering all the most important factors.

“Firstly, it is important to consider the space itself,” she says. “Sometimes the kitchen needs to be moved. In a recent kitchen renovation, I moved the kitchen from the centre of the house to a part of the family room. This allowed the owner with a family of four children to be able to view the pool from the kitchen.”

Mark Wood, of Veejay’s Renovations, says designing a kitchen is all about functionality.

“Put simply, the kitchen must be laid out correctly to allow easy access to the sink, fridge and cooktop, in a triangle format with approximately six feet (1.8m) between each for ease of movement,” Mark says.

“The most common requirement people ask for when renovating their kitchen is more bench space and storage. This can be achieved most of the time, even when using the same footprint of an existing kitchen. New pullout systems including inner drawers and pullout pantries can create a lot more storage space.”

All the experts we talked to agreed style was the next consideration, followed by how many workers the kitchen needed to accommodate and whether there were plans to eat in the kitchen as well.

“Perhaps you also need places for children to do homework or a desk for the chef of the house,” Sue says. “There are lots of things people expect from their kitchen and every family is different so I often recommend people make a wish list.”

Melanie stresses it is important to ensure all doors, windows, electrics and plumbing are in the right place early on. And it is vital to work out your budget and decide where you are willing to spend and where you are looking to save.

“Sometimes you need to compromise,” Sue says. “I would recommend people think carefully about the quality of their cabinets because renovating is disruptive and you only want to have to do the job once.”

She says it is a good idea to consult an expert about the placement of cabinets and appliances because getting the right balance of cabinetry in proportion to the room is not easy, but it makes a big difference to the success of the finished product.

“I would strongly suggest that the most important thing is to work with a kitchen designer who would lead you through the whole process. The cost of a designer can be less than that of a quality range hood, and to prevent the minefield of possible things that could go wrong, as well as not having access to all the trades necessary to complete a project, a kitchen designer can save you so much time. It is fantastic to be able to bounce your thought process and choices off someone who does this for a living.”


Mark says people who choose appliances before designing their new kitchen can run into trouble very quickly. “This creates a problem in the initial design and could compromise the layout and flow of the area,” he warns.

“Another common mistake is replacing existing flooring before the new kitchen is designed as this restricts the new design and layout.”

He also says it is a good idea to set the budget early. “There is no point looking at high-end marble or lacquered doors if this does not fit in your budget,” he says. “My advice is to do your research as there are always alternatives to suit any budget without compromising on look and quality.”


  • Know your style – collect pictures to guide you when making selections
  • Pick your major appliances
  • Work on a great functional and balanced design
  • Finalise your materials and select your colours
  • Get your quotes done for the work needed:
    – removal of the existing kitchen and any building work
    – trades that will deal with plumbing and electrics, ceiling and cornice repairs
    – cabinetry and benchtops
    – tiles, glass, splashbacks

Find out more about Town & Country Designs and Veejay’s Renovations, or visit their Home Base showrooms – open 7 days.