By Jan Dowling September 23rd, 2013. Comments Off on Design and Build Essentials: How to get the kitchen you want

People often ask us at Dowling Homes to share with them the latest design trends they should be using in their kitchen projects – “What are this season’s colours and textures?” “What will be fashionable next year?” And while there are some other trends that we can (and will!) talk about, ultimately we tell them that great design comes down to one thing. You.

The idea that continues to drive today’s (and tomorrow’s) kitchen design is Individualism. In Australia, we are embracing this with gusto and have been for some time. The kitchen is the heart of the home, bursting with potential for expressing your individuality. Play with light, colours, textures, shapes, and watch as they tumble wonderfully into place, forming a design that both indulges your personality and meets your everyday needs.

To help you create a design that is uniquely you, we’ve put together some of the most exciting ideas, helpful hints and dazzling new products in the market right now.

Top of the Bench

Kitchen benchtops are some of the most used surfaces in any home, so they need to deliver not only on looks, but also on functionality. They need to be exceptionally resilient to constant daily use, including moisture, heat, scratches and impact.

Natural stone is a premium choice for kitchen benchtops and is available in a variety of types, shades, styles and finishes. If your budget extends to it, granite marries natural strength and beauty. Strong and durable, granite benchtops are low porous, able to withstand high temperatures, and can resist scratches and stains.

A more affordable alternative to natural stone is engineered stone. Quartz engineered stone combines two major ingredients – the “filler” made of natural mineral, glass, metal and oyster shells, and a resin “binder” with additives – which are combined and then cast in a curing process to produce sheets of engineered stone. There are many options on the market today with leading brands such as Caesarstone and Essastone offering something for every kitchen style. Caesarstone has just launched new “supernatural” additions to its popular Classico Collection. The new designs are ideal for those who prefer an authentic stone look with an earthy yet elegant aesthetic.

Laminate is the most cost-effective material for kitchen benchtops and is available in a variety of colours, finishes and textures. With advances in technology, laminate tops are now able to mimic the look of stone and timber surfaces. For example, Laminex 180fx surfaces replicate a pattern that captures the intricacy and visual drama of a real stone top at a fraction of the price. You can enjoy the intricate veining and depth of colour normally only achieved with real stone.

For a warm and sophisticated look, a solid timber top provides timeless style. Choose from an oiled finish, or satin or gloss polyurethane finish, but be wary that timber benchtops require higher maintenance compared to laminate and granite benchtops, as they are more prone to marking and water damage.

Open the door to style

Doors are one of the most important decisions when designing a kitchen, because they form one of the largest surface areas you will see. If you’re undertaking a home renovation, you can completely change the look of a kitchen simply by changing the cabinet doors.

As our expectations rise, we’re seeking higher quality, sleeker cabinet designs to get the look we want. For laminate doors, we love the Laminex Colour Palette for the enormous range and depth of finishes available, from versatile neutral tones to vibrant flashes of colour. The desire for lustrous finishes has been indulged with a myriad of product ranges, including Laminex DiamondGloss and CrystalGloss surfaces. Most high gloss cabinetry surfaces feature exceptional scuff resistance to ensure the mirrored look will be long lasting.

Sometimes a kitchen renovation is simply a question of replacing tired and ugly cupboard doors. If that’s the case there is a whole range of affordable products to choose from that will meet your individual style and budget. Take timber veneer. The decorative nature of timber veneer is being pushed and explored by designers, keeping this old favourite chic and contemporary. These innovations with colours and patterns mean it has real potential for kitchen design and is an easier product to work with. Check out Laminex Timber Veneers for inspiration.

Another great affordable option for busy family spaces is vinyl wrap doors. A vinyl wrap door is made up of an MDF panel that has been cut, routed and profiled and then glued and covered with a vinyl form that is pressed to the door using heat and vacuum. The back of the door is usually pre-laminated, and there are no joints as the vinyl goes all the way around the door. Polytec delivers a huge range of vinyl wrap doors.

Gloss 2-pac (or 2-pack) cabinets are a versatile and durable choice. Available in satin or gloss, a 2-pac finish uses a chemical reaction between the paint and a hardener to give you the hardest, glossiest and most resilient painted finish on the market. The finish will generally be sprayed over a product specially designed for painting or gloss finishes. It is especially effective when combined with beautiful timber highlights.


New innovations in kitchen surfaces mean we’re bidding farewell to the tired old painted and tiled splashbacks, and embracing new materials. The Laminex Metaline Splashbacks provide a heat and water resistant vertical panel, which can be easily installed and is compliant with the Australian Gas standards when installed correctly behind gas and electric cooktops.

Glass splashbacks have come a long way since they were introduced to the market. They are now a more affordable option, bringing depth and light to the room. You can choose from a range of textured glass, vivid solid colours and patterns, depending on your desires.

Alternatively, you can splash out on a luxurious marble splashback to match a stone benchtop, for example. For a classic look, tiling offers a world of possibilities. Colours, patterns and textures can be explored with glass and porcelain tiles to create an eye-catching feature. Or why not conjure the ambience of a commercial kitchen with a stainless steel splashback?

Get sorted

For the perfect pantry storage, think beyond shelves. You don’t need a large pantry space to get the storage you want – there are storage solutions out there that actually increase storage space! For narrow spaces, look to individual wire baskets and pull-out pantries that don’t take up precious space. If your budget doesn’t extend to include pull-outs, insist your cabinet maker uses adjustable shelves so that you can remove or change them according to your practical needs.

Drawers have come a long way in the last decade. Soft close, self close or just good old fashioned close, there are lots of drawer systems to choose from depending on your needs and budget. Here are some options to consider:

  • Full extension: The mechanism of the drawer extends 100 per cent so that you can see everything inside the drawer.
  • Self-close: Also known as a push-to open drawer, this allows a super sleek look, requiring no handles or knobs. (it can also be at the top end of the budget)
  • Soft-close: A mechanism inside the drawer allows it to close the last 20-30mm by itself, preventing annoying banging and long-term wear and tear to your cabinetry.

Blum offers a whole range of systems; you can even combine everything you want in one convenient solution, such as a soft close stainless steel push-to-open saucepan drawer! The possibilities are endless.

Go Go Gadget

If you love gadgets, you’ll be amazed by what’s available for the once-humble kitchen. We can’t help but be in awe of the Zip Hydro Tap that dispenses chilled, boiling and sparking water. Or a combi-steam oven allows you to create anything from puddings to eye fillet, and crusty bread to pasta bakes (we love the V-Zug and Miele models). If your budget allows it, you can even have a TV on the fridge door!

Island Paradise

As the kitchen becomes more of an entertaining hub, a free standing island unit gives you the freedom and convenience you need and makes a great extra work surface for preparing or serving food.  Imagine displaying a huge succulent roast on your island unit, ready to be carved in front of your guests’ eyes. It doesn’t have to match the kitchen – it can be made from an entirely different material to create a stylish, eye-catching feature. Free-standing mobile island units are also ideal for small spaces. Consider a compact butcher block or an elegant French Provincial style island with brass accents.

Get creative in kitchen design

Last but not least, here are our top tips for an inspiring kitchen design:

  • Look beyond the paintbrush and let the variety of finishes set the tone of your design. Timber veneers, stone, laminate, wood – all become your colour palette.
  • First, find a starting point – a beautiful timber floor, your favourite hot pink kettle, an orange Smeg fridge you can’t live without – and let it guide you.
  • Use everyday objects as accent colours or choose a coloured edging to add depth to a kitchen benchtop.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a risk. It’s fabulous when people work with large scale patterns in unusual places, or have a daring mix of colours throughout the room. Consider Laminex Fusion, a revolutionary surfaces concept that becomes a blank canvas for your unique design. Laminex Fusion surfaces are custom-made and can be used to create stunning feature walls, cupboards, partitions, furniture, table tops, ceilings – the possibilities are endless.
  • Above all, remember the golden rule of interior design – balance.

Did you know that we do 3D designs for all our customers?

With our free 3D design service, you can see your dream home design before it’s built! See what you can have right here.

Want to see more? Check out our YouTube channel with dozens more videos full of beautiful builds around Adelaide and beyond.

Contact Dowling Homes today to find out what we can do for you.

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