On trend or off colour?
Prepare to tap into the latest trends but avoid putting the kitsch into kitchen
When an interior designer and a schoolteacher renovate their home, who gets to choose the kitchen? "My husband let me design the rest of the house, but he wanted a navy kitchen," says Rory Kelly, interior designer. Putting his reservations aside, Kelly let his husband have his way. The navy kitchen is going in this month. "I would probably have gone for a safer option, but he's the cook!"
Navy kitchens are on trend. But what if the colour turns out to be a fad? Kelly's mum doesn't approve at all.
"My mother was shocked. She had a navy kitchen in 1977, before I was born, and she's questioned me multiple times about why I'm doing it."
The old adage of "don't follow a trend the second time around" has a lot of leverage.
You don't want to install something that you're going to tire of. On the other hand, it's foolish to ignore developments in design and technology. Hot taps were a trend, once upon a time. So was running water. So how to figure out a passing fad? Hiring an interior designer can help a lot and, if you can't afford the full service, most will negotiate a one-off session that may save you thousands.
Gold-finish kitchen taps are trending, but Kelly gives them the thumbs down. "They're a major fad," he says. "The contemporary equivalent of avocado bathroom suites. The best of luck to anyone who puts them in - they'll be taking them out again in a few years' time." If you've set your heart on a gold-tapped kitchen, he recommends that you go for a very high-end product. It's the thumbs up, though, for shark-nose edges. This is a subtle styling detail to the edge of a countertop, the bottom of which slopes inwards, like the nose of a shark. The value of this is that it enables you to slip your fingers under the counter top and open the handless door below. It also makes your countertop seem thinner than it is, appearing to float above the cabinets.
Shark-nose edges not only allow for a handle-less kitchen, they also permit recessed lighting, a strip of LED lights inserted in the underside of the countertop. "It looks fabulous," says Kelly, who has also inserted lighting under the presses so that it shines down on the countertop below. Kelly's kitchen came from Kube Interiors, a company that he describes as "good quality and really great to work with". Kube kitchens start from €15,000 (including appliances) and most people spend around €20,000. In terms of appliances, his advice is to get the best that you can afford, but to avoid gadgets with too many functions. "Some appliances have so many options that you'd need a manual and two trained assistants to work it out."
He also recommends a test drive and attending cookery demos so that you can see how an appliance works in practise before you commit.
The vegan chef, Maximillian Lundin, agrees that functionality comes first in kitchen design. "Traditionally, we adapt to the way the kitchen looks, but we should have the possibility to adapt the kitchen to the way we cook, so think about that at the planning stage." He recently helped Ikea to design its Kungsfors range of wall-hung kitchen storage. It's cheap-as-chips, but assembly will take a bit of thought.
In the mid-to-high price bracket, Helen Kilmartin of Minima has just launched a new range of Italian kitchens. The brand, Elmar, specialises in clever, flexible designs, including hideaway kitchens, concealed within a cabinet. For small spaces, you can specify a narrower-than-normal cabinet. "The standard depth is 60cm but sometimes 45cm is all you need," Kilmartin explains. "It's deep enough to take a decent sized dinner plate." Most of her customers can expect to spend between €20,000 and €65,000 on their kitchen, but it can be done for a lower cost. "I just installed a small Elmar kitchen in my basement for between €13,000 and €14,000. I wanted to use myself as a guinea pig!"
One of the funny things about kitchen trends is that the finishes you see in the catalogues are not always the ones that people buy. "We all want to see the dream but then we go back to reality," says David Rafter of Arena Kitchens. "The vast majority of people are still going for white kitchens." He's the Irish supplier for Siematic, a high-end brand. Most of his customers spend between €30,000 and €50,000 on their kitchen, plus another €5,000 to €20,000 on appliances.
In many cases, the selection of appliances will include an uber-trendy boiling water tap. Rory Kelly is a flying the flag.
"Boiling water taps are the best new thing in kitchen design!" A boiling water tap from the Dutch brand Quooker will set you back between €1,380 and €2,100. It looks like a normal tap but produces water at 100°, as well as your standard hot and cold. Running costs are a couple of cents a day, which compares favourably to an electric kettle.
"The kettle is the most used item in the Irish kitchen," Kelly explains. "When we hear that someone's coming around we put the kettle on. Then we boil it again. And again. And again. People don't realise how much energy they're wasting."
Just remember to explain that to your guests. I recently stayed in a house with a state-of-the-art kitchen. When I went down to make a cup of tea in the morning, I couldn't find the kettle. Eventually, I realised they had one of those boiling water taps. By the time I'd worked it out, I was ready to chew the offending gadget off at the base. I'm all for innovation, but not when it gets between me and my morning cup of tea.
See rorykelly.ie, minimahome.com, kubeinteriors.com, arenakitchens.com, quooker.ie, ikea.ie