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Darren Palmer's Tips On How To Revitalise Your Kitchen

Darren Palmer's Tips On How To Revitalise Your Kitchen

By Sarah Lefebvre on Jan 28 2014
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The key to a great kitchen is planning

Planning Planning Planning

Kitchens are the heart of the home and one of the most valuable and functionally important rooms of a property. They can also be the most expensive. The heart of your home, though, may have become a little tired, so if it's time for a transplant here are some considerations for the most successful result possible. 

Detailed below is an overview of how I tranformed a tired kitchen (photo on the left) to a clean lined, highly useable moderrn kitchen (photo on the right).


The key to a great kitchen is planning. Prior to renovating your kitchen, you need to take into consideration the following:

  • Who will be using the kitchen?
  • What will they use it for?
  • How many people need to use it at one time and for what?
  • What appliances are needed?
  • What available space is there?
  • Is there an opportunity to make or borrow more space from adjoining rooms?
  • Is the kitchen in the best position for the home?
  • What are your storage requirements, ie where does every single thing from the kitchen find a home?
  • What is the style?
  • What are the desired finishes and colour palette made of?
  • Are there any considerations or special circumstances, for example lower or higher bench tops, double sinks, eat in area?

Creating A Detailed Brief

Creating a brief is the first thing you should do when you are planning, using the list above as a guide. When you're clear on what your guidelines and constraints are, you can then look at the space and see how you can gain the most usability from it through proper planning. 

Kitchen is fully stripped out prior to its rework

I once created a kitchen for a couple, where the female owner was 5'9" and the male was 5'2". Their brief was to have normal benchtop heights for her, but no over bench storage for him. That meant having large banks of drawers running along one wall which gave them ample storage for all of their plates, glasses, pots and storage. 

The Importance of Plans

I always draw plans to scale and play around with to-scale shapes that represent modules of cupboards or drawers (I favour drawers under bench wherever possible, as you gain access to things more easily giving you more usable storage). You can use any drawing package that allows you to create boxes using dimensions or you can go old school with graph paper and cut out some rectangles or simply draw directly onto the paper with a pencil, ruler and eraser. 

Once you've worked out the optimum possible configuration for your storage, look at the triangle rule that most kitchens are created around. It is important to take into consideration the practical usage components, for example, can you access the fridge, are the sink and cooktop/oven within a step of each other? Space in a kitchen is good, however too much space can make it inconvenient to cook, particularly if you need to walk more than a few steps to put down a hot dish or that extra reach when unloading the dishwasher or even putting your groceries in the fridge and pantry. 

This is a good example of the triangle rule.  The cooktop/oven, sink and concealed fridge (in the cupboard) ensures the space works seamlessly.

Creating A Useable Workspace

Another good rule of thumb is to create no less than 1.2m of usable bench space as a block. If you have a galley kitchen and need to put the sink and cooktop in the same bench, position the sink at one end with the cooktop as far away at the other end as practical. Consider your cooktop needs to be set away from flammable substrates - BCA dictates what the distances for flammable and non-flammable substrates need to be. Pushing the two inclusions apart will give you the most usable bench space making your cooking and food preparation experiences that much easier and more efficient. 

Deciding on Storage and Hardware

There are so many great internal hardware fittings that make your kitchen more functional too. Pullout pantries are common but they're not all created equal. Look at how much food you can actually store with them before deciding. The one I used in my North Bondi apartment reno was outstanding as it allowed 2 levels of full width shelving, one on the door, the other coming forward to present its contents to you as you open the doors. This kind of smart engineering adds usability and storage space as well as looking super high end and expensive. 

I've used this LeMans corner storage solution from Hafele to overcome the hard to reach spaces that are left in kitchen corner cabinets. Pulling all of the contents out for easy access allows you to store and access more. Pull out garbage and recycling bins are another great internal solution that should always be included in your planning.  

Choosing The Right Appliances Can Make All The Difference

Appliances play a major role in your kitchen so if you're going to spend money somewhere, this is the place. There are many good quality options at each price point, but whatever you decide to use, always buy appliances that can be fully integrated to mask their size and function. A fully integrated fridge will meld into the design of a kitchen where a large stainless steel one will be a feature. A dishwasher too needn't stand out. Features in kitchens should be things like the type of benchtop or splash back, or even that stellar oven that you've saved up for years to buy. If you have too many things that catch your attention you can have a visually cluttered kitchen so it's best to keep things streamlined and behind closed doors wherever possible. 

Creating a place for everything will keep your benches clear of clutter. I like to make a drawer at benchtop height, in a cupboard, for appliances so you can use the things you need to use every day, let the heat and steam out and then close the lot up behind neat doors so you can free your benchtops up for prep, the groceries or the dishes. When you have a place for everything within arm’s reach using every available inch of space, you will have the neatest, tidiest and most functional kitchen you can imagine.