Food for thought in the kitchen

Homeowners want a space to cook, but also to entertain and to dine in - and the latest designs reflect this, says Susan Edmunds.

Cooking has become extremely fashionable lately, with everything from My Kitchen Rules to Kitchen Nightmares screening on television every night.

So it's no surprise that homeowners are putting much more emphasis on the functionality of their kitchens when it comes time for a facelift.

Designs no longer just have to look great, they have to be easy to work with and effortlessly accommodate all the life that goes on in and around an average kitchen.

Think large islands for preparing food and entertaining casually, integrated appliances that hide away from sight when they aren't needed, a focus on great task lighting, and as much storage as you can possibly fit in.

Good kitchen design is no longer a matter of choosing between cupboards and drawers.

Even Martha Stewart sings the praises of shelves. They can fit on to virtually any wall space: Stack things, sort things into folders or even pile things in boxes on your shelves for an eclectic, convenient storage option.

Hanging racks are also fabulous for any kitchen where space is at a premium.

Glasses or pots and pans stored above head height free up lots of cupboard room for less attractive kitchen implements. In terms of colour, everything from light and bright silvers, greys and creams to dark chocolate and mahogany hues are in fashion.

Even a black-and-white scheme can look amazing if you have the kitchen to pull it off. Frameless cabinetry is also proving popular. Don't be afraid to go for white as your base colour if you want to maximise the feeling of space in your kitchen, but add pops of other shades.

Tangerine and lime are really trendy colours this year - you wouldn't want your whole kitchen in them but the odd splashback or towel can look amazing. Before you start designing your new kitchen, see if you can come up with a theme.

Whether it's country farmhouse or modern minimalist, your theme will drive the kind of colours and appliances you choose. There's a definite trend towards ''lifestyle'' kitchens - those that are designed for the kids to do their homework in as much as they are a place for dinner to be cooked.

Islands on wheels are great for this - pull one over to the stove while you're cooking, and wheel it out into the middle of the kitchen for the kids' dinner.

Lots of homeowners are giving up the idea of a separate dining room in favour of a large kitchen with multiple eating spaces, from a small table to a breakfast nook and island.

Over recent years it's been fashionable to have one texture or colour throughout the kitchen - such as a granite or quartz benchtop in the same colour as the cabinetry.

But designers this year are encouraging homeowners to throw that idea out the window. Mixing up different colours, styles and textures in cabinetry and finishings adds interest and allows your kitchen to reflect the personality of your home.

If you're renovating on a budget, you may be able to make big changes to your kitchen through simple things like resurfacing the cabinets and replacing the door handles.

Add a few colourful tiles or replace the taps in the kitchen sink. As long as the room is crisp and clean, it is easy to give it a lift with simple accessories.

- Hamilton News

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