The key point in planning and choosing a new kitchen lies in finding a design and materials that won't date, finds Louise Richardson
Installing or building a kitchen - even a very simple one - is never exactly a cheap undertaking so it's important to look to the future - and that's where professional kitchen designers come into their own.
They're experts at helping create the most functional zone possible and will offer well-researched advice on work-flow and ideal placement of appliances. They know what's in vogue, what looks good and works best, and they can locate products and materials on your behalf.
Right now, the buzzwords on the kitchen scene are 'organic' and 'texture' wherein sustainable, earthy materials are used to smart effect, and 'functionality', which basically means that in this reality-TV-cooking-show era, we're demanding more of our kitchens in terms of what we can do there.
Hayley Dryland from August and Co. Design has noticed recently that homeowners are preparing to stay in their homes long-term rather than moving as they wait for the property market to find its new level.
"Once they've made that decision, they tend to ask themselves what they can do to enhance the property and often that means a new kitchen," she says.
"They're looking for classic style with longevity and want the very best-quality materials, even if that means sourcing them from overseas and waiting a while."
Dryland says the marble look is very popular right now and that the new generation of composites is stronger and more versatile than ever before.
"Porcelain benchtops are another hot look and black sinks and tapware are still requested by many of our clients but other metallic finishes such as brass, antique bronze and brushed gold are trending too."
One of the most timeless materials are horizontal bricks, first seen in art deco decor in New York in the 1930s.
"They still look just as striking today," she says.
When it comes to colour, Dryland says that she does a lot of black kitchens, which were revolutionary when they first appeared.
"Today black kitchens are a lot more common and they always look really great."
Other trends that have emerged recently include the use of grey, which coordinates beautifully with marble, and Dryland says that she recently designed her first- ever blue kitchen.
One of the most exciting new developments Dryland has noticed is the arrival of tiles with pressed-tin patterns. "In the past I've had clients who wanted pressed tin as a splashback and we would paint it but after a few years the paint wears off so having the option of tiles now is a great step forward.
She also notes that it's becoming increasingly common for home-builders or renovators to go one step further and add an adjoining butler's kitchen or scullery to further stretch their kitchen's capabilities.
Meanwhile, new and exciting appliances are appearing on the scene and retailers are scrambling to keep up with the new technology, in order to inform and advise their customers.
Fridges are getting far more sophisticated. Some have almost as many features as a small car - and are priced similarly too!
Samsung's new Family Hub refrigerator ($9999) is nothing short of amazing in terms of its capabilities, not least of all its remarkable connectivity. A touchscreen display syncs family members' calendars, displays favourite photographs and a camera inside allows the owner to check what's needed via phone from the supermarket. Temperatures throughout the fridge can be customised and this feature, combined with precise humidity control, helps keep food fresher.
Induction hobs are increasingly popular as cooks discover how easy and effective this style of cooking can be. Self-cleaning ovens and automatic range hoods that turn on and off when required are also a feature in many new kitchens.
In the past few years, steam ovens have become a feature of many new kitchens; some of these ovens come in a combination model that dry roasts as well as steams.