Living Kitchens

  • fatweb
  • Kitchens
  • September 22, 2016
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By Terri Cluckie

Building and renovating a new kitchen can be tricky, especially if it is a first-time project, so hearing from professionals about how they deal with their own spaces when designing, building and completing a project can be a good place to start.

We speak to two architects about award-winning kitchens they have worked on and the process they went through.

Cymon Allfrey of Cymon Allfrey Architects Limited

Project: Buller, West Coast (Pictured)

Winner of the 2011 ADNZ/Resene Architectural Design Awards (Canterbury/ Westland Region, Residential Alterations and Additions category)

1. What did you do with this kitchen?
This particular kitchen (pictured above) was a major renovation to the home. The owners have quite large gatherings so the design allows eight people to function in the kitchen without, hopefully, getting on each other’s toes, because it actually functions as two separate spaces.

The area the kitchen occupies used to be a kitchen and a dining space, so it’s quite large, but to be able to accommodate eight people means a large space, double the appliances etc. and from a scale perspective we still wanted to recognise that it was a family home – 90 percent of the time or more it would actually be used by a small group of people. The kitchen is therefore designed in two halves but also in a way that flows.

Hopefully if you want to get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee with your breakfast, you don’t feel like you’re standing in a commercial kitchen, but at the same time, if you’ve got a large group of people using it, it still works.

2. Why does it work so well?
To make it work well, because of the scale, we had to consider the location of appliances so that the travel distances are never particularly great, but also so they don’t cross the path of a particular activity. For example, if somebody is preparing, they can work quite independently from someone who is cooking and they don’t have to walk through the same space.

What works well, I think, is a lot of consideration for functionality. Kitchens can be beautiful, and they should be, particularly in the heart of the house, but people have to work in them in a safe and functional environment. The kitchen probably needs a lot more thought than any other room about how to allow it to functions in a way that accommodates a lot of people.

3. How did you design the kitchen to work within the space?
Put aside the functional side of it, this particular kitchen feeds directly out to a very large dining space, almost a dining hall, so it is quite heavily connected to the social side of the home rather than the domestic side.

There is a sneaky secret door that actually leads you into a kids’ recreational/ study area towards the bedrooms. One of the key things we’ve done is we’ve tried to design it so that you can come and go from the kitchen without necessarily moving through the public spaces by incorporating that secret door.

That is actually one of the key features of the kitchen to make it work; so that the family can use it by coming and going through that door while still keeping it a social space.


Kitchen renovation

DO: Your research before meeting with a contractor or architect. What does your dream kitchen look like? What will the space mainly be used for? Is cooking or entertainment the priority?

DON’T: Sacrifice safety for aesthetics.

DO: Spend time listing what works and doesn’t work in your current kitchen.

DON’T: Waste storage space – plan ahead to avoid losing valuable space.

DO: Over-budget. Some people recommend budgeting at least 10 percent more for additional expenses to cover unforeseen costs.


Robert Weir of Weir Architecture

Project: Rock Hill, Christchurch (Pictured)

Winner of the Master Builders’ House of the Year 2015 Gold Reserve Award and Lifestyle Award

1. What did you do with this kitchen?
With the kitchen being the central focus and main congregation area, the house was designed around it to ensure all other areas would radiate and open out from there. I selected the material palette, surfaces, textures, hardware and lighting so that they would complement elements used elsewhere in the house.

2. Why does it work so well?
I designed the kitchen to be an integral part of the home. The joinery under the front section of bench was designed to appear as a plinth with the recessed handles running continuously around all four sides. Apart from the oven, all other appliances are concealed from view.

All the living rooms and outdoor areas are connected to the kitchen. An informal dining area has been integrated into the left-hand section of the island bench that provides seating on both sides, which encourages conversation and many a glass of wine.

3. How did you design the kitchen to work within the space?
The house was designed around the kitchen area so all spaces radiate out from it. I have always liked the design of European kitchens with long sleek lines with a well selected but simple material palette.

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