When The Refresh Reaches The Kitchen

When The Refresh Reaches The Kitchen

Waikato based interior designer Mary-anne Tobin, of Design Addiction, opens part two of her shared journal in the home’s “engine room”.

By: Mary-anne Tobin

2 September 2023

In part one this renovation focused on a 98m2, 1980’s two-bedroom apartment. The laundry was being removed from the kitchen and placed into the bathroom; the key focus being saving space.

In part two the renovation continues with a kitchen remodel, and a transformation with a new open living space and a clean fresh neutral palette. It’s time to say goodbye to 80’s wallpaper and carpet.

Move That Wall

With older homes a formal dining area and kitchen separated with a wall are very traditional. Often a client will want to introduce open living when undertaking a kitchen renovation and have the wall removed. For this kitchen remodel we had already removed the existing laundry (previously in the kitchen – now relocated to the bathroom).

It was now time to redesign the kitchen and, of course, take down the kitchen wall to create an open living and kitchen area. We opted to use an on-bench pantry in the kitchen design which created additional storage.

Pro tip: when renovating always remember power points; we placed an additional power point in this pantry. The on-bench pantry was 550mm deep so can easily store a microwave, jug, toaster and even an air fryer.

The Work Triangle

The sink is such an important part of your kitchen design. You may have heard of the kitchen work triangle, whereby the sink, hob and fridge must be within close proximity of each other. This design principle is a fantastic way to design a kitchen for a smaller home. In this renovation we have the sink at the centre of the window, which gives an outside view and allows for conversation while hosting. More importantly, it did not alter the plumbing (cost-saving tick).

I recently read an article by Blum that suggested users spend an average of two hours in their kitchen each day as opposed to only half an hour in their bathroom. The fridge alone is opened and closed 30 times, which is something to consider when investing in your kitchen.

The previously freestanding oven in this renovation was replaced with an on-bench electric hob and 600mm wall oven directly behind the sink and double fridge (forming an isosceles triangle). My top tip for kitchen design is that the dishwasher is always to the left-hand side of the sink (if you are right-handed) and the rubbish bin to the right, so when you rinse the dishes, you can pivot easily and place into the dishwasher.

Subway Tiles

Subway tiles are a cost-effective solution and give a clean look that aligns with many aesthetic choices. You simply can’t go wrong with a subway tile. To create a kitchen feature wall, we ran a clean and uninterrupted white subway tile splashback to the ceiling and mirrored this above the sink – just high enough to run past the power points.

Tiles are an effective way to disguise any reno wall mishaps, especially if you are working with older walls.

A common question I’m asked with tiles is which grout colour to use. In this splashback we used a white gloss subway tile laid with a horizontal half off-set.

I recommended a lighter shade of grout here to provide softness to the space, especially where kitchens have a lot of hard surfaces.

Some will argue that white grout is hard to clean, but there are options such as epoxy to help with this issue.

A gloss white tile is also easier to clean. It’s all about personal preference; you may choose to go darker and contrast against the white tile which will give added depth.

If using a mid-grey tile, I try to colour match as much as possible. I tend to go a slightly darker shade on the floor due to foot traffic. If you have a specific trim colour in mind, or a particular pattern, be sure to discuss it with your tiler.

This is especially important when tiling a wet area; you would not want to pay for waterproofing, then have to rip up tiles only to waterproof again.

Here are some common subway tile patterns:

  • Herringbone
  • Stacked
  • Off-set
  • Vertical

The floor tiles selected from the Tile Depot were, thankfully, in stock. Stock issues are still problematic in New Zealand for many items, so always check your lead-in times.

Try to allow about 15 per cent more for tile cutting and waste, so you are not left short.

Open Living

The refreshed kitchen space now has 13 drawers, a large pantry, and five cupboards, all having soft closing mechanisms in the cupboards and drawers. Cabinetry is a white satin drift, with contrasting black handles. I love a kitchen tap with a pull-out spray feature (for added pressure), so this was also a must.

We decided to run with a grey benchtop, which we doubled down using this in the bathroom for the feature vanity top and splashback (the tenant was a cabinet maker, a definite advantage with this renovation). ν

Check out more of our projects on houzz.co.nz; alternatively, you can reach out to hello@designaddiction.co.nz or follow @design.addiction.nz for more design inspiration.