Inspirational Kitchen Design Ideas
Updated: Aug 18, 2021
Connecting people through great design.
Speaking to one of my favourite Melbourne clients recently, I was truly touched to hear how much she loves cooking in her kitchen as a means to brighten her lockdown days and connect with her family.
It encouraged me to reflect on the magnificent kitchens I have had the privilege of designing over many years, and the hard work and passion that has been poured into designing and manufacturing these important rooms.
As the centrepiece of the home, a kitchen need to be aesthetically pleasing, durable and supremely functional. Quite often the existing architecture of a space places many limitations on the possible configurations, forcing us to apply equal measures of left and right brain thinking to achieve beautiful and serviceable results. This is when we, as designers, truly get to call upon our full skillset.
Below, I've included six of my favourite kitchen designs from the past 12+ years, and provide some quick tips from each project that helped make them truly unique. I've been very fortunate to have worked on so many beautiful kitchens that have been a great collaboration between the team at MR. MITCHELL, the builder, cabinet maker, stone mason and of course our wonderful clients.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention my first kitchen design from 20 years ago!
In 2001 I was commissioned to design my first kitchen: a mix of laminate, engineered stone and a fire-engine red splashback (eeek!). So many lessons were learnt through this project, and my client Jane was kind, patient and hugely appreciative. Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately) there are no photos to share...
Recently, Jane contacted me to ask for some design advice, and for a moment I was transported back twenty years to the adventures of cutting my teeth in the design industry.
I look forward to (hopefully) another 20 years of designing beautiful and functional kitchens, and connecting people through great design.
Our clients were downsizing from a larger house and wanted to create a home that would suit their love of entertaining with plenty of room for their two daughters to visit. The structural brief was to open up the Ground Floor to allow for a generous kitchen that integrated with the adjoining dining space.
We had to be clever in our spatial planning to ensure that all the spaces flowed logically and storage was maximised. A walk-in butler's pantry was added, hidden behind a "secret" door, disguised as a cabinet panel. Integrated appliances provide a seamless design solution.
Even though major structural changes were required, our approach was to reinstate period detailing where possible, enhanced with classic fittings and timeless materials.
We wanted to introduce a palette that was varied, colourful and joyous. Indeed, a good reflection of the clients themselves. Beautiful shades of blue and russet complement the delicate tones of the Taj Mahal quartzite used throughout. Accents of brass and aged bronze provide a hint of luxury and refinement.
Textured and patterned wallpapers from Radford's Soft Furnishings add layers of luxury and, at times, are playful and whimsical.
Be bold with colour
Create work "zones" for preparation, cooking, cleaning and storage
Consider the work flow and design your kitchen around a logical layout
Hide the pantry behind a secret door
Reinstate period detailing to create a cohesive design that is sympathetic to the original period of the home
We completely redesigned this space to make better use of the existing kitchen and dining rooms.
By switching the orientation of the kitchen, we managed to add loads of extra storage and increase the natural light, adding a splashback window and skylights over the island bench.
The bold use of a variety of timbers, aged stainless steel, stone and brass creates layers of visual interest, whilst still working cohesively to create a warm, welcoming space. We hand selected a batch of Queensland Spotted Gum to be used in both the overhead cabinets (over the rear bench) and the custom pendant from Artefact Industries.
Side-by-side pantry units with retractable doors provide the option to open up the kitchen to become a highly functional work space, or closing off the work zones when entertaining.
A layered approach to the lighting provides options for creating different levels of ambience depending on how the kitchen is being used.
Utilise a variety of materials in the same colour family to provide textural interest
Add accents of metal to provide contrast and add a layer of luxe
Mix metal finishes for unique outcomes: brass, chrome, stainless steel, bronze
Recess LED strip lighting under cabinets for ambient and task lighting
Consider recycled timbers for their warmth and character
Hide everyday work appliances behind retractable doors
Port Melbourne Kitchen
Working with the architects at Seidler Group, MR. MITCHELL completely redesigned the interior of this 8th floor apartment in Port Melbourne.
With sweeping city views to the north and extensive water views to the south, this property is flooded with natural light and enjoys a relaxed beachside aspect. Exquisite curved and battened cabinetry allowed for the seamless flow of one space to another, whilst optimising storage and functionality throughout.
The kitchen was completely remodelled to include state of the art appliances from Gaggenau and Sub Zero and features a generous application of Superwhite Dolomite throughout. A 4.5m long island bench houses a plentiful amount of storage in easy access drawers and is topped with a striking textured porcelain bench top from Stone Italiana. A focal point is the custom rangehood clad in a distinct bronze metallic coating.
The timber battened joinery featured throughout was a labour of love for cabinet maker Mark Gauci. Adding to this beautiful layered approach, we chose a variety of edge details for stone bench tops to provide contrast and interest: square, curved and under-bevelled.
To maximise space and increase ergonomics efficiency, use drawers for storage under bench
Break up extensive runs of cabinetry by using faceted or panelled finishes
Introduce curves to soften a linear kitchen and provide visual flow
Experiment with different bench profiles for an individual design outcome
Choose a textured porcelain bench top for visual interest and less finger marking (especially for dark bench tops)
Use honed natural stone (rather than polished) for a more contemporary and serviceable finish
South Yarra Kitchen
Working with talented architect Anthony Pie, this was a true collaborative effort between owner, architect, interior designers and builder.
Great care was taken to complement the original features of the house, with extensive use of quality materials used throughout. Classic detailing is juxtaposed with contemporary fittings and superb modern artwork. A very linear modern kitchen is contrasted with delicate and ornate chandeliers to bring in a classical edge. Slabs of the highest quality Calacutta Marble were hand selected and book-matched to create a show-stopping slab bench top, uninterrupted by any appliances or fittings. The same stone was used to create a "stone box" on the rear bench with stone applied to the bench, side returns and underside of the bulkhead over. Extra drama is added with a mirrored splashback that also reflects light into the kitchen.
Hand select natural stones early in the design process and get your stone mason to advise on the number of slabs required
Book match stones with heavy veining for maximum impact
Use mirror to add natural light, increase drama and provide a layer of textural interest
Use materials in unusual ways to achieve unique and interesting results
Contrast modern with vintage (classic, retro, industrial)
Always consider task (work) and decorative light fittings in equal degrees of importance
Inspired by the notion of simultaneously celebrating and creating legacy, The Mittagong House was designed to pay respect to passed family members and create a new family home that would honour their memory in perpetuity.
Designing a home in the midst of a global pandemic highlighted the need for our homes to act as a sanctuary, where the owners can feel cocooned, safe and at ease.
A palette of coal, clay and eucalypt green was chosen, inspired by the regeneration of the surrounding forest after the devastating NSW bushfires. The concrete slab is burnished to a deep coal colour, exterior timbers are to be charred and interior timbers stained black. Delicate Japanese mosaics glazed in shades of green and black are representational of singed leaves, and green quartzite stone slabs and mosaics celebrate the emergence of new life after the blazes. As passionate cooks and entertainers, the clients commenced their kitchen design journey by selecting the appliances that they had always dreamt of owning. Our job was to design the kitchen around these amazing premium-level fittings and make the kitchen work as a high functioning, ultimately beautiful focal point of the house.
Create an asymmetrical island bench for sculptural effect
Select appliances that cater to your cooking and entertaining style
Research appliances well before you need to make a selection
Use splashback windows to provide a real aspect from the kitchen
Add fluted glass insets to cabinets and illuminate from within for a soft ambient light effect
Make your rangehood a feature with interesting cladding and a curved form
Caulfield Alfresco Kitchen
The owners wanted to make sure that this minimal white on white Alfresco Kitchen was more like an extension of the interior of the house. As such, it was important to them that the same design features of the interior Kitchen were continued outside: Corian bench tops with integrated sinks, seamless 2Pac cabinetry and integrated appliances.
In order to make the Alfresco Dining usable all year round, heating was a necessary element.
Giant slabs of mirror reflect the garden into the space, and white terrazzo tiles flow seamlessly from the interior to exterior spaces.
A striking outdoor pendant from Vibia in Barcelona hangs over a custom dining table by Thomas Jacobsen and classic 1966 dining chairs by Richard Schultz for B&B Italia.
Continue interior materials to connected outdoor spaces to create a sense of flow
Utilise ceiling mounted outdoor electric heaters to make an Alfresco space usable all year round
For a white bench top that is beautiful, serviceable and durable try Corian
Treat outdoor entertaining spaces with the same attention to detail as your interior spaces
Consider classic design pieces to outlast trends and fads. Buy once, buy well!