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The central island's rich timber benchtop and detailed cabinetry provide the visual and practical heart of this expansive kitchen


The luxury of space in a modern kitchen comes with its own set of challenges, one of the greatest being the need to create a sense of warmth and intimacy in this popular area of the home.

Where once a long wooden table might have taken centre stage, kitchen designer Rob Cook says many homeowners now favour the addition of an island.

"The sheer size of the kitchen dictated the need for a centrepiece. In addition to its visual appeal, the island has plenty of practical storage space," he says.

The jarrah timber benchtop offers a warm contrast to the granite countertops that border the room. The benchtop also ties in with the timber floors, which unite the main living areas of the house.

Beneath the benchtop, the island's ornate corbels and detailed panels match the elaborate cabinetry details on display throughout the room.


Cook says a lot of time was spent honing the details. Care was needed to ensure that the traditional look of the cabinetry facades complemented the modern taste for uncluttered kitchen interiors.

"It was important to get the design right, and not overdo the detailing. Although the cabinetry is elaborate, it is also clean and fresh," he says.

"In the end, the designs are mostly instinctive – knowing when to pull back from creating cabinetry facades that were too fussy."

As with the central island, each section of the room is a separate piece created in harmony with the overall scheme.

The stainless steel cooktop is nestled inside a hutch and mantel-like surround that is designed to look like a traditional chimney hood.

The oven tower and microwave border a large pantry or scullery. Inside the scullery's framed doors, Cook has installed copper mesh instead of glass. The copper's reflective quality is designed to match the stainless steel appliances.

Between the oven tower and refrigerator, a benchtop provides additional space for hot and cold food.

The cabinetry is painted a light creamy hue, to highlight the crafted cabinetry.

Cook says the traditional facades conceal plenty of contemporary features, such as stainless steel drawer and cupboard interiors.

Another, more obvious, modern interpretation is the kitchen's open plan appeal. Situated between an informal living area and a formal dining room, it has a commanding presence in the home.

Cook says that from the formal front entrance, the kitchen is the most prominent area on show.

"The owners entertain a lot, so the kitchen provides a dramatic first impression."

First published date: 03 March 2006

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Credit List

Kitchen designer Rob Cook, HIA, Brentwood Kitchens (Melbourne, VIC)
Kitchen manufacturer Brentwood Kitchens
Cabinet painting A & A Painters
Box drawers Blum
Baskets Häfele
Sink Blanco
Oven, hob, ventilation and dishwasher Miele