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With its L-shaped island, expansive work surfaces and inviting bar stools, this contemporary kitchen sets the stage for entertaining

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Even home chefs need to be good at multi-tasking today. Being able to whip up a meal while simultaneously entertaining your guests is not just desirable, but essential.

It's not surprising, therefore, that kitchens are increasingly designed to cater to such lifestyles. And it's not just the entertainment factor – kitchens have also become the centre of activity for the family.

This kitchen, which was the final stage of a major house renovation, was designed to fulfil both these roles.

Designer Vicki Andrews says the owners enjoy entertaining – one is a passionate chef.

"They wanted to be able to work in the kitchen and socialise with their guests at the same time," she says. "But while they wanted to involve their guests, they didn't want them within the kitchen space."

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The solution was a layout that provided two main work areas – one for food preparation and cooking and one for preparing drinks and serving hors d'oeuvres.

Central to the design is an L-shaped island, which allows movement around the kitchen and provides a conversational area for guests. It also ensures there is a degree of separation for the chefs.

Andrews says the size of the kitchen was increased to accommodate the island and cabinetry. To achieve this, an interior wall was removed so the kitchen could be extended into the living area. A bay window was also replaced with French doors to provide indoor-outdoor flow to a pool area.

"Having the extra space allowed us to design a substantial kitchen which has the proportions to complement the rest of the house," the designer says.

The kitchen also needed to reflect the modern style of the interior.

"At the same time, the owners didn't want anything that would date, so we opted for a very styled look with a lot of attention to detail."

A combination of lacquered cabinets, painted in Resene Half Tea, and silky oak timber veneer cabinets was specified. The wood cabinets and island were designed to resemble furniture – the island is supported by a stainless steel frame that also provides a footrest for seated guests.

"Although anchored by the steel, the island appears to visually float within the space," says Andrews. "This makes it seem less bulky, and enables the light to pass beneath it. At night the lights from the pool cast a glow across the floor."

A large crockery cabinet to the left of the island features similar stainless steel legs. This unit was also designed so it wouldn't dominate the space, or detract from the view across the room to the pool area beyond.

"Having plenty of natural light was another requirement," says Andrews. "For this reason, there are many reflective surfaces, including the lacquered cabinets, appliances, glass splashback and the large expanse of the Arran White granite benchtops."

Andrews says the attention to detail includes the use of negative detailing on the cabinetry, and mitred corners on the silky oak cabinets. A silky oak timber inset on the dining table top features similar mitred corners.

In keeping with the need for maximum functionality, items are stored where they are needed. The large silky oak cabinet on the right of the kitchen near the dining table stores glassware and dishes needed for entertaining.

Further storage is provided by drawers in the island and wall cabinetry. A tall corner cabinet near the ovens and refrigerator opens to reveal another work surface and an appliance garage.

First published date: 29 July 2006

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Credit List

Kitchen designer Vicki Andrews, NKBA, Vicki Andrews Design (Christchurch)
Kitchen manufacturer Not Just Kitchens
Paints Resene
Tiles Totara Matt 600x300 from Nelson Tile Centre
Cabinetry Lacquer mix and silky oak timber veneer
Hardware Blum from Sanco; Elite door handles
Benchtops Arran White granite from Decra Art
Splashback Back-painted glass
Ovens, cooktop and rangehood Miele
Refrigerator GE
Dishwasher Miele
Sinks Burns and Ferral
Tapware Fonte Quarto from Mico Wakefield