The kitchen is the busy hub of every contemporary home: it’s where everything happens from kids’ homework to family conferences to cooking for – and with – friends. Which is why it’s so important to get the design of this most vital of spaces right. Here are some inspiring and useful ideas.
1. Easy Chic
With a scullery tucked away on one side and its sleek lines heightened by the use of an elegant grey wall colour that was mixed to the homeowner’s specifications – she is an interior designer by trade – this compact kitchen and dining area easily meets the needs of a young family. The white cabinet placed alongside the French doors onto the veranda houses everything needed for the kids’ outdoor activities, including sunscreen and swimming goggles.
Tips: The woven cane pendant lampshades were chosen “to add texture, something softer, to contrast with the steel table,” says the homeowner. The table and chairs are by Gregor Jenkin. Brass fixtures – the taps are by Bongio – and pops of white stand out beautifully against the grey walls.
2. All White Now
Designed to invite the outside in – and accommodate lots of small, sandy feet – this open-plan kitchen and dining space, plus an adjacent lounge area, forms the heart of a peaceful weekend coastal retreat. It was briefed to the architect to be “shed-like” by the owners, and the high windows between the exposed eye beams and roof make the sun and sky ever-present elements.
Tips: Texture is key to making the space seem lived-in, with whitewashed and raw wood, and a shell light fitting, contributing a seaside element too. The sheepskins and cowhides add an further layer of comfort and warmth to the large room.
3. Wood Works
The enviable kitchen in this newly built home combines timber elements with black detailing, and practical terrazzo floors. The fitted cupboards are crafted from elm wood and the work surfaces are bus-hammered granite. The island has been designed to include a counter space that facilitates long chats to the cook and enables everyday breakfasting or kids’ homework sessions: being able to sit with one’s legs under the counter top can make a real difference to comfort levels.
Tips: The mix of variously styled pendant lights over the kitchen island adds a subtle element of visual interest to an otherwise minimalist space. They are Shadows Suspension Lamps by Czech lighting brand Brokis; the bar stools are from HAY, and the cattle paintings by Hanneke Benade.
4. Lighten Up
A recently updated timber-framed beach bungalow includes this light-splashed kitchen, in which the entire family tends to linger. A long, fairly narrow preparation island, topped with polished stone and clad in natural wood, doubles as a place to socialise with the cook, and the extensive glazing at the rear of the house helps bathe the entire open-plan kitchen, dining and living space in natural light, all year round.
Tips: Find similar bar stools – this square design combines structural sturdiness with elegance and comfort courtesy of the velvet- upholstered seat and built- in footrest – at All Modern.
5. Country Cool
This open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge area in a family’s country home is the pivot around which the rest of the house unfolds. It includes a large preparation island and a wooden dining table and chairs, as well as a tiled splashback that adds to the contemporary farmhouse feel of the space. The industrial-style trio of hanging lamps have bronzed interiors that pick up on the metallic finishes and glazes featured on the vessels on the table.
Tips: The subtle contrast between the monochromatic decor palette and the highlighting flashes of bronze and gold is a classic form of counterpoint, as decorator and designer of the space, Sumari Krige of La Grange Interiors (lagrangeinteriors. co.za), points out.
6. Diner Style
In a suburban home filled with children, it was their needs that inspired many of the interior design decisions. So, the kitchen’s recently updated breakfast nook is now the very centre of the house, featuring a bold blue pinstripe fabric for the seating upholstery that charmingly offsets the sophisticated navy colour used on the built-in cabinetry. Of course, this vibrant space is now where the family congregates multiple times a day for meals and homework.
Tips: Interior designer Simone Hirsch chose a textured wallpaper by Thibaut – in a similar tone to the cream flooring – to add a touch of textured warmth to the kitchen.
7. Heritage Twist
Forming part of a family home in a heritage property dating to the late 1800s, this large kitchen is designed to facilitate both cooking and socialising. It’s a resolutely informal space, with cheap and cheerful builder’s work benches from the hardware store used for storage and as preparation surfaces. A set of vintage Wishbone chairs surround the kitchen table, at which plenty of conversation-fuelled meals are taken with family and friends.
Tips: Painting the huge storage dresser black has given this old-school kitchen a modern feel, while a touch of quirky contemporary design has been added in the form of the turned wooden hanging lamps in the shape of classic light bulbs, by designer Porky Hefer.
8. Color Pop
In a spacious family home owned by two contemporary jewellery designers – which they share with their two lively young sons – the kitchen combines practical considerations with their penchant for creative display. The space is open plan to the dining area so that the cook can be part of the conversation even when he’s at work behind the counter, and a range of artworks and collectables are combined with cooking essentials on the open shelves.
Tips: Capacious kitchen storage cupboards are essential to a household that entertains family and friends at least once a week, while visual interest is added by such colourful extras as a blue Le Creuset kettle and a bright yellow bread bin by Pedersen + Lennard.
9. Art Works
An open-plan kitchen and dining room that leads out onto a private courtyard space makes this contemporary urban home – owned by an art dealer and consultant – ideal for entertaining. Vintage and roughly hewn, obviously handmade fixtures and furniture pieces offset the use of raw concrete and the very contemporary lines of the space, while the dark blue kitchen joinery adds an element of classic elegance.
Tips: This rustic wooden table was made using joists from a 300-year-old warehouse; commission something similar from a specialist joiner. The industrial hanging lights are original vintage pieces, but a range of similar styles can be sourced from Schoolhouse (schoolhouse.com).