The choice is between traditional and modern
Kitchen showrooms can be an overwhelming place to be – what style of kitchen is the right one for your home? Do you choose from the current trends or opt for what you consider to be a timeless classic?
The choice is a personal one but research goes a long way towards helping you make up your mind. You will no doubt end up visiting at least three or four showrooms, and all of this legwork will pay off in the end.
Because the cliché that the kitchen is at the heart of the home holds true, the common approach is to have it fit in with the overall style of your house.
Whether your project is a new build or a refurbishment, in terms of kitchen style the building itself will dictate the mood. Striking contemporary house designs will often benefit from a more minimalist kitchen than period properties.
Therefore a classical panelled door might suit a period Georgian house (traditional); a Shaker style might suit a cottage (traditional); or a plain wood panelled style with integrated handles would suit a 1970s bungalow (recent-modern) and so on.
But there are exceptions to every rule whereby classical homes can marry well with contemporary kitchen designs and vice versa. The general rule of the thumb is to use design features or accessories as a visual cue linking the two styles.
If you are in the lucky position to be building new, finalise your kitchen design before you submit for planning permission. This is important because knowing what layout you really want, and how much counterspace you need, dictates where the walls will go.
You don’t want to end up with a room that’s half a meter too small to fit in your dream kitchen. Think of the amount of time you will end up spending in this room. You will be kicking yourself if you can’t fit everything you need in it.
Choosing on the style early on will help you lay it out fully. For a new build it’s vital to know where you really want that sink (and all the other pipework the plumber needs to know about early on) and lights, oven and any other electrical requirements.
Professional advice in the form of an interior designer, architectural designer or kitchen supplier will go a long way towards helping you nail down the specifics. They will also be able to help in terms of the style that’s right for the shape of the room and the house characteristics.
There are many terms people will use to describe kitchen styles, from ‘eclectic’ which denotes a mix of styles to ‘country’ which denotes a rustic feel. What it all boils down to is a contrast of two types, ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’.
What kitchen suppliers tend to refer to as traditional usually means pre-twentieth century design versus the contemporary styles emerging from the post-war period.
Traditional styles can hark back to nostalgia for kitchens past; the warm fuzzy feeling of a grandmother’s kitchen that may or may not ever have existed. They might also suggest feelings of country or rural living as opposed to urban.
Popular materials for traditional doors styles, from Shaker and tongue and groove to in-frame and large square panel doors, are solid timber (pine, oak, maple) sometimes with hand painted finishes (often from a palette of warm creams and greys).
Traditional kitchen styles embrace decorative elements such as ornamental plate racks, fretwork, dresser shelves and pilasters. Traditional kitchens are often the realm of Belfast sinks and free standing range cookers.
On the other hand modern style kitchens are chiefly concerned with function: with no decorative elements or dust collectors included.
Doors are usually plain which aim to complement the high-tech appliances. For doors premium manmade composite materials are popular with either high gloss lacquered or heavy matt finishes.
Flush doors with no panel mean they are practical and easier to clean than ornamental, traditional styles. However glossier styles can be demanding in terms of how often you have to wipe them down.
An emphasis on manmade materials for worktops and panels, with glass and metal effects on doors and appliances, look more towards an industrial aesthetic as seen in the commercial kitchens of restaurants and hotels.
During the Celtic Tiger period the kitchen industry in Ireland boomed. In a country not renowned for its hot weather American style fridge freezers with their built-in ice dispensers are now commonplace, while expensive granite became more associated with countertops than headstones.
Irish kitchens moved to modernity with great speed; today contemporary styles focused on function and low maintenance are now the most prized.