12 min read

Cooking up a luxury kitchen that’s both pretty and practical

One of the most anticipated weeks in every season of The Block is kitchen week and this year, buyer’s advocate Nicole Jacobs joins Jono Fleming on The Blockcast to dissect the good and the bad, the practical and awkward, and give their top tips and tricks for building a great kitchen.

For the high-end buyer being targeted by The Block houses, creating a luxury feel in a kitchen is an absolute necessity. 

Tanya & Vito Kitchen
Kitchen by Tanya & Vito

Practical considerations

Regardless of the level of luxury you aspire to in your kitchen, it’s a space that must be functional first. This most definitely involves layout, but attention must be paid to benchtop and cabinetry surfaces.

“We've seen a real trend towards bench tops that are not porous so that they're easy to clean and disinfect,” says Nicole, “And that's become a really important feature of a lot of homes.”

Kitchens aren’t quite a wet area in the same way as a bathroom, but they will deal with moisture from cooking steam, so lining the walls with Gyprock Aquachek is a good investment in futureproofing your kitchen space.

Kitchen triangle

The judges had a serious preoccupation with cleaning and cooking zones this week, as Jono puts it “The judges harp on about this this week, but where are the bins? Where’s the cleaning stations? All of those things, you have to plan a lot.” The kitchen triangle is typically on a flat plane, but consideration must be made to what’s above the bench, particularly in terms of light. Every kitchen made ample use of skylights, but that’s not going to help much at night. Josh and Luke’s score suffered from their abundance of pendant lights creating mood, but not delivering practical light for working beneath.

Mask Group (3)
Kitchen by Mitch & Mark

Style after substance

Practicality in design is of paramount importance when building a kitchen, but it’s the styling that will make it pop and create real value come auction day. This is what the judges fell in love with in Kirsty and Jesse’s kitchen, with it’s pairing of blue, brass and even gingham wall paper in the butlers’ pantry.

“If we have a look at the trends coming through in kitchens,” says Nicole, “to have a warmer feel and to have some colour in that kitchen is really special.” This notches up a big win for Jono’s dark horse favourites of the season.

Picture 7 2 (1)
Kitchen by Kirsty & Jesse

Speaking of dark, Josh and Luke’s black kitchen wasn’t easy to love. “it’s hard to connect that space to the rest of the house,” says Jono, “with warm tones and warm furniture.” The showstopper of their kitchen island wasn’t even enough to convince Nicole. “I love Christian Cole and that benchtop is beautiful,” she says, “but I don’t like it in this kitchen. It’s out there like a sore thumb.”

Picture 8 2 (1)
Kitchen by Josh and Luke

“If that island was simplified,” adds Jono, “it would just lift it and take away from that back wall.”

Mask Group (4)
Kitchen by Ronnie & Georgia

Top Tips

  1. Think about the broader market and who you’re designing for this isn’t your home. So too many left of centre and bold choices may alienate a buyer. Kitchens are all about two things, layout and storage.
  2. Whether your pantry is in a drawer or a cupboard, make sure you have ample storage throughout. A big home needs big solutions and pantries and cupboards can deliver that and add personality into a kitchen space 
  3. Add timber and natural materials.  With so many hard surfaces, trends are showing that kitchens with timber and detailing can help add a warm touch and keep the space from feeling too cold.
  4. Task lighting is key in a kitchen space.  Decorative pendants may look nice, but make sure they are able to give ample coverage for food preparation on your bench. Decorative lighting just doesn’t cut it when it comes to lighting up these spaces. 
  5. Plan, plan, plan ahead. From reference images to lay out, the more you can plan your kitchen, the less likely it is that you’re going to make mistakes. And don’t forget, these could be expensive mistakes to make costing roughly $30 to 50k for a decent family home kitchen.

To hear more design and building insights, listen to The Blockcast featuring interior designer Jono Fleming each Monday after The Block reveals.

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