Kitchen Design Tips

by Alice Erbacher

The kitchen is the beating heart of every home and it doesn't need to be the most beautiful or have the latest look about it, but there are some key essential elements that will make it a more practical, functional area.

So I sat down with Gerard, owner of Stoney Creek Kitchens (and my husband!), to discuss what those key essential elements should be for every kitchen. As a qualified joiner and after more than 15 years in the industry, he's done jobs for clients everywhere - from Perth in WA, to the Snowy Mountains in NSW, and he's compiled a very helpful list of dos and don'ts.


  1. The first thing I'd recommend is having as many drawers as possible in your kitchen. You can store so much in them and they save the clutter from building up in the back of the cupboards.
  2. Breakfast high top bars are very much a personal preference. A lot of people like them, but from a design point of view I'm not personally a fan, for the simple reason that they tend to disrupt the 'flow' of the kitchen. It's easy to create a breakfast bar now that doesn't have the typical high top. It simply looks like a larger island bench and the bar stools can easily slide underneath.
  3. A door-mounted slide-out drawer bin is one of the most functional things that you'll ever have in the kitchen. This is one of the busiest areas, so it needs to be in the most accessible spot, and the bigger the better. There are single, double, triple and quadruple bins available, so you can have areas for your recycling, general waste, chicken scraps if you have chooks, and compost if you're a gardener.
  4. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a practical colour for a kitchen. However, regardless of what colour you choose, if you are getting a 2pac painted kitchen, I suggest getting a 30% satin finish. I try and persuade my clients to avoid a textured finish as it really holds the dirt and it's extremely difficult to clean.
  5. The biggest issue I see is people aiming for the kitchen they saw on Pinterest or The Block, only to realise that it doesn't always fit their budget or suit their personal needs. I'd suggest meeting with your cabinetmaker at an early stage and working out what's going to be the most viable option for you.
  6. Electrical outlets in the island bench - these are incredibly practical. If you do a lot of cooking on the island bench, pop-up electrical outlets are going to be one of the best things you invest in.
  7. Some people really hate corner cupboards, and I'm one of them. For the most part, they're an enormous waste of space and they're really difficult to access. I always recommend corner drawers or blind corners with a slide-out bean shelf.
  8. If you have an appliance cupboard, I would consider a roller shutter over concertina doors. Again, this is personal preference, but if you're undecided on what to go for, the concertina doors tend to take up more bench space.
  9. If you're going with overhead cupboards, I use LED strip lighting underneath. These can be installed with simple hand sensors which activate them and they offer an amazing light for the work you do on the bench, which means your kitchen lights don't need to be on anywhere near as much.
  10. An easy to clean splashback is a pretty big thing. This is definitely a personal preference, but for ease of cleaning, I recommend glass or something similar.
  11. You really need to get the layout of your kitchen right, to ensure a practical and functional space. Every residential kitchen has 3 main points - it's called the working triangle: the area for food preparation (the stove), the food storage area (fridge) and the cleaning area (the sink). So the most functional designs are those that require the least number of steps between these points, and the most practical kitchen designs are often the U-shape, L-shape, or the galley style. The design of your house will often dictate the layout as well.
  12. Stone bench tops are amazing if the budget will allow for them, otherwise, there are definitely some durable laminate options on the market. Steer clear of the cheaper, lower end laminates as these aren't as hard-wearing.
  13. Once you've decided on design, I strongly suggest having your kitchen digitally designed. We can do this for you and it allows you to actually visualize the whole job in 3D, and gives you time to make any changes before the construction starts.
  14. There are some things you can save money on and there are some things you really need to be generous with. If you're watching the hip pocket, the things you really need to consider spending money on are: a good quality, durable bench top, and good quality hardware for the doors and drawers.
  15. And finally, instead of opting for a 'cheaper' prefabricated flat-pack option, I can't recommend strongly enough going for a custom built kitchen. A lot of people think they're more expensive and easier to get done, when this isn't necessarily the case. Often a pre-fabricated job will work out to be more expensive when all things are taken into consideration. The beauty of having something custom built is that everything is made to fit your specific walls and area. A qualified joiner will have the ability to alter anything that requires it, while ensuring you get the most cabinetry and the most use out of your space.



1 comment

  • Love all these tips, so much practical food for thought here, thank you both!


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