Tag Archives: kitchen

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7 Practical things to remember when planning your kitchen

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The kitchen is the heart of every home. It’s where birthday cakes are decorated, Sunday night’s roasts are carved, Christmas lunch is served and where all the best family secrets are spilled! But what good is a kitchen if it is not practical? When it comes to renovating a kitchen, people worry too much about the aesthetic, and not enough about the functionality. From the placement of your bin, to the overhang of your breakfast bar, here are some practical things to keep in mind when designing your kitchen.

1. A breakfast bar overhang

Kitchen islands with bar stools are must-have commodities in modern kitchens. These breakfast bars are the perfect way to separate the living area from the kitchen, while maintaining an open living environment. Parents can cook dinner and keep one eye on their kids as they do homework, and friends can sit and have a glass of wine while their hosts cook. If you are planning to include a breakfast bar in your kitchen, ensure you include an overhang on your island. This will provide legroom for those sitting on the bar stools.

2. Close dishwasher and sink placement

If you wish to avoid dripping food and grease on the floor, place the dishwasher within arms reach of the sink. That way, when you rinse the excess food off plates, you can place them straight in the dishwasher. Otherwise you will have to travel across the kitchen dripping dirty water as you go, and I am yet to meet anyone who enjoys mopping the kitchen floor! It is also important to place the dishwasher by the sink in order to connect the dishwasher plumbing to the drain and taps.

3. Bin location

The kitchen bin is not only used for food scraps and packaging. More often than not, it is used for everyday household rubbish that is collected around the house. For this reason, it is useful to place the bin at a point in the kitchen that is easily accessible from the rest of the house. I suggest placing it on the end of the bench or island, closest to the kitchen entrance. That way, you can simply throw something in the bin as you walk past, rather than walk into the kitchen and get in the way of the chef! As for a compost bin that you can keep as close to your food prep area as possible.

4. Dishwasher location

Designing the layout of a kitchen is a little like solving a Rubik’s Cube. Earlier, I mentioned that you should always place the dishwasher near the sink for plumbing reasons. Well, with that in mind, you should not install your dishwasher next to a wall. This will greatly limit your access to the dishwasher and make it very difficult to pack and unpack, as you will only be able to access it from one side.

5. Power points in the cupboards

Gone are the days of storing your toaster and kettle on the kitchen bench. The trend these days is to hide your appliances away in a cupboard. To this end, you need to ensure you plan for electric sockets to be installed inside your cupboards, so your appliances can actually be plugged in. I would suggest installing more than one double socket, as we are using more and more appliances these days. The humble toaster and kettle don’t cut it anymore – we have coffee machines, mix-masters and food processors. So install two double sockets so you can have all your appliances on the go!

6. Adequate lighting

The kitchen is the most likely room for accidents to occur, and it’s no wonder! Hot plates, sharp knives, and gas stoves can all be household hazards. It is for this reason that good lighting is essential in the kitchen. Consider a combination of ceiling lights, under-cabinet lights and pendant lights. Down lights provide general lighting in the room and illuminate the entire space. Pendant lights, on the other hand, provide more focused light. If you have benches underneath hanging cupboards, you might also like to consider under-cabinet lights. This will ensure those dark corners will also be illuminated. Above all, think about where you are going to need light at all hours of the day. Stay up late with friends? Choose dimmable lighting over the dining area. Cook on the island bench? Choose task lighting to shine directly on your prep zone.

BONUS TIP: When installing pendant lights, ensure you position them so the light falls in front of the food preparation area, rather than behind, as this will cast shadows over your workspace.

7. Space between counters

When designing a kitchen, it is recommended to leave a minimum of 1000mm of floor space between your two bench tops. This will allow room for you to open drawers and cupboards, as well as stand in front of your dishwasher when it is fully opened.

Alex’s passion for detail will ensure that your new kitchen ticks all the boxes and more, leaving you free and inspired to unleash your inner masterchef!

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9 Tips for choosing the right kitchen splashback

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Kitchen Splashbacks can be a great standout feature in any kitchen. When choosing the right Splashback, it needs to not only complement the design and style of the kitchen, but also be practical enough to withstand everyday use.

We understand with the endless styles and options available out there that it is easy to start feeling overwhelmed with choice options. That’s why we have put together these 8 simple tips to assist you in narrowing down your ideas, allowing you to pick the perfect Splashback for your beautiful new kitchen

1. Recognise your budget

The first step in your kitchen makeover planning process is to have your budget clearly set out. The material, size and layout that you select are going to make a big difference on the final cost. Be sure to have your budget in mind first and foremost when going through your decision-making process, so that your chosen Splashback falls within your budget.

2. Align with your kitchen’s style

An important factor to keep in mind when choosing a Splashback is to ensure it will align with the overall style of your kitchen. This doesn’t necessarily mean matching your benchtop and cupboards – but it does mean that they should all complement one another.

Available options include Splashbacks which are traditional in style, and others that will give your kitchen a more modern look and feel. If your Splashback is going to be the focal point in your kitchen, you will likely work backwards and chose your benchtop and cupboards based on the style of your Splashback.

3. Select the right material

Are you aiming for a rustic-brick look? Clean-white polished tiles? Traditional kitchens often use tile or stone, while modern kitchens are incorporating glass, copper, prints and stainless steel. Tile is one of the safest and most versatile options that can work in almost any kitchen design.

Alternatively, using a matching material such as stone on both your Splashback and benchtop can be both a practical and visually appealing option, creating a stunning streamlined look. You want to decide on a material that both looks good and is durable enough to handle everyday cooking splatters. Below is a list of commonly used Splashback materials:

Tile – Versatile, easy cleaning
Glass – Modern, sleek
Acrylic – Similar to glass, cost-effective
Stone – Elegant, streamlined look
Mirrored Glass – Reflects light, adds size, contemporary
Pressed Metal – Modern, engaging design
Stainless steel – Very current, durable

4. Pick the right colour

Do you want your Splashback to blend in with the tone of your room? Or do you want it to take centre stage?

Choosing colours that have a similar tone to your other materials will give a uniform look. Alternatively, choosing a contrasting colour can make your Splashback a decorative focal point. Also, light colours can create an open and bright feeling, while dark colours will allow for food splatter to be less noticeable. Naturally the materials and colours you have chosen for your benchtop and cupboards will impact your colour decision.

5. Keeping it clean

Certain Splashback materials can be more difficult to clean than others, and may require a special cleaning agent. While some materials may look magnificent, cleaning them can be a hassle. If your kitchen gets plenty of use with lots of spills and splatters, you may lean towards choosing a material that is easy to clean, such as a large ceramic tile with minimal grout lines.

Glass can create a very sharp looking kitchen, though cleaning it to a flawless finish every day can be challenging. Tile on the other hand is very easy to wipe clean, but the grout can stain more easily over time.

6. Try a mirror Splashback to make the kitchen feel bigger

A mirrored Splashback is a bold move, however it can really help to open a kitchen up and give the impression of a much larger space. This can look particularly elegant in smaller kitchens to help open them up, or in kitchens where you have a beautiful open home view to be reflected. It is important to note that mirrored Splashbacks should be avoided where there is little natural light.

7. Use a window Splashback to add light

If your Splashback happens to fall on an outer wall of your home, you may have the option of turning your Splashback into a window. This is a great opportunity to add in extra light, especially if your kitchen lacks natural light. This option requires significant advanced planning structurally, but when prearranged can be an impressive element in a kitchen.

8. Be bold with a printed Splashback

If the aim of your Splashback is to make a bold statement, an option is to use a feature print, such as marble or a printed image. This style can complement neutral benchtops and cupboards nicely, and can add a unique, decorative element to your kitchen. Using a printed or geometric Splashback is a great way to compliment neutral surroundings and really add that wow factor to your kitchen.

9. Don’t choose just yet

When in doubt, simply hold off on selecting your Splashback right away. We understand it is sometimes difficult to visualise exactly how a Splashback will look during the planning stages.

By partnering with an experienced kitchen design company such as ByAlex, you will be able to get expert advise on what Splashback designs and materials are available, and what will look the best for your kitchen design.

ByAlex are innovative professionals, specialising in kitchen design on the Garden Route. To see some of our work, click here have a look at our gallery. To go to our contact form click here. Our friendly renovation consultants would love to hear from you!

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How we design the perfect kitchen

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By Alex’s kitchen design team provides personalized kitchen designs for clients, both local and remote, with a flair for innovation.

To date, our team has completed more than 2000 kitchen packages, including new and renovations. In this article, Alex shares the nine essential ingredients for creating the perfect kitchen.


1. Begin with the big picture

We start by evaluating the kitchen’s existing conditions and reviewing certain elements, like doors and windows, which will affect how the kitchen should be arranged. Then we consider how the house is used in general and how the kitchen relates to adjacent rooms.

“We start with the as-built plan to take a look at how everything’s working and what’s not functioning very well,” says Alex. The new design will address the shortcomings and patterns of use that he finds.

Next, he drafts several sketches of very different layouts to see what the client responds to, such as a U-shape versus a galley versus an L-shape. Once the rough layout is pinned down, appliances are chosen, since their dimensions affect counter and cabinet measurements.

“They’re the biggest pieces,” he says. “I don’t want that to be a surprise down the line.” Alex recommends these large appliances.


2. Observe how you use the space

During layout planning, Alex wants to know how his clients cook. “What are you doing in here? How do you work? What’s your morning routine?” Alex asks.

Some people might not use the stovetop as much as others, or need separate stations for activities like juicing, baking, or making espresso. “All those things factor in towards what counters will need the most bandwidth,” Alex says.


3. Create clusters

Since the 1940s, the idea of the kitchen triangle has dominated. The sink, stove, and refrigerator each make up a point of the triangle and should be within a certain distance to one another for efficiency. Instead of a strict triangle, Alex thinks in terms of clustering related activities.

He suggests that the sink, prep counter, and stove be grouped together. The prep space should only be used for prep activities (such as cleaning food, chopping, and mixing ingredients), have easy access to trash, and won’t overlap with the dirty dish stockpile.

He pairs the refrigerator with the pantry for a food storage cluster. “While the sink and range are obviously close together, the refrigerator is going to be a little bit further, usually because it’s such a big element and needs to be tucked away,” he says.


4. Keep “chaos” contained

The sink and stove elements should be located so that they are protected from main walkways, if possible. “It’s chaos. There’s fire. There’s water. You don’t want little hands in the hot zone,” Alex says.

Plan to keep that area tucked away as much as possible. Additionally, “Everybody wants to know how they can have a kitchen that’s more social,” so designate a spot that allows people to linger without stepping on the cook’s toes. Lastly, plan for easy access to the trashcans outside, to avoid hauling a dripping trash bag through another finished room.


5. Rethink can lights

“We always prefer daylight whenever possible,” says Alex. When he’s organizing the layout, he ensures the kitchen takes advantage of natural light and exterior views. In one of his past kitchen designs, this meant floating shelves across a nearly six-foot window, so that the homeowner could get the incoming light, extra storage, and have easy access to dishes for plating meals.

For artificial lighting, Alex personally avoids recessed. He prefers to install alternative styles such as surface mounts, sconces, and under-cabinet strips, aiming for “focused lights in meaningful places.” Installing a dimmer switch ensures lights can be task-oriented, as well as atmospheric.


6. Use drawers and doors deliberately

Cabinetry should include both fully-extended drawers and vertical storage. Both have their purposes. “Drawers are awesome for reaching to the back of the cabinet space,” he says, making them ideal for dishes, mixing bowls, and smaller saucepans. “But then certain things don’t work very well in drawers, like baking sheets, cutting boards, and sometimes skillets,” says Alex.

Deeper vertical cabinets, sometimes fitted with slots, can accommodate more awkward shapes. Take an inventory of your kitchen equipment so you’ll know exactly what you need. Alex uses Grass for their special range of hinges to accommodate extraordinary spaces.


7. Choose materials wisely

When choosing counter tops and other finishes, Alex likes to get a sense of the homeowner’s housekeeping inclinations. It’s also important to note how bothered they are by evidence of wear.

“This comes up a lot with marble counter tops,” he says. “They will show wear, chip a little bit, and have etching marks. There are certain personalities that are okay with that,” whereas others will want to rip it out immediately.

He cautions that despite industry claims, no material will look pristine forever. “There’s no such thing as an indestructible material. Everything will show wear,” he says. “Ask yourself, what do you want to feel and see everyday?” To that end, he likes this tile place and the wood counter tops from this place. Before deciding, always look at samples of the exact items under consideration.


8. Let the kitchen “make sense”

Style-wise, Alex takes cues from the architecture of the existing house, so that the kitchen “makes sense” with the whole. In a 1950 home with many red brick walls, Alex made sure the kitchen’s finish selections “related” to the existing brick.

“The kitchen should have some tie-in so it doesn’t look like it was just dropped from the sky,” says Alex. Neither does he believe the kitchen has to “match”. If you’re drawn to a particular trend, think about why you like it and try to adapt it to the home’s existing style, rather than just copying it.


9. Cozy up in the dining room

It’s always a good idea to make the dining rooms intimate and he suggests oversizing the table. “You don’t want the table swimming in a big room,” he says. Walkways and clearances around the table should be at least 900mm wide.

Hang pendant lights or a chandelier 700mm – 1m from the tabletop to create cozy pools of light. This will draw diners’ attention to what’s most important: good food and great company.


Alex’s commitment and passion for detail will ensure that your new kitchen ticks all the boxes and more, leaving you free and inspired to unleash your inner masterchef!


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