Kitchen of the Week: Tackling the 'worst kitchen' this designer had ever seen – Stuff

Wellington designer Damian Hannah of German Kitchens was a little awestruck when he first saw the kitchen he was asked to replace: “It was the worst kitchen I’ve ever seen,” he says.
“I’d never seen a kitchen in the middle of the room before – you could walk right around it. The cooktop sat on a narrow 60mm benchtop and things would fall off the back of it. Also, there was a structural post in the room, and it looked as though nobody knew what to do with it, so they just finished the kitchen up to it.”
Hannah says the design brief from the client was simple: “Just give me a kitchen that is functional and works within the space.”
The new kitchen was part of a major renovation designed to open up the space, connecting the kitchen with the living and dining areas. But Hannah says the structural post had to remain, after an engineer’s report and builder’s costing showed it would be prohibitively expensive to change.
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“Rather than hide the post, we worked with it. The benchtop swallows up the post, and the base cabinetry below is literally built around it, so the post is not an eyesore. With a lineal LED light in front of the post, attention is taken away from the structural element.”
Wrapping the large island in a beautiful Brown Silk granite also deflects attention. “We hand-picked the granite as it had some exquisite movement through the material and added to the lineal aspect,” says Hannah. “The island was so long we had to find a solution to bookmatch two slabs together. This was done around the structural post that we tried in vain to remove.”
The granite is teamed with a tall wall of cabinetry in Karat matt lacquer with a dark metallic Corten finish that makes the door fronts look like steel.
The cabinets were designed to reach the ceiling, with ventilation grills at the top and bottom to provide air circulation for the integrated Gaggenau appliances.
Extraction for the cooktop on the island posed a challenge. The ceiling had been opened up, and Hannah says he was fearful of a rangehood being too dominant. Instead, he specified a rear riser behind the cooktop, but even this was not straightforward.
“We needed quite a few meetings with the builder to make sure we had enough ground clearance to fit the ducting. Due to the floor joists and piles being very low to the ground, we had to run the ducting in one direction with the joists and this involved lifting most of the floorboards.”
Hannah was able to steal some space from a laundry to create a good-sized scullery. “With large islands, you still need somewhere for the small appliances. The colour of the cabinetry and benchtop were changed from the kitchen to make it lighter and brighter.”
An electrical track was specified and mounted into the granite splashback to allow the small appliances to be plugged in any location and easily switched off or adjusted from a sensible height. Illuminated sockets are another design feature.
The existing laundry plumbing made it easy to add a second sink. This ensures the scullery is the perfect place for food prep, helping to keep the new kitchen uncluttered and streamlined.
The Kitchen of the Week is supported by Resene. Find more inspiration in Resene’s kitchen decorating gallery.
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