What we love

If you were planning a kitchen renovation or a brand new kitchen soon and had not considered installing a kitchen island bench, most interior designers, stylists, builders and kitchen design companies would urge you to reconsider. Why? Australians love them, that’s why!

So much to offer

While there are still plenty of kitchens without an island bench, those in the know say they add a wonderful dimension to the cooking space, describing it as a great social hub where families can sit together, eat breakfast, enjoy an evening drink, entertain friends and more besides. It can even be a place where kids can sit and watch (and learn) their parents cook.

Be practical

While it definitely serves as an area that can bring people together, a kitchen island bench also has other more practical functions such as offering more storage and extra work space.

Ideas & innovations

It is fair to say a modern kitchen would have to include a kitchen island bench, but the good news is you will not be lost for design choices – let your imagination run wild as there are some incredible design ideas and innovations available to you which will turn any basic kitchen island into an interior design showpiece. Popular materials used are laminate, engineered quartz and granite.

Most important features

What do you need to consider before going ahead with the installation of a kitchen island bench? Here are some of the most important features:

  • Make sure it is the right size for your kitchen; builders say it is wise to choose a wide island bench and think about things like workflow, how you will move around the kitchen (meaning you need to factor in elements such as where the sink, cabinetry, dishwasher and cutlery drawers are in relation to it;
  • In Australia you need a minimum of 1000mm of floor space between countertops, such as between a kitchen island and your kitchen bench;
  • Don’t be afraid to choose a kitchen island bench that will make a statement and offers you the chance to put your personal touches to it  – if your sink and sink mixer are to be included here, make them a feature with eye-catching tapware such as bronze, matte black or gunmetal;
  • If it suits the room, living space and home as a whole, use the kitchen island bench as a design contrast in finish and colour to the rest of the kitchen;
  • Ensure that it will include powerpoints, storage (large drawers for pots and pans) and plenty of space for seating;
  • It has also become the place where food prep often takes place, so be sure to factor this in during the design stage;

Design styles

Design styles and features are only limited by your imagination, but obviously tying it in with the rest of your home will enhance its aesthetic appeal.

  • A freestanding butcher’s block kitchen island can work really well in a country style home. These can be as big or as small as you want, and can be added to any kitchen at any time;
  • Another great design choice is to incorporate your oven and sink into a kitchen island and leave the space on your kitchen bench for working space or storage. The advantage of doing this is you will two sinks, oodles of work space and lots of storage. Consider also installing an integrated dishwasher here.

If you’ve been inspired to incorporate some of these kitchen island bench ideas for your new or renovated kitchen and need expert advice, read more about how to do this at www.aplan.com.au.

Hibernate in comfort

Ah, winter! T’is the season to embrace doonas, hoodies, trackies and lots of warming comfort food! As you instinctively choose to hibernate indoors more often to guard against the outdoor chill, you will want your kitchen to be the room where family and friends congregate to sit, chat, eat, drink and be merry.

Snuggle up

While we tend to want lots of fresh air circulating through the kitchen in the warmer months so our vision of the space is more open, sunny and breezy (and more connected to the outdoors) during those summer months, we tend to want comfort, coziness and a warming, enclosed ambience as the days shorten and get colder. Sure, there are some parts of the country that are lucky enough to experience a mild winter, but even those regions have cold snaps.

Design desires

As well as focusing on how the kitchen needs to be a space to suit your needs year-round, there is lots you can do to design your kitchen – existing, new or about to be renovated – with warming winter meals in mind.

Cooktop fundamentals

Naturally, your stove and oven will take centre stage during this time. While we’re happy to whip up a salad and something light in summer, winter meals are all about recipes that suggest warming you up – soups, stews, casseroles, quiches and pies, baked goods, and roasts all tend to take centre stage and as a result we tend to spend more time here.  

Have you got it right?

If you were undergoing a new kitchen design at this time, it is an ideal moment to assess whether your stove and oven are doing everything you want them to or whether you want to upgrade to a more modern and efficient appliance such as an induction cooktop (which works by heating the cookware directly thereby making the cooking faster without making the cooktop hot to the touch) though some home chefs still insists gas is the only way to cook as they like to control the flame more directly. Other considerations include what kind of cooking you do most often? If it’s Asian cooking, for instance, not having a wok burner might be a deal breaker.

Design refit

Another design consideration is whether you want to add more windows to the space, or skylights, and if so, do you want blinds, curtains or shutters to offer both privacy and maintaining a comfortable level of warmth over winter?

The heat is on

Heating is obviously going to be paramount to making your kitchen a warm and welcoming room in your home and if you are planning major design changes, this is a critical factor.

Of course budgets come into play here: you can go the full central heating route or choose a cost-effective heater – electric, gas, convection – that best suits the space. If you are on a super tight budget or just like the idea of living like your grandparents did, remember that something as simple as leaving the oven door open after you have just cooked a family meal is one way of heating a kitchen space rather efficiently.

If you’ve been inspired to incorporate some of these planning ideas for your new kitchen and need expert advice, read more about how to do this at www.aplan.com.au.

Good timing

Easter isn’t just the perfect time for hot cross buns, chocolate and kicking back, it’s also a great time to plan for a new kitchen.

Be decisive

It is a big job but there is no need to feel daunted by it. The first thing to do when planning for a new kitchen over Easter is to have a clear picture of what you want. This is not a time to be wishy-washy.  

Dream large

To get you started, why not dream a little? What does your ideal kitchen look like? Is it a space you’ve seen elsewhere and want to replicate in your home? Is it a kitchen you’ve always wanted because you adore cooking or socialising? Or do you see it as the space in your home to gather loved ones every day and you want to maximise its potential? Your answer may involve one of these or a combination. That’s fine.

Size the joint

The next step is to have a clear idea about how big your kitchen is. After all, you will want to fit in lots of useful things in it such as a stove, dishwasher, fridge, cabinets, drawers and shelves. Also work out practical elements too such as where power points are, gas outlets, water and waste pipes as well as entrances and exits.

Storage matters

Remember also to think about storage now – this is where you need to maximise the space – as it’s easy to think you’ve got enough storage in your plans. Aim for more than you think you’ll need as this is the moment to capitalise on increasing your kitchen storage space potential.

How will it be used

At this point you really need to make a decision about how you envisage the kitchen being used. Write down what its daily primary uses will be and for how many people. Bring in the idea of a “kitchen triangle” – sketch a diagram of the room’s three work centres – the stove, the sink, and the fridge. Aim for them to be about 1200mm away from each other.

Money talks

Now it’s crunch time. Work out what your budget is and whether there is any wriggle room. Determine whether this is the time for a brand new kitchen with the lot or a renovation on cabinets, appliances, flooring, splashbacks and countertops or something more modest.

Talk to the experts

Once you’ve got a plan and a budget (and you’ve polished off those hot cross buns!) speak to us about your choice of materials, colours, designs, innovations and any concerns or questions you might have about plans for your new kitchen or renovation. Just think: in a year’s time you could be enjoying that Easter break in the best room in the house!

If you’ve been inspired to incorporate some of these planning ideas for your new kitchen and need expert advice, read more about how to do this at www.aplan.com.au.

Expert help

We Aussies love our kitchens. It’s fair to say that in recent decades it has become one of the central hubs in many homes as a place to eat, talk, cook and relax. And while you may be brimming with ideas and plans for your custom-built kitchen, you may feel reassured to know expert help is available and want to learn more about what our designers can do to create your dream kitchen.

Professional approach

Naturally, you will want to do your homework and feel that your dream kitchen is going to be placed in the best hands. A professional approach and an active role in the design and project management of your kitchen – whether the job is large or small – ought to be a factor in your decision-making process when choosing a reputable company to work with.

Build for future

Other major considerations ought to be your budget and knowing that the materials used are of a high quality. There is not much point investing in a new or renovated space only to find you need to replace the cabinetry or benchtops a few years further down the track.

Custom-built

We manufacture our custom-built kitchens at our Sydney factory so not only do we personally oversee that it meets our standards, we can tailor what we build to meet your exact needs.

Our kitchen designers are experienced and skilled individuals who are not part of our sales team. Indeed, they are too busy to do that. Part of their job is to travel to international trade fairs to see what are the latest and best kitchen design and furniture trends that will work in an Australian market.

Working together

Our designers’ objective is to create a kitchen with your floor plan and the appliances on your must-have list. They will want to know exactly what you want from the space and how it seamlessly blends or merges with the other rooms in your home.

3D software

One of the best ways for our designers to help you create your dream kitchen is to use 3D software so you will be able to easily see what is working and what might not be. Our 3D design software can help you see your dream custom-built kitchen from different angles and perspectives. This will enable you to make changes or alter colour-schemes and designs before you start work on the project.

Everything you need

We also build our own high-quality kitchen cabinets we offer great flexibility when it comes to width, height, and depth of your kitchen benchtops and drawers. This gives your dream kitchen a lot of scope.

Like much to do with home renovation in this day and age, you are dealing with a lot of choice. One way to reduce any concerns or anxiety about building a dream kitchen is to work with an experienced team. That’s what our designers, and our company, offers.

If you are inspired to find out more about our designers and how they can help you with your dream kitchen, read more at aplan.com.au.

A great asset

If this is the year you plan to renovate, rebuild or construct a brand-new kitchen, having an expert who can oversee everything that needs doing is an invaluable asset. This is why it’s a brilliant idea to find a good project manager for your kitchen.

Take your time

Of course, like any profession, this will require a bit of planning, time, patience and effort on your part, as it’s not wise to simply hire the first project manager you come across after you have searched for someone online – not all project managers are created equal. We know you want the best!

Build the relationship

This is a relationship you will need to be comfortable with as it’s more than likely problems, obstacles, difficulties, schedule hold-ups and other unforeseen events will occur during the reno or build.

Project manager’s role

A good project manager will be your team leader and to an extent your spokesperson: they will organise all the tradespeople required for the job, such as electricians, plumbers, tilers, builders and so on, and will the project manager will coordinate which job needs to happen at which time so there is no overlap. This is really important as it will mean the work will be done in the right order, potentially saving time and money.

Maintain standards

It will be vital for you to hire a good project manager, a person you will trust to maintain standards throughout the kitchen upgrade or build. During the process if repairs, unforeseen changes or additions are needed, you will want to feel secure that they will be done correctly too.

How to find one

Finding a good project manager can often be done via the kitchen company you are dealing with for expert advice, designs and critical kitchen elements such as doors, cabinets, hardware, splashbacks and lighting.

Check them out

Of course, you will need to check the project manager’s qualifications and you are perfectly within your rights to ask for genuine recommendations or testimonials to ensure you are happy with the work they have done in the past. Ask to meet them face to face as this is a positive step for both parties.

Final approach

Once you are ready to go ahead and you have chosen all the materials, designs, colours and everything else you will be adding to your new or renovated kitchen, it is likely that you will be in regular contact with your chosen project manager. Discuss any concerns you have along the way, but don’t be shy about giving constructive feedback too. Everyone likes to know they’ve done a good job.

If you’ve been inspired to hire a good project manager for your kitchen and need expert advice, read more about how to do this at www.aplan.com.au.

Tech explosion

Last year was probably one of the most pivotal years for tech innovation in the kitchen, including the arrival of sophisticated family refrigerators that almost seem to “think” for you.

That, and other smart products, opened up a whole new world of Wi-Fi–friendly appliances such as airfryers, ice makers, home brewing and coffee machines, to apps linked to your fridge so you can check what you need to buy before shopping, to various home hub products helping you use recipes or listen to music while you cook and so on.

Sleek and dynamic

The tech kitchen trends for 2019 are diverse, dynamic and well-designed, so expect to be impressed. It’s almost a cliché to say it, but this year is going to undoubtedly be even bigger and brighter than 2018 when it comes to what’s on offer for high tech kitchens and there is already a buzz about it.

New realms

Expect to see a wealth of smart kitchen products that aim to make your time in the home more practical, save you time and help you cook meals faster than you can say “home delivery”.

There will be plenty of products that offer apps, Bluetooth connectivity and more. One cooker that is already on the market is one that pretty much does all the work for you, once you’ve provided information on the kind of food you want to cook. And there’s an app that goes with it so you can oversee how it’s all going – even from a distance.

Health trends

Possibly overdue, there is a wealth of kitchen tech products coming on the market which promote health and wellbeing; so expect to be impressed yet again. This could be a modular system with overhead storage and LED lighting that will allow you to grow fresh herbs or look out for improved extractor fans from big-name brands designed to provide cleaner air.

Storage for smart appliances

While these new appliances and gadgets can be a great addition to your home, it’s important to remember they will require storage. It might sound silly, but it’s a good idea to have a look around your kitchen right now to see if it has a charging station for your mobile devices. Or if you’re in the market for new cabinetry, consider whether you’ll want wireless devices built right into the cabinetry. As well, think about your bench space and kitchen island – and whether it’s big enough to accommodate a few new kitchen gadgets in 2019.

Food storage technology

Some companies are stepping up when it comes to offering customers improved food storage options in a bid to offer meals cooked more quickly and reduce food wastage. Similarly, dishwashers and ovens are being designed to offer flexibility thanks to a wide range of new functions geared to complementing the needs of an increasingly “smart home”.

If you’ve been inspired to incorporate some of these smart products into your kitchen and need expert advice, read more about how to do this at www.aplan.com.au.

Plan well

The festive season is a time to eat, drink and be merry, so what’s the best way to make maximum use of your kitchen appliances for the festive season?

Easy! It’s all in the planning. As anyone who has had to cater for family, loved ones and friends over the festive season will tell you, if you’re well prepared (lists, anyone?) a lot of angst can be taken out entertaining and cooking over the festive season.

Kitchen’s character

Of course, the best way to achieve this is to have a great kitchen in the first place (hint, hint, Santa). Nowadays, many homes have the kitchen as the focal point for gatherings and that means kitchen appliances, and what surrounds them, will be used to the max.

Whatever is going on around your kitchen appliances such as your cooktop, oven, rangehood, fridge (and wine fridge, if you’re lucky) and dishwasher includes:

Clean up

Your oven and stovetop are going to be in high demand soon, so it’s a good idea to clean these two appliances – though it’s not a fun job if you haven’t done it for a while. Luckily there’s plenty of non-toxic products around these days to make it less onerous.

Kitchen island

Your kitchen island – have you got a fabulous, modern and sleek island that covers all your household’s needs? Is the finish complementary to your kitchen’s overall look and design as well as being functional with loads of storage space and its finish such as laminate, wood or solid surface is easy to clean?

Benchtops

Ask anyone house hunting what a major turn-off in a kitchen is and they’ll quickly tell you it’s a lack of adequate benchtop space. Hopefully, yours will be plentiful (just like the season!) and in a beautiful finish such as engineered stone or solid timber. To be ready for the onslaught of holiday baking and cooking, start off on the right foot with clean, uncluttered kitchen benchtops. You’ll not only love the extra space for pudding and cake decorating and meal prep, you’ll probably need it too.

Wall cabinets

Your wall cabinets – the festive season is likely to challenge your usual catering needs as you may well have more people in the home at this time of year. Does your kitchen allow for this with a user-friendly wall cabinet system such as the Blum AVENTOS range? This flexible, easy to use lift system offers timeless design and technology that allows for the flaps to open easily, stay in any desired position and close silently and effortlessly.

Cabinetry

Cramped drawers overcrowded with cutlery and kitchen utensils is so 1990s! These days sleek kitchen design allows for fantastic cabinetry with a place for everything and stunning finishes such as handles (metal finishes or routed and integrated are just two popular styles) to complement the overall look.

And does your kitchen allow for cabinets designed for higher ceilings (typical in older homes) which are custom built to any finished height? During the festive season, you’ll be so thankful for an organised kitchen so you can spend time on what matters more.

If you need a hand with any design questions for the different elements in your kitchen, speak with someone on our design team here.

Merry Christmas to you and your family! 

Cute & cosy space

Some people love the cosiness of a small kitchen. Everything is snug and within reach. But it’s a good idea to keep in mind that if you go crazy with colour schemes and design finishes your little cooking nook could end up looking like a very bad Picasso painting. What the right finishes can do for your small kitchen are wondrous and infinite.

Colour code

Most designers and stylists will tell you, depending on your small kitchen’s configuration and amount of natural light, that any colour scheme can work in a small cooking room, as long as you remember to not choose hues to make the space feel claustrophobic or create a “look” that doesn’t tie in with the rest of the house.

Optical illusion

What colours and finishes you choose will not only make it a pleasure to work in but it will also enhance the visuals and even potentially make the small kitchen look bigger.

Combined look

As you think about paint colours, cabinet finishes, fittings and surfaces, decide what mood you want for your kitchen and above all, make sure that the combined look will appear effortless and streamlined.

Current trends

Many stylists recommend using three colours at most in a kitchen. Current trends include combinations such as white, off-white and natural wood finishes or white, egg blue and dove gray or a more classic look such as monochrome.

Clever touches

If your objective is to make your small space look bigger there are lots of things you can do. Some renovators swear by using white for cabinetry, ceilings, walls and countertops to create that sense of an “infinite” space without limits or boundaries. You can use complementary but contrasting shades of white to avoid the space appearing too bland.

Recessed-panel cabinets and crown moulding can create soft shadows that can add dimension and interest too.

Go for it

Other tips concerning finishes for your small kitchen include:

  • Remove some cabinet doors and use glass instead for the cabinet fronts to add aesthetic interest and make the space seem larger
  • Incorporate as much natural light as you can to your small kitchen as this “finish” will help the space seem bright and airy. If you need to partially block some light due to privacy issues or an unappealing facade, make them as inconspicuous as possible.
  • Try and keep your furnishings such as a work island or bar stools slender. Shop around for those clever designs that combine stylish flair with streamlined practicality.

To find out more about the best small kitchen finishes available to you, check out what A-Plan Kitchens has to offer here.

A kitchen renovation is an exciting prospect. Whether you’ve moved into a new home or are about to re-do your current kitchen, it’s a demanding but ultimately satisfying job.

However, it can help if you feel prepared and able to stay on top of the renovation project, including ensuring you follow a few vital tips to feel confident the end result is what you wanted both aesthetically, practically and financially– and more! After all, the kitchen is probably the most popular space in the home these days.

So for the best 5 tips to follow before you start your kitchen renovation, look no further!

1. Big or small?

Sometimes a kitchen renovation does not have to involve the whole kit and caboodle. You may just need to do a mini renovation to lift the space and enhance its value and practicality.

  • Start with an upgrade on whitegoods and appliances – a new cooktop, dishwasher and fridge (plus toaster and coffee machine, for example) can both look great and be a time-saving bonus.
  • Replace the benchtops. It’s often one of the areas that really benefits from a mini kitchen renovation as you can make an uplifting design statement and create a wow-factor look, depending on your budget.
  • Update the joinery and lighting. A great way to upgrade your kitchen is to add new kitchen cabinet doors and drawers for a facelift, plus adding more modern lighting can make a real difference to the overall look of your kitchen.

2. How about an island bench?

If your kitchen is “of a certain age”, it’s unlikely to have a kitchen bench. Some kitchen design experts say it’s important to create the right flow in a kitchen, and an island bench can help do that. Design specialists say it’s good to have a “formal cooking line” with an island bench to act as a gathering spot for those living in the home.

3. The right flooring

Some kitchens are a separate room to the living space, but that’s rather old-school. If you have a kitchen that is linked to the family room or living area, designers say continuity is important. If possible, choose flooring that will flow throughout the space so it is all connected, rather than having it as a separate surface just in that zone.

4. Watch your spending

Try to avoid spending too much. Some home renovators recommend not going over 15 per cent of your home’s value, so say about 30 per cent on cabinets, 10 per cent on countertops, 14 per cent on appliances and 5 per cent on lighting, with about 35 per cent on construction costs. This is just a rough guide to give you an idea.

5. The time is right

Quality craftsmanship takes time and if you are having a complete kitchen renovation, allow some time for this – set aside a month if you can (this is after designing and planning your kitchen reno).

To find out more about the best kitchen renovation designs available to you, visit our Kitchen Finishes section on the website here.

I’ll have what she’s having

If you have ever visited a friend’s place who has had a major home renovation, it is likely you will soon gravitate to the kitchen to see what they have done to one of the most special spaces in the home.

If you walk away wishing their house was yours, it is perhaps time to think about why you should have a custom kitchen design at least once in your lifetime. Ask yourself, if not now, then when?

Make it happen

Imagine that you have a magic wand and can create your dream custom design kitchen – what would it look like?

A place to gather

A custom kitchen design will require planning, a budget, creative brainstorming and patience, but the end result can not only transform the space but the whole household’s relationship with the kitchen.

It can become the room that everyone gravitates to – to chat, eat, read, drink tea (or a glass of wine!) and watch television as the family meal is prepared. It can be all things to all people …

Likes & dislikes

So what will you need to consider before making a commitment to going ahead with your custom design kitchen? One of the best things to do is to make a list of what you like and don’t like about your current kitchen – in other words, what needs to change?

Styles and looks

Do you have a look you hanker for such as the Hamptons style or filled with splashes of colour? Would you like your kitchen to be lighter and brighter? Are there spaces that could be put to better use – a cosy nook, for example, or bigger windows or a skylight? Look for inspiration in magazines and online, find a look you love, and think about how to incorporate it into your dream design kitchen.

Main player

What about an island? Many devotees of the kitchen island say that once you’ve had one – you will never look back as it soon becomes the social hub of the kitchen. It can be where everyone has brekkie before rushing off to work or the spot for a late-night chat with your partner.

Plus, it also adds a lot of functionality to a kitchen, providing additional workspace and storage. The good news is that there are so many island styles available to you – country-style, sleek and modern, industrial or nature-inspired with wood to name just a few.

Upgrade your appliances

While most of us would love to fork out less on utilities, finding energy-efficient cooktops, dishwashers and fridges can go a long way towards that – and whitegoods designs can be far more integrated too!

No regrets

Once you get going and find the right expert advice, your custom design kitchen will be something that warms the heart for many years to come and you will never look back. Enjoy!

To find out more about the best custom kitchen designs available to you, check out the gallery here.