Reprinted with kind permission from HIA and HIA’s Housing magazine, Issue May 2006
HIGH-TECH FITTINGS ARE MEETING HIGH-END DESIGN TO BRING MORE TO TODAY’S KITCHENS – FROM ENERGY EFFICIENCY TO CUSTOMISED STORAGE SOLUTIONS. GABRIELLE CHARITON REPORTS.
Kitchens are no longer just about cooking. They’re about entertaining, dining, and family living – in fact, kitchens are becoming the central focus for leisure activities in most Australian homes.
Aimed at creating more relaxed and upmarket lifestyles, today’s kitchens form the hub of home living areas, and design trends are reflecting its growing importance. Both new and renovated kitchens tend to cover a larger floor space than in previous decades, and are now commonly linked to the living and dining areas via an island bench or servery.
Perhaps it’s because the kitchen is on display; perhaps it’s something to do with the ‘nesting’ phenomenon sweeping the housing industry, but homeowners don’t seem satisfied with the basic, standard-issue kitchen anymore. They want a room that’s customised to their own unique requirements.
Homeowners might want two cooktops or two ovens; they might ask their kitchen designer to add a desk where the kids can do their homework; or a walk-in pantry with a second sink. Increasingly, kitchens are being transformed into lifestyle centres, fitted with all sorts of mod-cons and appliances, from chilled and boiling water dispensers, to flip-down televisions, computer/internet nooks and built-in coffee machines and wine storage.
High-end inclusions such as built-in coffee machines, steam ovens and double-door refrigerators are becoming more commonplace.
This trend is quantifiable, not only by the huge range of kitchen appliances now available, but also by the noticeable growth in the uptake of new kitchen technologies and appliances.
In HIA’s Kitchens and Bathrooms Report – Past Growth and Future Prospects 2005/06, the association has recorded an increase in the use of European-look appliances, two-door fridges, hardwired and plumbed coffee machines, multiple ovens, multiple dishwashers and microwave/wall oven combinations in new and renovated kitchens around the country.
While the report says that the average value of a new kitchen is $18,810, and a kitchen renovation typically costs around $14,450, it is evident that a good portion of the market is prepared to spend much more to get the kitchen that matches their lifestyle.
“This value has been increasing steadily on the back of an increasing uptake of kitchen upgrade packages,” says the report. “Of the [building] companies that offer upgrade packages, half of them said the take-up rate was between 61 and 100 per cent of their homes. The most important influence on increasing sales of upgrade packages was customer requests (63 per cent).”
According to the report, upgrades can add between $13,000 and $17,000 to the final price of the total kitchen project.
POPULAR INCLUSIONS ARE:
- wider ovens and ducted canopy rangehoods
- high-end finishes such as polyurethane doors or end panels and glass overhead cupboard doors
- dedicated appliance cupboards
- upgraded door furniture
- granite or engineered stone on benchtops and splashbacks
- designer tapware
- water filtration units, and
- water points incorporated into the refrigerator space.
Customised storage is another growth area within kitchen design. Accessibility is the key to efficiency and homeowners want everything at their fingertips. The idea is to make the most of the space available, and designers are doing away with awkward nooks and crannies. Galley-style kitchens, where storage runs in straight lines, are becoming popular, and it’s not unusual for overhead cupboards to extend right up to the ceiling.
The HIA Kitchens and Bathrooms Report shows that deep, wide drawers are now the preferred way to store pots and crockery. Designers are also specifying more soft-closing doors, pull-out pantries, and concealed garbage bin/disposal units. Interestingly, the report records a drop in the number of lazy Susan-style carousel racks in corner cupboards, possibly because designers are finding ways to avoid these types of awkward cupboards.
With such detailed and customised storage solutions now commonplace in most new and renovated kitchens, cabinetmakers are facing new challenges. Rapidjoint is an Australian-owned and operated company which is developing and manufacturing an innovative range of joinery connectors. The connectors are designed to make it easier to create the more complex cabinetry demanded by today’s kitchen trends.
The Rapidjoint connector can be adjusted at 90 degrees to the axis of the join, thanks to its bevel gear arrangement. The RJ2 pre-install assembly is easily fitted by a postformed benchtop manufacturer, and for kitchen installers, fitting a masons mitre has never been easier. On site the installer simply uses the driver drill (Phillips head, flat head or 4mm Allan key), reverses the connector into place, flicks the drill into forward and tightens the join.
Also available from Rapidjoint is the RJ1 – a general purpose connector suitable for many applications such as joining staircase handrail, scrolls, and stringers.
Another emerging design trend for kitchens – particularly within the renovations market – is the push towards ‘green’ design and fittings. The industry’s growing focus on more sustainable living has extended to this most vital part of the home. Paying attention to small but important design principles – such as correct orientation and choosing water-conscious appliances – can result in a room that’s more comfortable to be in, and one that puts less strain on water and energy resources. And the best news is that a GreenSmart kitchen can be achieved without making any sacrifices in the style department.
Start with materials selections: choose recycled products or sustainably-manufactured materials where possible. CaesarStone – already one of the nation’s preferred materials for benchops – has just come under the eco-radar, recently becoming the first quartz surfacing company to have received the ISO 14001 standard – a global standard framed specifically for environmental protection in the industry.
“We at CaesarStone are working for a cleaner, safer and better quality environment,” says marketing manager Andrew Dixon. “The ISO 14001 environmental management system allows our products to be provided, manufactured and distributed in accordance with the internationally agreed environmental management criteria.”
Among other initiatives, the company aims to manufacture its benchtop surfacing product from recycled raw materials, avoid using hazardous substances, continuously monitor energy usage and efficiency, and maintain volatile organic compound (VOC) standards to minimise the spread of toxins in the environment.
Homeowners are also opting for appliances that cut down on water use – from low-flow tap fittings to water-saving dishwashers. You can help your clients cut down on water use by installing the hot water service as close as possible to the kitchen. A hot water thermostat, which ensures that hot water is delivered at a comfortable temperature, will eliminate the need to run cold water at the same time for further cuts in water use.
Other green trends that homeowners are including on their kitchen wish-lists include dedicated space for recycling near the bin; louvre windows, which let hot air escape and improve natural ventilation; and – especially in older homes – skylights, which are a great way to let more light in and brighten up a dark space.
Lighting is becoming a key feature of kitchen design, with illuminated splashbacks and kickboards, LED spotlights and directional task lighting all forming part of the room’s look and functionality. If your clients are concerned about energy usage, consider using strip neon or fluorescent lighting to illuminate splashbacks or cabinetry, and fluorescent oyster lights on the ceiling. Fluorescent lights consume far less energy than halogens.
From energy efficiency to efficient storage systems – today’s kitchens are high-performance rooms which have become central to homeowners’ lifestyles.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON:
- Rapidjoint – visit www.rapidjoint.com.au or call 1800 067 050
- CaesarStone – visit www.caesarstone.com.au
KITCHENS: WHAT THEY’RE WORTH
- Despite difficult times in 2005/06 across most housing markets, spending on kitchens and bathrooms has remained at near-record highs of close to $10 billion.
- An estimated 443,600 kitchens are forecast to be installed over the 2005/06 financial year, which is a drop of 3.1 per cent on 2003/04.
- Total spending on kitchens and bathrooms accounted for 12.5 per cent of all housing related expenditure over the year.
- The kitchen industry is expected to exceed $6 billion over 2006/07.
- Forecast for 2007/08 will be solid growth, with more than $11 billion worth of kitchen and bathroom related work expected to be completed.
NEW FROM HIA KITCHENS & BATHROOMS – GUIDE TO KITCHEN & BATHROOM CONSTRUCTION
This valuable resource tool provides general industry guidance on reasonable standards and tolerances for kitchen and bathroom construction and installation work, especially where no minimum standards have been regulated or are not articulated by the contract documentation, codes regulations or legislation.
The guide identifies standards of workmanship and finish generally acceptable to lenders, regulators, designers, fabricators, installers, contractors, builders and consumers in the residential building industry.
The Guide to Kitchen & Bathroom Construction is available now from your local HIA office. To order call 1300 783 345 or visit hia.com.au