The joinery has taken a while to resolve and consequently the job has been held up. The reason it has taken so long is because it has been the source design of debates between myself and A.
One debate was the position of the fridge. This has been drawn in four different locations which, given the size of the kitchen, is a lot. Where it is now located is sensible, easy to use and makes good use of the existing space. One important consideration for the fridge was the ability to ventilate it well. Fridges are rated for efficiency based on having very good ventilation. In practice fridges are often tucked away and therefore they work less well and their rating can be misleading. To improve ventilation we have placed it above the skirting plinth and have a vent in the plinth so that air can be drawn in from the front of the plinth, under the fridge, up its back and out over its top. Most fridges are quite power hungry – there are new ‘Inverter’ fridges that seem to be much more efficient but we couldn’t find any with a freezer at the bottom, narrower than 670mm and that looked good. I think Panasonic and Samsung have inverter fridges.
Another debate was about the ‘Island’ bench; not a true Island because it is partially fixed to the existing house. A wanted people to be able to pull up a chair and hang out at the bench. This meant having a leg alcove under the bench. My view was that there would be a table with chairs very close by and that this would be fine as a hang out area. Also bench heights are typically between 850mm and 950mm high whereas tables are between 700mm and 750mm high usually – meaning chairs for each aren’t compatible. In the end A accepted this. This also meant that we could design the bench to float by having a gap under it – this wouldn’t have worked so well if we also had a leg alcove.
The last major debate was with the finishes. My view was that the kitchen is small and has a comparatively low ceiling (around 2.5m). Given this I thought it should be white 2 pac with a white benchtop (either reconstituted stone or a white marble). A’s view was that that would be very boring and she preferred a timber finish. I countered that a timber finish would clash with the timber floors if it didn’t match the floors. A didn’t agree. In the end we have used a reconstituted quartz based stone top from Smartstone. The colour, called ‘Nieve White’ is almost an exact match to the wall colours which are Dulux’s ‘Natural White’ (see painting). The 2 pack shelves are also coloured in ‘Natural White’ to a 30% gloss level (fairly matt) and they work very well with the walls. The fridge surround, a 32mm thick box, is also finished in the same way. Below the benchtops A found a bamboo board product from Leto Bamboo http://www.letobamboo.com/. We chose the ‘Strand Woven-Carbonised’ boards and this was finished with a Wittle finish http://www.whittlewaxes.com.au/WebPage/WebPage.asp?Ref=7989 . This has worked well, they are durable seeming boards, fairly dense and even. They look a little like burled timber and with the finish they have a warm colour.
For a while we did consider a stone finish, more precisely a marble finish. We know that this can seem to have an old fashioned image but marble has been used in many contemporary interiors well. We thought the combination of a contemporary looking marble used in a victorian renovation would work. We scoured the internet and visited a couple of stone masons and suppliers looking for the right type of stone. The marble we liked best is called Callacatta marble, it is very white with either grey or brown pronounced veins. It is a popular marble in contemporary design and as such it is expensive.
The cheaper marbles didn’t appeal because of their colours or lack of vein definition. Unfortunately (at the time) we couldn’t go ahead with any marble we liked because it would have added about $7000 to our budget. In retrospect this was good – marble might have been the wrong choice. The reconstituted stone that we have chosen is so simimliarly coloured to the walls that I expect the end result will be more sculptural. The stone goes in on Thursday.
Finally a note about appliances. We have scoured gumtree and ebay for stuff but only found a Porter and Charles oven for $650 (I’d never heard of the brand but google research seemed to say it was OK – and it looks smart). The fridge and cooktop come from Appliances online since my experience with them has been good. The cooktop has a flame failure device – really the only thing that is important other than looks and position of buttons. The washer and dryer were bought a while ago and rolled from nearby Aldi to our house in a shopping trolley.