Light Emporador benchtop

The sheer range of materials used in today’s kitchen benchtops is boundless.

Many of our customers approach us for advice on which kitchen benchtop to choose. We understand it’s not an easy decision, given there is so many different types available, it often leads people to put it into the too hard basket. So, we’ve decided to share over 30 years experience on this topic by creating this comprehensive kitchen benchtops guide.

It is hoped this guide will better inform you about the types of benchtop materials commonly used out there, as well as what to expect in terms of cleaning, maintaining and general pricing.

Engineered stone benchtop kitchen

An example of a kitchen with an engineered stone benchtops, drop-ends and full height splashback.  

Engineered Stone

What is it?

Engineered stone, otherwise known as engineered quartz or quartz stone, is a composite material. It is man-made material comprising of crushed quartz bonded with an adhesive polymer resin. Originally created to reproduce terrazzo (Caesartsone® were the first to market), engineered stone now has 20+ years of advancement behind it. You’ll find engineered stone in a variety of styles, including flat colours, natural-like stones and other more artistic finishes. Engineered stone is challenged only by laminate in popularity.

How big are the slabs?

The engineered stone market is a crowded place with loads of choice. Most brands stock their slabs at the standard thickness of 20mm and that is generally what most kitchen companies work with, although you can also get some slabs in 30mm and 12mm thicknesses.

The standard size of the slabs for most brands is set at a 3,040 x 1,440mm format, however demand has driven manufacturers to stock ever greater sizes such as Silestone’s Jumbo format (1,580 x 3,200mm). Any slab with a large pattern or veining is best viewed at the supplier’s showroom as smaller samples are often not indicative of the entire slab.

Marble looking benchtop with milled sink drainer

Marble looking engineered stone benchtop. Notice how the veining is still visible where the sink drainer has been milled.  

Where is it priced in the market?

Engineered stones are priced from middle to high depending on the brand and style of slab. Some of the natural stone reproductions even challenge the real thing in total price.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

The standard polished surface engineered stone is very easy to maintain. Most spills require wiping up with a damp cloth. It can stain when staining liquids (think red wine, tea and coffee) are left on the surface for too long. In those cases, using the manufacturer’s approved stone cleaner is required. In extreme circumstances a call to your kitchen company or the manufacturer may be needed. Honed surfaces or matt finishes are generally harder to clean.

Pros

Cons

Detailed marble benchtop showing edge profile

Calacatta Oro marble benchtop with a detailed profile.

Marble

What is it?

A natural stone known for prestige, uniqueness and beauty, marble benchtops are the stone of choice for many luxury kitchens. Marble is a metamorphic limestone, quarried from hillsides [insert marble quarrying video] with much of the best slabs coming from Italy. As a natural stone, no two slabs are alike and often feature grey mottlings or veins. Due to this variability, marble is best selected in person at the stone yard. Being a porous material imbues marble with a natural translucence that other benchtop materials like engineered stone and porcelain simply can’t replicate. It does have its downsides (see the cons section), but despite this people are still driven to the allure of natural marble.

How big are the slabs?

Unlike man-made benchtop materials, marble slabs come in irregular shapes and sizes. Standard slab thicknesses are 20mm and 30mm. Slabs of marble range in size from about 2,400 x 1,200mm to 3,300 x 2,000mm. It depends on the type of marble, and how and where it was quarried.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

No. Marble is one of the least practical materials you can have in the kitchen. It’s porosity and softness means spills of any kind (including water) must be wiped up immediately. It is best suited to people who are fanatics when it comes to cleaning. A sealer can be applied to help protect the surface but it is not perfect and will require resealing over time. If you are the type of person who likes to see materials age and patina over time and can look past the odd ring mark, then you might also consider marble.

Where is it priced in the market?

Marble is priced at the high end of the market. Different marbles might be priced higher or lower depending on scarcity, the grade of the stone, domestic demand and shipping costs. Some marble slabs come in book-matched pairs and usually sell at a higher price.

Pros

Cons

A kitchen with a Kashmir White benchtop

A kitchen with a “Kashmir White” granite benchtop.  

Granite

What is it?

Another naturally occurring stone, granite is a coarse type of igneous rock with large visible grains. It is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with small amounts of mica, amphiboles and other minerals. Granite is slowly formed from magma deep below the Earth’s surface. Typically, granite is a very dense material making it incredibly strong in compression. There are many different types of granite (Kashmir white, super white and black galaxy just to name a few) all with great differences in grain patterning and colour. Some slabs will have a very uniform patterning, others will display unique flowing patterns and variations in hue. When polished and sealed, the colour and patterning can be very striking.

How big are the slabs?

Like marble, most granite slabs are irregularly shaped and share similar overall sizes to marble. Standard slab thicknesses are 20mm and 30mm. Some slabs also come as book-matched pairs.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

Overall granite is easy to keep clean. It is scratch, stain, heat and chemically resistant.  Sealers can be applied to help protect the surface but will require resealing over time.

Where is it priced in the market?

Pricing varies widely for granite from low to high. There has been a trend away from granite making some slabs cheaper, not to mention the vast supply of slabs coming from India, China and Brazil. As with all natural stones, price is also dictated by the quality and beauty of the stone.

Pros

Cons

Long Corian benchtop

Solid surface benchtops can be made extra long without visible seams.  

Solid Surfaces (Corian)

What is it?

Solid Surfaces are acrylic-based materials used commonly in commercial fitouts, including medical facilities and washrooms. Their dense composition make solid surface materials ideal for settings where hygiene is important. Solid surfaces have made their way into the domestic market as kitchen benchtops, sinks and vanities. The most commonly used brand is Corian®, because of this most people refer to solid surfaces as Corian®. Solid surfaces have some unique advantages over other kitchen benchtop materials; it’s weldable, meaning slabs can be joined seamlessly with no visible line; it can be thermoformed, creating elaborate shapes; it’s warm to touch; and solid surfaces can be backlit due to its translucency. The range of colours and patterns for solid surfaces is large, perhaps not as large as the engineered stones, nor as natural looking, but comprehensive enough for most kitchen projects.

How big are the slabs?

Corian® is available in slabs at 1828 x 760 x 12mm and 3658 x 760 x 12mm, competitors offer similar sizes. Its weldability means the slabs do not need to be produced as wide. When designing a kitchen, caution needs to be taken involving colours with directional patterns.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

Solid surfaces are no harder to clean than engineered stone and will resist staining and impacts. Being a plastic, it will scratch over time, but can be repolished making the benchtop look as new (contact your kitchen company or benchtop supplier to have this organised). For uniform colours and patterns, any chips or cracks can be repaired with little visible evidence, but for slabs with visible directional patterns, the end result may not be as perfect.

Where is it priced in the market?

Mid to high. On average, expect to pay around the same price as your more expensive engineered stones.

Pros

Cons

Stainless steel scullery benchtop with welded in sink

Stainless steel scullery benchtop with welded in sink.  

Stainless Steel

What is it?

Stainless steel benchtops are typically made of thin sheets of stainless steel, bent to shape, welded together and glued onto a timber substrate. After grinding of welds, the surface is usually finished with scotch-Brite giving the benchtop a uniform brushed effect. Stainless steel benchtops are popular in commercial cooking environments due to the ease of cleaning, stain and chemical resistance and overall durability. Many people also find these qualities ideal for use in domestic kitchens. When first installed, a stainless steel benchtop will look very pristine, however over time it will scratch, dent and may even warp due to prolonged and repeated heat exposure.

How big are the slabs?

Stainless steel comes in various sheet sizes and thicknesses. Typically, 304 grade 1.5mm sheet is used and glued to a pre-fabricated timber substrate for strength.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

Extremely easy to keep clean, however stainless steel will dent and scratch quite readily, no matter how determined you are otherwise.

Where is it priced in the market?

Mid to high, depending on the skill of the fabricator and any extra welding in of sinks or cooktops.

Pros

Cons

Porcelain island benchtop

A porcelain island benchtop.  

Porcelain/Compact Sintered Surfaces

What is it?

A newer option for kitchens, porcelain benchtops (also known as sintered compact surfaces) are a high-density, low-porosity ceramic. They are made of powdered clay and coloured pigments bonded together at extremely high temperature and pressure. Porcelain’s high density and low porosity greatly resist heat, UV fading, staining and scratching, making it an ideal material for use in the kitchen and outdoor environments. Patterns and designs can be sublimated into the surface, successfully recreating the look of timber, concrete, rusted steel and marble just to name a few. One major drawback with porcelain is its brittleness, great care has to be taken with it as chips and cracks can occur.

How big are the slabs?

The two major players in Australia, Dekton and Neolith, offer large slab sizes of 3,200 x 1,500 x 12mm (Neolith) and 3,200 x 1,440 x 12mm (Dekton). Other sizes and thicknesses are also available from both manufacturers.

One drawback of porcelain is that the surface pattern is only skin deep

The patterning of the porcelain is only skin deep. The patterning will not be visible at edges or at milled sections.  

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

By far the easiest to clean on the market. Requires no sealing and is highly heat, stain and scratch resistant. Its inherent brittleness makes it more susceptible to chips and cracks.

Where is it priced in the market?

It’s at the higher end, competing with the likes of granite and marble.

Pros

Cons

Concrete benchtop

A close up of a concrete benchtop.  

Concrete

What is it?

Concrete benchtops are fabricated either in situ or off site depending on the complexity of the design. Often oxides, additives and aggregates are added to the concrete to create desired effects. Concrete by nature is a heavy and brittle material, requiring special reinforcing and supports built into the design to prevent collapse. Consideration also has to be given to the floor structure underneath. The surface is usually finished with a sealer and polished.

Concrete benchtops are popular with people who are after an industrial look.

How big are the slabs?

They are made to any size and shape. The quality of the form work dictates how accurate the final shape will be.

Concrete benchtop being made showing structural and temporary supports

A cantilevered concrete benchtop being made. The timber supports are temporary, while at the back the bolted down steel pillars will provide the permanent structural support. 

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

It is not for people who want a pristine, durable and low maintenance benchtop. Concrete will chip at the edges and corners, but is repairable. The surface will also scratch easily, requiring resealing and polishing to remove any scratch marks. Staining is also a problem. Concrete is a porous material and in areas where the sealer has been removed staining will occur. Although concrete can handle heat, the sealers often can’t and hot pots will leave a visible mark.

Where is it priced in the market?

The raw material for concrete is quite cheap, unfortunately due to the labour of making the formwork, support structures and reinforcing the cost of concrete benchtops are usually at the higher end.

Pros

Cons

Laminate corner detail

Laminate benchtop corner detail.  

Laminate

What is it?

One of the more popular benchtop materials, laminate (melamine or Formica are other names) is a material comprising of decorative paper impregnated with melamine resin, coated in a clear layer of melamine, and bonded onto a wooden substrate. Any design can be placed onto the paper layer, giving it the ability to recreate natural stones, timbers, concrete or any other design you can think of. As it is only a printed layer, the success of the recreation can be somewhat hit and miss.

How big are the slabs?

Preformed laminate benchtop slabs are typically 3,650 x 600mm (single rolled edge) or 3,650 x 900mm (double rolled edge) in a variety of thicknesses and edge profiles. The ease of cutting means the benchtops can be cut to size on site.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

The melamine surface will resist most stains. Scratching will occur if cutting directly onto the surface. Hot objects left on the surface will leave a mark. Once the melamine layer is broken, water can seep in underneath causing swelling. Overall it is moderately durable.

Where is it priced in the market?

Laminates are priced at the lower end of the market and are an extremely cost effective option for what they do.

Pros

Cons

Raised timber benchtop

Raised timber benchtop.  

Solid Timber

What is it?

Solid timber benchtops are made of large pieces of timber glued together, sanded back and coated with a clear polyurethane. Timber is a very warm and inviting material that works well aesthetically in the home. The wide variety of species available (Australian and overseas) means there is much to choose from.

How big are the slabs?

Timber benchtops are custom made to size. Some manufacturers supply more affordable pre-made benchtops using smaller pieces of timber glued together.

Is it easy to keep clean and maintain?

Spills on timber benchtops wipe clean easily. Scratching, denting, staining and burn marks from hot objects can occur. All species have different densities and will resist water differently. Where the polyurethane layer has worn away, water can seep into the timber and cause expansion. Timber can be sanded back and re-lacquered to make the surface new again, but it is quite labour intensive.

Where is it priced in the market?

Mid to high. Your pre-made benchtops are at the cheaper end, while benchtops custom made from exotic or rare timbers will be at the upper end.

Pros

Cons

We hope this guide has provided you some sound advice and knowledge. At Dan Kitchens, we do our best to educate our customers about the myriad of things to do with kitchens. If you found this article while researching for your new kitchen, why not consider us. You can simply call our design studio and speak directly to a designer or visit our two floor showroom and see what we do at your own leisure.

Concrete detail

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 002

Unlike most apartment kitchens today, the clients chose to keep theirs hidden.

A luxury apartment in an architecturally significant building at Sydney’s Macquarie Street needed a new kitchen, and Dan Kitchens faced a number of unique challenges.

Prominent in Sydney’s CBD, the building’s modern heritage listing means refits have to adhere to the original architect’s vision, and Dan Kitchens designer Arthur Baskin says the small kitchen space made the project a tricky one.

“To be honest, it’s quite daunting because at the end of the day you’re manipulating something that’s of a very high standard, there’s a definite look that follows through the building,” Baskin says.

“We had to work not only within a confined space, because of the structural elements, but also to the client’s brief and then respecting the architect’s intentions.”

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 015

Entering the kitchen reveals crisp white doors, grey tones and copper highlights, providing a calm ambience.

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 007

The clients wanted the latest premium appliances, for that reason they chose from the Miele 6000 range. Here we can see a Miele steamer, wall oven and plate drawer in Clean Steel finish.  

Expertise comes into its own

Significant advances in kitchen cabinetry and Dan Kitchens’ 32 years of experience in the industry made it possible to get more out of the original kitchen space than was thought achievable.

“We doubled the size of the storage in that space without actually changing the footprint of the kitchen,” Baskin says.

Although some kitchens are deliberately planned to be a focal point of a home, the clients favoured a more discreet approach, the kitchen being hidden behind a wall as it was originally designed. But after 16 years, there were problems with the original appliances and cabinetry.

“The builders fitted it with high-end appliances, but they chose the entry level models,” Baskin explains. “The clients later discovered that the appliances didn’t have all the functions they needed. Also, it was basic cabinetry, swollen and water damaged, and huge gaps had opened up.”

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 009

A 90cm Sub-Zero built-in fridge and an integrated 45cm wine fridge sit opposite the Miele wall appliances. Weighing at around 250kg, the 90cm fridge required some specialist lifting equipment to bring it into position. 

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 011

The Sub-Zero wine fridge integrated behind one of the copper doors. 

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 008

The cooking area. The doors above are faced in glass, adding a translucent effect to the doors.

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 013

Floor to ceiling windows provide plenty of natural light to the kitchen.

A nod to the original

The Axolotl light textured copper finish in the kitchen was a colour accent taken from the building’s exterior tiles, while jet black granite benchtops complemented the original basalt floor tiles.

Appliances chosen were low-key and high-quality: Miele 6000 wall appliances in Clean Steel, Miele integrated rangehood paired with an induction cooktop and a Blanco undermount sink. Dan Kitchens also managed to squeeze in a 90cm Sub-Zero fridge and adjacent wine fridge.

Because Dan Kitchens made no structural changes to the kitchen apart from widening a doorway, Baskin says there was almost no consultation with the building’s owners corporation.

“If you were starting to take walls out, you would have to liaise with the body corporate,” he explains.

“But if it’s a lightweight internal partition – like our widening the doorway – you don’t have to bother them. If you’re changing the hard surface area, such as changing a carpet to tiles, then you do – so we avoided that.”

 

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 004

Every inch of space is utilised in this kitchen – the joinery is built right to the very edge of the window.

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 003

The decision to use copper doors from Axolotl was influenced by the orange exterior facade of the building.

Genius with space

Making better use of the space was easy for the Dan Kitchens team, given their experience in designing apartment kitchens within small spaces and fine tolerances. In fact, the results were so successful that the team has been invited back to work its magic on the apartment’s wardrobe spaces.

“Word of mouth about that project was so positive that we are now at work on our third apartment in the same building,” says Baskin proudly.

Macquarie St Apartment Kitchen Reno 016

An ever changing view from the kitchen.

For more information on Dan Kitchens Design Service, contact their Design Studio on 02 9624 2344. Alternatively visit the Dan Kitchens showroom and speak to a Designer in person.

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 3

Light colours paired with the warmth of timber are a fundamental element of Danish Kitchens.

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 1

A mixture of textures, colours and materials work together to create an inviting home environment. 

The brief was to create a Danish kitchen adjacent to a small lounge filled with iconic Danish furniture. By removing the dividing wall and taking accents from the natural timber of the furniture, Dan Kitchens modernised the kitchen and connected two spaces with spectacular results.

Designer Arthur Baskin says the kitchen and lounge were part of an extension at the back of a Victorian terrace in Stanmore in Sydney’s inner west.

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 4

Neutral grey concrete-look tiles add texture, with underfloor heating providing comfort in the cooler months. 

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 5

Mirror splashback creates depth to the space, while the glass display shelves act as a passive divider of the two rooms. 

Keeping the Danish feel

“In terms of furniture, they had some collectors’ pieces in the lounge and they wanted to keep that Danish style in the kitchen,” Baskin says.

“The brief was to open up the space and merge the kitchen with the lounge area. The original concept was to put a two-way fireplace between the two, but we didn’t have the space and nowhere to flue it to either.”

The solution: remove the load-bearing wall and create glass shelving between the two rooms where the clients could display their collection of glass art.

“The space had already been subdivided and a beam put up there, so we had to modify that beam and put another beam underneath it – there’s a fair bit of tricky engineering in there!”

If clients don’t already have a builder in mind, Dan Kitchens is happy to make a recommendation, as was the case with this project.

“This particular builder is someone I’ve worked with for about 15 years and he’s got an amazing can-do attitude,” Baskin says. “We’ve taken buildings apart and rebuilt whole houses together. He’s very much in demand and clients love him.”

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 6

Typical of the Danes, all veneer doors and panels are beautifully finished (Australian Iron Bark).

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 7

Windows to the adjacent curved wall of the kitchen provide plenty of light (and a cosy spot for the family pets). 

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 8

Timber plate drawers. 

Combining style and practicality

The brief included underfloor heating, so the original ceramic tiles were removed and replaced with concrete-look tiles.

“The plan originally was to have floorboards with underfloor heating,” Baskin says. “But floorboards and underfloor heating don’t work well together so the clients chose a concrete floor. But there wasn’t enough height to lay actual concrete, so we found concrete-looking tiles.”

Picking up the concrete accent were the benchtops (Caesarstone sleek concrete 4003), while the kitchen island was finished in Caesarstone pure white 1141.

Baskin says the advantages of Caesarstone are its consistency of colour, durability, stain-resistance and affordability.

“We’ve tried using actual concrete for benchtops on a couple of jobs, but it tarnishes and stains, gets air bubbles and cracks – cooking oils destroy it. So the concrete finish from Caesarstone buys you the look, but without the hazards. It’s been a very successful one for them.”

 

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 11

Plain doors and minimal handles hide many of the functions of this kitchen.

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 12

The pullout pantry is revealed.

Modern kitchen, modern appliances

Miele 6000 wall appliances in clean steel were used for the oven, steamer and deep warming drawer, with a Franke sink and professional Reach tap. An Asko induction/gas cooktop was used to give the most flexible cooking options.

In the end, the clients got a modernised kitchen that flows seamlessly from the lounge and remains true to its natural timber and orange palette. Even the tops of the cabinet doors were veneered to tie in with the Danish look.

Baskin says the clients were extremely pleased with the result. “The letter that came from them was heartfelt. They were blown over and very complementary. They were absolutely wonderful clients.”

Miele 6000 appliances

Miele 6000 built in wall appliances in Clean Steel finish.

Stanmore Kitchen Project Image 9

The dividing display shelves from the living room side.

The Dan Kitchens team are one of the few kitchen companies designing and manufacturing in the Danish style. For more information on how they can create a Danish kitchen for you, contact their Design Studio on 02 9624 2344. Alternatively visit the Dan Kitchens luxury showroom and inspect their workmanship in person.

Double Bay kitchen detail 1

An incredibly sumptuous transitional style kitchen and marble Scullery. The main kitchen is a combination of ultra-modern appliances and dark veneer juxtaposed with traditional shaker style detailing.

Double Bay luxury kitchen

A 4.5m long island with traditional detailing topped with bookmatched Calacatta marble slabs. Mirror splashbacks draw in light from the courtyard. 

The clients were looking for a refit at the back of their home in Sydney’s exclusive Double Bay to accommodate extra rooms, including a kitchen and scullery. But when Dan Kitchens came on board, the project took an unexpected turn – and became the company’s biggest job to date.

“It’s a traditional, eastern suburbs manor house,” says Dan Kitchens designer Arthur Baskin, who worked on the project for three years in total.

“Originally, the client wanted to create a couple of bedrooms downstairs, a study, plus a kitchen – it was expanding and future-proofing the house. But after a while we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t do it, the existing space there was just too tight.”

Inside the marble scullery

Twin Sub-Zero integrated wine refrigerators were shoe-horned into the scullery. 

Double Bay kitchen detail 2

Not your typical kitchen feature: A fireplace stands prominently in the centre. The flue above is clad in v-groove paneling, providing an ideal place to display artwork. 

Starting again with a clean slate

After a three-month hiatus, Baskin was invited back to the house – and couldn’t believe what he found. The entire back section had been demolished, leaving a clean slate for renovations. “There was a bare block,” he remembers. “I said, ‘What happened?’ They said well, you said it didn’t work and so we’re prepared to start again.”

With the back of the house gone, it took three years of work with the architect and builder to create the new spaces then fit them out. “At the time it was our biggest single job. We probably fitted out about 20 rooms: bedrooms, a study, bathrooms, the foyer, the kitchen,” Baskin says.

He says this type of hands-on process is typical of Dan Kitchens. “Clients come to us and we throw ideas into the mix, or we often take over from where the architect has left off and bring it back to a more realistic solution.”

Luxury Laundry

Beautifully detailed shaker style laundry. The Miele dryer and washer have been lifted off the ground and built into the joinery.

Double Bay Hallway

Hallway Shot. 

Luxury Vanity

One of the many luxurious bathroom vanities throughout the home. 

Luxury fixtures and fittings

The materials and finishes are stunning. In the kitchen, a 4.5 metre island is topped with calacatta marble, with mirror splashbacks along the cook top area which is finished with Caesarstone Walnut. The kitchen has two Gaggenau ovens and an adjoining scullery, also finished with calacatta marble plus a butler sink, which provides ample space for professional caterers when large gatherings are held. The scullery also houses two Sub-Zero wine fridges and a Miele dishwasher.

Baskin says working with top quality marble like calacatta or carrara is exciting. “When it comes to the selection of the marble we’ll take the client to the yards to look at slabs. Calacatta marble is at the very top end of the market and it varies from slab to slab. If you want to join ten pieces of unmatched marble together that’s not difficult, but if you want one piece with the pattern running through, then you’ve got to be prepared to pay.”

Appliances were obtained through Winning Appliances, and with $150,000 worth of refrigeration in the house, including specialised wine fridges, it was a big order. The selection was made by Dan Kitchens, along with the clients’ caretaker and architect.

The clients also have an extensive collection of art, so the walls are finished with the kinds of wallpaper that shows the paintings at their best.

 

Luxury dressing room

A dressing room combined with built-in-wardrobes.

Window Seat

Opposite the makeup desk, sits a window seat complete with storage underneath.

Thinking outside the square for solutions

When it comes to finding solutions, Dan Kitchens is not afraid to dig deep. For example, when not in use, the large television screen in the family room is hidden inside a low cabinet. A mechanism raises the set out of the cabinet, but because the set’s height is greater than the cabinet’s, the concrete block beneath had to be excavated to hold the mechanism and allow the TV to disappear inside.

“The majority of the industry would probably tell the client to come back when they had the house built and take it from there,” Baskin says. “At Dan Kitchens we’re the sort of company that says, ‘how about we do this instead, how about we move that wall?’ Our clients like that, they respect that. That’s what gives us our repeat business.”

Meeting the clients’ expectations

When the home was finished the clients held a celebration around the pool and gave Baskin a gift of crystal glasses. They had been overseas during the final stages of construction, so Baskin says their reaction when they first saw the completed home was “very emotional.”

“When you look through the images of this project you can see an international, refined house,” he says proudly. “That’s what we’ve achieved here.”

Main Bedroom Double Bay

Upstairs, looking into the main bedroom.

V-Groove Wardrobes

Full height built-in wardrobes with v-groove detailing to the doors (satin finish).

Pop-up TV

Tv unit with tv concealed within the joinery.

Pop-up TV 2

Tv pops up through the bench. The concrete slab under the unit had to be excavated to accommodate the height of the tv.

Courtyard Swimming Pool

The courtyard pool.

For more on this Double Bay home and other luxury joinery projects, visit the Dan Kitchens Home Fitouts Gallery.

Kitchen plans: Hastily drawn plans usually equates to hastily conceived ideas. Image Copyright Dan Kitchens Australia.

I’m often asked by potential customers “why does Dan Kitchens Australia charge a kitchen design fee and not simply provide free measure and quotes like the rest of the industry?”. It can be hard for some customers to understand, so I’ve written a short explanation on why paying for the design can be the better alternative, helping you make a more informed decision. Please read on below.

How some in the industry operate.

I won’t go into all of the tactics used by some in kitchen industry, but I think it is very important for customers to learn about the more popular “free pitch” tactic.

Let’s say you contact a kitchen company asking for a design and a quote, they will send out a commission-paid salesperson to your home, measure the room, and ask you what layout you want. The salesperson will then draw up a rudimentary design and quote (often hastily on the spot), and hand it over free of charge, often with a “today only” discount offer on the price of the kitchen. This is known as free pitching.

From the customer’s perspective free pitching may sound appealing – after all you are getting something for nothing – what the customer doesn’t realise is very little effort has gone into solving your problems. The salesperson is more interested in applying pressure on you to buy so they can to get their commission. The practice of free pitching rewards good salespeople often with little or no formal design training and de-emphasises the role that design plays in achieving a better kitchen for you.

Using a qualified kitchen designer.

How does a consumer with a challenging brief avoid the free pitched design and quote tactic? You approach a reputable kitchen company who charge for their design expertise. Doing so removes the pressure situation and puts you as the customer squarely in the driver’s seat. It is now up to the designer to fully satisfy your brief – after all you are paying for the service. As far as knowing which kitchen company to approach for design, it is always best to refer to the experience of family or friends. When in doubt, read customer reviews on trustworthy 3rd party sites like Google and Houzz and hear about the customer experiences on notgoodenough.org.

You should expect to see high quality 3D images like this one when using a paid kitchen design service. Image Copyright Dan Kitchens Australia. 

Benefits of using a paid design service.

In short, below are the reasons why many customers prefer a paid design service over free pitching:

Photo realistic 3D images are great because they are so revealing. Image Copyright Dan Kitchens Australia.

What is Dan Kitchens approach to kitchen design?

For the record, the design team at Dan Kitchens Australia are qualified in-house designers employed within the company on a salary basis, they are not commission-paid nor are they sub-contracted. All cabinetry, joinery and door fronts are made by the Dan Kitchens manufacturing facility and installed by their own cabinet makers – a rarity in this industry.

For a modest fee, Dan Kitchens offer a design service focused on collaborating with you to deliver a comprehensive kitchen design. It is a cooperative process involving our qualified designers and design team working with you. The service concludes only when you are completely satisfied with the kitchen being proposed. This approach rightly puts design at the forefront. In 2015 Dan Kitchens became Practice Members of the Design Institute of Australia, in recognition of this methodology – the only kitchen company in Sydney to do so.

Should you wish to learn more about the Design Service offered by Dan Kitchens Australia, you are most welcome to meet with the design team at the showroom or simply call on (02) 9624 2344.

From the outside looking in.

Raised ceiling with expansive glass windows deliver amble lighting into the space.

Floor to ceiling stacker doors open the kitchen up to the backyard.

A young couple with two children were looking for a modern kitchen with international style for their new home at Burraneer, on the shores of Sydney’s Port Hacking. By using natural stone and adapting the kitchen to the geometric architecture of the build, the team at Dan Kitchens fulfilled the brief and met the clients’ expectations.

The style

Dan Kitchens’ Graeme Metcalf explains what the clients meant by “international style”.

“They wanted something that transcended the local domestic style; something special,” he says. “Domestically, you tend to have certain styles that influence all home designs. They wanted something that would fit in in cities like New York, Berlin and Copenhagen, not just Sydney.”

From above, the Emperador marble island benchtop can be fully appreciated. 

The kitchen is a combination of tones, textures and materials. 

Dimensions and form

The 8.4m wide x 3.5m space was originally planned as a separate dining room and kitchen. In fact, when Dan Kitchens’ designer Arthur Baskin became involved, there was already concrete formwork dividing the areas. Seeing an opportunity to create something truly innovative, the wall was removed.

“This was quite a difficult choice to make as architectural concrete walls had already been formed and it meant the destruction and rebuilding of one wall to suit Arthur’s vision,” Metcalf says. “To their credit, the clients and architect could see what Arthur was proposing was a better layout, despite the work involved.”

This fusion of two formerly disparate areas included combining the kitchen island and the dining room table. The island, fitted with a Blanco undermount sink, a Dorf bowser tap and a Zip hydrotap, features two types of natural stone. The benchtop is a light-beige Emperador marble intersected by a vertical slab of black Fontainebleau granite. The dining table, of Eveneer Aniseed, is covered with glass, while the floor is solid timber planks of spotted gum.

Cool coloured Fountainebleau Granite divided by the warm Emperador Marble. 

“The strength of the kitchen’s style is in the boldness of the geometry,” Metcalf points out. “There are lots of rectangular elements, influenced by the other parts of the home. It has a lot of large concrete forms, and we’re working within that space.”

Thanks to sliding doors, one side of the room can be opened to the garden, dissolving preconceived notions of indoors/outdoors in the same way the kitchen and dining room were fused.

An eye for quality

As the client is a builder who specialises in building apartments, the Dan Kitchens team knew they were dealing with a professional who recognised excellence in building practice.

“For his own home, he really wanted something special,” Metcalf says. “Because he knows the industry and how things are made, he really wanted to push himself as well. The materials and design he put into this are quite refined, quite different. You’re talking about copper panelling; about glass framework that was cut overseas. When you make something that’s specific and specialised to exacting standards, it’s hard for suppliers to deliver, hence it took so long to be built.”

 

Shaded garden with copper wall cladding above.

Dorf bowser tap, Blanco double bowl undermounted sink and a Zip Hydrotap.

Because the house is a concrete structure, the cabinet making had to stick to very fine tolerances. “You can’t just say ‘it’s 1000mm’, you have to say, ‘it’s 1001.5mm’,” Metcalf explains.

Kitchen cabinetry also needs to withstand the long-term assault of moisture and heat.

“A lot of companies in the industry still use white melamine board, but we use a waterproof polymer board that will not expand when exposed to water. Waterproof board is primarily used in our sink cabinet bottoms and our kickboards – those are the two main elements prone to water damage whether it be from a leak or improper care.”

The client reaction

Metcalf says that after three years of building their home, the family is now relaxing into it and is extremely happy with the result.

“The husband once said to us that our DNA was all throughout the house. We decided that he meant some of the decisions we made in the kitchen helped them make decisions for the rest of the home. We think that’s one of the greatest compliments we’ve had.”

Upstairs, a glass walkway bridges the gap between sections of the home.

Exterior of the home.

For more examples of their work, visit the Dan Kitchens Gallery.

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A beautiful kitchen and setting for entertaining in. Newport, NSW.

The Newport Project: A Case Study

The project brief was to update a decades-old kitchen in Newport on Sydney’s northern beaches into a spacious new room with a Scandinavian feel. The clients turned to the team at Dan Kitchens, with 30-plus years of experience in kitchen design and installation.

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BEFORE: A dark enclosed kitchen space not well connected to the rest of the room. 

The client’s brief

Dan Kitchens’ Vagn Madsen says the clients are fond of Scandinavian style, but also wanted a design that reflected the vibrant Australian environment.

It was important, given the beachside location, to avoid interpreting the Scandinavian brief too starkly. “They wanted a slightly beachy feel to the design,” Vagn says.

“So you’re talking lighter tones, with American oak veneer timber adding warmth.

“It was also about the material selection – the bench tops, the door panels and handles. When you’re near a beach, things corrode easily, and you’re also in a sunny environment, so you need to choose materials that can survive these conditions.”

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Concealed drawers in the island. American Oak bar backing and lift-up wall cabinets add a touch of warmth and softness to this coastal home. 

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Pittwater at your doorstep. The view from coastal homes is often spectacular, but it is important to select materials that can survive these unforgiving environments. 

The design in 3D

Dan Kitchens blends traditional and modern techniques when preparing plans. Designer Vagn Madsen first created hand-drawn plans for the clients. “We find when you design by hand on paper, you’re more in tune with the design process,” Vagn explains.

Next, a fully-rendered 3D image of the kitchen was produced, giving the clients the chance to see the kitchen as a finished product. It’s a process that’s taken the better part of a decade to perfect, and Vagn says it really resonates with clients. “Customers have commented that our concept images are so realistic, it’s as if we’ve already built the kitchen in their home and taken a photograph of it.”

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The 3D image of the proposed design. All clients who use Dan Kitchens design service are supplied with these images. 

The focal point of the kitchen is a four-metre benchtop with overhangs resembling Japanese torii. “The clients are people who like to entertain and they wanted something unique,” Vagn says. “And the long benchtop has that impressiveness when you turn the corner and see it for the first time.”

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The engineered stone island with wings either side, reminiscent of Japanese Torii.

With the benchtop, the clients made the decision not to use natural marble, preferring an engineered stone with the appearance of much-prized Calacatta marble – a pale stone with dramatic grey veining. “One of the things we’ve become aware of over the years with marble is that it is very porous, so it’s easily stained,” Vagn says. “You can have it sealed, but it doesn’t always stay sealed. Engineered quartz stone is a viable alternative now as it has the look of marble without the drawbacks.”

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Looking over the island benchtop. Dan Kitchens used an engineered stone with the convincing appearance of Calacatta marble. 

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A detail of the join in the benchtop slabs. At 4.5m long, the island is simply too long for a single slab. The stone mason joined two slabs together with a 1mm grout line and has taken care to match any veining across the join. 

The process

Client consultation included five or six revisions until a design was settled on. This included the appliance selection, which are a mix of American and European brands. Vagn explains that although high quality European products are popular as ever, there’s a trend for some customers towards American brands, particularly the Sub-Zero refrigerators and Wolf ovens and stovetops used in this design.

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Sub-Zero 76cm integrated refrigerator and M Series Wolf Appliances.

Vagn says Dan Kitchens’ level of involvement in planning depends on the client. Some have definite ideas about what they want, while others need help choosing colours, finishes and accessories like bar stools and lights. The team’s decades of experience puts them in the perfect position to assist on all aspects of kitchen creation. That same experience can also help clients avoid mistakes. “I was looking at a plan just now,” Vagn says. “The clients were specifying 60cm deep cabinets. But if you really want to make the most out of your kitchen you should go deeper, to at least 68cm. Another mistake is building low cabinetry; it’s much better to build up nearer to the ceiling and install a shallow bulkhead.”

The importance of materials in cabinet making

Unlike other companies that use melamine door fronts, Dan Kitchens use an E0 grade Lamiwood substrate painted with polyurethane on all sides of drawers and doors, sealing against moisture penetration and preventing curvature.

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A mostly handle-less kitchen. All door and drawer panels are painted on all sides in polyurethane to help prevent moisture exposure and warping. 

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Inside the scullery. A Stainless steel benchtop with welded in sink is a very hygienic option as stainless steel is very easy to clean. 

Dan Kitchens is a one-stop-shop for kitchen design and installation, having the advantage of its own spray booth and manufacturing facilities in an industry where most others outsource to a 3rd party. “It’s impossible to control quality and service if everything you do is outsourced,” Vagn says. “There’s simply too many 3rd parties with no commitment to the client. We’re committed to delivering the best product and service to our clients. That’s why we’ve chosen to go against the industry trend of keeping everything we do in-house”.

The client reaction

“They love it” Vagn replies when asked about the clients’ verdict. “It meets all their criteria and we worked on the design for over a month to get it right. It gave them the confidence that we could deliver what they desired.”

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A galley shot looking towards the scullery. A ducted integrated Qasair rangehood removes cooking fumes from the Wolf modular cooktop appliances.

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The final product.

For more examples of their work, visit the Dan Kitchens Gallery.

Industrial Style Kitchen closeup

Industrial style kitchens are often a little understood style open to wide interpretation. This has prompted us to share our thoughts on its key elements.

Exposing the inner workings

It’s the complete opposite approach to other kitchen styles, normally you would conceal rangehood ducting, aircon ducting, piping and light fittings. With industrial style, you are leaving these elements exposed for the world to see, much as a factory designer would not bother with concealment in a factory. In principle it sounds like less work to do, however, because these inner workings are always visible any defects or untidiness can not be hidden. More attention and care needs to be put into specifying and installing better fittings (think chromed piping or rigid ducting).

Some exposed fittings and fixtures to consider: –

Reusing or repurposing items

Using old items, such as recycled timber on island benchtops, reclaimed furniture, or antiques that look like they belong on a factory floor, add authenticity and character to the industrial space.

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Spaces with the elements of a warehouse environment are perfect for industrial style kitchens; tall ceilings, open space, polished concrete flooring and plenty of natural light.

Ideally a warehouse, factory or hall environment

As you can imagine, nothing beats a factory or warehouse space for an authentic industrial look. These spaces are often very raw to begin with; warn flooring with loads of character, aged paintwork exposing the brick pattern, high ceilings, loads of floor space and plenty of natural lighting. Old halls and converted churches also have these characteristics. For a lot of people, it makes sense to choose a kitchen that is analogous with the environment it is going into. However, with a bit of planning, hard work and a little bit of bravery a room within a standard home can take on some of these characteristics.

Aged surfaces

Concrete or wide rustic wooden floorboards are the flooring choice for this style, as they are reminiscent of the practical floor surfaces in a warehouse or factory. Old concrete floors can be polished or surface treated to alter the appearance. Bear in mind concrete is a very practical surface, but it is also extremely cold and hard against feet. If resurfacing, a warmer alternative is to specify an engineered floating floor, available in a myriad of species, colours, sizes and textures (including pre-aged and distressed options). A popular choice for brick walls is to simply paint over the brickwork and keep the brick texture or going a step further by sanding back the paint layer in areas to reveal the brickwork again. Lining the wall with small rustic tiles (think subway tiles), especially around the cooktop and sink area is also a good choice.

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Aged & carbonised American Oak engineered flooring from Royal Oak Floors.

Benchtop Materials

One part of the kitchen you will see up close and interact with everyday is the benchtop, so it pays to give it some thought and consider your options. Getting a stainless steel fabricated benchtop is a good idea for a few reasons. The stainless steel will likely match other features, they’re extremely durable, easy to clean and will develop an aged patina over time. Concrete benchtops are also a popular choice for the industrial style but be aware edges do chip easily, periodically need to be resealed and they are not the most dimensionally accurate. For the concrete look without the fuss specify an engineered stone (see Caesarstone’s Sleek Concrete 4003) or a Sintered Ceramic (see Neolith’s Beton top).

Cabinet Style

Expect to see a wide array of door styles from flat panel in polyurethane lacquer or stainless steel, to a decorative recessed panel in a hand-painted finish. Certainly an eclectic mix, but the benefit is you can blend styles together. Take for example shaker style doors merged with the elements industrial style – it’s pretty much become it’s own sub-category.

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This kitchen has flat panels in polyurethane (satin finish). 

Timber & iron bar stools

We’re blessed with many choices in bar stools aimed directly at the industrial style. We like to specify stools with a cast iron or steel fabricated base and a timber top. Popular stools include the Tolix Bar Stool, Toledo Bar Stool and the Hinkley Bar Stool.

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Arteriors Hinkley Bar Stool
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Toledo Bar Stool

Factory pendant lighting

Pendant lighting is one of those features that can really fill a space and direct the eye. Larger rooms with high ceilings can take big heavy industrial lighting [see image], while smaller spaces work better with more discrete pendants (Edison bulbs). Lighting in black, chrome, glass, wood, brushed steel, copper, aged or reclaimed work well.

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Warehouse pendant light from Fatshack Vintage in Melbourne

Appliances

Go for any of the modern European kitchen classics in stainless steel or black. Appliances that look chunky or engineered are also suitable. Appliances from Wolf and Sub-Zero (both American brands) are big and chunky having come from the commercial background. German appliance maker Gaggenau have an engineered and precise quality about them, much like precision manufacturing equipment. Also consider Smeg’s Classic range of appliances, they have looked the same for decades simply because they continue to appeal to the retro/industrial market.

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Wolf ovens have a distinctive chunky industrial look, not surprising given their commercial background.  

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German made Gaggenau appliances are known for their engineered and precise look.

We hope you find this article helpful in your own quest for achieving an industrial style kitchen. As experienced kitchen designers in Sydney, we regularly draw on these elements to create industrial style kitchens for our clients. If you need further help on your quest, you are most welcome to visit our combined showroom/design office and discuss your ideas with our team.

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Veneer board used to great effect in this kitchen design.

Timber veneer is a surfacing material that is both decorative and individual, as no two veneers are alike. You can choose from a huge variety of species, colours and timber grains in order to add warmth, ambience, style and a touch of nature to your bespoke kitchen.

What is veneer?

Timber veneer comprises of thin slices of timber (as little as 1mm) glued onto a substrate of plywood, craft-wood or particle board. There are two main types – natural wood veneer and engineered wood veneer. The intrinsic patterns in natural veneer remain unaltered (apart from an applied stain), while engineered veneer is made from a reconstructed timber, often Poplar or other plantation timber, dyed or stained to get a particular appearance.

Just a couple of the ways veneer is sliced from a timber log. Each method produces a different grain pattern.

How a timber log is cut determines the grain pattern in veneer. Popular cuts include; crown cut, which have bold curves and ovals within the grain; quarter cut, which is characterised by a pattern of straight lines in the grain; and rotary cut, which is predominately used in plywood and creates a multi-coloured, swirled grain.

Veneer vs solid timber

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This kitchen utilises Australian Jarrah in the form of veneer (see the tall cabinets on the left) and solid timber (see the lattice doors on the island). The veneer and solid timber work in harmony to bring this kitchen together. Without being informed you’d easily believe you were looking at solid timber kitchen.

Timber veneer panels offer a few advantages over solid wood, in that it’s more economical, environmentally friendly, and is much less prone to warping or cracking. The main disadvantage is veneer cannot be shaped or routed into without revealing the underlying substrate.

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Timber edge banding on a jarrah veneer door.

You can tell the difference between veneer and solid wood via the presence of edge banding – a thin piece of solid timber used to cover up an unfinished edge of veneer board. Furthermore, if the grain doesn’t follow the same direction across all surfaces, it’s veneer.

The benefits of using veneer in your kitchen

Colour choice: Veneer adds colour, texture and tone to an otherwise muted space. Veneer can also be stained, dyed or painted for further tailoring of the aesthetic.

Softness: Veneer can make a hard edged kitchen look softer.

Natural: Veneer combines well with other natural materials (such as marble or stone) in and around the kitchen space.

Design flexibility and shape stability: It’s cheaper than most solid timbers (when compared to the same species in solid material), available in larger sheet sizes for greater design flexibility, and has better resistance to cracking and warping.

The drawbacks of veneer

Difficult to repair: Scratches through the clear coat and into the veneer can be difficult to repair. Deep gouges will go through the veneer layer revealing the substrate underneath which again can be difficult to repair.

Discolours at high temperature: Avoid if possible using veneer in high temperature areas, such as behind cooktops, as the timber and clear coat can discolour with long exposure.

Dislikes water: Using veneer in areas of steam should also be avoided if possible. The clear coat protects the veneer from moisture, but if this coating is warn from excessive cleaning/polishing, the veneer may be prone to expansion with long exposure.

Can discolour with UV light exposure: All veneers, and in particular veneers that are treated with a stain or dye, are prone to varying degrees of colour change when exposed in areas of high UV light. Manufacturers can and should use UV inhibitors in their clear coating to help combat this.

Veneer must be the same on both sides: If the back surface of any veneer panel (take for instance the back of doors and drawer fronts) does not have the same veneer as the front applied, the panel can bend. Applying the same veneer to the back will balance the stresses within the panel, keeping it in shape. Ensure your kitchen manufacturer or joiner follows this principle.

The clear coat

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Image 1: Uncoated American Oak quarter cut veneer (un-edged showing the substrate).

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Image 2: Polyurethane coated American Oak quarter cut veneer (un-edged showing the substrate). Notice how the colour deepens, the surface becomes more reflective and the grain is filled in after lacquering.

Touching further on the subject of the clear coating, you couldn’t have timber veneer in the kitchen without it. It is a polyurethane based coating system that essentially provides a protective barrier for the wood and substrate. Many kitchen companies apply different clear coats. Some add a high gloss finish (much like a piano top) that make the veneer look very shiny. Others, apply a very thick matt finish. This method can make the veneer look like plastic as it fills in the grain texture, appears foggy and can easily show up areas of over polishing/cleaning. The preferred method for most kitchen companies and joiners is to take a more natural approach, applying an even coating at about 30% gloss level. This is easy to clean, shows the grain texture and looks the most natural.

Care and maintenance of timber veneer

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In this kitchen, the light natural stone contrasts with the dark veneer for a striking look. Additionally, to further protect the veneer a glass sheet is placed on top.

Timber veneer is not the easiest material to maintain but with this advice you will be as prepared as you can be:

Looking to use veneer in your kitchen? See it first before committing.

Timber veneer is a product that can be more expensive then a polyurethane door. Even on this basis, if you are considering using it, it warrants further investigation. All kitchen manufacturers have different ways of working with veneer and applying it to their kitchen designs. With the knowledge provided here, we encourage anyone who is considering a veneer kitchen to inspect firsthand. As a manufacturer of Scandinavian style kitchens, we at Dan Kitchens have a long history of working with timber veneer and have many examples in our luxury kitchen showroom for you to see. We are also more than happy to take you into our factory to show you how our joiners work with this amazing material.

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The warmth and softness of lightly stained timber veneer contrasts beautifully with cooler concrete, steel and tiled elements in this most subtle and elegant inner West residence.

The Birchgrove project

With a broad ranging commission to modernise and transform this Sydney home, Nobbs Radford Architects, Artechne (builders) and Dan Kitchens worked in close collaboration to deliver a modern classic. Each floor has been carefully fitted out with fastidiously intricate yet seemingly simple joinery, creating a new modern aesthetic that will remain fresh and enjoyable for a lifetime.

Once an old weatherboard home with a lean to extension at the rear, walls were removed and replaced with a wall of glass looking out into a private green space. Working to extremely tight tolerances, lightly stained veneer panels were applied to the stairwell area, from the basement level, past the main floor and up to the bedroom level on the top floor.

Solid, oversize pivot doors into storage rooms on the basement level were veneered by Dan Kitchens so that they seamlessly blended in with the adjoining wall panelling. On the main floor, the stairwell panels wrapped around hidden structural elements and morphed into a series of pantries, a cluster of wall ovens and then past a bespoke stainless steel niche housing the cooktop area. Fully integrated fridge freezer units are concealed by further panelling that eventually leads into a laundry area located behind the kitchen.  Matching solid timber vents above and below the panels provide ventilation for the fridges and an air conditioning plant.

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BEFORE: An old addition at the rear of the workers cottage.

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DURING CONSTRUCTION: Nothing was left untouched during the renovation, including the stairs. The new concrete benchtop, plinth and steel frame of the island are shown in the centre.

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AFTER: Completely re-worked into a  modern open plan layout.

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Inside the kitchen.

Many unique features were built into this custom kitchen that required great skill in finishing. Take for instance the air conditioning vents above the integrated refrigerators. Normally such vents would be of aluminium extrusion and cut to size, here they are made entirely out of timber joinery, matching the rest of the kitchen.

Another feature is the cooktop niche encased in stainless steel from benchtop, sides, canopy and splashback. The stainless steel cooktop niche was a challenge even for the very experienced Dan Kitchens installers.  Wedged in under the staircase, the entire structure had to be lifted into place by hand, carefully avoiding the concrete island sitting in the way. Subtle 3mm thick steel panels surrounding the welded in cooktop and overhanging cylindrical rangehood  provide elegant contrast to the warm tones of the adjoining veneer. Stainless steel lined sliding joinery doors hide small appliances behind the cooktop – an area under the stairs that would have otherwise gone to waste.

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DURING CONSTRUCTION: Stainless steel cooktop area with sliding doors to splashback.

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Detail of custom timber joinery vent in matching American Oak.

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Detail under the completed concrete benchtop.

Sturdy steel legs support a solid concrete island that takes pride of place in this luxury kitchen. One end of the island is cantilevered out towards the dining room and is open underneath. Much like a jigsaw puzzle, two drawer style fridges, a sink and a dishwasher as well as multiple drawers are interspersed between the island legs, all enclosed in grey toned lacquered joinery.

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DURING CONSTRUCTION: The dining room sideboard.

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AFTER: White satin polyurethane joinery sideboard integrated within the walls of the dining area.

Split level floors created challenges of their own. Imported, smoked oak floorboards met tiles at critical points and these points marked the starting point for flush mounted joinery in the living and dining rooms.

Level with the higher floor in the kitchen space, under one side of the opening glass wall, low lying timber veneer joinery houses HI-FI components and doubles as a long credenza. On the opposite side of the room, more veneer joinery sits under a lacquered sideboard embedded into the wall behind the dining table.

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DURING CONSTRUCTION: Living room underbench joinery had to be built around structural elements.

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DURING CONSTRUCTION: The underbench joinery was designed to conceal HI-FI components. Mirrored backs to the cabinets make plugging in cables easy.

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Stairs behind the kitchen lead up to the second level.

The tall, narrow stairwell proved to be just as challenging when it came to fitting the large, heavy panelling into place. Specialised scaffolding was set up twice in this space – once to fit the panels up raw so as to check for fit and again to install the panels after they had been stained and lacquered. Tall robes, a desk and bathroom joinery to the top floor had to be squeezed past the wall panels and in an extreme case, disassembled and reassembled in-situ given the limited access – all part of a day’s work for the Dan Kitchens experienced team!

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Getting the joinery to fit perfectly in the allocated space was no easy task as there were many elements to contend with.  

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Looking into the bedroom and towards the city beyond.

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Vanity cabinets are hidden behind mirror fronts finished flush with the wall.

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The architect redesigned the home to incorporate the view towards Sydney Harbour.

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Although positioned with neighbours in close proximity, the outdoor space feels open and private.

For more photos of this project, visit the Dan Kitchens Gallery.

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