A drizzly winter’s day catches an associate and I having a casual chat over a peppermint tea with new clients. The topic of conversation: the adventure we’re all about to embark on. Major plans are afoot, rolls of Yellowtrace paper have been let loose and the Artline pen is in hand, but where to start?
There are of course as many places to start as there are reasons for doing so. With our practice, we like to work from the inside out, and when we’re ‘inside’, the kitchen and bathroom are where we start.
Planning these areas early, establishing ‘good bones’, setting the tone for the design and defining key spatial qualities is paramount. We want these spaces to feel inviting with plenty of natural light as well as somewhere to put the hairdryer, nonna’s over-sized soup pot or the secret stash of chocolate biscuits. For most of us, we launch into the day from these spaces.
A place to gather, chat, sit and do your homework or pay the bills and entertain friends; the kitchen should feel like an extension of the dining or living space, rather than clinical and utilitarian spaces for food prep. After all, kitchens are social beacons, places of congregation. The humble kitchen bench is more than just a slab–top and waterfall–ends but a highly personalised furniture piece at the heart of the home.
Bathrooms have become the hidden show-pieces in our homes. Designing bathrooms that are a functional balance between accommodation and experience is essential. These spaces are incredibly personal. The key is to understand how clients use these spaces. What are their routines and habits? More importantly, do they want to keep these habits or are they looking for change?
We like to integrate the materiality of our kitchen and bathrooms with the building fabric, blurring the line between the two, tracing forms through the exterior and interior. We love clean lines and encourage the use of integrated appliances and secret ‘doors’ wherever possible.
The practicalities of a kitchen and bathroom space must be addressed, but these too can be finessed and refined. In kitchens, it is imperative that thought goes into positioning of food zones; this can make or break a kitchen design. Larger single sinks with accessories in lieu of the more traditional double bowls allows for more precious bench space. ‘Free induction’ enables cooking versatility and a streamline finish.
In bathrooms it’s all about light and storage. There is of course no substitute for natural light and its ability to elevate the spatial quality of a bathroom, but feature lighting is a great way of adding mood and texture in the twilight hours. There is nothing quite like soaking in a hot bath under a moody light. Under-basin drawers and integrated vanity bins are a must. People have ‘stuff’ and it should be easily accessible. Who wants to see a bin wedged in the corner of a beautiful bathroom?
In both kitchens and bathrooms, we can’t go past making sure tapware is seen as a statement and not an apology. This is a great way to achieve a clean minimal look with personality and edge, while still feeling sophisticated.
There are a handful of simple tips that we consider with all of our designs:
• It’s easy to identify the things that you’d change in your current kitchen or bathroom, but what about considering the things that you wouldn’t? We know it sounds simple but clients often overlook this in their haste for a fresh start.
• Pick your battles. Kitchens and bathrooms can get costly. Be selective about the hero items. Show restraint, pick key elements and allow them to shine. This adds a level of sophistication but keeps the pennies under control.
• Big does not mean better, joinery hardware is your friend. The use of clever hardware will allow you make the most of the tightest space.
• Clean lines, the use of materials as a personal expression, a palate of textures and light rather than applied fi nish. Trends come and go as sure as the seasons, but style is timeless. Seek advice from your interior designer or architect, because great design never grows old.
Creating timeless pieces that can be dressed up or down and still have a sense of style and sophistication 20 years from now is the way to tackle design. Great design has a cheeky way of engaging us, so much so that for the most part we don’t even know it’s happening. Day in and day out we interact with a built world that either works for us or doesn’t. When it does, I mean when it really does, and design is at its best, it sings. And best of all, it feels like home.
Sean Humphries Director/Architect Black Rabbit Architecture + Interiors theblackrabbit.com.au