Top tips for Great Kitchen Design

04 Oct Top tips for Great Kitchen Design

The kitchen is often said to be the heart and soul of a home. Today we’re sharing 10 design features that will have you saying, “I love my kitchen!” At the top of the list are style, layout and lighting. The rest follow on from there.

1. Style: choose your kitchen design style first

Take a cue from the architecture of your home. If your home is of a particular heritage, for example Federation, then acknowledge the architecture and try to stay as true to the architectural period as possible. You may love the look of a sleek contemporary kitchen, however if the rest of the home is filled with period features, you stand to loose at sale time if the kitchen is not in keeping, style-wise, with the remainder of the home. That’s not to say you need to replicate what the kitchen would have looked like in 1909 but there are ways it can be masterfully designed with today’s-look that won’t tank the value of your home.


2. Layout: always follow the kitchen golden triangle

Magazines and books on interior design all tout the Golden Triangle as being the golden rule to kitchen design – and it is! The Golden Triangle refers to positioning the three key work areas (i) sink; (ii) cooktop; and (iii) fridge at the three points of a triangle, allowing easy movement between each activity centre. Regardless of how big your kitchen area measures, the distance between each of these points should be no more than three metres.


3. Lighting: kitchen lighting should be layered

Kitchen lighting is probably one of the biggest design mistakes people make. Consult the advice of the professionals and have them tailor a solution specific to the design and use of your kitchen. The secret to lighting is to layer. Consider lighting for the core tasks in your kitchen such as cooking, eating and possibly the children’s homework. Light up your kitchen with pendant or halogens and over bench lights for a brighter work space. Finish with a decorative layer to create an atmosphere of relaxation by fitting dimmers on ceiling lights or back-lights in frosted glass cabinets. Strip LED’s are an effective way to light up an island bench or use floor lights for delicate washes of light.

4. Storage: smart kitchen storage

Think about your storage needs before mapping out the configuration of your kitchen. What will you be storing? How much space will you need? Drawers maximize storage space. Extra-deep options are great for pots and pans, making it easier to access heavy cookware without having to reach in the back of cupboards. Tall floor to ceiling cupboards are best made relatively shallow so items are not ‘lost’ inside. Consider an appliance cupboard to store appliances out of sight, such as a toaster, juicer, mix master or microwave.


5. Materials: get to know the options for your kitchen

Select materials that are not just beautiful, but functional. For example, in my opinion, Calacatta marble is one of the best looking materials around but it absorbs stains and with two young children… and their friends; an Italian heritage (think red wine and splatterings of red pasta sauce) coupled with the neat freak obsession of Monica Geller (from the TV show ‘Friends’), Calacatta marble is not a practical choice for me. It is possible to have marble coated to avoid these staining issues however do check out what the finish will look like to ensure you are happy with the final result. Bench top options range from engineered stone/quartz, marble, granite, wood, metal, painted glass, ceramic tile, slate, laminate and the eco-green paper-based options (yes, paper!) Materials should also reflect the aesthetic of the remainder of the house. 

6. Streamlined Surfaces: clean lines in kitchens are key

When it comes to surfaces, in general, think seamless clean lines. Think about how much bench space you need, what it will be used for and where in the kitchen you need it. Go for bench tops that are streamlined with few visible joins and under-bench sinks (exception to this is in rental properties where a drop in sink is more practical for wear and tear). Choose architectural hardware that are either low key or invisible finger pulls cut in to the top or side of cupboards. Consider full-length cupboards that reach the ceiling or run flush with a bulkhead, doing away with wasted space that also collects dust and grime.

7. Colour: Make your kitchen colour-smart

The colour scheme of your kitchen can make or break the total look of your home. Have you ever walked into a kitchen and thought “Eww, why would they do that?” Whites are clean; greys are design-safe classics and reds/oranges stimulate appetite. Stick to neutral tones. Dark tones make an impact but can overwhelm small spaces, so use on the bottom row of cabinetry. Keep bursts of colour to feature spots like splashbacks or the front panel of island benches – or better still, restrict to accessories. It’s okay to have whatever colour combination you desire in your ‘forever’ kitchen, however be aware that if you need to sell your home in the interim, potential buyers might not have the same appreciation for use of colour and may be put off by what they see.


9. Integrated Appliances: how to create the feeling of space in your kitchen

Think about how much you want to integrate your kitchen into the rest of your home. Do you want it to look like a kitchen? Or do you want it to appear a seamless extension to the rest of the home, hiding kitchen appliances and white goods? For fridges, it’s a matter of fitting a door in the same material as the cupboards. For the dishwasher, disguise it with an integrated front panel.


10. Scullery or Walk-In Pantry: great for uncluttering the kitchen

A scullery is a must for people that have the luxury of space and entertain lots of guests for dinner or cocktail parties. Instead of one large kitchen, split it in two to make space to build a scullery room. By adding this extra room, you will be able to maintain a streamlined and uncluttered main kitchen space. Make sure to include a place to wash the dishes, store your fridge and prepare food. The best thing about a scullery is that it hides the mess. The next best thing after a scullery is a walk-in pantry. Use the walk-in pantry to store not just food and drinks but all your entertaining needs such as dinnerware, serving ware, glassware, cutlery and linens.


Call in the professionals:

If you find the whole process more than you can deal with, let us help you. At North Shore Interiors we can design and specify colours and materials for your new kitchen that is tailored to your specific needs. We can work with your kitchen and cabinetry supplier or recommend one for you. All you need do is email us at

Images for this post:

About Linda Delaney and North Shore Interiors

Linda Delaney is the owner and manager of North Shore Interiors, a company that provides interior design, decorating, styling and project management services to Sydney’s lower north shore and greater Sydney metropolitan area.

Linda has been seen in Habitus, Inside Out, Grand Designs Australia and Money magazines. She is also a regular contributor for leading Australian interior design publications, Home Design and the annual Design & Decoration. Watch out for more of Linda’s work featured in the media.

Contact Linda at or on 0432 716 558.