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How to get a high-end kitchen for less

By Monica Boyd

The kitchen – be it old or new is the centerpiece of your home, and says a lot about you.

It is also arguably the most complex and expensive room in the house. Packed with crucial everyday equipment, pricey white goods and functional surfaces, it caters for your family’s everyday needs.

Given its significance and the time we spend in it, good looks should rate high even when your bank balance is not. So how to get a high-end, luxe-vibe kitchen for less?

1. Zone

A well-thought out layout speaks volumes about good style and design. “Think about the utility of the space and how you will use the kitchen on a daily basis,” says Catherine Valente, Residential Marketing Manager at Laminex.  “In addition to the classic concept of the work triangle (i.e. the fridge, stove top and kitchen bench), consider storage requirements, your needs and how you will function within the space, then choose your layout accordingly.”

Carefully consider materials and products, not just for their practicality and good looks, but also how they will delineate your layout. “The kitchen’s layout, particularly an open plan one, can be clearly defined using different textures, depths, planes and contrasting colour,” she says. “This makes material and product choice an integral part of the design process.”

2. Choose Product

Your choice of decorative surface hinges on your design and room layout.

“When designing a kitchen the golden rule is to keep the design simple,” says Valente. “Style doesn’t mean spending a lot of money, it can be achieved using small contrasts in colour and texture that can create the illusion of expensive luxury. Choosing the right decorative surface can take an ordinary benchtop to another level, whilst mixing and matching entry and high-end products that work well together, can affordably achieve great design without compromising quality.”

Given the advances Laminate has made over the years, including digital printing that allows greater print clarity and realistic stone and timber patterns, it is now possible to include classic and on-trend surfaces like woodgrains, veined stone, natural textiles and concrete looks that provide maximum impact for an affordable investment.  “Using our Laminex Impressions Range, the look of timber can be achieved at a fraction of what it would cost to use the real thing,” agrees Valente, “whilst a stone-look bench top can be created using our exquisite stone-looking laminate. Or combine both stone and laminate, using our essastone on the island bench and laminate on secondary benchtops like the rear or butler’s pantry.”

In a contemporary or minimal kitchen, luxury is most evident in the little details and quality of finish. “Detail is an integral part of any project and can take a space from good to great,” agrees Valente, “be it the contrast edging on a laminate bench top, or the finish of a waterfall end on an island bench. Pricey door handles can be replaced with stylish shadowline finger pulls for a strong architectural look, or a feature splashback can add another layer to the overall outcome and achieve a more beautiful kitchen for less.”

3. Choose Colours

For an uncluttered, modern feel, keep your kitchen colour palette simple, working within a monochromatic palette of two or three colours only. “Using gradient of colour is a great way to create a strong and stylish statement,” she says. “Small changes in shades of colour that are all from the same colour family add depth and interest,” she says, “ and when shadows and light come into play, a strong contrast is created.”

For good consistency of colour throughout your home, consider the colour palette of nearby rooms and spaces. “Your kitchen should complement not compete against them,” says Valente. “The essastone range is designed to seamlessly work with our overall Laminex collection, making colour continuation throughout effortless. By using a base palette of whites and greys in the kitchen, and continuing it in adjacent areas like study nooks, living room units or bookcases, choosing the right tonality of essastone for the kitchen bench top is made easier, and will effortlessly complement the overall style of your home.”

Consider essastone when it comes to choosing splash backs.

4. Natural is beautiful

With whites, greys and marbles perennially in vogue, an all-white kitchen is always a beautiful and timeless choice, and can be made more interesting through clever application of texture. “Mix your finishes for maximum effect,” says Valente. “An all-white kitchen looks luxurious with Laminate cabinets and the perfect essastone bench top in matching white. Or try an on-trend matte finish on bench tops combined with a gloss splashback, or add colour or textural features to shelves to create a focal point with a difference.”

5. Style

If your current layout works efficiently but needs a revamp, look for an existing focal point or create one to elevate its style. Your focal point should look anything but generic, but needn’t be expensive either. It should reflect your personal style and provide a solid basis for your kitchen’s overarching design. It could be a new splashback, overheads, or if the existing design permits, the benchtops.

A unique focal point can be created using Laminate in a myriad of different ways. “Add texture and interest using timber-look overheads or marble-look benchtops,” advises Valente. “Try highlighting key areas like tower sections or back panels of islands to create interest, or feature some shelves, open boxes or glass panels on overheads.  They become focal points, but also showcase items and add another layer of interest to the space.”

Adding your own personal style is easier than you think. Adding unique and decorative pieces can take your kitchen from drab to fab in a flash.

Creating a good style flow throughout is integral.  Once you have established your look, take the key colours and textures from other areas of your home, and use them in your kitchen. “Creating small and subtle stories with décor, is more effective than adding lots of different elements,” says Valente.

Appliances, like toasters, kettles and juicers, can feature as important styling pieces. Choose products that reflect your style, whether it is the shape, style or colour, and allow them to be cool focal points in your kitchen.

In 2017, lighting as a design feature remains a strong trend. “It doesn’t have to be the typical three pendant fitting over the island bench,” advises Valente. “A less pricey statement light over one end of the island, balanced with a décor story at the other end, like a simple beautiful fruit bowl, will create contrast, texture and a dramatic look. If you don’t like pendants, simple LED strip lighting under the island bench or under your overheads looks great and creates stunning mood lighting at night.”

Whilst everyone has their own unique style aesthetic, the key to reflecting it in your home, is to find a tangible way of establishing it through your design and its execution. “Laminate is a solution not a compromise,” says Valente, “it has the unique capability to create exactly the style you have in mind for your space, be it a cool coastal vibe, or a sleek and modern contemporary feel. We are an iconic Australian brand that continues to evolve over generations – it was in our grandparent’s kitchens and now it’s in ours! You could say that style is definitely in our blood, and we have proven for over 80 years to be the affordable and clever way to add great style to a kitchen. It was a revolutionary product in the 1950s, and in 2017, remains the most technologically driven, innovative and revolutionary design solution for modern renovators.”

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