Learn everything you need to know about kitchens when building a new house.

Kitchens are the heart of every home – especially when indoor and outdoor entertainment is combined with an open-plan living space.  It’s generally the area where display homes become the most flashy and look amazing but the total lump sum cost of all upgrades can be quite daunting. 

Going through all the features one by one can help understand what you absolutely need, what would be a nice to have and what you can do without. This will make sure that your hard-earned cash goes exactly where it gives you the most value – and although you’re not necessarily buying the ‘as displayed’ version, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.

Dropped Kitchen

To explain this one I need to get a bit technical so to avoid any confusion up front: The measurement of brick courses to describe ceiling heights is based on the standard that one brick equals 8.6cm. Most newly built homes will come with high ceiling to the living areas, almost always including the kitchen.
They are generally advertised as 31courses (roughly 2.6m) but with standard overhead cupboards finishing at 28c, This can often leave owners surprised with a 3course (26cm) gap to the ceiling. A dropped ceiling to 28c is one of two ways to avoid this issue and besides closing that gap, it also has the nice side effect that gives additional character to your new home.
Especially in layouts where the kitchen, dining and living is in one long rectangle, my clients often appreciate this visual separation without losing the benefits of open plan living.

Square Bulkhead

Browsing through plans you will find that square bulkheads are widely used in different spots for various purposes such as space under the eves or on top of robes or feature recesses. For the purpose of this guide I will focus on their use in the kitchen area.
With everything when it comes to building, dropping the entire kitchen ceiling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. 

 Whether it’s budget, the kitchen space already being quite separated or high ceilings throughout are just preferred, a square bulkhead can be a great alternative to close the gap between cupboards and ceiling.
If you are going fancy and opt for extra high ceilings to the living area (34c), then you might want to consider combining a dropped ceiling (to 31c) and then the square bulkhead to 28c as per the photo on the left.

Overhead Cupboards

Storage is one of the most requested priorities for every house, but in particular the kitchen. Walk-in pantries and sculleries can be great extensions to the kitchen cabinetry and offer plenty of space to hide things away. However, if you want to reduce space to clean or the square meters are better used elsewhere, one needs to get creative; and overhead cupboards can offer a lot of convenient storage space.
Having your favorite cups, plates and glasses always in reach at a comfortable height does make a big difference to the everyday use of the main kitchen space. But be careful, there are significant differences such as:

• Height of the cupboards
• Cabinet door designs
• Opening mechanisms/hinges
• Quality and finish of materials

Integrated rangehood

An important feature of every kitchen that is being used for proper cooking is the exhaust fan and rangehood. Firstly, make sure that your exhaust fan is flumed – otherwise you end up with smell, steam and later on mold in your roof space. 

From a design perspective, most upper level display homes achieve a smooth look by doing away with the stainless steel rangehood and integrating one in with the overhead cabinetry. If you are planning on making your storage look appealing and you want that uniform look, this upgrade is a must have option.

Undermount Sink

Less is often more – and if you want a great looking island bench to show off with, an undermount sink as opposed to a standard stainless steel one can add to the look of the kitchen. One thing to be aware of though: Pots will need to be dried off by kitchen helpers right away since there is no stainless steel drain to just leave them for the time being.

Splashback: Tiled/Glass/window

Splashbacks often cover a lot of areas in many kitchens and therefore need compliment the rest of the kitchen for looks but also be practical. Depending on budget, taste and kitchen layout, my clients have these three general options:

  • Tiled splashback: usually the simplest and cheapest way – the splashback stays easy to clean as long as it’s sealed and a darker grout colour is used.
  • Glass/mirrored splashback: For a good quality glass, this can cost significantly more than the tiled option. Depending on how fancy you go with effects within the glass, prices do still vary. The main thing to consider is how much attention you want to draw to the work area – the more attention, the more detailed cleaning you will have to do.
  • A third often overlooked option is the splash back window: If the kitchen design permits you having your stove to an outside wall, why not make it a window to overlook a hanging herb garden or backyard? The cost is much lower than glass splash backs, the cleaning requirements the same and more light into your kitchen is rarely a bad thing, right?

Potdrawers

Have you ever noticed that half of the genius that’s portrayed in cooking shows on TV is the speed coming from perfect preparation and the chefs always having all the tools ready to go? Well, the right amount of pot drawers might get you this one important step closer to being organized enough to get that next level dish going.
Standard cabinets are great and cheaper for the clunky juicer or mixer, but when it comes to smaller pots, pans or even Tupperware, you want to be able to look top down at your selection and pick the right one without having to pull everything out. Make sure you incorporate a mix that is right for you!

Dishwasher/ MW Recess

Bench space matters in all kitchens – so make sure that you don’t waste it on the likes of microwaves or drying dishes. Make sure that you have a dishwasher and a micro waver recess included when you build. And that means to not just get the space but the right connections (hot & cold water tap for the dishwasher and of course powerpoints).
You can also opt in for great looking built-in appliances and while they look great in some display homes, keep in mind that replacing or upgrading in the future may not be so easy unless you find a model with the exact same measurements.

W/O Stacker

You’re baking more than you’re cooking? You’re not alone. If the oven becomes the most used appliance, you might want to have it at a more convenient height in what’s called a ‘stacker’.

Generally, it comes with the microwave recess, overhead cupboards and 2 pot drawers so really use the space. Obviously, this also means that you can now fit more cabinets or drawers in the original oven location underneath the stove.

Serving Window

To really make use of our mostly beautiful WA weather, a lot of houses are built for inside and outside living. Courtyard and kitchens towards the back of the house have become increasingly popular. 

That’s why you’ll see a lot of serving windows with extended stone benchtops as an outside bar. Some of the options such as bi-fold windows can be quite expensive but the right sliding serving window can cost a lot less and often be more practical.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to learn about kitchens. They are one of the places in our home we spend the most time in after all.I’ve scratched the surface here, to try and get you to a point were you are well prepared to have good conversations with your Building Consultant. But should you feel like you need more details, I’m always here to help! Just contact me with any questions you might have and I’m sure I can remove all uncertainties!

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Author: Niklas Mittmann

Niklas Mittmann has been selling houses in the greater Perth region for the last couple of years. During this time he has gained valuable insights into the whole building & designing process and can help with ANY custom design ideas you might have! He's proud to work with Ventura Homes, Western Australia's second largest building group owing its success largely to extremely fair pricing, streamlined processes and flexibility for first homebuyers, upgraders or investors of any kind. He also likes to talk about himself in the 3rd person, because why not?

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