Modern Australian Style Sustainable Kitchen | SpaceCraft Joinery | Project


Ellen Nathan

A kitchen that proves environmentally sensitive design is not out of reach.

Price guide*: $40K - $45K


Doors/Drawer fronts: Laminated 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood, Polytec Stone Grey EO  Doors: Laminated 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood, Laminex – Natural White EO  Carcass: 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood, Laminex – Natural White EO   Handles: Cut out handle detail   Drawers: Blum Intivo Glass sided Pot Drawers   Benchtops: Laminated 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood, Laminex – Sheer Mesh EO   Sink Upstand: Laminated 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood with Plywood Beading, Superior Surfaces – Giallo   Rangehood Canopy: Laminated 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood with Plywood Beading, Superior Surfaces – Giallo  Kickboards: Laminated 16mm Hoop Pine Plywood, Polytec Stone Grey EO  Wall/Ceiling Colour: Painted Dulux Surf Mist  Flooring: Concrete Fuse Tile with underfloor heating   Underfloor Heating: Sunray   Floor Tiles: Beaumonts   Lighting: Underbench and overhead lighting, Lincoln Sentry – LED tube Strip Warm White Styx2  Pendants: Make Architecture, Potter Lights   Splashback Tiles: Mutina Tex White Tiles Urban Edge Ceramics   Hardware: Pull Boy Bin – 72 Litre with servo drive   Overhead doors: Aventos HL BLUM Servo Drive   Kitchen Tidy: 2 tier Chrome pull out, Lincoln Sentry   Red Brick Feature Wall: Old Red Shale, The Old Red Brick Co   Oven: Ariston 60cm Multi Oven   Dishwasher: Bosch Integrated Lifestyle Automatic   Cooktop/Hotplate: AEG Gas Hob Flat Profile HG75FX   Refrigerator: Samsung 710L Double Door   Sink: Mercer Undermount Sink ST301 + Collander, Dish Rack, Food Board and Drainer Tray   Rangehood: Blanco BRU70X   Mixer tap: IAG ITDC1   Bar Stools: Freedom Tractor Stool   Louvre Windows: Breezeway Clear low-e glass   Sliding doors: Tiana Joinery Double glazed sliding doors   External Awning: Country Blinds, Motorised external awning.

*Price guide includes: cabinetry, tops and splash backs. Exclusions: appliances, electrical, and plumbing

The Challenge a space that was light and open, with fresh, modern Australian styling...

Clients sometimes ask Nathan: what would you do, if it were your kitchen? Well, in this case, the project was the family kitchen he shares with wife, Ellen, and their two young boys. So, now you know…

We’d progressively renovated the front of our 1920s bungalow in Strathalbyn, leaving just a 1970s extension at the rear. This is where the kitchen and a playroom were located. The kitchen space was dark and cold, felt very small and cluttered, and was totally impractical for large extended family gatherings.

Drawing on all our experience in the business, we knew precisely what we wanted and it was a long way from mainstream: a space that was light and open, with fresh, modern Australian styling.

Overriding the whole project, we also wanted our renovation to be environmentally friendly and achieved sustainably using materials with minimal impact on either the ecology or our health.

We also wanted to explore tactile, textured finishes and patterns to create interest. As for the colour scheme, whilst we were originally keen on grey and white, we slowly warmed to the idea of adding a primary colour for some pop and warmth. (See? Designers change their minds, too.)

Over and above that, however, if we can use that pun at our own expense, the key factor with this project is that neither of us are particularly tall people. Here, at last, was an opportunity to create a kitchen that finally worked to our scale. (And prove, yet again, that everything we do is built around our clients.)

Obviously, practicality was critical. Having considered it for some time, we decided on open shelving for easy access to frequently used items. But we also wanted it to feel uncluttered and relaxed with a central island bench, where our kids could eat breakfast and do their homework.

Our Solution

...we saw this as a brilliant opportunity to research and explore new and different joinery materials, and create something really different....

We saw this as a brilliant opportunity to research and explore new and different joinery materials, and create something really different.

One of our first decisions was to remove the wall between the playroom and kitchen. Not only did that open up the space but it also makes the most of a large north-facing window, which has a lovely outlook to a pergola shaded by an ornamental grapevine. Next was to install glass sliding-doors with external awnings to connect with our lovely, big backyard. All this has allowed more light into the larger space along with free heat from the sun in the cooler months and an easy flow of traffic between the kitchen, dining area and access to the outside.

After all our delving, we had an exhaustive list of environmentally friendly ideas that make this kitchen a shining example of what can now be achieved. For example, all the cabinetry and doors were manufactured from Australian hoop-pine plywood, which is Super E0 (the lowest obtainable formaldehyde emission rating) and approved by the Forest Stewardship Council for sustainability. Whilst the edges are left exposed for effect, the front and back are finished in E0 laminates.

The Blum hardware we used is quality we trust with a lifetime warranty, meaning it shouldn’t need to be replaced. We’ve also integrated a Blum servo-drive four-bin management system for our recyclable waste, food scraps, recycling, compost and chook food.

The space is lit by LED tube strip-lighting with a handmade pottery pendant located directly over the work space for maximum effectiveness. The splashbacks are finished in handcrafted ceramic tiles. And the oregon beams that supported our old ceiling were recycled to make a new dining table. We even used water-based 3M Scotch Weld contact glue, which is Greenguard certified.

From a design perspective, we were excited by the plywood edging and wanted to make a real feature of it. So, the laminated benchtops were constructed with a shadow line detail and the handles on drawer and door fronts were notched out. Open shelving units in natural veneer brought the different elements of the kitchen together, providing warmth and added texture.

To create a focus, the yellow laminated upstand and rangehood block were finished with polished strip-beading in the plywood. This creates some vibrancy in an otherwise-muted colour scheme.

Of course, the scale of the kitchen was adjusted to our height. But we also found a way to make vertical storage practical: in addition to the open shelving above the benchtop, we installed Blum Aventos HF servo-drive lift-up doors for easy access to concealed overhead cupboards.

Problems? Well, as with any pioneering effort, there were some. For example, we found the plywood to be subject to some bowing and warping, whilst, despite its undoubted environmental credentials, the water-based contact adhesive did not perform as well as the regular stuff. You live; you learn. And, at least we wore the problems, rather than a paying client. Now, we can’t wait to apply that experience to the next project.

In the end, we were thrilled with the outcome of an unconventional, fresh design. The space works beautifully for entertaining our family and friends. What we hadn’t figured on was the absolute bonus of being selected as a finalist in the 2014 Kitchen & Bathroom Designers’ Institute of Australia large kitchen awards.

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