When The Block judge Darren Palmer renovated his former home in Sydney’s Edgecliff, he faced all sorts of challenges. You’d never know it to look at the beautiful finished space though, which perfectly suits the character-filled home. He shares how he made it work…
Kitchens sell houses. That’s the real estate gospel that has been adjusted recently to ‘Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses.’ The reason is that they’re expensive, and when they’re terrible they make the house feel terrible. On the other hand, when they’re beautiful, functional, well designed and comfortable, the house feels that way too. They’re expensive to replace when they’re done wrong and a massive gift when done well.
Before I realised that council requirements meant I couldn’t move the kitchen window, I had designed a cracking kitchen with butler’s pantry, big island bench and all the modern inclusions that you’d want. I’d had it quoted and check measured, but unfortunately for me it wouldn’t work unless I changed the window.
It was back to the drawing board – several times.
The interesting thing about design, and perhaps anything, is that the more you succeed, the more confident you become in your ability to succeed. The more you fail, the more you think you’ll fail. In my mind I was failing. I wanted to create the perfect kitchen to suit the house, one that would function as a family kitchen and work with the atrium without blowing the budget.
Time was ticking along, and I was really feeling the pressure to deliver. The reno was waiting to start, but I needed to crack the kitchen design to be able to brief the builders on plumbing and electrical points. I even showed a very talented designer friend, thinking she could help. Just having someone to share the problem with generally works, but in this instance it didn’t.
Fortunately for me, at the last minute I was able to find a simple galley kitchen solution with 900 mm deep benches (50 per cent deeper than usual) to help bring the benchtops closer together, and therefore make them a workable distance apart. I created two sets of three big wide drawers, overhead cabinets that were twice as deep as normal, and finishes and inclusions that functioned perfectly and were a little bit luxurious to boot.
The appliances are integrated, so there are no visible signs of modern technology that might throw off the classic heritage look I was aiming for. Exposed fridges and dishwashers are a bit clunky, so you’re usually better off to hide them away and streamline the look of your kitchen.
The overhead cabinets are glazed with diamond wire safety glass, which might remind some people of school days; it’s the glass they used to use in fire doors. I love the look of it as it feels old but is also a little bit different from the fluted glass I’d used in the bathroom window upstairs. Both these materials are interesting options for a contemporary, classic heritage look, but the diamond wire glass is a little bit more edgy, which I felt the kitchen needed as everything else was so simple, grey and white. The shaker door profile is also a lovely detail to add to the cabinetry, as is the grey grout with the white tiles.
–Images and extract from HomeSpace by Darren Palmer (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99). Photography by Felix Forest. Available and from all good book stores.