March 23, 2016

Designing A Light and Airy Kitchen on the Northern Beaches.

Dan Stories

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A beautiful kitchen and setting for entertaining in. Newport, NSW.

The Newport Project: A Case Study

The project brief was to update a decades-old kitchen in Newport on Sydney’s northern beaches into a spacious new room with a Scandinavian feel. The clients turned to the team at Dan Kitchens, with 30-plus years of experience in kitchen design and installation.


BEFORE: A dark enclosed kitchen space not well connected to the rest of the room. 

The client’s brief

Dan Kitchens’ Vagn Madsen says the clients are fond of Scandinavian style, but also wanted a design that reflected the vibrant Australian environment.

It was important, given the beachside location, to avoid interpreting the Scandinavian brief too starkly. “They wanted a slightly beachy feel to the design,” Vagn says.

“So you’re talking lighter tones, with American oak veneer timber adding warmth.

“It was also about the material selection – the bench tops, the door panels and handles. When you’re near a beach, things corrode easily, and you’re also in a sunny environment, so you need to choose materials that can survive these conditions.”

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Concealed drawers in the island. American Oak bar backing and lift-up wall cabinets add a touch of warmth and softness to this coastal home. 

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Pittwater at your doorstep. The view from coastal homes is often spectacular, but it is important to select materials that can survive these unforgiving environments. 

The design in 3D

Dan Kitchens blends traditional and modern techniques when preparing plans. Designer Vagn Madsen first created hand-drawn plans for the clients. “We find when you design by hand on paper, you’re more in tune with the design process,” Vagn explains.

Next, a fully-rendered 3D image of the kitchen was produced, giving the clients the chance to see the kitchen as a finished product. It’s a process that’s taken the better part of a decade to perfect, and Vagn says it really resonates with clients. “Customers have commented that our concept images are so realistic, it’s as if we’ve already built the kitchen in their home and taken a photograph of it.”

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The 3D image of the proposed design. All clients who use Dan Kitchens design service are supplied with these images. 

The focal point of the kitchen is a four-metre benchtop with overhangs resembling Japanese torii. “The clients are people who like to entertain and they wanted something unique,” Vagn says. “And the long benchtop has that impressiveness when you turn the corner and see it for the first time.”

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The engineered stone island with wings either side, reminiscent of Japanese Torii.

With the benchtop, the clients made the decision not to use natural marble, preferring an engineered stone with the appearance of much-prized Calacatta marble – a pale stone with dramatic grey veining. “One of the things we’ve become aware of over the years with marble is that it is very porous, so it’s easily stained,” Vagn says. “You can have it sealed, but it doesn’t always stay sealed. Engineered quartz stone is a viable alternative now as it has the look of marble without the drawbacks.”

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Looking over the island benchtop. Dan Kitchens used an engineered stone with the convincing appearance of Calacatta marble. 

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A detail of the join in the benchtop slabs. At 4.5m long, the island is simply too long for a single slab. The stone mason joined two slabs together with a 1mm grout line and has taken care to match any veining across the join. 

The process

Client consultation included five or six revisions until a design was settled on. This included the appliance selection, which are a mix of American and European brands. Vagn explains that although high quality European products are popular as ever, there’s a trend for some customers towards American brands, particularly the Sub-Zero refrigerators and Wolf ovens and stovetops used in this design.

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Sub-Zero 76cm integrated refrigerator and M Series Wolf Appliances.

Vagn says Dan Kitchens’ level of involvement in planning depends on the client. Some have definite ideas about what they want, while others need help choosing colours, finishes and accessories like bar stools and lights. The team’s decades of experience puts them in the perfect position to assist on all aspects of kitchen creation. That same experience can also help clients avoid mistakes. “I was looking at a plan just now,” Vagn says. “The clients were specifying 60cm deep cabinets. But if you really want to make the most out of your kitchen you should go deeper, to at least 68cm. Another mistake is building low cabinetry; it’s much better to build up nearer to the ceiling and install a shallow bulkhead.”

The importance of materials in cabinet making

Unlike other companies that use melamine door fronts, Dan Kitchens use an E0 grade Lamiwood substrate painted with polyurethane on all sides of drawers and doors, sealing against moisture penetration and preventing curvature.

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A mostly handle-less kitchen. All door and drawer panels are painted on all sides in polyurethane to help prevent moisture exposure and warping. 

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Inside the scullery. A Stainless steel benchtop with welded in sink is a very hygienic option as stainless steel is very easy to clean. 

Dan Kitchens is a one-stop-shop for kitchen design and installation, having the advantage of its own spray booth and manufacturing facilities in an industry where most others outsource to a 3rd party. “It’s impossible to control quality and service if everything you do is outsourced,” Vagn says. “There’s simply too many 3rd parties with no commitment to the client. We’re committed to delivering the best product and service to our clients. That’s why we’ve chosen to go against the industry trend of keeping everything we do in-house”.

The client reaction

“They love it” Vagn replies when asked about the clients’ verdict. “It meets all their criteria and we worked on the design for over a month to get it right. It gave them the confidence that we could deliver what they desired.”

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A galley shot looking towards the scullery. A ducted integrated Qasair rangehood removes cooking fumes from the Wolf modular cooktop appliances.

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The final product.

For more examples of their work, visit the Dan Kitchens Gallery.