It is often stated that your kitchen should be renovated every 10 to 15 years. This is perhaps a case of wishful thinking by the kitchen manufacturing industry. Many homeowners would find this figure too frequent, and anecdotally we would agree. Most of the kitchens Dan Kitchens renovates are more than 25 years old, albeit in a range of states from the pristine to the falling apart.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide to future-proofing your kitchen, giving it the best chance of looking fantastic for as long as it is needed. It’s all-encompassing, going through the materials you should specify, maintenance, environmental considerations, future use, replaceability and design considerations.
Who Should Future-Proof Their Kitchen?
The obvious group is recent retirees or the soon-to-be-retired. Most in this segment want to be comfortable in their retirement and want their home to be the focal point for family gatherings. Retirees don’t want to have to renovate a second time, as this would further deplete their retirement savings and be a growing inconvenience as they age. Importantly, designing for accessibility now means they can continue to comfortably use their kitchen well into retirement.
The other segment that should consider future-proofing is homeowners who have a strong desire to stay in their current home for a very long time. This may include young families or couples with dual incomes & no kids (DINKS).
Maintenance & Materials
So, if your desire is to build a kitchen that lasts as long as possible, you want to ensure it is built with appropriate materials; materials that can be easily maintained. Some points to consider:
- Many popular materials in kitchens can be damaged by leaving liquids on them for too long or from condensation over multiple exposures. Melamine doors and panels will expand and frail at the edges if exposed to water for too long, while steam and condensation dispersed at the end of a dishwasher’s wash cycle, can over time, damage the support material under benchtops.
- Some materials will wear quicker than others. Take for instance a soft-porous stone like Carrara marble vs a hard granite.
- Other materials will age and discolour from repeated exposure to heat and sunlight. Many species of timber are prime examples.
- A regularly cleaned kitchen will always last longer. This will prevent mould growth in silicon around sinks as well as staining in grout lines.
- Choose easy-to-clean materials like a glass splashback instead of tiles with grout. Grout is porous and will stain.
- Choose repairable materials like Corian for your benchtops, and polyurethane painted doors.
- Specify waterproof materials for kickboards and sink cabinets.
Consider not going gas. Why? Gas cooking has been with us for over 100 years. At the time, it was convenient, cleaner than coal or wood cookers, relatively cheap and it is aesthetically pleasing to cook with a flame. Since then, we now know that gas fumes are bad for interior air quality, harmful to the environment and gas prices are highly volatile.
In Australia, work is underway to phase out gas. Both the Victorian and ACT governments have policies that ban new residential gas connections in the near future, however, you can assume other states will soon follow. It is unlikely an environmentally friendly gas (such as Hydrogen) will be able to repurpose the existing pipe infrastructure, nor will your current natural gas appliances work with a different gas.
So, what’s the alternative? All electric appliances. Take the induction cooktop for instance. It is energy efficient, provides excellent heat and control, and is safer as it only heats the cookware and there’s no open flame. It’s also far easier to purchase an induction cooktop now than having to replace your gas cooktop later and somehow install the required 30-40 Amp circuit.
Most used kitchens when they are pulled out go straight to landfill. It is possible to sell a used kitchen privately, but finding a buyer who is handy enough to remove, transport and install the kitchen is hard. There are a few other reasons that make reusing kitchens even more difficult:
- Most kitchens are easily damaged during removal.
- No two Australian kitchen spaces are the same, so it’s unlikely to find a used kitchen that fits your space exactly, and reconfiguring the layout is problematic.
The best environmental alternative to reuse is to replace your kitchen less often.
With the design of any kitchen, let alone a long-lasting kitchen, future uses and needs must be taken into consideration. Retirees would benefit most from this thinking as they are a group who may experience accessibility problems as they age and may find their current kitchen challenging to use.
Here are some design tips to ensure the longevity of your kitchen:
- Choose easy-to-grip, practical handles. Avoid finger pulls and integrated handles. We also suggest handleless motorised drawers, although motors pose another point of failure and may not be replaceable due to no longer being manufactured.
Retrofitting a combi oven into an existing oven space can be challenging and often requires modifications to the cabinetry and electrical or plumbing systems, depending on the type of combi oven you choose. Plus, most combi-steam ovens require a water and drain connection, which can be difficult to retrofit in existing kitchens.
- Provide plenty of lighting.
- Task lighting in the form of undercabinet lighting
- Auto lights in corner pantries
- Drawer lighting
- Have more drawers versus doors. Drawers are easier to access.
- Avoid under bench corner cabinets. They are usually hard to access and solutions that make them accessible (like Le-Mans and Carousel units) aren’t very space efficient. Instead, try opting for a blind corner support cabinet.
- Avoid placing ovens and microwaves under the bench as it can often be hard to reach down. These appliances are best placed in a cabinet tower at a more accessible height. Try to avoid upright oven cookers for the same reason.
- Opt for a bottom-mount fridge versus a top-mount fridge. Most people access the fridge more than the freezer.
The built-in combi oven is a culinary masterpiece that brings together the best of convection heating, steaming, and microwaving in a single appliance. Its versatility, space-saving design, and ability to retain moisture and nutrients make it a must-have for any luxury kitchen. While retrofitting can be challenging, planning ahead during a kitchen renovation or new build ensures seamless integration. So, why wait? Embrace the luxury and convenience of a combi oven, integrate a quality variation into your new kitchen design with Dan Kitchens, and unlock a world of culinary possibilities.
A number of the service calls we receive here at Dan Kitchens every year are to do with replacing broken appliances in older kitchens. This is often because the customer can’t find an appliance to fit in the current space (whether it be an oven, microwave, refrigerator etc.).
This isn’t a problem for young kitchens, as replacement models of appliances are still available. It can be quite a hassle for the homeowner to navigate what to do.
Beyond replacing the whole kitchen, the solution is to alter the existing kitchen to fit the new appliance. Some alterations are easier than others, while some can prove costly. The best way to avoid this scenario is to consider the replaceability of your appliances.
A few thoughts on this:
- Check with your appliance retailer or kitchen designer on which appliances last the longest.
- Check with your appliance retailer or kitchen designer on which appliances have had consistent sizes across updated models.
Colour & Style
It is hard to predict what will be fashionable in the future. When designing kitchens for longevity, standard practice is to be conservative with colours, materials and profiles. This approach works fine, however, we also believe your kitchen should reflect your taste and style. After all, this is your forever kitchen.
Another approach is to consider the home in which the kitchen will be situated. A period home may inspire some detailing, profiles, colours or materials to the design.
Selecting The Right Kitchen Company
It goes without saying that you should build your forever kitchen with an experienced, long-standing kitchen company. At Dan Kitchens, we’ve been designing and making highly practical, durable and luxurious kitchens for over 40 years. Trusted by homeowners all over Sydney, Dan Kitchens is renowned for quality and longevity, as evidenced by the myriad of reviews from Google, Product Review and Houzz. Contact the Dan Kitchens team to discuss how we can help create your forever kitchen.