The Perfect Balancing Act: Functionality & Aesthetics

Designing your dream kitchen can be an overwhelming task. Driven by lifestyle and supported by contemporary open plan architecture, we are spending more time in our kitchens than ever before. Finding that perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics has never been more important.

With the strength and endorsement of The Excellence Group brand, Valcucine, Eurocasa, Spotlight Joinery, Infin8 Surfacing and Craft Furniture have a curated selection of bespoke solutions for your luxury-living requirements with kitchens being a major focus within the group.

In reference to designing and installing your new kitchen, we have created a purchasing guide for your convenience. We highlight the five elements that are extremely important considerations when tackling the design challenge of finding the perfect equilibrium between how it looks and how it works. All of these considerations need to be based on you – your family, your friends, your eating habits, your hobbies – your lifestyle.

1. Design & Style

Understanding the possibilities in kitchen design can get fairly complex, it is therefore important that you spend some time looking for ‘kitchen inspiration’ that resonates with you. Your kitchen space where a great deal of activity takes place, so it must be safe, comfortable and functional, all the while blending in perfectly with the colour palette, textures and overall look and feel of your home.

Ergonomics and workability of your kitchen space is a factor that should not be underestimated. Your kitchen design specialist will advise you on generally accepted principles in this regard but these should never be at the expense of personal choices and habits.

Lighting is often considered secondary to the design aesthetic when in reality it is a key driver of the overall ambience that the kitchen space delivers. Optimizing natural light is always important. Room lighting as well as integrated joinery lighting should work well together in support of the overall aesthetic you would like to create. Warm or cool lighting should also be a consideration.

Additional design elements such as open shelving will give you the opportunity to further showcase different décor elements, adding a personal touch. Closed off breakfast nooks or coffee stations are popular too as these elements result in a clean, flush aesthetic. Different joinery styles or designs from contemporary to classic assists in maximizing and organizing storage to keep your kitchen area clean and workable.

2. Understanding Kitchen Worktop Options

Ranging from natural stone to timber, engineered stone and solid surfacing to compact laminates – there are endless possibilities in the selection of your worktops. Understanding the options available as well as the features and benefits of each will go a long way in ensuring that you choose the best option for your requirements and lifestyle.

Before thinking about the visual appeal of a worktop, ask yourself the following:

  • Are you in the habit of placing hot pots straight onto your worktop?
  • Do you always use chopping boards?
  • Are you prepared to maintain a surface (natural materials) or would you prefer something maintenance-free?
  • Is your kitchen more cooking or entertainment based?

Worktops need to withstand high-traffic and regular, intensive cleaning. They also need to compliment the rest of the kitchen (cabinets, flooring) as worktops often become the natural focal point. While some materials may be the most hygienic options, they may not suit your desired aesthetic. Our local joinery experts, Spotlight Joinery, worked closely with a variety of worktop specialists to outline the most popular worktop options for your convenience.

3. Reliable Hardware

Kitchen hardware is an aspect of kitchen design that is so often forgotten. Hardware plays role in the longevity of your kitchen as well general convenience and ergonomics. European hardware brands are well engineered and offer comprehensive warranties. Be aware of cheap rip-offs.

Hardware is a relatively low contributor to the overall cost of your new kitchen and this is an area that is worth spending a little more to get the desired quality.

Hardware relates to the opening systems of the joinery – mechanisms such as handles, soft close or push-to-open, drawer runners and hinges. Different areas in the kitchen will require different hardware depending if it is a drawer or a hinged cabinet door etc. Companies like Blum, Hettich, Hafele, Grass and Salice provide high-quality hardware with trust-worthy warranties.

Although joinery experts will always be able to guide you in this field, it is highly beneficial to understand what is out there in terms of hardware. Hardware should always compliment the joinery design by optimizing space and efficiency while minimizing human effort.  Different mechanisms suit different lifestyles so it is important to be able to understand the options available in order to find your preference.

4. Finish Options & Characteristics

Like worktops, there is a wide variety of finishes that can be applied to your new kitchen design. Choosing finishes provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase your personality and charm in your kitchen through a variety of colours, textures and materials.

Lacquer is scratch resistant and durable material that is available in may colours. It is available in a matt/satin or high-gloss finish. Whereas, metal finishes are unique and offer luxurious feel to a kitchen. Metal finishes can be hand-crafted with a sponge to create a burnished or brushed effect.

Veneer is a thin layer of wood pressed onto a core panel. It gives the warm and earthy feel of natural wood giving the space its own unique character. Veneers pair well with a variety of other materials and finishes. Marble, like wood, will always be an exclusive option due to each slab being unique. Marble finishes are available in a matt, gloss or leather finish.

Glass offers a feeling of sophistication, with a personal touch. Whether it is transparent, coloured or smoked, it adds character to the room while still leaving an elegant finish. High pressure compact laminates such as Fenix is a durable alternative that has endless range of colours.

When it comes to deciding your kitchen finishes, understand your colours and themes to then base your choice on the finish availability. You will also need materials that work hard, last long and withstand the daily traffic and usage in the kitchen. Understanding what finishes work best in what areas, will guide you to have a durable work area that looks beautiful too.

5. Appliances Possibilities & Opportunities

Historically, appliance selections were based purely on function whereas now, appliances have the ability to work synonymously with the rest of the kitchen. Consider and list all the requirements in your kitchen with regards to appliances – from ovens and fridges to smaller appliances such as microwaves and toasters.

There are two options when considering appliances: integrated appliances versus free-standing.

Free-standing appliances are the more traditional options. They are mobile as well as the more cost-effective option of the two.

Integrated appliances are more costly as they are specifically designed to be placed within joinery which adds the cost of designing and manufacturing the structure that holds the appliance in place. However, it leaves an incredible finish of clean and contemporary lines.

All the major appliance brands – Miele, Gaggenau, Siemens and Bosch – produce both free-standing and integrated options for a variety of budgetary requirements. This can relate to anything from your dishwashers to coffee machines to microwaves. Understanding your appliance options as well as your budget will make decision-making easier in the kitchen design process. Again, it will always be a balancing act of how you intend to use your kitchen and your personal taste and style.


We would like to extend an open invitation to all who are interested in learning more about our product offerings to join a TEG Tour. Please email caroline@cloud.visualclickstudio.com for more information and join us for an exceptional experience!

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