With its rich colours, contrasting textures and deftly manipulated proportions, this stunning kitchen extracts maximum impact from a diminutive footprint.
Constraints often challenge architects and designers to do their most creative work, and we see that here, in the very beautiful, very clever Studio Kitchen by Kennedy Nolan. Conceived as a kitchen for a small house or apartment, its design plays with scale, colour and texture to not only create a feeling of spaciousness and generosity but deliver maximum amenity from its minimal footprint. At a time when the density of our cities is increasing and apartment developments are proliferating, it shows that we don’t necessarily need a sprawling home on a quarter-acre block to live well and to enjoy a contemporary Australian lifestyle.
“This kitchen’s about colour and texture, and there’s a bit of form-making, but it’s also an exercise in elevational composition. It’s a big small kitchen – the proportions are big.”
Rachel Nolan - Principal, Kennedy Nolan
The material palette comprises a handful of products chosen for their rich colour, textural appeal and inherent tactility. Most prominent is ultra-matte Laminex AbsoluteMatte, used in warm, earthy Green Slate for the tower and under-bench cabinetry, and in classic blue French Navy for the benchtop, splashback and elegantly curved rangehood cover. AbsoluteMatte’s light-absorbing qualities give these surfaces a beautiful visual softness, and particularly in the deep blue of French Navy, help the kitchen to recede in the space, making it feel larger.
On the floor and a section of wall over the cooktop, rustic terracotta brick tiles bring wonderful contrast with their warm tones and handmade texture. There’s also a wall finished in blackboard paint, which adds an informal edge and coordinates with the darker colours and matte finishes. And then, two flashes of brilliant red – a custom-coloured Volker Haug wall light and hidden, waiting to be discovered, a drawer lined in Laminex Pillarbox.
But what really sets this kitchen apart is the care with which Kennedy Nolan has brought these materials together, in particular pushing certain elements of the design beyond standard dimensions to achieve visual effects and deliver greater functionality. For example, where we might expect a regulation 100mm kicker, instead the terracotta floor folds up the front of the cabinetry to the full height of one tile, making a feature of something that’s often an afterthought. This is mirrored in the way the Laminex AbsoluteMatte French Navy above gives expression to a chunkier-than-usual benchtop. And the benchtop itself is 800mm deep – 200mm deeper than standard – so there’s room for appliances and cooking staples to be pushed to the back, while leaving ample workspace in front. In a kitchen that can’t accommodate an island bench, this will have a positive impact every single day.
The same deep-blue decor is used for the splashback, designed to a width of 1200mm to match the laminate sheet size and avoid visible joins, and for the cold-formed curve of the rangehood cover, again crafted seamlessly from a single sheet of laminate. There are no overhead cupboards but leaving this recess in the “kitchen wall” creates a feeling of openness at eye-level. And there’s plenty of storage elsewhere, in a substantial pull-out pantry beneath the benchtop, and in the tower cabinetry, which extends from floor to ceiling.
Describing her team’s approach here, Kennedy Nolan Principal Rachel Nolan says, “There’s not much space, so when you make a gesture, make it generous”. Indeed, one final feature reinforces the point - all of the cabinetry is designed with discreet finger-pulls for doors and drawers, except for one massive circular In-Teria door handle, crafted from timber and leather, a beautiful focal point against its muted organic green Laminex backdrop.
Featured in this kitchen
Cabinetry: Laminex AbsoluteMatte Green Slate
Benchtop, splashback and rangehood: Laminex AbsoluteMatte French Navy
Drawer interior cabinetry: Laminex Pillarbox
Flooring and splashback: Artedomus Cotto Manetti Rustic Split
Wall light: Volker Haug
Handle: In-Teria, Big Moo
Sink: Oliveri Solitaire Round Sink
Tap: Sussex Tap
Cooktop: Miele CS 7612 FL
Oven: Miele 11128560 H 7860
Wall paint: Porter’s Paints Chalkboard Licorice
Architects: Kennedy Nolan
Art Direction: Ortolan
Photographer: Derek Swalwell
Stylist: Natalie James
Editorial Consultant: Infinite Shapes