Bianca and Carla kitchen

Finding your kitchen style, Darren Palmer shares expert tips


If you’ve ever had to design or select finishes for a kitchen, you’d know it’s no easy task!

What seems to make the process even more difficult, are the endless choices and million decisions that need to be made — from cabinetry to benchtops, layout, lighting and more!

A way to simplify the kitchen design process is knowing the style you want to achieve. Thanks to Freedom Kitchens, we’ve got leading interior designer Darren Palmer on the blog to share his expert tips on finding your kitchen style.

Related article: Do you know what your interior style is? Take the quiz!
Related article: A guide to the 10 most popular interior design styles

Most beautiful kitchen
Norm and Jess’ stunning traditional style kitchen from The Block | See all The Block kitchens

There’s no ‘right style’ when it comes to kitchens — some people desire contemporary and sleek, others will prefer an earthier palette, and some will be drawn to a more traditional style.

When working out what you want out of your kitchen the best thing to do is look through as many different styles, types and details as you can to be sure the one you commit to you can commit to for life — or at least the life of the kitchen!

We’ve got plenty of tips on how to find your interior style and even created a fun quiz that takes the hard work out of it! Sometimes though, the easiest way to discover your style is by simply looking at images and seeing what you’re drawn to. Trust your instincts and as you collect images you love, you’ll see common themes start to emerge.

Bianca and Carla kitchen
Bianca and Carla’s kitchen on The Block | See all The Block kitchens

Modern style

One of the most popular design styles for kitchens is modern. It’s sleek and simple and generally stands the test of time.

Common themes in modern kitchens are:

  • streamlined doors with integrated handles
  • plenty of storage that is generally concealed, and often running to the ceiling
  • black, white, grey or timber joinery are the most popular finishes
  • engineered stone benchtops in either a white, black, marble or concrete-look finish
  • statement or architectural lighting to enhance the space.

Integrating your appliances is important in a contemporary look, or at the very least ensure your appliances present well should you decide to have them on show.

Classic style

When it comes to a classic style kitchen, like Hamptons or country style, Darren says the devil is in the detail so pay attention to the types of handles you choose and what profile you pick for your doors.

“A simple routed panel rather than overly detailed profiles gives you a fresh and crisp but still classic and charming look,” says Darren. “Freedom Kitchens has released a gamut of new handles so mix and match until you find the one that works with the overall look you want to achieve.”

Characteristics of a classic style kitchen:

  • doors with a profile, such as a shaker style
  • muted cabinetry colours, like the soft taupe colour of the kitchen below
  • marble accents, usually seen on the benchtop or splashback
  • ornate lighting, often featuring glass or metal
  • butler sinks are also popular in classic kitchens.

Timber laminate tops work well with this style, and can be combined with one of Caesarstone’s stunning marble effect tops for a more luxe look.

Chef’s kitchen

Always dreamed of a chef’s kitchen that’s perfect for preparing meals for a big crowd? Darren says that if your plan to cook for the masses, you’re also going to need great prep space and a fridge large enough to hold all of your ingredients.

“Also think about your pantry and how much space you allow for it to maximise functionality,” he says. “It might be a pull out pantry, a butler’s pantry or pantry cupboard with internal drawers to sort your goods in exactly the way you will need them for ease of creation.”

Must-haves in a chef’s kitchen:

  • appliances are everything so invest in the best! You won’t regret a steam oven and a generous wine fridge is also a welcome addition
  • bench space is essential, including a minimum 600mm either side of your cooktop
  • incorporate as much functional storage space as possible, drawers trump cupboards every time and a mix of deep drawers for pots and regular drawers for utensils is ideal
  • a functional kitchen layout is also key to a successful chef’s kitchen so take the time to consider the kitchen triangle and how you can make the space as ergonomic as possible.

A big island bench is always a winner but whether the kitchen is U shaped, galley or features an island, make sure your kitchen has plenty of bench space.

Black and grey kitchen with extra long bench finding your kitchen style
Guy Sebastian’s kitchen is the ultimate chef’s kitchen | Take the tour

Industrial edge

If you like things a little more rustic, an industrial edged kitchen may be the style for you. Hard working surfaces like Caesarstone’s new range of concrete-look benchtops suit this style, especially when paired with matte white, black, greys and oaks.

The brickwork as a splashback idea is a great textural one, just make sure you either have a return above your cook top to save tomato sauces and other oily splashes getting into your lovely, but porous brickwork.

Characteristics of an industrial kitchen:

  • exposed elements — think free-standing oven rather than built in and visible rangehood rather than one that’s concealed
  • raw materials, such as textured timber cabinets and concrete or concrete-look benchtop
  • accents of metal used in a functional rather than ornate way, such as stainless steel splashback
  • overall streamlined design that strips things back to basics.

No matter what you think you might want to fall for, the most important thing is to understand what your home and your family need from your kitchen and then create something that looks like it has always belonged.

We hope these tips on finding your kitchen style help you create the kitchen of your dreams. If you have any questions we didn’t cover, pop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!

More kitchen tips

This article was originally published in March 2016 and continues to be updated with latest information and images.



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Quirky bar cart styling

Expert tips to create a stylish + functional bar cart


Hands up who’s always wanted a stylish bar cart in your home or perhaps you have one that’s just been collecting dust? Never fear, we’ve been on the case of how to style a bar cart! Keep reading for the low down on all the winning looks, along with expert styling tips from Vanessa Colyer Tay, Temple & Webster Head of Styling.

Related article: Top 7 stylish bar carts and cabinets to suit all budgets
Related article: The tips and tricks to styling your coffee table with ease

Choose the right bar cart

If you don’t already have a bar cart, the first step will be to choose a bar cart that suits your style and blends with your decor. From boho to retro, contemporary and everything in between, we’ve got our top bar cart picks here.

As well as style, it’s a good idea to think about how much storage you need. You can find compact two tier trolleys, more substantial ones that also have space to hang wine glasses, as well as larger bar cabinets where items can be hidden behind cupboard doors. Consider style and function before making your choice.

Get the location right

Before pulling out all of your finest glassware, decide where you’ll position your bar cart. Just like the pic above, Vanessa says “One of our favourite ways to style a bar cart is to position it below a focal piece of art.”

There are also practical things to consider. Generally it’s best to have your bar cart in the living or dining area where it’ll be used for entertaining with guests. Many bar carts have wheels so you can keep it against a wall or out of the way when it’s not being used and then wheel it closer to where the party is happening!

Shop your bar cart essentials

Koval gin

Koval gin

Champagne saucers

Champagne saucers

Decanter

Decanter

Muddling spoon

Muddling spoon

Corkscrew

Corkscrew

Cocktail shaker

Cocktail shaker

Ice bucket

Ice bucket

Champagne glasses

Champagne glasses

Billie bar cart

Billie bar cart

Koval gin

Koval gin

Champagne saucers

Champagne saucers

Decanter

Decanter

Muddling spoon

Muddling spoon

Corkscrew

Corkscrew

Cocktail shaker

Cocktail shaker

Ice bucket

Ice bucket

Champagne glasses

Champagne glasses

Billie bar cart

Billie bar cart

24/7 bar cart or only when the party gets started?

The other big decision that will impact on how you style your bar cart is whether you’ll use it as a drinks station year round or if you’ll use it as a multifunctional piece. By that we mean, many people use a bar cart as a side table to hold a lamp, books and other practical pieces which can be moved to the side to make space for your cocktail shaker and bar cart essentials when entertaining.

“Bar carts are good for more than just housing refreshments! Make use of this functional item as a side table to house thick coffee table books and a table lamp. Plus, it can easily be transformed from a two-tiered storage piece to a night-cap station at any time,” says Allira Bell, Temple & Webster stylist.

Use high and low elements

“To start styling the top shelf, implement one tall accent piece like a vase with foliage, or a lamp if your bar cart is likely to stay stationary. Once the beauty is in place it’s time to add your practical items like decanters, glassware and bottles of your favourite nightcap,” says Vanessa.

Choose your glassware wisely

“When styling a bar cart, your choice of glassware can highlight it more than you’d think. Crystal stemware will suit an elegant home, coloured glassware will shine in a retro or vintage-inspired space, and simple clear glassware will work well in a neutral or minimalist home,” says Vanessa.

Generally you only need 4-6 glasses on your cart, depending on how many guests you’re expecting. Keep other glassware stored away to make room for other essentials, like bottles, champagne bucket and bar cart accessories.

Consider sticking with a theme

Whether it’s a broad style like luxe or a specific colour palette (like that gorgeous rose gold one below), there’s no denying sticking with a theme can give your bar cart a more sophisticated look.

There’s so much choice when it comes to bar cart accessories that you can easily create just the look you want.

Have fun with quirky elements or decor

Your can also throw in a few quirky elements or unexpected decor into your bar cart styling. Just check out those random parrots in the bar cart above! So long as the items fit your overall theme, you can get away with almost anything!

Leave space to fix your drinks

We generally always say the last step to styling is to take a step back and refine the look. And this especially rings true when styling a bar cart as you’ll need some free space to fix your drinks! If your top tier is too cluttered to be usable, pare it back. Perhaps you can better utilise the lower tier or keep some of your excess drinks and glasses in a cupboard.

Shop your bar cart essentials

Koval gin

Koval gin

Champagne saucers

Champagne saucers

Decanter

Decanter

Muddling spoon

Muddling spoon

Corkscrew

Corkscrew

Cocktail shaker

Cocktail shaker

Ice bucket

Ice bucket

Champagne glasses

Champagne glasses

Billie bar cart

Billie bar cart

Koval gin

Koval gin

Champagne saucers

Champagne saucers

Decanter

Decanter

Muddling spoon

Muddling spoon

Corkscrew

Corkscrew

Cocktail shaker

Cocktail shaker

Ice bucket

Ice bucket

Champagne glasses

Champagne glasses

Billie bar cart

Billie bar cart

Did these tips on how to style a bar cart inspire you? If you need to pick up a bar cart first, find our round up of the best bar carts here. Happy styling!

Check out more styling ideas

Disclaimer: This article was first published in April 2020 and continues to be updated. It contains some affiliate links. This means that when you click on a link and purchase something from that site, we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. We promise we only work with brands we know, love and trust.



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