Last time we talked you through our vision for the Habitat kitchen, and explained the reasons for its position and layout. Moving forward from that point, our next step was to decide on cabinetry and appliances. These decisions would have a big impact on the way the kitchen would look and function. Having a clear vision in our head as to the look we wanted to achieve with the kitchen – sleek, sophisticated, minimal; we set out to get some advice on which appliances would help bring this to life.

We went straight to our local store Newbolds in Masterton, and chatted to the manager Mark Heginbotham. We started with the easiest choice – the dishwasher. For the smaller household we were targeting, we knew a dish drawer would be the best choice as it provides flexibility for smaller or larger loads depending on requirements. Mark pointed out that Fisher & Paykel actually invented dish drawers (the term DishDrawer is a trademark) and is the brand leader in this product. The sleek design of their Double DishDrawer with recessed handles, minimal control panel, and the flat panel front (to sit flush against the cabinetry) was really in line with our design aesthetic for the kitchen.

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Fridge wise, Mark also recommended Fisher & Paykel as a great option for performance and reliability. This was good news for us as it had by far the best design for our vision – flat panels, square edges, minimal and sleek. We then looked at placement options; on the wall next to the cooktop or next to the sink were possibilities – but both of these options interrupted the ‘cut out’ effect we were aiming for between the bench and overheads. So we thought back to our ‘zones’ and what the purpose of the fridge was – storage. As all the other food storage would be primarily in the scullery, it was logical for the fridge to also be there, and it would still be close enough to unload food onto the main kitchen bench. Importantly, having the fridge tucked away within the scullery was also in line with the sleek, uncluttered look we were aiming for. We decided the best size would be a 790mm wide fridge – still generous but not over the top for the household size we are targeting. Being in the scullery, a French Door model was going to function better than a single door; and of course we had to have the ice and water!

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For cookware, keeping in mind the calibre of house we are aiming for, Mark recommended several high end and good quality appliance brands. It was important to us that all the cookware appliances were of the same brand for aesthetic consistency. So to help us decide, we cross checked Mark’s recommended brands with ‘Consumer’ testing to see if there was an overall front-running brand. In looking at their test results for ovens, cook tops and rangehoods, we found that the top of the range Fisher & Paykel products were consistently in the top three. With other brands, for example, we found that one might have a high rated oven, but not such a highly rated cooktop (or vice versa). It was important that the oven, cooktop and rangehood all had good ratings, so Fisher & Paykel came out on top from that perspective. The clincher was that the design of their products is so sleek and minimal and fit perfectly with our design style. It also added another level of consistency to the aesthetic of the kitchen with all the appliances being the same brand.

Originally, we had a 1.5 wall oven in mind. However during our research we discovered that the top of the line Fisher & Paykel Pyrolitic (essentially a self cleaning function) 11-function model only came in either a double or a single. We went back to our vision again, and realised that as with the fridge, a wall oven could again interrupt our ‘cut out’ feature. This lead to us deciding on two identical 60cm under bench ovens. We love the luxury and flexibility of two ovens, and it would also add an element of symmetry to the cabinetry. This Fisher & Paykel model also received the second equal score on Consumer for built in ovens (only 1% behind the leader).

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For the cooktop, we wanted to go with a 90cm model for that extra bit of cooking space, as well as balancing out the two side by side ovens below. For heat generation for cooking, we like induction. Its sleek ceramic top blends seamlessly into the bench top and it’s said to be faster than gas. This can be a highly contentious topic among foodies everywhere so read more about the pros and cons of different cooktops here, and you can make your own informed opinion! It’s  worth noting that there’s no natural gas line in Greytown, so the choice of a gas cooktop would come with the necessity of LPG bottles, their storage and having to change them. With all of this in mind, we decided on the Fisher & Paykel 90cm 5 Zone Induction cooktop; ranked at 90% and the top rated 90cm cooktop by Consumer – it was an easy choice!

The final appliance decision was the rangehood. With our design vision in mind, we of course wanted an integrated or ‘undermount’ model that would be hidden in the overbench cabinetry. Specification wise, it needed to be 90cm to match the cooktop, and this limits the choices available for undermount rangehoods. It seems the classic canopy rangehoods have a slight edge when it comes to performance, and none of the undermount options we were weighing up were “top rated” by Consumer. It wasn’t a dire situation though; the few undermount options tested only scored around 5% less than the canopy leader. Having the information needed to fully consider our options, we decided it was imperative to stick to our required aesthetic – and the 5% lower performance rating, wasn’t worth compromising our vision. We decided to stick with the Fisher & Paykel 90cm Integrated Rangehood for consistency across the board.

Once we had all our appliances in the floorplan, we could work out the rest of the cabinetry. Soft close drawers under benches, push to open overhead cupboards for a minimal look, and a combination of push to open cupboards and open pantry shelving hidden in the scullery. While all this was going on, we were also finalising our material choices for the cabinetry, benchtops and splashback. We can’t wait to share the final design reveal of the kitchen complete with material choices soon!

Our tip: When it comes to designing a kitchen, there can be a bit of a chicken/egg scenario going on when it comes choosing appliances. Do you design the space first and then choose appliances that fit, or design the space around your chosen appliances. In our experience it’s best to start with an idea of the kind of appliances you want (e.g. fridge size, wall or under bench oven) but don’t lock yourself into anything until you’ve got a thorough design in place. You may find that what you thought you wanted does not work well with the space or your vision, so being able to change your mind on an appliance is important.

Next time: A Change to the Streetscape | An Update