Balancing the looks
A benchtop provides a feature, a work surface, and sometimes a balancing act – here, a workbench picks up on light and dark cabinetry tones
What do you think?
Chunky or slender benchtops? We think they're both great depending on setting – slender certainly looks the part in this scenic kitchen
Hidden power (look closer)
An expansive kitchen can be tricky in terms of getting electricity where you want it – here, an in-bench pop-up powerpoint offers a handy solution
A textural Dekton Sirius benchtop by Cosentino adds a touching feature to this seaside penthouse kitchen – flush sinks add to the island's presence
Lingering at the back
For this kitchen remodel, the Dekton Shell Liquid island benchtop in the foreground is accompanied by an existing perimeter stainless steel hob/sink
Vein accompanies grain
While they both come from nature, in other ways this living edge dining table and Natural Stone Onyx island benchtop are complementary opposites
This island was so long the designer had to find a solution to book-match two slabs together – this was done around the structural post
In similar vein
Black cabinetry and white wall surrounds are both represented by similar toned veining in this kitchen's Nero Marquina and Carrara benchtops
The elegant marbles
Designer: To connect it all together we handpicked the Neolith Calacatta Luxe benchtops with the white, brown and anthracite tones creating the perfect harmony
Tiers before breakfast
This multi layered family kitchen features a two tiered benchtop, with the raised timber bench keeping prepping slightly on the low down
Champagne-toned cabinetry meets the plush swirl of leathered granite on splashback and benchtops in this well-heeled kitchen
Indoor-outdoor flow was important for food as well as people in regard to this kitchen – catered to with large servery windows and an inside-to-out stone benchtop
Look this way
This island bench in laminated solid American white oak timber seems to point to sightlines to the exterior dining spaces and seaside beyond
Lapping up that morning coffee
Perhaps ironically, this kitchen's Tasmanian Blackwood island has a curvaceous outline reminiscent of waves lapping a variegated shoreline
A marbled steak? Sure
Thin for the main island, cooking zone and splashback while more substantial for the seating zone, rich Affogato marble is a ubiquitous star in this kitchen
Thin brass line
A brass accent provides a delineating line between the brushed stone benchtop and island cabinetry in the same material – white leathered granite
Character wall meets character benchtop
The raised part of this island is in Signorino natural stone in colour Cote D'Azur – the busy veining connects with the distressed brick wall behind
Light on its feet
Setting this sizeable island/dining table on legs gives the piece a furniture feel while a slender porcelain Dekton benchtop further helps keep things light
Benchtops – chunky, or not so much?
New materials have meant benchtops can now be super slim, such as this one in a kitchen by designer Annika Rowson. Will you go thick or thin in your new kitchen?
Although the stone slab benchtop is elevated in this kitchen, it's grounded by the large boxed out marble waterfall detail to the opposite end to the island
Waterfall by the sea
Sitting squarely in the centre of the upper storey of a seaside retreat, this kitchen's island with waterfall benchtop offers a stylish social hub
All in the family
For this kitchen, the individual Fenix benchtops match the Fenix cabinetry perfectly – resulting in a complete, uniformed appearance
Natural meets necessary
A Glacier granite feature benchtop takes front of house in this kitchen while a workaholic brushed stainless steel benchtop brings up the rear
The elegant marbles
Benchtops/splashbacks don't come much more luxurious than the dramatic Calacatta Viola marble featured in this apartment kitchen
Benchtops thick or thin? We ask 6 experts
Want the skinny on whether benchtops are trending thick or thin? We put the question to designers on the Trends Design Council panel
This kitchen finds a neat way of dealing with perimeter benchtops
Like neat? Having the perimeter benchtops sit flush with the window architraves was a request of the owners for this well-balanced kitchen
Want to dramatically lift your kitchen's game with one power inclusion? Beautiful marble benchtops complete this refined, hard-working kitchen
Granite benchtop brings design harmony
Looking to draw the tones of your kitchen together in one harmonising feature? For this design, a benchtop anchors the principal colours
Similar at a glance, these islands have dedicated roles
While both islands in this kitchen have an industrial accent, they are still dramatically different. The baking island has a marble top and pressed metal and wood finishes, while the chef’s island at rear has a rugged engineered stone benchtop and is painted with heavy-duty marine paint.
Limited budget? Make your best surfaces count
With a budget to consider, the designer of this kitchen reserved the more expensive finishes for the areas directly on show
Hangin' out for teppanyaki?
Set in a seemingly impossible cantilevered engineered stone benchtop, a teppanyaki grill extends off one end of a chef’s island in this industrial-chic kitchen with Asian accents
Kitchen connects to its surroundings through material choices
Tall banks of cabinetry and appliances are demurely set back into the walls in this contemporary kitchen within a revamped cottage interior
In this kitchen, the countertops do the talking
In this entertainer’s kitchen, high-gloss cabinetry reflects the high-rise apartment’s views while the tactile island is silky to the touch
The underlit cantilevered countertop provides a sculptural feature in this entertainer’s kitchen
Opening up to the wider interior – and to the outdoors as well – this light-filled, hard-working kitchen provides a social hub and a harmonious focal point
Urban chic has never been this easy
The individualistic, rugged Industrial style is now easy to achieve with Cosentino's latest range of concrete-look, high-performance surfaces available in a variety of colours. Exuding character and suited to a variety of spaces, these highly contemporary, easy-care surfaces are a shortcut to an evocative industrial ambience
2021 kitchen trends
So, what does the coming year hold in terms of kitchen design? Two leading New Zealand kitchen designers answer some questions as to what might lie ahead in terms of cabinetry, benchtops, appliances and materials
Rough with the smooth
Rugged is almost an understatement for the tile splashbacks in this semi-industrial look kitchen and attached scullery. Dekton solid surface benchtops provide a sleek counterpoint
Update your kitchen without spending a fortune
Forget replacing cabinets and tearing up the floors – with a few small changes, you can make your kitchen feel like new
All the concrete work in this house was fabricated and detailed by the designer, including its dramatic benchtops
Set in concrete – an angled, oxide red concrete island delineates this kitchen from the dining area and acts as a prepping area, or servery. The second island has a thick, bullnosed concrete benchtop
In the right vein – exotic benchtops pull this kitchen design together
Every little bit helps. This two-toned kitchen’s veined quartzite benchtops and splashback pick up on the white and dark tones in the room
Superman would approve of this steel-look kitchen
A steel look benchtop finish that's soft to the touch? This kitchen reflects the latest surface technologies, plus striking features such as a steel access ladder on its own tracks and matt stainless steel toekicks. The man of steel would love this space, except maybe that kryptonite toaster
Slender countertops are a feature of this modern kitchen
Marble-look quartzite used for the splashback and countertop in the cooking zone of this renovated kitchen is in a leathered finish and connects with the slender countertops used on the outer perimeter cabinets
Sculptural stone island provides ideal place to gather throughout the day
While many kitchens become the social hub of a home, this one goes a step further – having a wine cellar next to the island was the main focus of its design
Change of heart – a layout rethink gains valuable bench space in this kitchen
While this overall kitchen space is reasonably compact, the homeowners wanted the bench space maximised in their new kitchen. Replacing a return with a small island improved flow as well as storage options
It does feel spacious – but why?
This kitchen achieves a sense of spaciousness in part through its built-in divides. The island separates one side of the kitchen from the other, while a coffee nook breaks up the kitchen work zones from the dedicated coffee station.
The benchtop in this kitchen appears to levitate off the ground
Are benchtops like jeans? Flares one minute, drainpipes the next? Much like jeans today, with benchtops anything that works is 'in'. This svelte benchtop appears to almost levitate.
Textured cabinetry contrast the smooth stone bench top in this kitchen
There are more ways to coordinate than with colour. The 3D nature of the staved tall cabinet faces and doors in this kitchen contrasts the smooth texture of the marble island benchtop
Modern kitchen connects with traditional home through materials appropriate to the time – kitchen, benchtops
One treatment to make your countertops sing is to include a living edge – an edge that reflects the character of the wood or stone surface – as with the hood apron in this kitchen
Natural materials help this family kitchen connect with its outlook
While this island’s marble waterfall benchtop doesn’t dominate when viewed from the dining area, it has a more dramatic impact when you enter this area from the adjacent hallway
New layout, materials and finishes bring dramatic changes to outdated kitchen – kitchen, benchtops
Need discreet, to-hand storage? Look carefully at that thick benchtop – it actually contains drawers for cutlery and other items
Upmarket natural materials and a strong sense of symmetry achieve a restful workspace – kitchen, benchtops
Is benchtop fashion a little like jeans fashion? Fat was in, thin was in, now anything goes? A slender top and chunky waterfall sides give the island in this kitchen a strong presence.
Minimalist, easy-to-clean kitchen has dedicated zones and strong material palette – kitchen, benchtops
The clouds outside seem to merge with the veined patterning on this leathered granite island benchtop – the stone worksurface adds a sense of luxury and textural interest in this pared back kitchen
Two large islands take centre stage in this commercial-look domestic kitchen – kitchen, benchtops
Why not have different benchtops for different uses if your kitchen allows for it? This chef's island has a dramatically cantilevered dedicated teppanyaki benchtop. The marble benchtop beyond is for baking
Smart, clean-lined kitchen with scullery occupies the most unlikely of settings – kitchen, benchtops
Minimalist handles and a general lack of detailing give this kitchen a distinctly modern presence – and slender Dekton benchtops are a part of that
Natural materials help this family kitchen connect with its outlooks – kitchens, benchtops
Slender is in and so is plenty of bench space This contemporary marble benchtop overhangs the front of the kitchen island, creating a family breakfast bar
Dramatic yet highly practical workspace – kitchen, benchtops
For this strong, contemporary kitchen, a cantilevered limestone benchtop sitting on the matt black bench creates a dramatic feature for prepping, serving and socialising
Strong materials and a simple layout are central to this kitchen with a semi-industrial aesthetic – kitchens, benchtops
A slender granite island benchtop contrasts with a chunkier engineered stone in a white concrete finish, for this mix-and-match kitchen design
Clifftop apartment combines unbeatable harbour views with open plan luxury interiors – kitchen, benchtops
This fully integrated kitchen incorporates stunning natural stone benchtops and a full suite of flush black Miele appliances
Benvenuto! – benchtops
A long quartz benchtop – actually 4.6m in length – means this kitchen has plenty of space for easy socialising, as well as for prepping and serving
Tall and handsome
When there's not much existing storage, a giant wall of visually receding floor-to-near-ceiling white cabinetry more than fits the bill
All tucked in
Want an island breakfast bar but not the cluttered floorspace from protruding stools? On this kitchen, by di Rosa Cabinetry & Furniture, space was made so seating can tuck right in under the island
Minimalist, easy-to-clean kitchen has dedicated zones and strong material palette
A semi-industrial palette of wood, concrete and steel gives this kitchen a strong presence and also connects it to the wider surroundings
Dramatic yet highly practical workspace
Taking its cues from the architecturally designed rural home it forms part of, this clean-lined kitchen reflects personality and modernity, with its extensive functionality downplayed visually
White coastal kitchen complements the blue ocean
A substantial island in exotic veined marble is matched with minimalist cabinetry and touches of natural timber – this kitchen offers both a focal point and a natural complement to the ocean outlooks
Creating the stone island for this kitchen was a painstaking process, whereby strips of stone were fused together with precise accuracy, so minimal joins were visible
The owners of this kitchen wanted a large serving area to one side of the kitchen island, which the designer cantilevered to provide seating for two
Creme of the (out) crop
This white kitchen’s benchtops and splashback are in Savoy marble, a dense stone that the architect/owner says is resistant to marking
For this kitchen island, a Marine black granite benchtop with a pleasing leathered finish meets American walnut crown-cut veneer cabinetry
Centrally located kitchen has great looks and also achieves a feeling of intimacy, despite its open, light-filled surroundings – kitchen, benchtops
This kitchen has a work surface for every occasion – with the waterfall island benchtop in Caesarstone Jet Black; the hard-working cooktop bench in 5mm stainless steel plate; and the out-of-sight scullery in Prima Stone Solid Surface – colour, Frost Land.
Seen from the outdoor entertaining space, this contemporary kitchen by Lume Design works well with the clean lines of the wider entertainment space. The interior designers gave the kitchen cabinetry a frame of its own and extended the long island countertop beyond that as a casual breakfast area.
Want your kitchen to have immediate presence? Start with what is most prominent. A white waterfall benchtop flowing over a wood-fronted island creates a strong presence for this minimalist kitchen by di Rosa Cabinetry & Furniture.
Rich and complex
The material you choose for your benchtop can set the scene for the entire kitchen, as with this new kitchen by Lloyd Hartley Architects – so this will be high on your budget consideration priorities.
Taking the long view
Jason Higham: “Rather than choosing a U-shaped or island bench kitchen for this renovation, we opted for a design that incorporated the dining area. This arrangement creates an easy connection and has the other big advantage of making the entire area feel significantly larger than it actually is.”
A long marble-clad kitchen island is the central feature of this kitchen and includes a fitted chopping board that can be positioned anywhere along the island.
The stainless steel front panel on this kitchen island opens up as an extension to the countertop, revealing a storage space behind.
In the right vein
The rich warmth of timber and the sheer coolness of white veined black marble – seen to striking effect on the feature waterfall island benchtop – are celebrated in this new two-tone kitchen by Eliska Lewis Architects.
Slim? Chunk? Both?
Trends can evolve in benchtop design, often in relation to thickness. Slender is becoming increasingly popular, and substantial also remains a hit. So, how about both? This marble island, in a kitchen by Pepper Design, has a waterfall countertop with a slender top and chunky sides.
There’s no governing rule that all benchtops have to match – with variety, comes visual interest and function-specific choices. This scullery in a kitchen fit-out by Studio Italia features no-nonsense, hard-working stainless steel benchtops while the front-of-house kitchen has a waterfall island in sumptuously veined marble – the latter also features on the wall of the scullery as a visual connector to the kitchen.
While all business for the chef, the island benchtop in this kitchen by Matisse all but conceals a flush hob, pop-up extractor and recessed double sinks.