Building blocks

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This kitchen fits into a compact, open-plan living space, through the use of a repeated design motif and natural materials
View of kitchen designed by Nicholas Murray featuring cabinetry, countertop, interior design, kitchen, room, brown, orange
View of kitchen designed by Nicholas Murray featuring wooden floors, white emporite cabinets, caesarstone snow benchtop, artwork by David Laity, stainless steel appliances and tapware, backpainted glass splashback and furniture that compliments the design.

The small, modern kitchen is a space that requires a great deal of detail, in terms of providing room for appliances, as well as areas for cooking and storage. A design that hides these elements away, leaving a series of clean lines and smooth surfaces, can be the most visually effective.

For this kitchen in architect Nicholas Murray's own home, the design centers around three blocks of mass: the peninsula counter, and the cabinets at the back and the sides. These are expressed through materials, says the architect.

"The white emporite counter and cabinet fronts are designed to be monolithic, in that the spaces for the cooktop and the bar stools appear to be cut from the rectangular shapes. The dark Italian wenge cabinets lend contrast and define the three shapes."

The kitchen itself seems to have been inserted into the open-plan living room. The flooring in the two spaces is identical. American oak in a crown cut is used, its texture and chocolate stain matching the wenge wood.


View of kitchen designed by Nicholas Murray featuring cabinetry, countertop, interior design, kitchen, room, brown, orange
View of kitchen designed by Nicholas Murray featuring wooden floors, white emporite cabinets, caesarstone snow benchtop, artwork by David Laity, stainless steel appliances and tapware, backpainted glass splashback and furniture that compliments the design.

"To blend the kitchen with the rest of the room a little, and to prevent it looking too block-like, 2½in-thick shelving extends from the wenge cabinets into the dining space," says Murray.

In its entirety, the room is relatively small, at 19ft x 39ft. For this reason, and due to prominent city views, the architect designed the space to have a high stud.

"Natural light comes through the clerestory windows, and the plywood ceiling is uplit with skeeler lights. This gives the room a warm feeling, similar to a lantern."

Colors add to this visual warmth. A coffee-colored back-painted glass is used for the backsplash, and different wood tones are repeated throughout.

View of kitchen designed by Nicholas Murray featuring ceiling, interior design, loft, real estate, room, table, brown
View of kitchen designed by Nicholas Murray featuring wooden floors, white emporite cabinets, caesarstone snow benchtop, artwork by David Laity, stainless steel appliances and tapware, backpainted glass splashback and furniture that compliments the design.

Parallel and intersecting lines are also a recurring motif within the design. Horizontal stainless steel joints in the wenge cabinets line up with the level of the countertop and the line of the range hood cabinetry. A double line of vents in the walls above the dining space echoes the line of the pulls in the emporite cabinets.

Appliances are integrated and storage is hidden away. A dumbwaiter behind a pair of doors in the wenge cabinets means that groceries can be loaded in the garage, two floors below, and easily carried up to the kitchen. Small appliances are concealed behind bifolding doors in the corner, next to the cooktop. The front of the countertop encloses a cocktail cabinet, so that glassware and china are accessible from the dining space.

Mar 03, 2009
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