Throwing out the rule book

An innovative positioning of wood-crafted cabinetry and islands optimises flow, preserves existing elements and creates kitchen privacy

Designed by Mcmahon and Nerlich

The focus on this renovation was a connection to landscape. 

The owners are from north-west rural Victoria, however often needing a city crash pad for work requirements, and with dispersed and younger family boarding in the city and visiting often, the kitchen zoning needed to function well for a conflicting set of groupings.

These included one of the younger adults staying for the weekend, or up to three families at a time staying for a holiday – and everything in-between! 

Further, materials were to be relaxed and not fussy, detailing was to be robust, yet the owners were interested in lifting the design detail to match the quality of the renovation elsewhere, and in utilising the expert talents of the owner’s craftsman brother who was to build the kitchen cabinetry.

To solve this kitchen conundrum, we threw out the rule book, let go of convention, and started from first principles!

The existing corner kitchen location needed to remain; however it was poorly sized, poorly laid out and was trying to create its own zone with a small half-return bench and not doing it well. 

We wanted to allow for an island bench people would gather around, but conventionally sized benches orientated to look out would block the entry and stair, and being parallel to the kitchen would create an awkward feel with no privacy to the kitchen. 

We also wanted to preserve the window to the beautiful verdant St Kilda West streetscape.

The solution was to split the kitchen into distinct bench zones, each with their own character and tied together with a common timber detail. 

The tall elements are clustered against the wall and to the corner to minimise the bulk to the room and enhance a feeling of space, and with a curved timber batten detailed end which ties into the Vic-Ash floor and batten-lined duct. 

The wet bench – dishwasher and sink – is discreetly detailed behind a classic bar with bookshelf against the entry area.

This creates two zones, one each side of the bench; provides an abundance of storage on both sides of the bench; and creates privacy from the entry for a messy sink.

Plus the vertical symmetrical shiplap-clad forms hide an existing structural post which we needed to retain. 

The end of this bench also gently curves and picks up on the batten detail of the wall bench. 

The hero of the kitchen is the beautiful island bench, more compact in form than convention dictates, with bench overhangs of different depths tailored to allow groups of differing sizes to gather comfortably.

The Sirius rangehood utilises the latest twin-motor technology and was designed to fit existing duct pathways where possible. 

There is an existing void bringing light all the way down from the second floor roof and we wanted to preserve this void, so conventional wall cabinets were out. 

As a result, a feature Vic Ash twin wall shelf lines both sides of the rangehood.

This is also clad in Vic Ash and continues the timber materiality of the battens and the bookshelf at the entry. 

The stone benchtops were chosen for their relaxed feel with an industrial reference, mimicking the patina of concrete.

Matt 2-pak cabinet colours almost exactly match the concrete hue, creating a design uniformity and strength that balances the timber detailing.

Miele appliances are streamlined and seamless, with a large induction cooking surface and semi-integrated dishwasher. 

Power for charging laptops and phones is discreetly hidden in the island. 

A unique reeded colour-back glass splashback brings a wash of fresh green into the space, anchoring the kitchen to the landscape.

Credit list

Kitchen architect
Colour-back reeded glass, by AllTrade Aluminium
Mizu Drift from Reece
Refurbished Vic ash tongue and groove boards
Trends International Design Awards(TIDA) Kitchens – Highly Commended
Custom grey matt 2-pack; feature Vic ash timber battens
Kitchen sink
Franke from Reece
Fisher & Paykel
Masson for Light downlights

Designed by: mcmahon and nerlich

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Shannon McGrath

26 Feb, 2023

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