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Culinary cool

Culinary cool

We take a look at what works in three contemporary kitchens with tips, ideas and advice from top kitchen designers.

Pieter and Stephanie Bentum conceptualised a kitchen to suit their lifestyle.

Tempting as it is to over-style or design a kitchen, it’s often simplicity that wins the way. Paring down and investing in quality appliances and finishes is always more sustainable because they’ll last longer and give you great pleasure, but at the same time keep your lifestyle needs in mind. Kitchens have been an extension of the living area for a long time, but natural light and a connection with the outdoors are now equally important.

Lifestyle Kitchen

The kitchen relies very strongly on the galley-kitchen layout – but it works.

‘Most kitchens try too hard: if you love cooking, you’ll love a great work space that looks out onto your living area,’ says Joseph Brom of Village Timber, who installed this kitchen that was conceptualised by owners, Pieter and Stephanie Bentum. ‘This one is so simple and relies very strongly on the galley-kitchen layout, but it works.’ It’s streamlined and everything has its place.

‘Ideally your kitchen should be built to last a lifetime using the best materials possible,’ Joseph advises, ‘because longevity validates the cost of installation. We’re extremely fortunate to get stainless steel at a good rate here, so we used the best quality throughout for the countertop and kickbacks, all done by Solo Stainless Steel.’

Supawood cupboards are in a satin-finish slate grey/blue, a favourite to offset stainless steel and Tasmanian oak floors. The glass cupboards soften the space and are fitted with Luminestra LED built-in light fittings from Osram for task lighting. Uplighting above the kitchen cornice runs across the top of glass doors and casts a beautiful light up the wall, especially at night.

Design Features

The prep sink is completely waterproof because it’s fully integrated into the countertop, as is a waste chute, all of which was custom-built by Solar Stainless Steel. Integrated-handle doors are a special feature too: laser-cut, rebated stainless-steel doors – with an integrated handle or lip for fingers to grip – complete the industrial look. Blum soft-close hinges and drawer runners from Eclipse are great for maintaining a kitchen, because the more controlled the drawers and cupboards are, the longer the units last.


Seamless Flow

The central island of this kitchen is the core of the room.

This home in Zimbali was designed around the family’s needs and with two key requirements: the central island had to be the core of the room, enabling cooking and homework to happen simultaneously, and the kitchen was to link to the outdoors. The L-shaped floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer superb views out to the deck, pool and garden; to further mirror these views, the glossy finish of the kitchen cupboards was chosen for its reflective quality. It is Niemann board, a high-gloss acrylic imported from Germany that comes in a range of 40 different colours.

Walnut veneer cupboards add warmth, as does the use of walnut on the central island. Ducted air conditioning throughout the house keeps it cool, particularly in this glass-lined space, and the extractor is set high (it needs to more powerful than most when raised like this) so that it doesn’t obscure the view or interfere with socialising in the kitchen.

Asymmetrical Layering

The walnut veneer cupboards above the tea station were specifically designed to extend into the glass wall to link indoors and out, and also to break the uniformity of line and add warmth.

Family-friendly Design

Central islands open up a room because everything is consolidated into one area, allowing all meal prep work to be done while chatting to kids and overseeing homework or watching them play outdoors. Note the island kickplate: it’s been tiled in the same travertine as the floors so that it ‘floats’ within the room.


Compact Luxury

The emphasis here is on clean lines, top appliances and chunky worktops.

Espresso Design (with offices in Cape Town and London) was asked to work with Fossey Arora, who did the interior design and architecture for this inner-city apartment refurbishment. The emphasis was on clean lines, top appliances and chunky worktops: an oasis of calm in the busy metropolis.

The hero of this kitchen is the sophisticated marble used for the countertops and splashbacks – this is a luxurious choice that accounted for a quarter of the entire kitchen budget. White gloss lacquer adds glamour, and base units are in dark grey oak veneer. Task lighting was installed under the units, casting a subtle celadon hue on the marble splashbacks for added interest.


The replacement kettle and electricity saver: a Quooker, the on-demand boiling water tap (small one on the right), which is linked to a heavily insulated three-litre tank. The cold tap is a clever KWC Eve tap with a pull-out aerator and an LED light ring on the end so that you can see what you’re doing even if lights are turned down for ambience.


Contact Details

Village Timber, Joseph Brom: 082 332 9953,,

Kitchen Classics, Rob Murray: 031 539 3351,

Espresso Design, Andrew Hamilton Barr: 073 130 5446, 021 422 5283,  

Fossey Arora:    

Photographs: Greg Cox/Bureaux, Kilian O’Sullivan/Espresso, Kitchen Classics

Text: Michelle Snaddon


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