Nine ways to update your kitchen for spring
Best in Class: New taps, tiles and colour tones will refresh the room at the heart of the house
A Bristol-style design, available at Arena Kitchens
You can make an existing kitchen look fresh with a few select updates. A smart way to refresh a kitchen island is to reimagine the classic tap and sink combination. Start with a practical mixer tap. This tap by Carena comes with an extendable spray secreted within its chrome surround, for easy filling of pots and vases. It comes with an ergonomic lever and costs €630. Add a granite-look sink to give the area a focal point.
Meanwhile, the Blanco Zenar XL 6S steamer, plus sink, has been designed with practicality in mind. It has a separate hanging tray area where you can prep vegetables and comes with a glass chopping board that sits directly into its rim, so you could easily transfer fruit and veg from one to the other. It costs €965 from Showtime. Sho.ie
Out on the tiles
Bored with countertops of marble or its manmade variants? Tiles are no longer just for floors, as these new designs by Bert & May show. There’s a trend now towards matching the splashback to the countertop, and this is a fresh and not very invasive way of injecting colour into an existing kitchen.
The modernist motifs of Bert & May’s handmade tiles feature natural pigments in soft washes of green, grey and a blue that The Conran Shop, where you can buy them, calls Conran blue. New and exclusive to the firm, the range features six designs in the three aforementioned complementary colourways.
The tiles can be used indoors or out, on the floor or on your walls, and can be combined with their inverse colourways to create a bespoke installation.
Crafted by artisan tilemakers using traditional methods, they retail at about €6.60 per tile/€164 per square metre for plain tiles and €8.70 per tile/€218 per square metre for pattern tiles, excluding delivery. Conranshop.co.uk
The breakfast bar is making a comeback and can work in a room too small to fit a decent-size table. This clever, ceiling-suspended design can be easily retrofit into a room, subject to a builder supervising it structurally, and will create a good-looking place to perch. You can play with chain or rope effects, depending on the mood you want to create.
You can find similar industrial-style Square Dance bar stools, €209 each, from Kian Furniture, and TileStyle has a wide selection of wood flooring by Kährs that will give you a similar look underfoot.
The lighting scheme is central to making this look work. The five-arm wire cage pendant with adjustable copper lampholders is available from Dublin’s Fantasy Lights and offers a lot of style at a reasonable price. Its fitting price is €225, and the vintage-style bulbs pictured cost €20 each. Fantasylights.com; Kian.ie
Brassware is a really simple way to update your look. The colour now is the non-colour, black. This Tre Mercati Milan mono basin mixer costs €121, reduced from €229 from UK-based Tap Warehouse.
This looks especially decorative if you team with floral tiles as a splashback. Surface View’s collection, in association with London’s Sir John Soane’s museum, allows you to customise the pictured Venetian floral print as you fancy, to use as a water-resistant wallpaper or printed onto ceramic tiles, in either matt or gloss finishes.
You can also play with the scale of the motif, to use it as large or as small as you want. Every frieze is made to measure, so you will need to spend some time playing with the tools on the site to see what size works with your space, and also go back to old-school squared maths paper to figure out sizes as they will eventually look.
Absolutely minimal kitchens are on the wane. We now want more warmth and personality on display, so invest in on-show storage. Take inspiration from this London show unit, designed by the in-house team at Ballymore.
This kitchen has simple grey handless units, with smart geometric-shaped white tiles as a splashback and the back wall of the units painted a blood-orange red. Try Squeeze or Fruit Crumble from Colourtrend’s Contemporary range for something similar.
This injection of colour is emphasised by the fact that the shelving is also backlit, so even after dark you will get a heartwarming glow. The lighting also allows you to backlight your belongings, so be sure to play with shapes and colours in terms of what you put on show. Ballymoregroup.com; Colourtrend.ie
On the table
A simple way to refresh your kitchen is to dish up meals on new tableware. Pinya is a new joltingly-coloured breakfastware range from Habitat. It comes in lime green, lemon yellow and a Jaffa orange juice shade, pictured. The huggable mugs cost about €7 each, the cereal bowls are €8 each and side plates about €9 each, excluding delivery.
Marks and Spencer also sells a wide selection of crockery, including its Spring Blooms collection, which includes side plates, €8.25 each, and cappuccino mugs, €11 each. Habitat.co.uk; Marksandspencer.ie
Fire your imagination
Add more visual and physical heat to the room by installing a wood-burning stove. This brand new Stockton 11 design from Stovax includes a clever cooktop that you can use to fry food and even boil a kettle, and offers any cook a secondary hotplate within the kitchen. It has side shelves on which you can set pans or pots you have removed from the heat.
In a wood-burning option, the stove costs €2,149, while the multi-fuel option is €2,442, supply only.
The tiled feature wall is a lovely way to bring colour in. These need to be heat-resistant and situated 15cm from the back of the stove.
Ninety per cent of subway or metro tiles can handle at least 700 degrees Celsius and National Tile stocks a wide selection, ranging in price from €26 to €130 per square metre. Fenton Fires also recommends using a slate, granite or ceramic tile base for such a stove, costing from €26 to €130 per square metre. Fentonfires.ie; National-tile.com
Pull the rug out
Wooden floors help deliver a soft, contemporary aesthetic and are cheaper to install than tiling, but wear and tear in the work part of the kitchen can leave them looking unsightly and unloved. A really quick fix is to add texture with a rug.
This Kasbah one in an ink colour is by Weaver Green. It is made from recycled plastic water bottles, comes in five sizes and costs from about €157 for a 150cm by 90cm size.
But a rug underfoot can be a lethal trip hazard, so fix yours to the floor using Ako – the interiors equivalent of body tape, which keeps breasts from escaping low-cut garments.
After a long period of pale kitchens, wood is making a return and is another way to add warmth to the space.
BeSpace, formerly Kitchen Elegance, has some lovely walnut veneer designs, but this traditional Bristol style by German brand Häcker, stocked at Arena Kitchens, goes one step further by creatively rethinking the splashback, using horizontal oak timber to create a punctuation point along the very charming, exposed stone wall.
This counter-to-ceiling accent brings a contemporary feel to the solid ash, washed lacquer doors, and is a clever, easy-to-execute idea that will work in period homes, especially where kitchens are at garden level, and also country cottages. Prices for the kitchen start from €20,000. Arenakitchens.com; Bespace.ie