Stick to steel
Work a shimmering steel worktop to create a restaurant-worthy kitchen. A staple of professional kitchens, stainless steel is practical, non-porous and heatproof. Use it to define one area, such as the cooking zone. Opt for a brushed finish to hide unsightly marks. As steel is usually bespoke, you should go for an integral hob or sink, or a slim format instead of a format edge.
Go for contrast
Opt for wooden work surfaces in a contemporary scheme to soften the sharp edges of industrial designs. Mix wood with stainless-steel cabinets to help break up the space and create a lighter look. Invest in solid wood where possible, particularly in a busy house where corners are likely to be bashed and dented, as it’s easier to repair than veneers.
Use wood wisely
Incorporate a beautifully cut wooden worktop into your scheme to frame a sink or hob. Choose freestanding painted wood cabinetry to evoke a country aesthetic. Solid wood worktops do benefit from a certain amount of ongoing care so remember to re-oil your surface every 12 months or so – depending on the finish – but it is also easy to repair and restore and will age beautifully.
Dare to be different
Use coloured composite, which can be shaped and moulded to create a truly dynamic design. Choose non-quartz based composites that are made of minerals and acrylic, such as Corian, which are more flexible, and can be thermoformed into interesting shapes, allowing for the insertion of seamless sinks and hobs. Fit shiny, glazed wall tiles to mimic the reflective nature of the worktops. Surfaces make a big difference to the look of a room and the colours and finishes will affect other decisions so borrow samples and see how they behave in different lights.
Think about using multiple materials in your kitchen to help break up the scheme and add character and purpose to your design. A change of materials indicates a change of function – here a stained wood breakfast bar sings out against the matt blue and white finishes used elsewhere. Choose wood for your eating zone as it’s a more forgiving dining surface than stone – it’s warmer to touch, softer on elbows and quieter on crockery…
Create an overhang on an island to provide a stylish and practical place to enjoy an informal meal. Tuck a pair of stools underneath to free up floor space when not in use. In a busy family kitchen, opt for tough, hard-wearing materials. Think man-made composite worktops, which are not only sleek and stylish, but can be moulded to suit your every need. Consider having the corners of your worktop rounded to make them more child friendly.
Match a splashback
For an incredibly stylish look that creates a seamless, practical finish, extend your worktop into a splashback. Unlike tiling, there is no grouting or sealant to maintain. If you’re after a surface that is visually striking, opt for marble. Both beautiful and hardwearing, stone is a worthwhile investment and an ideal choice for the kitchen. Highly practical, it withstands heat and water, making it suitable for cooking and wet zones. If you’re covering a large area in marble worktops, consider using book-matched slabs to create a powerful and dramatic effect.
Top a feature island
If you’re lucky enough to have the space, extend an island so it becomes a virtual kitchen in itself – then choose a worktop that will do it justice. The profile of a worktop can change the overall effect dramatically, so explore all design options. If you’re after a designer solution, a White Caesarstone surface with a 60mm double waterfall-edge profile is a fantastic option – and it’s also ideal for a family kitchen.
Keep it simple
Give your kitchen a cohesive look by using the same material on the worktop and cabinetry. If you love this look, consider using a durable acrylic-based material, such as Parapan. They can be totally seamless, too, with one-piece moulded sinks and splashbacks. Create a kitchen that works around you by having it engraved, back-lit with LEDs and even fitted with wireless charging for smartphones. Designs are often pioneering and the material can be thermoformed into fabulous, organic curves, slick cantilevered breakfast bars and seamless wrap-around surfaces on islands.
Mimic the material elsewhere
Integrate your kitchen with the rest of the home to make it an extension of your living space. Use the same material on shelves, cabinetry and furniture to keep the look consistent. Take time to choose the finish of your wood. A wax or oiled finish works well in a traditional setting, while matt lacquers offer a modern twist. Try before you buy – ask for a sample of the worktop you’re considering, then see how easily it scratches and stains.