Kitchen design – how to be both fabulous and user friendly

Anyone who’s ever watched any renovating, design or real estate show knows the saying ‘kitchens sell houses,’ as well as they know Scotty Cam likes a beer and Neale Whitaker likes a suit. Over the last decade kitchens have gone from being a practical place to cook, often tucked away in a separate room, to the centre and heart of the home. The fact we’ve spent the last decade obsessing over cooking and design shows could have something to do with that!

These days we all want to be gourmet cooks, who entertain in style as our guests mill around our island bench. We want double ovens, inbuilt  coffee machines and butlers pantries to hide all the mess. We also want our kitchen to increase the value of our homes, so when it comes time to design a new one it’s a pretty huge decision. They’re also a big financial investment and one you’ll be living with them for a long time, so you want to get it right.

I have spent the last few months working on the design of our new kitchen, with countless hours spent thinking about how it will look and work for our family. It has been a really fun process working with Alby Turner and Son to create a fabulous Hamptons style kitchen that has both the wow factor and the necessary requirements for a working family home.


One of the stunning kitchens Sophie Doumbiotis and Alby Turner and Son have designed for another client.

My designer, Sophie Doumbiotis, has been a great source of knowledge throughout the process, so I wanted to ask Sophie for some advice to help others who are in the same situation. I sat down with Sophie and Rob Turner, from Alby Turner and Son, and asked them some questions.

Amity: Sophie, when designing a kitchen are there certain ‘rules’ you should follow? For example they mentioned a ‘triangle’ on The Block the other night, but I had never actually heard of that!

Sophie: I think concentrating on work zones is more important nowadays, with the introduction of so many more appliances in today’s kitchen. There are more work areas to consider such as butler pantries, appliance stations and large preparation areas. You want to keep in mind how many people will use the space and how the family uses the space together.

Amity: What are the current trends in kitchen design in Australia?

Sophie: For me it’s the addition of butler pantries and the shaker/Hampton style look. Gloss surfaces are not as popular as they once were, now it’s more about matte, satin and textured finishes. Also, creating a kitchen that looks like a piece of furniture, with concealed appliances behind cabinetry.

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The chandelier is a bit OTT, but this kitchen is a stunning example of a Hamptons style kitchen and shows how the joinery can look like beautiful pieces of furniture.

Amity: It’s funny to me that the Hamptons look is so popular now, because when I did that look for The Block All Stars in 2013 it was a big risk because no one had done it on The Block before. Then it was all about glossy white cupboards, with no handles and a minimalist look. I remember one contestant (who I won’t name) laughing when they saw our shaker profile doors, because they thought it was daggy and dated and the judges would hate it. But we got three 10’s for that kitchen! And since then I’ve seen it become more and more popular, with it now being the feature look in many kitchen showrooms.

Rob: At Alby Turner we’ve always been known for doing solid timber and French provincial kitchens, but over the last decade modern kitchens became more popular, so we shifted to that. However, the biggest change we’ve seen was when we put the Hamptons style kitchen on display in the front window of our showroom at the end of 2013. Since then it has easily become our most popular style of kitchen. I believe this is because Adelaide has a lot of beautiful old cottages and bungalows that don’t necessarily suit a modern kitchen, but at the same time people don’t want to go as far as the detail found in a provincial style kitchens. This is where the Hamptons style of kitchen suits perfectly; it suits a modern home equally as well as an old villa or Queenslander – it’s both classical and contemporary.

Amity: Sophie, when we were designing my kitchen together we talked as much about how we would use the kitchen as how it would look. What are some important things for people to keep in mind when designing a kitchen to make sure it’s both user friendly as well as stylish.

Sophie: Traffic flow and family interaction in the kitchen area are important to consider, because every family works  in their kitchen differently. Consider the size of your work zones, are they comfortable to work in? Decide on what areas of the kitchen you want to be the focal/standout pieces and style and detail these areas accordingly. Ask yourself whether you’re going to do a lot of entertaining, or will the kitchen cater for other activities such as study or working. What storage is required and what are your appliance requirements? Finally, invest in good internal storage systems.

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An example of some of the cool internal storage systems we’ve chosen.

So hopefully these are all things we’ve done! I’m really happy with our final result and think it’s the perfect combination of stylish and practical. So here are the final drawings…..

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This view is inside the butlers pantry. It’s pretty huge! The fridge is accessible from both the main part of the kitchen and the butlers pantry.

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Things like storage racks for trays and platters are a great addition. We also have an extra sink and dish drawer for washing coffee mugs etc. A bit indulgent, but nice!

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The open shelves for pantry items are hidden in the corner, so the mess isn’t viewed from the main part of the kitchen. The drawers are deeper that they look in this pic.

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Another of my the kitchens I used as inspiration in our design. I adore the duck egg blue subway tiles. 

Can’t wait to hear what you think and hope you love it as much as I do!

Amity x


  1. Julie says

    You will be so glad for the second sink…when there is a party you can dump everything in the sink in the butlers and not have to worry about the kitchen looking messy. We do all our dishes in our butlers sink then the kitchen sink always looks clean. Enjoy it looks great

  2. Lydia Albert says

    Hi Amity, I love your kitchen design & I got very excited because it’s very similar to ours! We are also going for a classic Hamptons style house & kitchen. Our floor plan is almost the same as yours with a walk behind pantry & just the oven on the back wall behind the large island bench. I’m very hopeful it will function as a great kitchen. We haven’t finalised our cabinetry & shelving yet but I loved your ideas of the storage racks & open shelving in the butlers pantry. I’m still trying to convince my husband that I need a Lacanche oven as the centrepiece of my kitchen – wish me luck!

  3. says

    Your kitchen is going to be beautiful Amity! It is something of a dream kitchen – in my eyes anyway! So much storage, very practical layout, belfast sink and all those extras that you are just going to love! What’s you colour theme going to be?

    • Amity says

      Thanks Cristy, it’s definitely my dream kitchen! The cupboards will be a warm white and I’ll be writing about the benchtop and splash back soon.

  4. Rhonda says

    I love it! Just beautiful. Amity make sure you can open the cupboards under the island bench from both sides. I did this and so grateful that I did.

    • Amity says

      Thanks Rhonda! There won’t be cupboards on the seating side because then you can’t have stools there. But we have so many cupboards I was ok with that!

  5. Jo says

    Amity is there any chance you could share some of the dimensions of the kitchen with us? We are designing our own house/kitchen at the moment and are currently tossing up the placement of the fridge in relationship to the pantry while also worrying about not blocking pathways between zones. I am curious your gap between the fridge and the opposing wall/bench (it looks in these like it’s right in the path through to the pantry?). Also the island dimensions, gap between stove and island, that sort of thing. I am sure you did some careful thinking about all of that, I know we are agonising over more island v. more walk space etc.

    • Amity says

      Hi Jo, do you have a designer working with you? Our designer Sophie was checking all the measurements and definitely ensured that the fridge opens properly. When it’s open it might block the path to the pantry, but I liked that it was accessible from both the pantry and the kitchen so I was ok with that. You don’t stand there with the fridge open for that long for it to be an issue, I don’t think so anyway! But I really looked to Sophie for a lot of those decisions and asked her what she thought, so I would highly reccommend having a designer help you out. Good luck with it!

      • Jo says

        Thanks Amity, I tend to agree with you and Sophie, that the fridge (and wall oven), although they can block a path when in use, are not something you just stand there for ages getting in the way. Not like the sink, dishwasher or cooktop, where you may be in position for quite some time. My husband and the Architect are doing a song and dance about it being in the way if we put it right in the passage to the pantry.. Perhaps it is a gender thing. My husband is, however, still saying access wise that it would be great if the fridge was right at the pantry door for maximum access in all directions. He’s the one that will be accessing it from the pantry the most, being the maker of all hot drinks, all of which will happen in the pantry. Actually I will want things from the fridge when using the TM (all noisy devices have been banished to the pantry).

  6. says

    The design looks great Amity, and we loved your Hampton’s style kitchen from 2013. We are four weeks away from installing our new kitchen in our renovation, which has been a long process as we have been constrained by the usual things that pop up during renos. But we have gone with white cabinets and stone bench tops in neutral tones because it won’t date. While we missed out on the butlers pantry, we have put oodles of storage in the adjacent laundry where we can put all those things that are occasional use. Looking forward to seeing your build evolve into your home.

    Cheers, Col

  7. Emily Hodgkinson says

    Love the countertop combo! Would you be kind enough to share what type of stone was used in this gorgeous kitchen?

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