Australian Kitchen Design Trends 2016


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At Smith & Smith, we stay abreast of design trends in Europe, the UK and around the world. In performing this research, it is clear that Australia has its own specific trends.

In recent years our director, John Lorych, has seen a forking of trends. A vast majority of new homes and renovations built in the last decade include open plan kitchen/living areas. Once tucked away in a room of it’s own, the kitchen receives heightened exposure in this open plan setting and has made a beautiful kitchen imperative. It is also important that the style of the kitchen unites with the style of the other furnishings in the home. It is exactly because of this exposure of the kitchen in the home that the forking of trends can now be seen.

When a style is settled upon for the furnishings and fittings of a home, the buyer does take trends into account, but only as they appeal to personal taste. The rise and fall of trends is always down to personal taste. If the market likes it, people are buying it and the trend continues. If not, the trend fades quickly into a fad.

Australian kitchen design trends in 2016 will show a greater forking of styles. Here are just a few.

Thick Bench-top | Thin Bench-top


SmithandSmith_Rowville_SRChunky bench-tops have been hot for over a decade and they don’t look like they are going to disappear any time soon. Our clients love bench-tops even up to 80mm thick. A hefty bench-top provides a visual anchor for the space, a truly built-in look. It evokes strength and durability. Indeed a thick bench-top is strong and durable.

Tailor The Trend

Thick benches can be constructed from stone, engineered stone, laminate or timber. Chunky bench-tops suit all kitchen styles if you tailor them to the specific style of your kitchen. Country or provincial style kitchens often include a chunky timber bench-top with a satin finish and a decorative profile. Contemporary style kitchens tend to have a high-gloss finish and a perfectly square edge.


Porcelain is as old as the hills and has been used as a finish in situations that call for a tough, yet refined product where form belies function. Porcelain has been used for anything from tiles to toilets and electrical insulation to Small kitchen, timber veneer, apartment kitchenelegant ornaments. It is amazing that it has taken this long for porcelain to be engineered specifically for bench-tops, and is ideal for thin bench-tops. Released first in Europe, porcelain bench-tops hit the Australian market early last year.

Due to it’s great strength, porcelain bench-tops can be manufactured to thicknesses as thin as 3mm! This hard, beautiful material comes in a marvellous range of colours including stone-effect, timber-effect and aged metal-effect, with gloss, textured and matte finishes.Porcelain is also impervious to water and other liquids, making it stain resistant. It does not fade or discolour with natural light.

Tailor The Trend

A thin bench-top may be placed with a shadow line (a gap between cabinetry and counter-top to create a shadow) on top of cabinetry to draw attention to the slender silhouette.

Freestanding Kitchen Cabinetry | Fully Built In

Also forking in Europe, adoption of either of these two cabinetry trends depends greatly on how you want to interact with your home.

Freestanding Kitchen Cabinetry

Freestanding Kitchen Cabinetry is ideal for homes where an eclectic approach to interior design has been applied. Freestanding cabinetry can also add warmth and cosiness to large spaces.

Exposed legs create a freestanding furniture effect.

Exposed legs create a freestanding furniture effect.

Custom-built kitchens have been the norm since post WWII with the rise of laminates and frameless cabinetry. These two factors enabled a greater, seamless expanse of bench-top to be placed on top of modular cabinets to produce the built-in kitchen that is familiar to us today.

Recent trends that hark back to older methods have seen a spike in desire to have a home full of furniture that looks less mass-produced and more collected-over-time. The trend started in other rooms, and has now spread to the kitchen. The unique beauty of a furniture based kitchen design is that constituents may be relocated as desired (provided, of course, that there are no plumbing or electrics tying the unit down).

Tailor The Trend

This trend is not limited to country style kitchens, where kitchen dressers and chopping block style island bench-tops are naturally at home. Some of our recent kitchens have featured components on castors in contemporary style kitchens to take free standing to a new level. Characteristics to include when developing a freestanding or furniture based kitchen are; face frame cabinets, exposed legs where kick boards once hid them and natural materials to show off the quality of craftsmanship.

Fully Built-In

White, Kitchen, Modern, Hidden Kitchen, Timber Veneer

Carefully hidden cabinets on both the white wall and the timber veneer feature wall create an illusion of space in this small kitchen.

Fully built-in kitchens are ideal for any type of home. A recent trend with fully built in kitchens is to have them so sleek they disappear into the walls. Only a few clues are left that there is a kitchen to be found.

Handle-less designs with integrated pulls and push to open systems enable a super sleek style without distraction.

A fully built-in kitchen doesn’t have to be a minimalist’s dream, however. Fully built in also encompasses kitchens that are made to perfectly fit the space they are designed for, ensuring maximum storage space and food preparation areas. An integrated look hides the fridge, dishwasher and other appliances behind door fronts that match the rest of the kitchen. This not only physically maximises space, but also creates a further illusion of space.

Tailor The Trend

Choose a cabinet maker that builds custom kitchens. This is the only way to truly perfect the fully built-in look without compromising with ‘filler’ cabinets. Mix tones and textures to break up the space and give continuity without monotony. A mixture of tones can give depth to a small space by drawing the eye to a specific point – such as the back wall in this kitchen.

Handle-less | Handles


A handle-less kitchen has a sleek, modern feel. Textured surfaces or feature walls of cabinetry can be hidden with ease. Can you spot the secret door?

The handle-less look has been in for some time and is likely to remain in for some time yet. There are also practical benefits to the lack of handles – clothes can’t get snagged on a handle that isn’t there and cupboards are easier to wipe down when there is no handle in the way.

Tailor The Trend

There are various methods of gaining the handle-less look. Push to open hinges may be incorporated where a push, then a pull is required. Reducing the dual action to a single action is achieved by either a special configuration of cabinetry to allow grip on the door/drawer or a grip attached to the door/drawer-front.



This kitchen combines handles on lower cabinets with handle-less on upper cabinets.

While the handle-less look has inspired many, there are others that can’t think of a kitchen without the ‘jewellery’ of handles. A majority of our clients request handles and it is easy to see why. Our hardware suppliers have a great range of handles that suit many kitchen styles.

Tailor The Trend

Select handles that compliment the style of your kitchen, while also taking into account the level of ergonomics you require. Tiny handles can be difficult to grip and tricky to open with your one clean finger when the rest are messy with food prep. Larger handles are easier to grip, but can provide more snags for clothing. If small children are to be taken into consideration, child-locks can more easily be placed on larger handles.

High Gloss | Textured

These two trends are now, in some cases, being mixed within the same kitchen to provide variety, interest and focal points.

High Gloss

Contemporary KitchenHigh gloss has long been a trademark of a sleek contemporary kitchen. High gloss surfaces are easy to wipe down and maintain. Glossy surfaces increase the intensity of colour, such as in bold splash backs, matte finishes tone down hues. A majority of our clients choose high gloss surfaces for their cabinetry and bench-tops.

High gloss surfaces can create an illusion of depth with their reflective properties. Just as mirrors can make a room seem bigger, so too can high gloss surfaces.

Tailor The Trend

Laminates come in a variety of high gloss colour options including stone, timber and metal-effects. These laminates can be applied to door fronts, panelling or bench-tops. Consider a bold colour feature splash back in high gloss tempered glass. For a premium look, high gloss timber bench-tops, stone or quarried stone will have your kitchen a shining example of the high gloss trend. Two-pack Polyurethane can be applied to cabinet doors and drawer fronts in high gloss colours of your choice to complete the luxurious look.


Textured surfaces are making their way back in to the home, even moving beyond the safe satin finishes to textures that draw inspiration from timber, stone and rusted metal. Porcelain is the new darling of high-end kitchen design and these textures can be found in the new large format product.

French Provincial Kitchen, Timber Benchtop

French Provincial Kitchen, Timber Benchtop

This tactile trend allows a feature to be made out of unusual textures found in nature.

Tailor The Trend

Team satin or gloss finishes with the more organic textures of natural stone, beaten metals or unglazed pottery. Door fronts may feature natural timber, varnished or painted to allow the natural grain to show. Oiled timber bench-tops show off the natural grain of timber and reveal the texture of the grain to the touch, not just to sight. For a readily updatable approach consider tactile elements in the decor of your kitchen. Brushed and beaten metals, such as copper or stainless steel can be incorporated in the form of light fittings, range hoods or a display of copper pots. Textured elements do naturally lend themselves to country style kitchens, however recently the trend has crept to contemporary kitchens also. Square edges and smoothed lines may be added to these textured elements to make the look more modern. The feature image at the top of the page shows a kitchen with satin finish laminate doors, teamed with a high gloss caesarstone bench-top, antiqued metal feature light and highly textured cow-hide covered bar stools.

Personal taste wins out over mainstream trends. Our clients want their kitchen to last a lifetime; their kitchen must display their personal style, and incorporate timeless, durable materials.

As trends reach saturation point, there is a swing against them, creating the new trend. Due to the internet, there are so many trends on the go at any one time, kitchen design becomes a free for all and anything goes. Personal taste wins out over mainstream trends. Our clients want their kitchen to last a lifetime; their kitchen must display their personal style, and incorporate timeless, durable materials such as porcelain, stone, engineered stone, timber, two-pack polyurethane and metals such as stainless steel or copper. As with all things, it is always best to go with your own personal taste rather than follow trends or you may just find yourself constantly chasing your tail.