Neale Whitaker Presents The Block 2020 Kitchens

It’s a tough job but someone has to do it – at least that’s what Shaynna, Darren and I tell ourselves each Kitchen Week!

Judging five super-luxe, state-of-the-art kitchens and awarding points for design, functionality, finish and execution and overall appropriateness to the location and demographic (Melbourne’s leafy bayside suburb of Brighton), property value (somewhere north of $3 million) and in the case of the 2020 kitchens, the original era of the house. Victorians Harry and Tash scored the 1920s, New South Wales’s Sarah and George the 1940s, Daniel and Jade from South Australia the 1930s, WA’s Luke and Jasmin the 1910s, and Queensland’s Jimmy and Tam the 1950s.

But for each couple, the kitchen represented the transition from old to new – and that sweet spot where a house becomes a true, family home.

HOUSE 1: HARRY & TASH

 

‘If I had to describe the perfect 2020 kitchen, this might be it,’ I said when I walked into Harry and Tash’s kitchen and saw that incredible, four-metre ‘runway’ of an island bench. ‘It has all the touchpoints. It feels like the kind of kitchen people are looking for today.’ Those touchpoints included the generous island bench; a spacious, well-planned butler’s pantry; ‘Essendon’ cabinetry in White Satin; Avoca cabinetry in Prime Oak Matt and floating shelves; and benchtops and splashbacks in Caesarstone’s ‘Airy Concrete’.

For me, it was a ‘showstopper’ of a kitchen that was glamorously contemporary, with subtle acknowledgement of heritage through details like black metal shelving and broadline glass. I particularly liked Harry and Tash’s decision to use surface-mounted downlights (can lights) instead of hanging pendants. It added to the luxe functionality of a kitchen that was as generous as it was streamlined. And can we talk about that industrial-sized coffee machine? I think I called it ‘magnificent’. I also commented that with this kitchen, Harry and Tash had ‘really come alive’.

 

Featuring:

Cabinetry: NEW Avoca Prime Oak Matt, Essendon White Satin
Handles: NEW Crest Channel Handle, NEW Thin Flat D Graphite 15-K-147
Benchtops: Caesarstone Airy Concrete 20mm Arris edge
Splashbacks: Caesarstone Airy Concrete
Kickboards: Essendon White Satin, Prime Oak
Accessories: 2020 Alumin Black Framing with Broadline Glass, Walnut Cutlery Trays and Knife Holder, Design Side Glass Sided Drawers, TT2C Stainless Steel Towel Rail, NEW Ninka Bin
Sink & Tap: Oliveri
Lighting: LED Warm Downlights, Warm LED Strip (Pantry)
Fridges: Bosch
Appliances: NEFF

 

HOUSE 2: SARAH & GEORGE

 

‘A study in black and white’ is how I described Sarah and George’s kitchen that felt like a contemporary update of traditional Shaker style. There were subtle references to the 1940s in the details (broadline glass in the overhead cabinets, Somersby profile cabinetry), all meticulously presented and executed. And did I really use the word ‘monolithic’? I guess that’s a big step up from ‘wow’! I was referring to the seductively curved natural stone island bench which took centre-stage in an otherwise monochrome kitchen. A stunning choice which Darren actually felt compelled to hug. Sarah and George included new technology in their generous butler’s pantry through the ‘Climber’ cabinets with glass frame doors that rise automatically at the touch of a button.

While there was some debate between us all over the height of the overhead cupboards (too high), I said that Sarah and George’s kitchen was ‘aesthetically immaculate.’ From the simple horizontal pendant over the island to the Bosch appliances and classic black stools, it was a ‘forever kitchen’ that ‘delivered on almost every level.’

 

Featuring:

Cabinetry: Somersby Classic White Matt, Somersby Black Matt Glass Frames, Chadstone Bottega Oak Woodmatt
Handles: Satin Black Rounded Bar Handle 22-K-131, Touch Catch
Benchtops: Caesarstone Intense White 20mm Pencil Round
Splashbacks: Caesarstone Intense White
Kickboards: White Matt, Chadstone Bottega Oak
Accessories: 1S Drawer Uppers (Internal Drawers), Internal Stainless Steel Drawers with Acrylic Bases, Steel Cutlery Trays, Draw Non-slip Matts, Design Side Glass Sided Drawers, NEW Ninka Bin
Sinks & Taps: Oliveri
Lighting: Warm LED Downlights
Appliances: Bosch

 

HOUSE 3: DANIEL & JADE

 

Christian Cole’s name is synonymous with bespoke timber furniture and craftsmanship. The elegant fluted panelling wrapped around Daniel and Jade’s island bench bears Cole’s signature and it’s exactly the game-changer the South Australia-based couple wanted. We all agreed it was the perfect nod to the house’s 1930s DNA. Deco-influenced in its curves, yet contemporary at the same time. Daniel and Jade’s kitchen incorporated the elegant new ‘Camden’ profile cabinetry in Oyster Grey Matt with Thin Flat Bar handles in Champagne. I couldn’t help but observe that ‘oysters and champagne’ spelt luxury in this curvaceous and glamorous kitchen that also featured Caesarstone ‘Excava’ for benchtops and splashbacks, and reeded broadline glass for a heritage touch.

While we didn’t all love the choice of pendant lights, we agreed the overhead cabinets were the correct height and the butler’s pantry was expertly planned in terms of functionality. ‘Not so much a butler’s pantry as a butler’s kitchen,’ I commented. ‘When the kitchens go in, the home suddenly has a heartbeat’ I added, acknowledging that the signature bench will bring a sense of community to this beautifully-appointed kitchen.

 

Featuring:

Cabinetry: NEW Camden Oyster Grey Matt
Handles: NEW Thin Flat Bar in Champagne 15-K-148
Benchtops: Caesarstone Excava 20mm Sharknose
Splashbacks: Caesarstone Excava
Kickboards: Oyster Grey Matt
Accessories: Internal Drawers, 1S Drawer Upper Internal Drawers, 2020 Alumin Black Framing with Broadline Glass, NEW Ninka Bin
Sinks & Tap: Oliveri
Lighting: Warm LED Downlights, Warm LED Strip
Appliances: Bosch

 

HOUSE 4: LUKE & JASMIN

 

‘We’re not just seeing kitchens that are on trend, but kitchens that are setting trends’, I commented as we walked into Luke and Jasmin’s light, spacious, contemporary space. The transition from old to new was particularly marked here, with the WA couple taking stylistic cues from the heritage part of their 1910s house (a palette of oak, white and brass) and reworking them to create an aesthetic with hints of Japanese and Scandi style.

Shaynna found the colour palette a little stark, but for me it was ‘elegant and sophisticated’, with clever use of Porta timber cladding – we hadn’t seen it curved before – contrasting with matte white cabinetry and Caesarstone ‘Cloudburst Concrete’ on benchtops and splashbacks. A galley-style butler’s pantry featured additional Siemens appliances and open shelving that challenged me personally. In the same way I question open wardrobes, open storage in a kitchen (even if it’s in the butler’s pantry) might require unrealistic levels of tidiness – or maybe that’s just me! But I had to agree that Luke and Jasmin had styled and presented it to perfection. How would we ever pick a winner?

 

Featuring:

Cabinetry: Oxley Supa Ultra White Matt, Chadstone Prime Oak
Handles: NEW MARQ Handle in UltraGold, NEW Brushed Dark brass Bar handle for Integrated Fridges 15-M-03, Touch Catch
Benchtops: Caesarstone Cloudburst Concrete 20mm Pencil Round
Splashbacks: Caesarstone Cloudburst Concrete
Kickboards: Supa Ultra White
Accessories: 1S Drawer Upper Internal Drawers, Le-Mans Corner Pull out System, NEW Ninka Bin
Sinks: Oliveri
Taps: By contestants
Lighting: Warm LED Downlights
Appliances: Siemens

 

HOUSE 5: JIMMY & TAM

 

OK can we talk about those Gaggenau appliances please? And the expensively-stocked wine fridge? And that mint green cabinetry which oozed 1950s style? Queenslanders Jimmy and Tam have a knack of delivering perfectly-executed spaces that combine luxury with a dash of humour, and the kitchen certainly didn’t disappoint. ‘It’s so of the era,’ I commented, taking in the VJ ceiling panelling and cute terrazzo pendants. ‘It speaks to the 1950s but it’s also spot-on for 2020. It feels bespoke.’

Darren described the kitchen as ‘kooky’ – which it was – but Jimmy and Tam proved kooky can also be cool and refined. Diverse elements like that green accent tone; a slim Caesarstone ‘Black Tempal’ benchtop with sharknose edge; and Oyster Grey Matt Camden cabinetry with a retro profile all came together in unexpected harmony. ‘It’s a kitchen with heart and soul’, said Shaynna, but it was also one with what Darren described as a ‘massive value-add’ in the shape of those Gaggenau appliances in the main kitchen and butler’s pantry … or should that be butler’s treasure trove?

 

Featuring:

Cabinetry: NEW Camden Oyster Grey Matt, NEW Ballina Enamel, NEW Avalon Oyster Grey Matt
Handles: Matt Brass Rounded Bar 34-K-132, Touch Catch
Benchtops: NEW Caesarstone Black Tempal 20mm Sharknose (Island), Caesarstone Frozen Terra 20mm Sharknose edge
Splashbacks: NEW Caesarstone Black Temple
Kickboards: NEW Ballina Enamel, Oyster Grey Matt
Accessories: Internal Drawers, Steel Cutlery Trays, Design Side Glass Sided Drawers, NEW Ninka Bin
Sinks: Oliveri
Taps: By contestants
Lighting: Warm LED Downlights, Warm LED Strip
Appliances: Gaggenau

Photographer: @marcelaucar

Stylist: @ruthwelsby

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