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Neat and clean kitchen with a dining table with a vase of flowers
Take inspiration from your local cafes for a kitchen that’s the social centre of the home


An entertainer’s dream

Create a kitchen that evokes the welcoming atmosphere of your favourite café and the relaxed vibe of a lazy weekend brunch. Take inspiration from local eateries when planning the layout and finishes for a room that’s as warm as a freshly baked scone, where family and guests alike will naturally gravitate.

Sleek tap and tile designs laid out for project

Allow room to move

For a kitchen that doubles as a gathering place, the first and foremost requirement is space. As avid entertainers, homeowners Soph Cocks and Jamie Prebble of Home Duo (thehomeduo.co.nz) knew they’d need room for a crowd, so the first step was to break down the wall between the old kitchen and the adjacent lime-green dining room. An open-plan kitchen with plenty of room to circulate is important in creating a relaxed, inclusive space.

kitchen and dining table with a vase on it

Include sitting and socialising zones

Opting for a layout without the usual island bench emphasises the sense of light and space in the kitchen, which adds to the café feel. “We love the open-plan aspect through to the lounge, and rate having no kitchen island,” says Soph. “We have not missed it one bit and find ourselves using our dining table so often.”

A dining zone is a magnet for family and guests alike, so if you can’t imagine a kitchen without an island, or you need one for storage, another design idea is to add a dining area, where the island steps down to a table-height surface for meals and socialising. This could be a simple extension in the same material as the island benchtop, or even a different surface such as timber for a table-like feel.

In this kitchen, more social space has been created by extending the benchtop into the corner to form a sitting/leaning spot for casual meals or solo sipping.

Modern kitchen bench-top and cabinets

Create a relaxed vibe

The best brunch spots are often not the most perfectly polished, with a mix of finishes adding a layer of interest and a feeling of friendliness. Here, Soph and Jamie chose to keep some of the original kitchen cabinetry, continuing it along one wall to the new additions.

“Some people get rid of everything, but it’s quite nice to mix and match the two,” comments Soph The newest part of the kitchen is in Kaboodle ‘Alpine’ profile cabinets in Macaroon with ‘Squid Ink’ laminate benchtops, a look that sits comfortably with and visually brightens the original timber cabinets.


Add interest with quirky accessories

Working some offbeat finishes and vintage accents into a modern kitchen scheme is a wonderful way to inject personality and create a relaxed, café-style atmosphere – and it can be a budget-saving measure too! Here, three original vintage glass lightshades were upcycled, while the splashback made use of an unexpected finish: end-of-line floor tiles! “They were a great saving,” says Soph.


Got a small kitchen?

Check out our tips on how to make the most of a small kitchen.

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.