Kitchen of the Week: ‘Cafe au lait’ project features massive stone island

Designed to look like a massive block of stone, the "Café au lait" kitchen by Milvia Hannah is the centrepiece of the family living area in a new home in Canterbury.

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Designed to look like a massive block of stone, the “Café au lait” kitchen by Milvia Hannah is the centrepiece of the family living area in a new home in Canterbury.

A large stone island forms the striking centrepiece of this kitchen in a Canterbury home – it’s coffee-coloured veining giving rise to the name of the project.

“Café au lait”, by Wellington kitchen designer Milvia Hannah of German Kitchens, reflects the owners’ designer for an “organic” kitchen featuring natural materials and colours.

The kitchen, which won a regional award in this year’s national NKBA Kitchen & Bathroom Awards, has also been shortlisted for the prestigious SBID International Design Excellence Awards in London – the winners will be announced later this month.

Milvia Hannah of German Kitchens has won numerous design awards.

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Milvia Hannah of German Kitchens has won numerous design awards.

It caught the NKBA judges’ attention for both its looks and craftsmanship: “The manufacturing of the exquisite marble island would have been tricky, but it has been well executed,” the judges said. “The combination of materials works really well together. Appliance placement is good, and the lighting adds to the kitchen.”

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Hannah says the kitchen was designed for the clients’ new house, where it needed to complement an elegant, open-plan interior, in a cohesive way.

Recessed seating at one end cannot be seen from the front of the island - it was designed this way to maintain the sense of the island being a large block of stone.

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Recessed seating at one end cannot be seen from the front of the island – it was designed this way to maintain the sense of the island being a large block of stone.

The main feature of the Eggersmann German kitchen, was to be the island, and Hannah says it needed to look good when viewed from all angles. It also had to be ergonomic, with a strong organic aesthetic.

To this end, hand-picked natural stone was selected for the island benchtops, drawer fronts, side panels, recessed handles, plinths and integrated sink.

“This allowed the island to feature as a block of stone, keeping the uniformity of the texture and veining through all aspects of the design,” Hannah says.

Bold Italian lighting was chosen to reinforce the visual drama.

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Bold Italian lighting was chosen to reinforce the visual drama.

The island features numerous drawers for storage and vast bench spaces making it well suited to entertaining.

“There is a recessed seating area for two at the end,” says Hannah. “But the front face of the island hides this from view to create balance, symmetry and harmony. False panels were created to achieve this look.”

Matt natural stone with an organic structure was selected for the island, with a muted soft matt stone benchtop chosen for the other side. This was complemented by rough-sawn timber veneer for the cabinetry in a colour that was found in the natural stone.

Cabinetry along the rear wall of the kitchen features rough-sawn timber veneer.

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Cabinetry along the rear wall of the kitchen features rough-sawn timber veneer.

NKBA judges praised the craftsmanship of the island. Doors and drawers feature recessed pulls.

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NKBA judges praised the craftsmanship of the island. Doors and drawers feature recessed pulls.

Hannah says the rough-sawn veneer detail allows the organic nature to come through on the tall cabinetry, adding visual drama and a “marriage of elements that blend cohesively”.

The asymmetrical back wall of cabinetry references the way natural materials grow organically.

Other features include “unsubtle” Italian lighting, a matt glass splashback to avoid reflections, and a warm-toned timber floor. White walls allow the colours and artwork to make a strong visual statement.

NKBA

Winning kitchens and bathrooms in the 2020 NKBA Excellence in Design Awards are announced.

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