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Find the Gourmet Chef in you

Of all the rooms, the kitchen is definitely the heart and soul of your home. Kitchens are made for bringing families and friends together. Your kitchen is like a fine meal, where memories are created, combining the right ingredients and seasoned with love. 

This wonderful summary appears on the website www.zulkenkitchens.co.za.
 
“The dream kitchen could also be the deciding factor with buyers” says Wendy Williams, one of the Directors of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. Wendy also added that these days, every family member considers themselves a gourmet chef, thanks to the many TV cooking channels.  Most of our cooking will be inspired by a modern, well designed and practical kitchen, geared with the trendiest or most useful utensils and appliances.  


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The arrival of winter results in more time being spent in the kitchen for cosy gatherings, and now may be the time to redesign your whole kitchen or even just one small area that could make a significant difference to your lifestyle and investment.  As with any home renovations or changes, always first ask for input from friends and family whom you know also enjoy and have a well-planned kitchen, and also get expert advice from professionals.  Bounce your plans off them. 
 
The first decision is your allowed budget and then the final factor is to decide whether it will be a DIY project or be installed by a professional contractor.  Either way always first visit some kitchen showrooms for ideas or to ensure the quality that can be expected, and ask for references. For a few choices of showrooms visit www.easylifekitchens.co.za. Remind the installer or supplier that you will be expecting top quality and will not compromise on their finishes.
 
To succeed in achieving your dream kitchen, prioritise what you want to elaborate on, so that you can entertain with pride and satisfaction.
 
Cabinets

Poorly assembled and installed cupboards and cabinets will detract from the image that your new kitchen should present, and cause unnecessary disappointment.  It is always possible, with good design, to utilise every bit of storage area available. With more cupboard space your small appliances can be packed away, which will give an impression of considerable space and not a cluttered effect.
 
Sliding spice drawers, corner cupboards with swivel shelving, and pull-out pot draws make significant differences to space saving. 


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Visit various showrooms to get ideas, especially for finishes, a range of shapes and sizes of draws, glass inserts and very importantly, distinct handles.
 
Stove and Oven

An oven can also be gas, but by popular opinion, a standard electrical oven is still the most effective.
 
The choices for a stove would be the standard electric stove, gas stove or induction (glass) stove.  Your choice should be informed and based on your own research.  Visit professional appliance showrooms to be educated on the pros and cons of any cooking element and to confirm how it will fit within your lifestyle and budget.
 
Appliances

Many appliances these days are not only effective, but attractive. Visit www.yuppichef.co.za for an amazing choice of gadgets and items for your kitchen. Coffee appliances, mixers and blenders, wall-mounted bottle openers, ice-makers, juicers and much more can be found here.
 
Island

An island in the centre of your kitchen is incredibly practical, very useful for installing the stove on or for your work area.  This would free-up your wall counter tops.
 
Eating Area

A section of the countertop can also be extended to create an eating area with bar stools, so guests stay involved in the meal being prepared and do not become isolated.  


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Windows

To allow our welcome South African sunlight to filter through and lighten up the area, consider installing blinds or shutters.  Visit www.americanshutters.co.za  for a wonderful selection.
 
Lighting

Lighting is often the last thing considered in kitchen design and the first thing cut from the budget.  Yet it will make a huge difference.  LED light strips and a vast array of eye-catching lighting should be viewed.  Philips has a particularly wide variety www.lighting.philips.co.za
 
Colours

Light colours of the walls, cabinets, counter tops and floors will also assist to create an impression of space.
 
As you can see, there are endless possibilities for your new kitchen to make it more efficient, effective, modern, to appear larger, and more importantly, to be unique to your specific lifestyle. The increased value-add of a personally redesigned kitchen to your property investment is worth every moment and cent that you might spend, so do it this winter and enjoy the benefits thereof.
 
Counter Tops

There are countless choices for counter tops. With so many choices at homeowners' fingertips, picking out a counter is no easy task. Since this surface area ends up influencing many kitchen palettes, it's important to choose something that looks good to you, will hold up under the kitchen activity of your household and has a price tag that suits your budget. Have consideration for colour and texture which will result in a sophisticated final effect on your new kitchen. Visit www.graniteplus.co.za for more information.
 
Granite (Local & Imported)

Granite counter tops are easy to clean, and available in a variety of colours and patterns. Granite's timeless appeal combined with its durability makes for a a classic stone choice.
 
Pros: Granite's beautiful mottling and the host of colors and patterns found in nature make each piece one of a kind. It stands up well to splashes, knife nicks, heat and other wear and tear.
 


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Cons: Like most stone, granite must be sealed every so often to avoid stains. And its heaviness means you'll need very sturdy cabinet boxes to support the weight.
 
Cost: About R1000 to R4500 per square meter.
 
Engineered Stone

Engineered Stone being 90-93% quartz stone engineered to slab surfaces such as Caesar-stone are becoming increasingly popular for high-end applications, combining durability with man-made colours and patterns. Engineered stone is suitable for a luxurious, elegant, modern look and feel. The biggest down side of Engineered stone is a slightly lower heat resistance as apposed to natural stone. Crafted of resin and quartz chips tinted with color, quartz surfacing (also called engineered quartz or engineered stone) is a good compromise between the beauty of stone and the easy care of solid surfacing.
 
Pros: Quartz surfacing has the same advantages as solid surfacing with regard to maintenance. As an engineered product, it's available in a far greater range of colors and patterns than natural stone.
 
Cons: This material doesn't have the natural variegation of granite, so it may be evident that it's an engineered product. It's relatively pricey, although its durability can make it a worthwhile investment.
 
Cost: About R2400 to R5500 per square meter.
 
Marble

Marble is a smooth natural stone and one of the softer natural materials used for stone finishes however it is more prone to scratching and staining than Granite.  Is there anything that looks and feels more glamorous than a marble counter-top? Peerless in terms of its luminescence and distinctive veining, it's an ultra traditional choice.
 
Pros: Nothing beats marble for sheer elegance. It stands up to heat well, and because it remains perennially cool, it's a traditional choice for pastry and baking stations (read: Dough won't get too soft).
 
Cons: Marble is very susceptible to stains, even with sealing. For that reason, it's not often used throughout an entire kitchen — most homeowners limit it to one or two small areas. It can also scratch and chip.
 
Cost: About R2000 to R3500 per square meter.
 
Laminate / Postform Tops

Made of paper blended with resins and fused to particle board, laminate has been a kitchen mainstay for decades. In the past, it hasn't always had a reputation as stylish, but that's changing: The latest designs on the market mimic stone, butcher block and other pricier surfaces.
 
Pros: Laminate is one of the most affordable counter-top materials, so it's a good choice if your budget is tight. It's low maintenance and easy to clean. Its light weight doesn't require the support of a thick cabinet base.
 
Cons: Laminate is prone to scratching, burns and, in some cases, staining. With wear and moisture exposure, the layers can peel. Because of the raw particle board core, you can't use laminate with under-mount sinks, and it's also difficult to repair if it gets damaged.
 
Soapstone

Although it's in no danger of overtaking granite, soapstone has come into its own as a counter-top material. It offers subtle, nuanced beauty yet feels humbler than granite or marble.
 
Pros: Soapstone has a natural softness and depth that fits very well with older and cottage-style homes. Although it usually starts out light to medium gray, it darkens with time. (Most people enjoy the acquired patina, but you may consider this a con.)
 
Cons: Soapstone needs polishing with oil to keep it in top shape. It can crack over time, and it can't handle knife scratches and nicks as well as some other types of stone. The natural roughness of its surface can scuff glassware and china.


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