Kitchen design, installation, planning tips and insights

We asked Antoinette Prinsloo, sales & design consultant at Ergo Designer Kitchens’ all about Kitchen design, installation and planning. Read on for great tips and insights from the 2014 KSA designer of the year!

Can you tell us a little bit about Ergo Designer Kitchens?

I’ve been in the kitchen industry for almost 10 years and EDK was established in 2012. Initially, we only focused on designing beautiful functional kitchens and cabinetry for clients and others in the industry. This is also where I was awarded the KSA designer of the year in 2014 at the Inspire Trade Show. This was also the year where decided to start with our own manufacturing and installations, since more and more of our clients had a definite need for these services. EDK main focus is to supply each and every client with a functional designer kitchen at an affordable price. Ergo is derived from Ergonomics, and this principle is what we base all of our designs on.

Any good designer will tell you about the kitchen triangle, where the fridge, cooking area and sink all need to be in close proximity to one another to create a functional, ergonomic kitchen. We base all our designs on more than just this one triangle. Have you ever walked into a kitchen to make a cup of coffee and had to walk from one side to the other to get the sugar, milk or teaspoon? Or had to cut and wash vegetables at the sink, walk a distance to the bin and then the hob? We take all theses and more into consideration when designing any kitchen.

I do not see any my daily tasks as “work”. I’ve wanted to become an interior designer since I was 11. And after completing my thesis in kitchen design, I knew this was my calling.

What are your top picks for kitchen trends?

In this industry, trends usually have about a ten year cycle. What is trending now, was trending when I started 10 years ago. However, some of my favourite trends are:

Two tone kitchens – using darker colours on the bottom units and lighter colours on the wall units – the tuxedo look

Using only floating shelves on the walls in the Scandinavian style kitchens, which is currently very popular

The darker finished kitchens – dark mahogany or walnut, greys and blues

What advice can you give about how to plan a kitchen renovation?

When planning your kitchen renovation, or even a kitchen for your newly built home, make use of a kitchen designer or specialist.
There are dozens of new products are launched every month in the industry, making it nearly impossible for someone not in the industry to keep up.
A professional kitchen designer attends trade shows and visits regularly with manufacturer and product representative so they can stay on top of the latest products available. From your appointment to your installation, a kitchen specialist will have years of experience and can offer you an elevated level of expert advice. There is nothing worse than paying thousands upon thousands for your kitchen remodel only to have it fall apart on you after only a short time. The quality of goods and services increases as the prices increase. A ‘too good to be true’ price could mean low-grade products and hasty installation. A general contractor may offer you a cheaper price, but what has been cut or left-out of the quotation? Be aware of lower quality or inferior products, finishes and accessories. Likewise, additional cost added onto the final payment. It is also important that the same person or company, who designs your kitchen, installs it. If you don’t and mistakes are made, installation costs quickly go way up. Products and workmanship should be backed up by the professional kitchen specialist’s guarantee.

What suggestions do you have for people who want to ‘spruce up’ their kitchens but don’t want to re-do the whole kitchen?

If you only want to create a different look of feel, you can do one or more of the following:

The easiest option is to change the wall tiles and colours with new modern finishes such as glass splash backs and modern tiles.

Change the countertops to quartz or granite, especially if you have formica (wooden) counters currently.

Find a reputable company (not a lot of kitchen companies will do this) to replace the current doors and visible paneling. This option is also where you can add or change some of your existing cabinets.

What would you suggest for an investment buyer who wants to rent out the property?

With any rental property, one does not know how the cabinetry will be handled over time. One also do not want to send a fortune on cabinets, however do not go for the cheapest option… you will end up replacing units bi-annually. Go with reputable brands such as PG Bison or Sonae Novolam for the cabinetry finishes. Stay away from finishes such as high gloss which will show scratches more easily. Design the kitchen in such a way that none of the wood surfaces can swell-up due to water damage… do not include the backing in the sink units (mould loves to grow on these backing boards), opt to use aluminium kick plates underneath the cabinets instead of melamine (water pooling on the floors will cause the melamine to swell and will damage the units).

For people building a home from scratch what insights can you offer that would help people deign the best kitchen for their needs.

Don’t leave the kitchen planning to the last minute. Its always wise to have the design completed and ready before the water and electrical points need to be chased. These points of the new kitchen design might not follow the initial architectural plans and thus needs to be moved which will cost you more at the end of the day. If you used a professional kitchen designer, the odds are that they did not follow the initial kitchen design layout in order to cover all your needs, since most plans just have a general kitchen layout and will not include all the different appliances you will end up having.

Can you give any advice on how to choose a good company to do your kitchen?

Unfortunately it does not always comes down to the price. Rather have a look at what each company can offer you such as guarantees and warranties. Also ask for references and go and have a look at their previous completed projects to see their workmanship.

What advice do you have for people with very small kitchens?

With small kitchens, always keep in mind the more appliance you add into the space, the less cabinets and storage space you will have at the end. Opt for multi-purpose and smaller appliances. For example no double door fridges, micro-oven combinations, or washer-dryer combos. Keep as little as possible on the countertops, i.e. have the microwave built into the wall units. The golden rule, with any small space, if there is not al lot of natural light, keep the colour scheme of the cabinets and countertops as light as possible. You can always add accent colours or textures with interesting wall finishes.

As a service provider, what things can clients do to make the project easier?

Be vocal and ensure that the designer, contractor knows what you want from the start. Fortunately, with the internet and websites such as Pinterest, one can gather ideas on exactly what style and colour you would like for your kitchen.

Make sure which of the contractors is responsible for what part of the project, get this in writing if possible.

Describe your dream kitchen

My dream kitchen would have plenty of functional cabinets (everything will have its designated place), plenty of drawers, lots of natural light and countertops. I will definitely have the kitchen, scullery and laundry separate. Not to fussy about the feel or style, it all comes down to the functionality of the space for me.

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