Time to start planning the kitchen

The slab to our house has just been poured and now it’s already time to start planning our kitchen… and I need your help!

I’ve been keeping up with all your comments on the articles we publish and know you’re a bunch of incredibly stylish people! I’m asking you to use your design eye to help me plan the kitchen for our new home.

It’s time to decide on the finishes — cabinet colours, bench top, handles — and the positioning of appliances.

Here is the space we have to work with. It’s a one-wall kitchen with large island bench and butler’s pantry.

Related article: Check out my kitchen reveal
Related article: 10 tips for successful kitchen planning

Kitchen floor plan

You may have seen in an earlier construction update that we’ll be going with a light grey polished concrete. Here it is again for anyone who missed it.

Concrete slab
Our polished concrete

The challenge

1. Where to position the appliances — fridge (along the wall near the sink or the stairs… or in the butler’s pantry?), oven, microwave (in-built or in pantry?)…

2. What surface to use on the bench top — the same for both surfaces or different materials?

3. What colour to make the cabinets — classic white, coloured or wood (and should they be the same for along the wall and island bench or different?)

4. How to layout the cabinets — mainly drawers, open shelving…

5. What lighting to use — hanging pendants, down lights, under cabinet lighting…

Appliance layout

My good friend is an interior designer and says I need to think about “Creating a work area that goes from fridge to sink to stove, with several paces between”.

People often refer to this as the triangle layout but she says it’s less about creating a perfect triangle and more of “An ergonomic question as a kitchen is not a success unless you have this solved”.

Her golden rule is “The fridge and the sink need to be linked, but the cooking section can be a little more isolated or independent”.

Hmmmm… I guess this rules out putting the fridge in the butler’s pantry. We have seen fridges in butler’s pantries before but generally this is where the pantry is in line with the kitchen and ours is around the corner.

Here is the layout I’m proposing for the appliances — yay or nay, people?

Proposed kitchen layout

Bench tops

I find it hard to select finishes unless I can see the options right in front of me so when Bruno kept asking “what bench top do you want” and my response was always “I need to see the choices in front of me”, he took me to a giant marble, stone and granite warehouse (thanks CDK Stone for letting me visit!).

Ah-mah-gahd it was insane! There were thousands of slabs of stone and marble from all around the world — types I had never heard of or could have ever imagined.

Of course I was immediately drawn to Calacatta which made Bruno laugh — it’s the more expensive option and as you may have read, our budget is already stretched!

Preview of Calacatta

Nevertheless, we both loved it and were fairly certain we would use this stone on our kitchen bench tops… but every person we have spoken to is warning us against this option “are you mad?!”, “lemon juice eats straight through marble” and “you won’t be able to live with it!” are just some of things people have said so far.

Rebecca Judd (love her!) has used Calacatta marble throughout her home and wrote a great blog post on the pros and cons of marble vs engineered stone. It’s great to get advice from someone who has lived with marble and talks honestly about her experience with it.

One of the first ever blog posts we wrote was about selecting your kitchen bench top and our advice on selecting marble “You need to know how to care for this surface or it could become a very costly mistake!” is ringing in our ears.

We think we’ll bite the bullet and go with the marble — does anyone have a mega horror story to frighten us off this choice or even better, some advice that it’s not as scary as everyone says?


I am finding this decision of cabinetry difficult too! The one thing I’m sure of is that I do not want all white but I’m not sure what colour to select or if I should choose more than one finish.

I love how Jennifer at A Merry Mishap has renovated her kitchen with black cabinets up the top and white cabinets below.

Black and white kitchen cabinetry
Black and white kitchen cabinetry
Black and white kitchen cabinetry. Images via A Merry Mishap blog

As much as I love this kitchen, I think our kitchen needs softer colours and textures (you’ll understand why when you see the cladding of our house go up).

This kitchen by Lodder Keukens, with its sage green cabinets and marble bench top really caught my eye.

Sage kitchen cabinets
Sage kitchen cabinets by Lodder Keukens

Of course, I cannot forget that stunning kitchen Deanne delivered during the Week 2 challenge apartment. She has used a similar colour (it’s a little more taupe) with wooden cabinetry on the island bench.

Darren and Dee appliances and lighting
Sage and wooden cabinetry

What cabinet colour/s would you pick? If you’ve seen a beautiful kitchen, please link to it in the comments below.


Looking at the photo above of Deanne’s kitchen, we’re planning on going with a similar lighting plan — strip lighting under the cabinets along the kitchen wall for accent lighting, one or two down lights for ambient lighting, and two or three pendant lights over the island bench for task lighting.

We recently caught up with an Illumination Scientist — yes, there really is such a person — who gave us the run down on all things lighting. He talked about different lighting warmths, tips for developing your own lighting plan and top mistakes he sees people make when lighting their home. We’ll bring you that story soon!

Now that you’ve read our thoughts and inspiration so far, we’d love your help, suggestions or feedback to plan our kitchen. I read all comments and will definitely check out any kitchens you link to so please… help me!

Update: Room reveal

Huge thanks to everyone who voted and commented to help me design our kitchen. All your advice was so helpful and I’m excited to share our finished kitchen here!

Check out more of my home build and styling here

Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

I’m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.


Get the best of the blog to your inbox each week PLUS instant access to our free downloads!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Interior style quiz

    Shop our fave online stores

    As seen in

    Style Curator in the media


    1. Gina, I just love marble, but have you considered the new Calcatta design in Ceasarstone. I haven’t seen the real thing just remember the promotions when it was released earlier this year. Might be easier maintenance and easier on the budget perhaps.

      • Thanks for the tip, Libby!

        I saw the Calacatta design of Ceasarstone a couple of weeks ago and while it’s beautiful, I thought it was a very soft design compared to the real stone. Perhaps I should take another trip out there and see it on a kitchen bench top (I just saw the slab) in case I change my mind 🙂

    2. Hi Gina,

      We used marble (calacata moonlight) in our bath rooms and kitchen. For the bathrooms it was a benchtop and in the kitchen it was as a splashback. The oldest benchtop is over 14 years old and while it has ‘weathered’ and ‘worn’ with daily use, it is still very beautiful. The joy of marble is that it is real and as such marks and stains sort of become one with it. And we were strongly advised not to use the marble as a splashback, particularly behind the stove where it would be splattered with oil, tomato sauces, etc etc. Again, it did get marks but they were never particularly bad and they all blended in and you didn’t notice them.

      I have just done another bathroom with an engineered stone benchtop and it shows each and every droplet of water, every splotch of toothpaste, every single finger print. The uniformity of its colour and surface patterns seems to throw everything into stark relief, so I am forever wiping it down.

      For our new build it will be marble benches throughout. Good luck.

      • Hi Anna

        Thanks so much for sharing! It’s so helpful to hear from people who have lived with marble. Like you, I think I will embrace the imperfections as I like things that have character 🙂

        Do you regularly seal your marble or what kind of maintenance do you do (if any)?


        • Hi Gina, we sealed our marble just the once when it was first laid. And that was it. Maintenance consisted of nothing more than normal cleaning! Cheers a

          • Wow, that’s such a different story to what most people tell you. Thanks for not making marble scary. I think you’ve just sold it to me – marble it is! 🙂 🙂

    3. Gina, I’m planning my kitchen too! Must discuss ideas! Love marble, one way to include it without too much risk of damage is in the splash back… Huge impact.
      Yes to colour for the cabinets something to add warmth as the marble and concrete could become cold looking – do you know what I mean? Lighting adds warmth too, but colour is a must. Yes to fridge in kitchen not in pantry, yes to dishwasher near sink, don’t forget space for rubbish bin near their too. Be mindful of the space appliances need for safety, your fridge and stove top can’t be immediately next to each other. What sort of exhaust fan are you thinking? Endless options, but so much fun to do!

    4. Ohh… what an exciting time Style Curator!

      I love Deanne’s kitchen, however from a practical point of view, the placement of the dishwasher just does not work for me! Ideally, as you’ve said, the dishwasher needs to be linked to the sink – you need to be able to get the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher with minimal water spillage on the floor.

      It may not be your style, but have you considered a butlers sink, to go with your butlers pantry?

      Also, have you considered hiding your fridge behind a custom made cabinet in your cupboard material – it blends into your kitchen like a regular cupboard, but wallaahhh, behind it is your fridge. It’s almost as good as a secret passage way! Ohhhh… now that’s a good idea… you could have a secret passage door in your kitchen. Now THAT would be awesome!

      • Thanks Elisa, so many great ideas and things to consider! I love the idea of an integrated fridge and great advice to think about having the dishwasher right next to the sink. We will have a small sink in the butler’s pantry.

        Ha ha ha, a secret passage door into the kitchen sounds very fancy. There might just be a small secret room in the house but it’s not in the kitchen 😉


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here