The kitchen is the heart of Chrissie Swan’s South Yarra home. “We LIVE in our kitchen. Sometimes there are four people in there all doing separate things… it’s very busy.” But a combination of age and poor design eventually prompted an overhaul, and Chrissie says not only has the renovation transformed the space but breathed more life into her home.
The popular co-host on Nova 100’s Chrissie, Sam & Browny radio show and mother of three small children enlisted kitchen renovation specialists, Granite Transformations to rework and modernise the much loved kitchen in the family home to better suit her ‘robust family’ and accommodate her love of cooking.
“The old kitchen looked shabby and dated. There was almost no bench space, and a stupid overhead cabinet that was tricky and always malfunctioning. But the worst part was that the fridge was housed in a dark brown laminex tower smack bang in the middle of the kitchen blocking the view to the living room and closing in the kitchen completely, making it impractical and small.”
When approaching the renovation, Chrissie’s priorities were to relocate the giant fridge block that dominated the kitchen to the spot previously occupied by undesirable overhead cupboards.
“I wanted a simple, unfussy kitchen that I didn’t have to be precious about but still looked stylish, contemporary without being faddish, and a bit luxurious too. I needed more bench space desperately and some nice appliances to add some luxury. It needed to be robust and able to withstand lots of cooking and lots of people.”
It was for these reasons that Chrissie chose to use an engineered stone on her bench tops – achieving the elegance of a natural marble with the performance of a Granite Transformations Trend Surface, which is non-porous and heat, scratch, stain and impact resistant.
“I love marble (who doesn’t) but it’s so hard to look after and I don’t have the time or natural ability to keep it looking good. I’d ruin it. So, I was really thrilled to see the Trend Surface engineered stone. It’s a really affordable and beautiful alternative to marble. It meant that I could get the marble look I was after (and a lot of it) without having to remortgage my house. I also chose from the matte collection of laminex cupboards fronts.”
Chrissie chose the Carrara design in Granite Transformations marble collection, which features a traditional marble look of white and blue-grey soft veins. It achieves the look of a natural marble with the performance of a Granite Transformations engineered stone surface.
Granite Transformations Carrara Marble Stone Collection, is a feature of Chrissie Swan’s new kitchen design.
“It was essential for me to have a robust surface in my kitchen. I cook a lot. A LOT. And I have hot pans and stand mixers and knives and food processors all on the go often at the same time. My kids also like to help prep in the kitchen so I needed a benchtop that can withstand the odd cutting up of a pear straight on the benchtop without a chopping board. I loved the surface I chose because it has all the class and timelessness of marble without the maintenance. I love it.”
As with Granite Transformations original stone range, the slabs are engineered to be just 6.5mm thick and can be used in a variety of ways from kitchens benchtops and splashbacks, bathrooms and laundries, to flooring and wall cladding, as well as in alfresco areas through to fireplaces.
The new kitchen took just five days to complete and a few BBQs meant very little impact was experienced in her busy household.
“The great thing about Granite Transformations is that all the building is done off site and they oversee everything – from design and suggestions on product/surface options, and can also oversee all the various trades – from electrical, plumbing and carpentry. Together we designed the kitchen then carried on life as usual. In the meantime, the guys were making all our cupboards and drawers in a giant workshop. One Monday the guys came and dismantled the kitchen, over the next few days the new cupboards arrived on a truck and were installed, then the stone was cut on site in my driveway and fitted straightaway and literally by Friday night I was cooking dinner in the new kitchen with everything finished.”
Chrissie’s renovation tips:
Do your Research! Google is your friend. Spend some serious time collecting images of the kitchens you like. It may not be a whole kitchen, it can just be a certain look in a tiny corner but save it and look at it often. Study the work of designers you like and really work out what it is about it that you love. Is it the sheer cupboard surfaces? The thick benchtop? The lack of/or prominence of handles? What colour palette do you like? What textures if any? Once you’ve picked apart hundreds of photos of kitchens you’ll get a good idea of the themes you like.
Set a Budget. Most people including me don’t have an endless budget. The great thing about doing your homework in terms of design is that once you have that rock solid foundation you know how to identify low budget alternatives.Chrissie saved money by shopping around for appliances, and then injected her personal style throughout. “My budget was very tight so we actually installed used appliances where possible. Our Siemens induction cook top, teppanyaki grill, hot plates, steamer oven and coffee machine all came out of a house that was being demolished. You can’t tell and when you buy high quality they still have a lot of years in them!
Find the right supplier. While I had a fair idea of what I was after, it was great to collaborate with experts (at Granite Transformations) who could make my dream come alive within my budget and needs. They came up with an improved design and educated me on surfaces I didn’t know existed! Plus, they were flexible with small changes I wanted on the go – like adding the Trendstone to the outside of the bench! It looks amazing!
Be Prepared. Have all your appliances purchased and ready to go and delivered and waiting. Ours were in our front room so we had everything on the day the guys arrived to start the job.
Timing. During the week we didn’t have a kitchen so we cooked on the BBQ. I’d always re-do my kitchen in the warmer months for this reason.