Design Lifestyle

Cooking up a Kitchen

We consult with the experts for what’s new, hot and trending in the world of kitchen design.

Text by Debbie Soo, photos by Kitchen Culture

Flipping through an interiors magazine or scrolling through architecture blogs is often accompanied by a heavy heart – for most of us in Hong Kong, a spacious, perfectly fitted-out kitchen is likely to remain a dream. With limited space and cramped interiors, Hong Kong designers often have their work cut out trying to please customers hoping for stunning kitchen makeovers.

“Space constraints pose the greatest challenge to designing a fully functional kitchen in Hong Kong,” says Clifton Leung, chief design officer of Clifton Leung Design Workshop. “A small space with a host of kitchen appliances usually creates a relatively cluttered environment, and it’s difficult to create enough storage. It takes a lot of planning to achieve a kitchen that is aesthetically pleasing, practical and user-friendly.”

While designers have to reconcile their own visions with space limitations, their job is made even more difficult by the recent increase in client expectations.

“The knowledge and the requirements of end users are on the rise,” says Heyman So, sales manager at international kitchen specialist Kitchen Culture. “They are not only looking for storage space, but also for artistic appearance with their kitchen. To find the balance between aesthetics and practicality is the ultimate obstacle in design.”

Leveraging client needs and aesthetic appeal is complicated when most kitchens in Hong Kong measure just 100 sq ft to 150 sq ft. In many apartments, kitchens consist of nothing more than a microwave, an overhead fan and one or two stovetop burners, and keen cooks from overseas often lament the scarcity of ovens. To create more space for appliances, open up the kitchen.

“Tricks to overcome space restrictions include employing an open or semi-open kitchen design with an extended island that can be used as a dining table,” Leung suggests. “It makes cooking and food preparation more pleasurable and less claustrophobic. Built-in appliances create a minimal, clean look, while full-height cabinets increase storage space and minimise clutter on the countertop. A hanging utensil rack will also free up space for other purposes, and create a functional and stylish addition.”

Modern preferences for open kitchens place the kitchen at the centre of the home, serving as a gathering place where meals come to life.

“Compared with the traditional view of kitchens as purely utilitarian, the focus on lifestyle and branding has become de rigueur in luxury developments,” So says. “The status of the kitchen has been elevated. Where kitchens were previously hidden away, they are now flaunted and used to entertain guests and family as an extension of the dining and living space.”

By embracing an open kitchen, the family cook is no longer hidden away, sweating in a tiny room to the back of the residence. The open concept encourages them to take centre stage and enjoy the cooking process while engaging in conversation and showcasing their skills.

It’s only fitting for someone who takes exceptional pride in their food to have a workspace to match. Keep things modern and simple with a streamlined and clean philosophy, or for the more adventurous home decorator, add impact by creating the illusion of space or bold additions.

“A range of kitchen styles fit Hong Kong spaces. A white minimal design helps to create a visually larger space, as does reflective metal,” Leung says. “Add artistic elements or two-tone cabinets to create a subtle yet lively contrast. Infused LED lighting also helps to set different moods for special occasions, and small herbal plants or flowers lend a refreshing mood.”

The addition of a miniature herb garden can bring plenty of charm; plus, using home-grown herbs in your cooking is fresh and rewarding. But beyond visual appeal and functionality, a kitchen must also be user-friendly. State-of-the-art appliances increase efficiency – once you get the hang of them.

“The infusion of smart home technology and touch controls into the living space is on the rise,” Leung says. “Advanced appliances feature groundbreaking technology with multi-touch interfaces and display screens. These smart controls are highly intuitive, similar to the technology used in smartphones and tablets, with menus that can be easily browsed by swiping or scrolling with the tip of a finger.”

But with all the improved technology, it’s hard to know which appliance to choose or where to begin. Certain home cooks will know they favour using slow-cookers or air-fryers or dehydrators, but there’s so much more to take into account. Enter the kitchen experts.

“Kitchen redecoration involves several considerations such as water, electricity, gas supply and tiling works, so professional suggestions from experienced kitchen consultants are very important,” So says. “Imported kitchen systems and appliances can provide good-quality products to the client. In addition, a responsible, large-scale kitchen company will be able to guarantee the completion of the job.”

The well-informed consumer can choose from a multitude of respected international brands in Hong Kong. Various showrooms feature high-end kitchen systems and world-class appliances to choose between; perfect for any discerning shopper.

“A Miele kitchen is chic and sleek,” Leung says of the respected German brand. “Their built-in appliances allow harmonious and seamless integration into the kitchen cabinetry. When Miele’s appliances are installed alongside each other, they form a linear and continuous line that extends the visual space. The brand’s sophisticated technology sets it apart. It adds convenience to the end-users that completely changes their way of living.”

Though there are a range of less pricey options for fitting out a kitchen, investing in quality is never a bad idea.

“The home is becoming a symbol of not only what its owners have achieved, but also what lifestyle they aspire to,” So says. “We believe the kitchen is the heart of every home; it’s the centre where the laughter and warmth of family and friends, and the joy of entertaining, transform into life’s memorable moments.”

And there you have it. Enjoy the results with a kitchen that gives as much as you do.

Kitchen Checklist

Clifton Leung lists the basic requirements for a cook zone overhaul.

Photos by Clifton Leung Design Workshop

Issue 50 - Cooking up a kitchen - sidebar

  1. Storage
    Ensure there’s ample room to hide clutter.
  2. Well-planned layout
    The refrigerator, basin and cooker should create a kitchen work “triangle” so all three are easily accessible.

  3. Materials
    Select durable and easy-to-clean materials such as a Corian countertop.

  4. Lighting
    Sufficient task lighting helps illuminate work surfaces and avoid accidents.

Appliance Update

Clifton Leung picks his favourite luxury hardware.

Illustrations by Yanny Cheng


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  1. Wine fridge: keep your wine in ideal condition and entertain in style.

  2. Oven: as well as increasingly popular home-baking, cooking in an oven helps minimise mess from processes such as stir frying.

  3. Thermal cooker: Energy-efficient and fuel-saving, these handy devices continue to cook food or soups without having to stay plugged in.

  4. Coffee maker: homemade coffee is a must-have.

  5. Steamer: people are becoming more health conscious, and steam ovens are ideal for classic Chinese dishes.

  6. Dishwasher: help ease the burden of washing up – our lives are busy enough.

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