The look and feel of your kitchen is largely determined by the materials used to create it, and modern kitchens feature man-made components such as concrete and Corian to great effect, often set against the natural beauty of wood. Floors, units and worktops need to be chosen to complement each other and any other furniture, whether you favour bold contrasts or subtle variations.
From super-slim composite to chunky wood, it’s worth investing in good-quality worktops, even if they cost more than the units on which they sit. Always consider the durability and maintenance of materials before you make your choice. Solid wood, whether English oak or exotic zebrano, will add instant character but needs regular oiling in order for it to age well. Stone, such as marble, limestone and granite, is a good natural choice but there are plenty of convincing laminate alternatives that faithfully mimic its textural appearance. At the more costly end of the scale, composite worktops can include seamlessly integrated sinks and drainers, while engineered stone, created from crushed quartz and resin, is impressively hard wearing. Stainless steel is the professional chef’s choice and, along with polished concrete, it will create an industrial look. Try combining these tough materials in your food preparation area with a wooden breakfast bar for a softer effect.
A new kitchen often involves new flooring. Wood warms up a space both physically and visually, with wide floor boards creating a particularly modern look, while rubber is a practical and attractive choice. Bolder contemporary options include poured concrete or resin floors which work well with underfloor heating. Use flooring to define distinct zones in an open-plan kitchen – for example, wooden boards in the dining area and slate tiles where you cook – or to maximise the sense of space, use a single unifying material throughout.