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  • Gunnar Friese

How a kitchen or any interior cabinetry gets designed... insides from an industry professional

Everything starts with a good idea.

Whether you want to renew your kitchen, bathroom or living room. It always starts with an idea or something you did not like at your last house. That open pantry door that was always in the way when cooking up a storm for the family or that benchtop that always stains and scratches at parties with friends. Or simply a look you liked at a friends place or in a magazine.


Where do you get inspiration from?

I like reading the latest interior magazines while i wait in the cue to pay for my groceries. At least if you are grabbing a current print magazine you are sure you are looking at the latest news. Online platforms like Pinterest, Houzz or Archipro work well for inspiration too. There are millions of pictures to scroll through and on all platforms you can create picture boards for different parts of your project. One board for the kitchen, one for the fireplace an other one for the laundry. It is a lot of fun to keep scrolling, liking and saving and you end up with huge collection of pictures which will help the interior designer a lot with there design right? - Yes, if there is a board with five pictures for one room, say the laundry. Two pictures showing the white shaker style doors and the marble benchtop you are so looking forward to having and one with nice big laundry baskets on a shelf, another one with that gorgeous brass handle and the last one shows a hanging rail over the sink right in front of the window for perfect ventilation. Then yes, that pinterest board communicates the exact look the client is after. But mostly this is far from the truth. Most Inspiration boards I get send have at least 20 pictures of different door styles, finishes and colours in them. Don't get me wrong, I love looking at Pinterest and Houzz and all the others and read all the newsletters celebrating the project of the week. it good inspiration, but when i design and look for inspiration. I look for special shapes and features, unique material pallets and other things that could benefit my design.

How to communicate an idea or dream to a designer

Now that I have had a good look at all the pictures, I am going to tell my interior designer all about it: I dont like using the big words like contemporary, modern or art-deco to describe a certain look or feel. Different people interpret words differently. Looking at a picture together and pointing out design items the client likes is crystal clear on the other hand. A picture is worth more then a thousand words. Hello Pinterest board!


Starting the design by drawing a floor plan to scale on the computer

I believe the designing starts by drawing a floor plan to scale (meaning to the actual physical size) This is crucial for laying out the new room and seeing quickly what works and what does not. I recently had a client come to me with an architects drawing of a kitchen and lots of pictures of how the kitchen should look like. The architect had drawn a simple back wall with fridge and cooktop and a kitchen island in front of that. A classic galley kitchen, they work great! BUT he had NOT drawn it to scale. (I cant believe highly payed professionals still do sketches not to scale) When I started roughing out a few lines on the computer i realised after not even five minutes of drawing, that layout does not work in the existing space. (Not even the second layout option I had drawn in those five minutes had worked well enough) I had to call the client to tell her that all of her ideas she had collaborated on Pinterest would not work in her house and we need to think of other layout options or knock down a few walls to make it happen. We decided to move the exterior wall out by two meters to make it work, luckily they were just starting out and where planning on a rather large renovation anyway! Get us involved early for that very reason. And always ask the architects to layout the proposed rooms for you to see if they work in real life. An Architects floor plan without at least rough interior outlines is not worth the paper its printed on.


I like to take designs into 3D very quickly (3D computer modelling)

I usually start designing in 3D once the first version of the floor plan is done. It not only visualizes ideas quickly but also inspires my to explore new shapes, materials and textures. Also great for client presentations. Computers make it so easy to draw multiple options or render different material and colour pallets quickly even before a single cabinet is made. Also 3D helps visialising things easier than just a 2D drawing. In the end the 2D drawings are still needed for the manufacturing.



Handing the design on to a cabinetmaker for pricing and production

For a cabinetmaker to calculate an accurate price, a specification is needed along with 2D drawings showing not only the floor plan but also elevations, showing all drawers, doors, cabinet hardware and special features. The specification typically includes cabinet front finishes and carcasse (the cabinet internals) materials and benchtop materials. Furthermore hardware items, like type of drawers, hinges, sink and tap specs, cabinet handles and so on. Most of those items influence the project price greatly, for example the price of one single drawer can vary from $30 to over $150+GST per drawer. This is just the hardware. The more expensive drawer would be used for a kitchen, where the drawer needs to open multiple times a day and can carry up to 80kg of load. Versus a more cost effective drawer could be used in a wardrobe or garage storage.

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