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July 1, 2008, 12:00 am MICHELLE BLANCATO, homebeautiful
Revamp your kitchen with the latest cabinetry finishes to inject gloss and glamour - without blowing the budget.
As important as furniture, kitchen cabinetry offers plenty of choices; so whether you're getting a professional designer in or going it alone, you need to consider your options. If you're thinking about a total kitchen refit, it's worth investing in well-crafted finishes. "Good quality cabinetry will stand the test of time and wear and tear over the years," says Susan Hasler, manager at Sydney Kitchens. "A kitchen is a long-term investment and takes the most use in the home. A good quality cabinet construction will give a good 15 to 20 years of use."Go with the grain
Timber finishes are enjoying a trend revival. Once the domain of the purely traditional and functional family kitchen, timber has been reinterpreted as a great material for visual texture. While a solid wood finish in the kitchen is expensive, it's an investment worth making if you plan to keep your kitchen for the long term. It's important to clarify whether your wood cabinets are solid wood or contain additives. Wood can be affected by temperature and humidity, so in some cabinets, only the face is hardwood, while the box cabinet inside is made up of wood by-products such as woodchip or particleboard, making it less prone to warping.
As for timber types, dark tones are still popular but lighter woods, such as beech and walnut, are the real trend favourites at the moment.
If timber is a little too expensive, think about veneers. They come in a huge range of finishes and are a more affordable option. A veneer is a thin strip of wood applied to a cheaper material, such as plywood, to give it strength, which can be stained to match a solid wood door if both materials are the same wood species.
Veneers have a more consistent grain than hardwoods and are less sensitive to temperature changes - so it's the ideal choice for outdoor kitchens or for warmer climates. New technology means they can even come pre-finished, so it's easier to use.New-look laminates
It's come a long way from the daggy '70s - laminate today is a top option for the budget-savvy because it is affordable, tougher than before and comes in an abundance of colours and textures. It is simple to keep laminate stain free, but keep in mind that plastic laminate is made up of layers of kraft paper, so if it chips, it can be difficult to repair. Laminate also comes in a gloss finish (although not as glossy as polyurethane paints) with more depth and richness than in the past.Stainless-steel strength
Stainless steel, the chef's favourite for its durability and hygiene, is also a great option for the home cook who yearns for a sleek kitchen. While this shiny surface can show endless scratches, it's meant to! It will develop a beautiful patina over time, and stainless steel also gets our vote as the eco-friendly choice, because the material is non-toxic, recyclable and can be cleaned without using harsh chemicals. Team stainless steel with timber to soften the look - they're one good-looking pair!Glass goes glam
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