It’s not surprising that Talia O’Connor has a stylish kitchen – she is, after all, the co-owner of design mecca MintSix. There are a few surprises in how she went about creating it though.
Talk us through the process of creating your kitchen… The original was typical of a 30s bungalow – awkward spaces, dark colours and no dishwasher! Our family loves to cook and congregate around the kitchen so we needed a space that was a pleasure to both cook and socialise in. We didn’t have a big space to work with so we wanted to try and keep it simple. On the top of Chris’ wish list was functionality, while I wanted a fresh, clean space that wasn’t going to date. The kitchen is Chris’ domain. He was once a chef so his years of working in professional kitchens have given him firm ideas on the ideal kitchen layout.
Did you engage a kitchen designer or create the room yourself? I’ve been formulating my ideal kitchen design since we moved into this house, so we didn’t feel the need to engage a kitchen designer. I’ve been drawn to images of monochromatic kitchens and knew this would fit with my need to be timeless and era-appropriate. I decided to follow the same process I would for one of my interior design clients. I started with a mood board to help me zero in on the right products, fittings and materials for the space. I then worked with our joiner to firm up ideas and draw the design with the correct specifications.From there I sourced materials and products and reworked certain elements, such as the benchtop, to ensure the kitchen came in on budget. The custom-made American white oak benchtop softens the dark cabinetry and is in keeping with the era of the home. We were lucky to have a joiner who was up for the challenge of crafting it specifically for the space.
What was on your list of must-haves? I only wanted fixtures and fittings in black, white and wood. This meant the range of products available was limited – which actually worked to my advantage, as it simplified the decision-making process. I was also pretty set on having cabinetry reach up to the ceiling where possible. The wooden and black wall lights were the starting point as they combined the right mix of colours and materials.The black ceramic sink worked for the space both aesthetically and practically – you can’t put hot pots on a wooden bench. The black tap works well with it too.Then there was the mixture of black and white cabinetry, and pigeon-hole shelving to display cookbooks and good-looking kitchen paraphernalia.
What appliances have you used? How did you choose these? We used Fisher & Paykel everything, as we got a great deal. We installed a dishwasher, oven, extractor fan and gas-on-glass cooktop. The oven was our most considered purchase and we’re so happy with it.
What is the most overlooked aspect of kitchen design? Functionality. The space needs to be well thought out and facilitate your cooking, not hinder it.
Any MintSix tips for styling kitchen spaces? Include some texture in your kitchen. I achieved this by using bevelled subway tiles with a slightly mottled surface. Take your splash-back all the way to the ceiling where possible. And use a good mixture of task and ambient lighting, just as you would in the living spaces.
And what do you like to cook in this wonderful new kitchen? Wild food such as venison and blue cod (caught by my hunting- and fishing-mad husband) combined with fresh produce from the garden. At the moment we have asparagus, baby carrots and purple broccoli in abundance. mintsix.com
Photography Jenny McCreanor