Monochromatic looks are popular for house exteriors at present, and they also make for plenty of drama in the kitchen.

This one, in a contemporary Tauranga townhouse, replaces a kitchen that was only 10 to 15 years old, but was poorly designed, says Chelsey Mathieson of Niche Design.

“It was a U-shaped kitchen than didn’t work for the family at all,” the designer says. “The spatial planning wasn’t right for the family. They love to socialise and have teenage kids, so it’s a very busy house. But everything was congested on one bench, and there was hardly any storage.”

Mathieson’s solution was to get rid of the “U” and design the kitchen in an L-shape, with an island and a more generous pantry. “There is much more space, and the kitchen is now part of the room, which opens up to a deck looking out over the water. And it’s much more user-friendly.”

The design was also about aesthetics: “The brief from the clients was they wanted the kitchen to make an impact, while keeping it practical.”

Mathieson teamed dark Laminex Acrylic Soft Touch cabinets in Cinder with low cabinets in a two-pot lacquer in Resene Black White.

“We put the dark colour on the tall areas that are not going to be touched all the time, and the white on the drawer fronts. The Laminex Acrylic Soft Touch also keeps fingerprints to a minimum. And the white cabinetry gives the illusion of more space.

“Using a dark grey as opposed to black is a really nice way to create that impact without it being too harsh or dominating.”

Mathieson also says the dark, full-height cabinets at either end of the kitchen anchor it visually, with the top cabinets, also in Cinder, helping to frame the main work area.

The designer introduced texture with a classic V-groove profile on the cabinets, and added a timber look with a sleek line of overhead cabinets beneath the Cinder, and pantry cabinetry in Prime Melamine Original Oak.

“The Forté timber floor was one of the first things chosen by the owners, so it helped determine the rest of the materials.”

The benchtops are Silestone in Yukon in a suede finish that gives a matte look.

Small appliances, such as the toaster and blender, are hidden away in the “working pantry”, which has doors that slide out of sight when open, so they don’t get in the way. And the refrigerator is at the side, which means family members can help themselves to food and drinks without having to come right into the main part of the kitchen.

Mathieson says the owners have also ensured visual continuity by continuing the colours and materials in the adjoining living room. They commissioned a bespoke wall unit from a joiner in the same Prime Melamine Original Oak, and painted walls in Resene Cinder.

The kitchen was manufactured by FD Kitchens.