Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain

Kitchen Cabinets Design for HDB Flats

Kitchen was a big part of our renovation process. From an empty space with only HDB flooring to a well-equipped kitchen for whipping up delicious home cooked meals, much thought was put into the kitchen planning. Other than to look good, a kitchen has to be practical.

In this article, we will talk about kitchen cabinets design for apartments such as BTO and HDB resale flats.

  • Open Concept Kitchen?
  • Planning: Selecting the Laminates
  • Decision: Theme of the Kitchen
    • Glossy or matte Laminates
    • Colours
    • Kitchen Countertop
    • Handles of Kitchen Drawers
  • Kitchen Cabinets Configuration

Open Concept Kitchen?


My Friend’s Open Concept Kitchen

“Should we knock the wall?” I asked hubby while scrolling through Instagram pretty photos of open concept kitchens (“Open Kitchen”). The beauty of such a kitchen is that it “enlarges” our small 4-room flat, instantaneously creating extra pseudo space to the eyes.

Subsequently, the practical side of me googled for the pros and cons of Open Kitchen. There are strong proponents for both yes and no camps. Ultimately, it all depends on our living style and needs. Open Kitchen is generally more suitable for light cooking and small families.

For us, we didn’t knock the wall for an Open Kitchen. I foresaw frequent cooking for the toddler and in case of strong smell and smoke, I want to prevent them from seeping into the rest of the house. But the deciding factor was actually the air-con. With an Open Kitchen, it means more energy (aka electricity) is required to cool the main living and dining area, which now includes the kitchen.

So how is it after more than a year? No regrets! Yes, an Open Kitchen would have looked nice and spacious, but it is not suitable for our frequent cooking. We even discovered advantages of having a kitchen door! We can keep the prying toddler out of the kitchen if need be, or to contain the blaring music inside the kitchen while the baby sleeps in her room.


Planning: Selecting the Laminates


Inside Lamitak Portfolio

“Bring this Lamitak catalogue back home and take your time to browse”,
my contractor told us, “Let me know what you’ve shortlisted and I will request for bigger pieces. Then, you’ll have a better idea how the cabinets will turn out. Better feel of the texture too.”

He continued, “Lamitak generally has better quality and designs, and a greater selection. If you want laminates from other companies, it’s fine too.” He passed me another sample portfolio which was indeed lackluster.

We took him for his word then. But after he absconded, I kind of doubt his words – perhaps Lamitak paid him the highest commission? Nevertheless, Lamitak is still a reputable company and they indeed have pretty designs and interesting textures such as denim and leather.

If you prefer visiting Lamitak’s showroom, it opens daily at 114 Lavender Street CT Hub 2 #01-61 Singapore 338729.

  • Mon to Thu: 10.30am – 6.30pm
  • Fri: 11.30am – 6.30pm
  • Sat: 10.30am – 4.30pm
  • Sun & PH: 12.30pm – 4.30pm
Shortlisted Laminates

Decision: Theme of the Kitchen


Laminates: Glossy or Matte

Before you shortlist the laminates, you should ask yourself, “Glossy or Matte?” You can find a plethora of arguments for and against each type. According to our contractor, he said glossy is more for aesthetic purpose and matte is for easy cleaning. Think of digital photos, glossy print is more vibrant, but easy to have visible fingerprints on it, unlike matte.

We chose glossy and it was not really a good decision. Initially, we reckoned no harm spending a bit more time wiping the fingerprints off or to ignore them. However, with a toddler who likes to touch everywhere, our lives would have been easier with matte.

Good thing I am not OCD to the extent that I have to wipe away fingerprints or stains each time I see them. Or to squeeze the cloth so dry that I will not leave water stains behind. Choose matte if you cannot resist these marks. Moreover our friend’s blue and white kitchen made in matte turned out to be nicer! (First photo of this post)

P.s. For a prettier look, we chose a matching design for internal laminates instead of plain old white ones.

Laminates: Colours

Next is the choice of colours to blend into the kitchen theme. I got my inspiration from pinterest and the blue and white combination caught my eye. When doing my research, this wasn’t a popular choice in Singapore. I couldn’t find photos of how this palette works on a BTO Kitchen.

3D Rendering

Even our contractor was apprehensive. He put it nicely, that they are bold and nice colours, but there’s a risk involved. He couldn’t really comment because he hadn’t quite done such colour combination for the kitchen even after years in the industry.

The colours looked good in the 3-D rendering and so we took the leap of faith. Glad to say, we are still loving the colours after more than a year. Sophisticated, classy and not too muted. I dare say, our kitchen is one of the first few to lead the trend before blue and white splashed across kitchens of Singapore.

p.s. If any of your family members is dieting, blue is a good choice. According to colormatters.com and other sources, blue supposedly suppresses appetite.

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Our Final Colour Choice:

  • High Gloss Chalk (SHG 1144)
  • High Glass Nautical (SHG 1124)

Kitchen Countertop: Quartz


Options: Marble, KompacPlus, Quartz

My top choice was marble because of the glam factor to the kitchen. But I gave up the idea due to its apparently high maintenance.

So I look to KompacPlus. I was drawn by its easy maintenance, resilience and beautiful designs. It was quite a new company then but popular among young homeowners. Couldn’t find many reviews at that point of time. I decided not to get KompacPlus because I somehow didn’t like its thin side profile. I prefer some depth to the countertops.

Quartz was our final choice. It is tried and tested for its durability and easy care. And it can mimic marble while being resilient. However, the best marble-looking Quartz is still not as beautiful as marble. The grains of quartz are too scrawny and pencil like.

We chose practicality over aesthetic this time. Kitchen countertop was likely to be heavily used and thus should be hardy enough, and hence our choice. Our countertop looked yellowish in the photos, but to be honest, I didn’t realise the yellow tinge until I took these photos and double checked reality.

Our kitchen looks beautiful in my eyes, I am still loving the kitchen colours and countertop!

iQuartz

Only iQuartz carry quartz that look like marble, or so said our contractor. Thus he only suggested iQuartz for marble looking ones. You can see the marble series of iQuartz here: iquartz.com/marble

Our Final Countertop Choice: IQuartz (U-Series) – Statuario Venatino

“Wah! What’s the on the countertop?” A standing Thank You card by iQuartz to thank and remind homeowners to register for 10 years warranty. Besides, leaving a review for iQuartz could get us S$10 NTUC Voucher and a free gift. IQuartz also gave us a ziplock pouch with a piece of cloth, a small bottle of abrasive cleaner for stubborn stains on surface, and care instructions.

Sweet gestures by them. Oh but there’s one eyesore. iQuartz label sticks to the side of the countertop that faces the entrance of our kitchen. See the metallic silver label in the photo above (bottom right).


Handles of Drawers


“Do you want us to install kitchen handles or make doors with groove openings?” our contractor asked us to make a decision (again). So many things to decide and the results are always sort of permanent. Stressful for indecisive me.

Anyway, as you can see from the photos, we chose drawers and doors with grooves so that we can open them without a handle. It is again another good decision made.

We almost installed the door handles. In fact, I have already bought sea shell golden matte handles, think handles of a Chinese medicinal shop’s drawers. I wanted to replicate the kitchens I see on pinterest, but when we put the handles against our laminates samples, they just didn’t match well.

So we gave up the idea. Moreover, our contractor told us grooves are better – more modern and easier to maintain. I thought he was just trying to skive, since they had to work extra with installation of handles.

But I was wrong about him. Kitchen cabinets are better without the handles. No handles mean one less area to wipe clean, and insects have one less place to hide. Moreover, it also means the cabinets are harder for our toddler to open.


Kitchen Cabinet Configuration


I was so involved and particular about the kitchen setup (read anal) that I drew up a cabinet configuration plan.

Firstly, we had to think what kitchen items, utensils and food we would be storing in these cabinets. Next, plan where to put them for easy access and flow.

Because of how our kitchen layout was, our ideal configuration was not possible. So we have to make do with the fridge blocking the entrance view. If the fridge was shifted nearer to the service yard and not by the door, the kitchen would have looked a bit more spacious.

Making the kitchen looks spacious is why we didn’t do top cabinets for one side of the kitchen, even though it’s common to have top and bottom cabinets on both sides. We were also exploring not having a top cabinet to hide the cooking hood.

Anyway for us, having top cabinets on both sides seem to make the already small kitchen oppressing and smaller. Also, I know we don’t need so much storage space. Having more space means we have to clean more areas and would store more junk.

This decision turned out quite well for us. In fact, without the top cabinets, we earned ourselves extra countertop space by putting portable racks and shelves to “stack up” our food.

As for our top cabinets, one of the door swings the wrong side and hit the air vent of the bomb shelter. So be sure your doors swing on the right side when your contractor is installing.

Lastly, I should have used the hood more to suck the cooking heat.. because now there’s some peeling of laminate. It’s of the cabinet door nearest to the hob I usually use.

Hope my lengthy post about kitchen cabinet carpentry highlighted blind spots to consider!

In my next post, ‘What Kitchen Appliances to Get? (Reviews included)‘, I’ll share about the various “installations” that went into the kitchen cabinets, such as the hob and hood. Have fun renovating!



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