There is, it is immediately obvious, no single definitive, perfect kitchen. What is right for the rustic house in Ibadan would definitely look strange in a cosy apartment in highbrow Lekki in Lagos or posh suburb in Asokoro Abuja. Yet each kitchen, no matter where it is located, seems to cry out for something specific and sympathetic which is intimately connected to its particular architecture and surroundings.
But in all the disparate styles and moods, you can find one unifying trend that currently preoccupies designers. It is this: how to combine the high-spec gadgets and gewgaws with a kitchen that still has human feel which makes the occupants of the home feel like the hub of a real home and not the centre of a laboratory; and how also to embrace all this fancy engineering and yet save energy and take into account the environmental impact. And on top of that, homeowners still want them beautiful. It’s not just about a good-looking kitchen, like everyone expects their kitchens to be, but a kind of knockout kitchen that is spectacularly beautiful. These are kitchens that can be equated as works of art. It’s for this reason that for those with extra money to spare and taste to pamper, the cutting-edge kitchen has the sort of finishes and surfaces that would once have graced a museum. Hence bronze, exotic woods, particularly walnut and ebony, glass (stained, etched or engraved), translucent Corian, and sometimes underlit fine leathers such as lizard-skin are some of the materials used in kitchen furnishing today.
These are kitchens designed pre-eminently for the visual effects upon which homeowners and their guests can gaze with wonder, yet they are very functional kitchens too. Muni Shonibare of IO Furniture, an indigenous furniture company set up to meet the changing taste of Nigerians in the modern times, says furniture companies must learn to meet and embrace all the changes that technology brings each year since today’s sophisticated consumer has been to most places and seen many things. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to surprise people, particularly those in Nigeria who are widely travelled and have experienced the very best of modern sophistication.” In spite of this consciousness, a few furniture companies like IO manage to bring it off with the array of modern kitchen furnishings that they locally produce. IO Furniture has a bit of long history of manufacturing modern furniture and asking designers to interpret the kitchen of the day.
Today, modern kitchen designers use a variety of materials combined with a highly theatrical shape to create visually arresting centrepiece. There are copper wood coated doors with beautiful patterns like the 3D, shiny stainless steel tops, lights like flowers and a block of marble sink. But all these do not come cheap at all.
“For anyone who wants a statement kitchen, it would be hard to imagine anything that did the job better. The central island around which all current kitchen designs revolve had been treated as a thing of such dramatic appearance that it is literally a show stopper,” explains Sade Adeola of YATS collection.
Furthermore, in most modern sophisticated kitchens, any sign of domestic detritus is hidden by a sleek wall of cabinets with their copper-powder-coated doors which are made interesting for the eyes by contrasting patterns and textures. Hence most furniture makers have resorted to the use of the island unit. Therefore, the aseptic aesthetics make the island unit the true hub of modern family home where the family can cook together or where the cook can work alone but still be separated from friends and family.
Arinola Akinyosoye, an interior decorator, sees the island unit as the 21st century interpretation of the family-oriented kitchen of her childhood; yet visually, it is something entirely new. She explains that glass is a beautiful furnishing that is being used for aesthetics in modern kitchens. Although glass that has been cut, curved, painted and etched has been frequently used as a splashback, Valcucine has taken it all a whole breathtaking step further. The doors of the Valcucine now have light weight aluminium frames with the front made of matt or gloss glass which is coloured or simply etched based on the consumer’s choice.
The aesthetics modern house designers unleash in their quest to create masterpieces is as well driving people crazy and testifies to this. Obviously, no matter how beautiful a home décor is, it will not be complete if the kitchen area still wears the old looks. Rather than display utensils and foodstuff in the shelves which is the old order, modern kitchens now compact everything that can be sighted in the cabinet. The trend is now like a movement from the old to a whole lot of new kitchen cabinet that seems to be a one-stop-store and delight of the owners. Beyond the style, convenience and elegance, the emphasis of the designers is on the functionality of the cabinets and shelves that seem to accommodate what every kitchen should have.
As a matter of fact, every good home takes kitchen seriously and its looks matter as well. Therefore, most modern cooks look for the highlights of today’s most fabulous kitchen trends as if it complements the food. Of course it does, because using the right tools in the right environment will produce the anticipated result. The youthfulness and neatness of a broad range of these modern kitchen cabinets and décors seem to be the magic that is and will displace the old order in many homes.
Though many Nigerian homes still harbour their old kitchen cabinet that practically displays utensils on shelves, beside the sink, on the fridge and any standing thing, a few are beginning to appreciate the innovation, quality and style which the all-encompassing cabinet brings into their neighbours’ kitchens.
Though it is expensive and often comes by tendering an order to the manufacturer or distributor, the indigenous skills are now acquainted with its fitting. At Odun Ade, a popular market for sanitary wares along the Orile-Mile 2 Expressway in Lagos, some skilled technicians are springing up for the fitting of this all-modern and convenient kitchen cover. The few among them who are good at it, according to Udemba Emele, a sanitary ware dealer and installer, are making a living with it, especially on the Lekki-Ajah axis of Lagos Island where more sprawling estates owned by youthful people who are inclined to style and trend are springing up.
“In the heydays of Jacuzzi, I was among the first set of Nigerians an agent of the Italian manufacturing company taught how to fit Jacuzzi and I trained others afterwards before it became the order of the day. So the more we have skilled people to fix the modern kitchen cabinet, the more homeowners will embrace it,” Emele notes.
A common misconception is that a modern kitchen design cannot be achieved affordably. But according to Vivian Okafor, a businesswoman, “I am particular about the way my kitchen looks, that was why when my husband and I were building our house, we made sure we equipped it like we always wanted and it is worth all we put into it.”
Many people never take action to achieve the modern kitchen design they want because they don’t believe it’s possible to do it on a budget. Actually, there are many ways to get your dream kitchen without spending a fortune. You can refurbish your cabinets. This goes a long way in giving your modern kitchen the design you want. One option is to paint them with a lighter colour, which can save you a small fortune in the bottom line expenses when all is said and done.
Most modern furniture companies in Nigeria today understand that kitchens are central to people’s lives and so they are trying to deliver the emotional satisfaction that their high-end consumers crave for as well as the cutting-edge technology that is now available.