Durable plastics have their place, but for the benchtop appliances you keep on display, it has to be metal - the shinier the better. Chrome and stainless steel have a chic European feel and just need a quick polish with a clean tea-towel to look their best.
White crockery is a breakfast mainstay. Snow-white stacks of plates and bowls look beautiful on display in open shelves. For these everyday basics, go for pieces you can safely put in the dishwasher and microwave - Maxwell & Williams' White Basics porcelain range is ideal.
The right cutting board can rise above its workhorse status to become a thing of beauty. A thick slab of timber has natural antibacterial qualities and becomes more rustic with use. Marble, which as been a kitchen classic for centuries, is easy to wipe clean and its cool surface is perfect for working dough and rolling pastry.
A great cook's knife is an essential investment. You want a knife that looks good, but equally important is how it feels in your hand. German-style knives tend to be heavier and thicker, while Japanese-style varieties are lighter and thinner. To keep your knife in tiptop condition, wash it in warm soapy water, not in the dishwasher.
Choose oven-to-tableware according to what your create most often. Among the most useful shapes are a classic casserole, a lasagne dish for everything from pasta bakes to roasting vegies, and a set of ramekins for your Jamie Oliver moments.
For pans, a robust set of four stainless-steel saucepans with lids and a frypan will cover nearly every culinary possibility. Non-stick versions such as the 'Heritage' range from Tefal will make after-dinner clean-ups magically easier.
"A top-of-the-line set of saucepans doesn't come cheap, but it will serve you well for years."Jane Parbury