Cooktop or not?
The beauty of a cooktop and separate oven, as opposed to a built-in stove, lies in its flexibility. Your hob can be a subtle shadow in the expanse of a pristine benchtop, while your oven and microwave can create a symphony of machine-made beauty across your wall cabinetry. A barely there cooktop and wall oven versus a freestanding stove also delivers a quieter look, which is important in a smaller kitchen, and allows two people to cook without getting in each other’s way.
There was a time the cookzone would be tucked away – along with the cook. But these days, with open-plan kitchens, it’s becoming common to site your hob on the island bench, so you can cook and communicate with your guests at the same time. Whether you choose a barely there induction model or the raised profile of a conventional gas cooktop, safety is a prime consideration. Cooktops mean heat, so ensure your island bench is large enough to ensure a safe distance between hot pots and hands.
Sound of silence
The last thing you need in your open-plan kitchen-living zone is an extractor with the decibel level of an A380 competing with conversation. Schweigen’s latest appliance brand, IN, offers a silent rangehood system, plus there are a host of other features, on both hoods and hobs, that should be considered. “The importance of safety features, such as a flame-failure safety device on gas cooktops or residual heat indicators on electric cooktops, should not be underestimated,” says category marketing manager consumer technology Rudi Niemoeller of Miele.
The cooktop is the main event in the hob-hood relationship, so before you hit the shops, think about how and what you cook. Do you need a special feature, such as a teppanyaki plate or wok burner? Will you be preparing dinners for a crowd or for just one or two? “Space availability is important, as selecting a 900mm appliance when you have little bench space may be an error,” says design consultant Susan Simmons of The Essential Detail and Freedom Kitchens. So, unless you’re going to be using six burners regularly, a more conventional four-burner model might be the right choice.
Gas or electric?
Decide which power source you prefer – gas or electric. Gas, which allows greater control over heat, has long been Australians’ preference and gas-powered cooktops are available in a wide range of price points. Gas on glass cooktops have a more minimalist look suited to modern kitchens, but in the past few years electric-powered induction cooktops – which use a magnetic field to rapidly heat up a saucepan or frying pan – have soared in popularity. They are energy-efficient, easy to wipe down, and their slimline profile makes them a winner in the style stakes. Ceramic electric cooktops have similarly understated looks, and tend to be cheaper than induction, but are less intuitive and take longer to heat up and cool down.
Position of power
If the cooktop is the glam girl of the hob-hood melange, the rangehood is its savvy younger sister. “The range hoods on today's market have come a long way and we have moved from big, bulky and noisy models to more aesthetically appealing ones to complement your kitchen design," says Rob Sinclair, Joint Managing Director of E&S. "Just make sure you pick a model with powerful air movement and suction, as well as low noise levels and good light performance."
Ducted extractors are super-efficient, piping odours and smells to the outdoors. Recirculating hoods don’t require ducting, making them useful where a kitchen is in the centre of the home. If your hood is the more efficient, ducted version, it makes sense for the ducting to take the shortest route to an exterior wall, and that, in turn, will impact where your hob goes. Hoods that hide in overhead cabinetry are a neat option. For inspiration, take a look at this kitchen by E&S (above).
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