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Custom Made Kitchens

Custom Made Kitchens vs Off-The Shelf Kitchens

When it comes to buying a kitchen on the Northern Beaches, your options are wide and varied. There is a range of styles, materials and prices that you can choose from in both the off-the-rack and tailor-made options. If you’re budget is limited, you may be thinking about one of the ‘off-the-shelf’ kitchen packages. But is this necessarily the best fit for your home? To answer that question, there are three main factors you need to consider:

1.       Price

Generally speaking, off-the-shelf kitchens are the cheapest option. However, while you may initially pay a little more for a custom-made kitchen, the end result cannot be compared with the cheaper alternative. Considering that the kitchen is a main selling point of the home, a custom-made kitchen will not only maximise your use of space, it will add value to your home in the long run.

2.       Materials

Durability should be a key concern for any kitchen material. Kitchens are high-use areas often exposed to spills, sharp surfaces, heat and changes in humidity. Commonly, off-the-shelf kitchen cabinets are mass-produced from MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) with wood and melamine veneers. MDF is a great cost-effective product. However, over time MDF shelving will warp and bow. Melamine is cheap and easy to clean but it is soft and will not withstand much abuse or exposure to moisture.

In contrast, custom-made kitchens are built to last by experienced and knowledgeable craftsmen. They use superior hardware and joinery techniques to give added strength to your kitchen cabinets.

3.       Flexibility

In some ways, installing an off-the-shelf kitchen into your home is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together using pieces from two different puzzles – it will never result in the best fit. Enlisting the help of an experienced cabinet-maker will ensure that you utilise the maximum potential of your existing space, especially if your project is a kitchen renovation on the Northern Beaches.

To engage the services of an experienced cabinet-maker in Sydney, or for general help with kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.


A Guide to Kitchen Lighting

No matter how well your kitchen may be styled, poor lighting will deflate even the best of rooms. A poorly lit kitchen will cause strain on the eyes and will leave occupants feeling flat and dull. In contrast, an over-lit kitchen will cause headaches and hyperactivity. So how do you ensure you design a well-lit kitchen? We have recorded some key factors to consider when choosing the lighting for your kitchen on the Northern Beaches:

Task lighting vs Mood lighting

There are two functions of lighting – illuminating task areas and enhancing the mood of a space. Within the kitchen space there needs to be a balance between the task lighting of food preparation and cooking areas and between the mood lighting of social and conversation areas. Finding this balance often depends on the lighting fixtures you choose, whether incandescent lights, fluorescent lights or LED lights.

Photo credit: LED Kitchen Design

The colour of light

Whichever lighting type you choose, it is important to remember that lights come in three colour options – a cool white and two grades of warm white. Most existing houses use warm whites so for kitchen renovations on the Northern Beaches, selecting a warm white light will most likely match your existing lighting. Cool white lights are the brightest lights and are good for task lighting. They are also great for mood lighting if a dimmer is installed.

LED lights

LED lighting is a great option for any kitchen. LED lights integrate neatly into any style of kitchen and can provide both task and mood lighting. There are two main forms of LED lights available today – strip lights and down lights. Strip lights give a continuous light while down lights provide more direct spot lighting. In both cases, remember to install a diffuser with your LED lighting to avoid your kitchen appearing like a disco.

Overhead cabinets, display cabinets and pantries are a great location for LED lights. It is a good idea to put the lights on a door-activated switch that triggers the light as the cupboard doors are open and closed.

Also, if you are using LED strip lights, it is important to install the lights into an aluminum track rebated into the cabinet panels (such as the under panel of overhead cabinets). Strip lighting not installed within a track will rely solely on glue to hold them in place and will come loose over time.

For assistance with kitchen lighting or kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.

2014 Leading Trends in Kitchen Designs Sydney

2014 Trends in Kitchen Designs Sydney

2014 has seen an abundance of new and exciting trends in kitchen design in Sydney. No doubt, you are keen to apply some of them to your own kitchen project, so we have highlighted a few of our favorite kitchen trends below.

However, before you embark on any design research or decide to incorporate any current kitchen design trends into your project, you need to acknowledge the architectural style of your home and how your kitchen will relate to it. There is a wide range of building styles and kitchens in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, ranging from provincial and colonial homes to modern and contemporary homes. While there is nothing wrong with contrasting a modern kitchen within an older-styled home, a kitchen should be sympathetic to its surroundings and never look as though it doesn’t belong to the house it sits within.

The location of your home is a good indicator of what your housing style may be. Have a look at dominant housing style in your suburb and decide whether your home is of a similar style. Other indicators are your cornices, architraves and skirting boards. Once you have determined your kitchen style, you can then begin to think about incorporating some of the current trends into your kitchen design. Here are a few that we love:

The butler’s pantry has seen resurgence in popularity in recent years, transforming kitchens into stylish entertaining spaces without displaying the mess from food preparation.

The indoor BBQ is a great way to create a seamless connection between the kitchen and your outdoor entertaining areas. Covered alfresco areas provide all-weather dining areas that create a buffer-zone from the elements for your kitchen. Even if a storm is raging outside, your kitchen can remain open and airy without becoming drenched by wind-swept rain.


Photo Credit: Sublime Architectural Interiors from Caesarstone

Indoor courtyards have also seen an increase in popularity. Side access areas and tight spaces along property boundaries are being transformed into lush, planted areas that bring light and natural elements into the home. Pairing your kitchen and dining areas with large glazed external doors and a green, planted areas will restore your connection to nature and create an invigorating dining experience.

For more design ideas ideas, contact us here at Volpe Cabinet Making

3 Cost Saving tips for Renovating a Kitchen

Whether you’ve just bought a new home or you have lived in your current one
for years, many people find themselves in a house that they adore in an area they love but with a kitchen that is just not practical for their needs. But with little funds available and money tied up in a mortgage, is there a way to re-vamp a kitchen on a tight budget?
The answer is yes! And we are sharing with you three money-saving tips for kitchen renovations on the Northern Beaches.

1         Material selection

A kitchen renovation is an investment that will add value to your home. While it may be enticing to cut costs by opting for cheaper materials and appliances, doing so may cost you more in the long run. Select quality kitchen fittings (especially drawer tracks and hinges) and appliances from well-known brands to ensure that your kitchen withstands the test of time. If you have any doubt regarding the quality of an appliance or product, peruse user reviews of the product on comparative websites such as Product Review and Choice.
Remember that cheap labour will also cost you more in the long run. Always employ experienced cabinet-makers and tradesmen that hold good reputations and are well recommended.

2         Design your space around your appliances

The dimensions of your oven, cook-top, fridge, dishwasher and microwave will determine the overall layout of your kitchen. During the initial stages of your kitchen design, make sure you determine the size of your appliances as well as the direction that the appliance doors will open. This will ensure the ultimate space and cost efficiency of your kitchen and avoid unnecessary and costly changes during construction. For a seamless look, appliances can be integrated into your cabinetry with the help of a skilled cabinet-maker.

3         Recycle, reuse

Before removing or demolishing an existing kitchen, take time to reserve any materials that may be reused. While it will require a little more effort than simply swinging a hammer and knocking down walls, it will save you a small fortune in the long run. Any materials or appliances that are not suited to your new kitchen could be re-purposed in other areas of the home or sold as second-hand items.
For more cost-saving advice on kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.

The top 5 Common Kitchen Renovation Mistakes

Kitchen Renovation Mistakes

Renovating a kitchen can be a costly and stressful process. Yet common mistakes are easily avoidable with a little planning and foresight. Here are the top 5 common kitchen renovation faux pas and how to avoid them:

 1.       Indecisiveness and unclear objectives

One of the main causes for unnecessary cost and stress during a kitchen renovation is indecisiveness. Before you embark on renovating your kitchen, establish a clear objective and desired outcome. Ask yourself, is the purpose of the renovation to better utilise the space you already have, to cater for your changing lifestyle or to increase the resale value of your home? It is important to communicate your objective and goals with all parties involved in the project, including the designers and the tradesmen.

Mood board thanks to Lass Creative

It may also help to visualise your design ahead of time. To do this, create a mood board from material and colour samples and display it within the kitchen space prior to finalising the design. This will quickly highlight any changes that you may want to make prior to your kitchen being finished

Colour Mood board thanks to Drawn Outdoors

 2.       Living without a kitchen

You may find it hard to believe, but a common mistake made while renovating a kitchen on the Northern Beaches is failing to plan for a substitute kitchen while renovations are taking place. The time frame for an average kitchen renovation is four to six weeks, excluding any unplanned downtime. During that time, ensure you have a plan for alternative cooking facilities. Set aside another area for your fridge and consider using bathroom or laundry sinks for dishwashing. An outdoor BBQ is also an ideal alternative.

3.       Poor coordinating of trades

The order in which the various trades work on your renovation is important. We have seen many kitchen renovations on the Northern Beaches where a pristine stone bench was installed early in the renovation, only to be destroyed by tradesmen using it as a workbench along the way.

 4.       Oversizing the kitchen

A common fault of many kitchen designs in Sydney is that they are too large. Keep in mind that when it comes to kitchens, size does not equate with efficiency. While you do not want a cramped kitchen, working surfaces that are spread too far apart will create unnecessary floor space and inefficient cooking.

 5.       Following design fads

Design trends are constantly evolving and it can be easy to become seduced by the latest fad. While magazine and websites such as Pinterest are a great source of ideas and inspiration, try to seek out design elements that are timeless and will stand the test of time.

For more information or help with kitchen Design in Sydney, please contact us

How to choose the Best Kitchen Appliances (Part B)

Ovens and Cooktops

For those who may be building a new kitchen on the Northern Beaches or renovating a kitchen on the Northern Beaches, the task of choosing kitchen appliances can be daunting. So to assist you in your quest, we have compiled a list of factors you should consider when selecting your kitchen appliances. Yesterday we discussed budgets, sizes of appliances and microwave options. You can view the post here Part A. Today we will focus more specifically on selecting the best oven and dishwasher to suit your needs:

Ovens – freestanding or built-in?
Perhaps your first consideration when selecting an oven for your kitchen is whether to choose a freestanding oven or a built-in oven. Freestanding ovens are often larger than built-in ovens and are a great option for provincial kitchens and families that do a lot of cooking. However, you will need to bend down to use a freestanding oven. In contrast, built-in ovens can be placed at a suitable height within a wall or bench and are often more streamlined and modern in appearance. If you want the streamlined look but need to cook for a large family, a double oven (two ovens stacked on top of each other or side-by-side) is a fantastic option.

Oven cooktops
Don’t forget to look at the burner configuration of the cooktop when selecting your oven. If you like to use multiple pots and pans at the same time, you may want to consider burners set out in a diagonal pattern rather than the traditional square configuration.

Oven size
In order to select the correct size of your oven, think carefully about the size of your family and the frequency that you cook. The size of your oven will affect the cost of your gas or electricity bill, so remember to consider your budget when selecting your oven.


Dishwashers not only save you the hassle of cleaning the dishes, they also influence the resell value of your home. If you are a small family, dish-drawer dishwashers are a great option. They give you the choice of using one draw compartment at a time, saving water and energy on small loads. Or, if you are limited in space, a single-drawer dishwasher with a microwave set above is a great space-saving option.

For assistance in selecting the right appliances for your needs or for general help with kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.

chery-l-shaped-kitchen liked by Volpe Cabinet Making

L – shaped kitchen liked by Volpe Cabinet Making

Stunning Colours liked by Volpe Cabinet Making

Stunning Colours liked by Volpe Cabinet Making

How to choose the best kitchen appliances (Part A)

If you are building a new kitchen on the Northern Beaches of Sydney or are renovating a kitchen on the Northern Beaches, you are no doubt faced with the difficult decision of selecting kitchen appliances. With so many brands and options to choose from, it can be an overwhelming task. But do not fear! We have compiled a list of considerations you should make when selecting your kitchen appliances:

Set a clear budget and stick to it!
With so many flashy new appliances on the market and a plethora of add-on features, it is easy to be seduced by the bells and whistles that you don’t necessary need and can’t realistically afford. Setting a clear budget for each appliance early on will help to avoid unnecessary and stressful budget blow-outs.

Determine the size of your appliances
Deciding on how much kitchen space you are willing to exchange for an appliance is an important choice to make early on in your kitchen design. Consider how you are planning to use the appliance, how often it will be used and who the user will be. Large households or families with small children will suit different sized appliance to single persons or professional couples who may dine on take-out several times a week.

Microwave appliance for your kitchen renovation

Microwave appliance for your kitchen renovation – make sure it is the right size for your family.

There are lots of microwave options available on the market today
but not every model will suit your needs.

For example, if kitchen space is limited, you may want to select a microwave that doubles as a convection oven. Or if you are a family with young children, you may want to select a microwave that is user-friendly and has large buttons and icons.
A range of pre-programmed

settings is also a great advantage for families with kids. Some microwaves also include sensors that calculate the cooking time based on the amount of steam emitted during cooking. Whatever you decide, make sure that the microwave you select will fit your favourite dish.

Trim kits are one additional extra for microwaves that you may want to consider. They look great and work well in a streamlined kitchen design.

The microwave will stack neatly above a double oven, placing it at a good height for use. However, keep in mind that if you do install a trim kit and your microwave needs replacing down the track, the same model may not be available and you may have issues refitting a new microwave.

For assistance in selecting the right appliances for your needs or for general help with kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.

Watch out for Part B tomorrow on How to Choose the Best Kitchen Appliances – Cook Tops | Ovens | Dishwashers (Part B)!

What to consider when Designing a Kitchen in Sydney: (PART B)

Yesterday we discussed the top three tips to kitchen design on the Northern Beaches:

  1. Lifestyle – designing your kitchen to suit your needs
  2. Architecture and design – matching your kitchen to your house
  3. Movement and usability – how your kitchen flows

However there is one additional key factor to consider when designing a kitchen – the coordination of services. Some of the most overlooked features when planning or designing a kitchen are the services. These include the plumbing, electrical services and lighting. Deciding on the locations and types of these services prior to building your kitchen will save you time and costly alterations after the kitchen has been installed.

Electrical sockets/power points

The location of electrical sockets is not limited to walls and splash-backs. It is a good idea to install electrical sockets within cupboards. This will keep your bench space clear by allowing you to store and use your appliances within your cupboards and pantry. It will also save you the annoyance of retrieving, plugging in and returning appliances from their storage spaces every time they are used.


Volpe Cabinet Making crazy kitchen lights

Volpe Cabinet Making crazy kitchen lights

Lighting does not have to be limited to traditional ceiling lights. LED or down lights can be installed within enclosed cupboards, display cabinets and within the pantry. Lights can also be installed within the underside of overhead cabinets to provide task lighting for work surfaces. A single pendant light or a cluster of pendant lights over an island bench can create a dramatic statement, setting the mood for your kitchen.




Don’t forget to consider the ventilation of cooking smells and steam from your kitchen. Have you considered locating stove-tops and cooking surfaces near an open window, or installing an exhaust flume within your kitchen?


Another factor to consider is the storage of heavy and bulky items. It is a good idea to store large plates, platters and heavy cooking pots within the lower drawers and cupboards, to save you retrieving heavy and large items from overhead.

Enlisting the help of an experienced professional will ensure that your kitchen design fits your lifestyle and home. If you need help sourcing other trades, please let us know.

For more information or help with kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.

Volpe Cabinet Making cool-Kitchen-Lighting-Ideas

Volpe Cabinet Making cool-Kitchen-Lighting-Ideas

Volpe Cabinet Making original-kitchen-hanging-lights-20

Volpe Cabinet Making original-kitchen-hanging-lights-20

What to consider when Designing a Kitchen in Sydney: (PART A)

For those faced with the task of designing a new kitchen on the Northern Beaches, the prospect can seem daunting and unnerving. There are so many options available and decisions to make; it can be hard to know where to begin. So we have listed three key elements to consider when designing your new kitchen:

Lifestyle – designing your kitchen to suit your needs

The first step is to acknowledge that your kitchen should be unique and customized to suit your lifestyle and needs. It is not simply a matter of flipping through a magazine and applying different ‘looks’ to your kitchen project. Rather, when designing your kitchen you should first decide how you want the room to be used before you decide on how you want the room to look. It is also important to assess what you can afford. Set a clear budget and a list of prioritized elements that your family finds essential in a kitchen. It is a great idea to list the things that you love and hate in your current kitchen, as well as kitchens you have had in the past.

Architecture and Design – matching your kitchen to your house

The next factor to consider is the architecture and design. A kitchen should be sympathetic to its surroundings and never look as though it doesn’t belong to the house it sits within. Some factors to consider are the heritage and style of your house. If your project is a kitchen renovation on the Northern Beaches, you will first need to ascertain if your house is of a provincial or contemporary design. Good indicators of a house’s heritage and style are the cornices, architraves and skirting boards.

Movement and Usability – how does your kitchen flow?

The next factor to consider is movement and usability. The flow of the kitchen should include a clear connection to and from other areas of the house, such as the dining and living rooms. You will thank yourself in the long run if you carefully plan where you will enter the kitchen with heavy bags of groceries and where you will set these down. Another factor to consider is the location of the dishwasher. It is a good idea to locate the dishwasher close to the sink, for ease of use. Alternatively, some like to locate the dishwasher closer to the dining table to encourage guests to clear their own plates.

Either way, enlisting the help of an experienced professional will ensure that your kitchen design fits your lifestyle and home.

For more information or help with kitchen design in Sydney, contact us.

Why is Kitchen Design Sydney so important?

The number of new kitchens on the Northern Beaches of Sydney has seen a rise in recent times. The popularity of home design and renovation programs on TV has ignited enthusiasm for revamping or re-designing the family kitchen. However, is designing one’s kitchen as easy as flipping through a magazine and applying the same look or feel to your own home?

Interestingly, psychologists are just starting to understand the interdependence between a person and his environment (for further information see the book ‘House Thinking’ by Winifred Gallagher). They have discovered that our surroundings impact our emotional, physical and psychological well-being. Considering that the kitchen forms the central core of the modern home and is inevitably the space where we spend the majority of our time, the design and planning of one’s kitchen is of utmost importance to our happiness and state of mind.

Studies have shown that a badly designed kitchen can induce feelings of stress. Common kitchen faux pas, such as sharp corners, jutting cupboards and tight work surfaces can trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone related to panic (source: The Wall Street Journal).

The modern-day kitchen is not only where we nurture our loved one’s bodies, it is where we nurture their souls as well. It is where late-night talks take place, where homework problems are solved and where casual celebrations happen spontaneously. The kitchen plays the expanded role as the main ‘living’ space of a home and it is where fond memories are made. The design of your kitchen should therefore not only factor in the ‘look’ you are after, but also your lifestyle. A kitchen should provide balance and flexibility for when your family and lifestyle may change. It should also form a space that promotes sociability.

So where do you start? It is not simply a matter of leafing through magazines and collecting paint chips. A good start is to list the things that you have loved and hated about kitchens in previous homes and activities that are important in your daily life.

For more information or help with kitchen design in Sydney and the Northern Beaches, send us an inquiry form, or call us!

Volpe Cabinet Making Kitchen Northern Beaches

Volpe Cabinet Making Kitchen Northern Beaches

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