Most of us spend ample time in our kitchens, whether it’s to prepare meals or gather for celebrations as someone else cooks up a storm! That’s why kitchens are often referred to as “the heart of the home”. One of the hardest working surfaces in a kitchen is the benchtop, but visually it’s also an impactful element. As such, it needs to be durable but also functional, stylish and blend seamlessly with the rest of the kitchen’s design. Kitchen bench designs vary greatly, as do kitchen benchtop colours. Here are a few to inspire your next build or renovation.
The contrast of black and white has been a popular combination for interiors for many years, mainly because of its versatility. It complements natural materials like timber beautifully (seen here in the top-level cabinetry) and creates a neutral canvas that’s easily updated with a change in lighting or accessories.
Here, this kitchen’s owners have already contemplated contrast with the addition of some stunning features, including the matte black fridge, pendant light, tapware and gorgeous countertop basin.
However, in this sleek, stylish and contemporary kitchen design, the bench top is clearly the hero. Stretching as far as the eye can see, its size alone is breathtaking. It is also practical, offering plenty of room for meal prep and enough length for countless bench seats where hungry inhabitants can chat with the cook while they wait!
And then there are its other features. Marble (or even marble-look) bench tops exude elegance and sophistication and come in a range of colours and finishes. We love the “grain” of this bench top — it is non-uniform, flowing and unique. And being predominantly white, it ensures this space is visually expansive as well as beautiful.
When it comes to a minimalist design, this kitchen is up there with its simplistic monochrome colour scheme. Clean finishes and smooth lines also epitomise a modern kitchen — illustrated here with a “less is more” approach. Neat and orderly, its cabinetry is simple, and the pops of metallics in the dishwasher and cabinetry handles are subtle.
Rather than just a black-and-white colour palette, this kitchen also offers some relief with beige and white large-format feature tiling that has an eye-catching, almost “paint-brushed” pattern (albeit random!). These types of tiles create visual interest and enhance a subtle, no-fuss, easy-clean approach.
In terms of the benchtop, black typically has a significant impact, creating a “moody” effect. It adds a bold, contemporary feel in kitchens exuding a sense of drama, power, mystery, conservativeness and sophistication. Ultimately, it conveys a wonderful combination of authority and style. Use too much and black can appear very “heavy”, but here its use has been carefully considered with the addition of pops of white, metallics and a visually enticing tile choice.
Design-wise, we are only given a tiny taste (pun intended) of this kitchen’s elegant entirety. However, what a taste! Firstly, this is a no-holds-barred use of greys and metallics, from the no-fuss, handle-free cabinetry to the modern tapware and gleaming sunken sink. Grey is also featured in the timber-look flooring that adds another textural element and gives the nod to “natural” features.
Now … the benchtop! What an amazing masterpiece. With variegated veining and patterning that boldly deviates from more “traditional” marble-look designs, it simply begs for an up-close-and-personal investigation. This prominent veining is oh-so-striking and is guaranteed to get family and guests alike talking!
Colour-wise, it is a kaleidoscope of black, white, cream, yellow and gold. Black adds an air of sophistication. Gold in colour psychology is traditionally associated with abundance, prosperity and self-confidence. Yellow generates feelings of optimism and encouragement. And the addition of soothing whites and creams tones down its OTT vibrant effect. This kitchen would certainly not just be the hub of the home, but the hub of homely celebration!
This wonderfully inviting kitchen has so many carefully considered features that result in a fabulous space for food-filled memory-making. Firstly, it occupies ample space, so there is lots of room for the nominated cook and their helpful sous-chefs to bustle about in preparation. The huge window makes the most of the views and the abundance of natural light. Neutral-coloured cabinetry adds warmth and allows other features to shine (ie. the benchtop, but we’ll get to that). Stainless steel appliances enhance its modernity. And the timber-look flooring creates visual interest and gives a nod to nature.
In terms of the benchtop, the use of marble-look material across the seating area and around the sink and cooktop creates a seamless aspect, drawing the eye around the space. Its colour palette is warming and soothing, and its reflective surfaces are heightened with the bright, downward-facing pendant lighting. However, its variegated patterning is undoubtedly its best feature — it is brazenly bold and unashamedly states, “look at me!” There is also so much of it that those sous-chefs previously mentioned can pull up a bench seat and happily prep away under Chief Cook’s watchful eye.
OK, so the owner of this kitchen is clearly a fan of basic neutrals, ie. white! And while white-on-white kitchens may not be to everyone’s taste (some would say boring … gasp!), this colour scheme is always popular, and for a good reason.
An all-white kitchen exudes an air of grace, sophistication and simplicity. The colour white is crisp, pure, pristine, easy on the eye and doesn’t demand attention. It can also optimise a home’s natural light effortlessly, making smaller spaces look bigger. Regardless of the kitchen style you plan to go with — whether it is contemporary, modern, country, classic, country, Hamptons or French provincial, white will work well in all of them. Best of all, there is an endless choice of coloured cabinetry and accessories you can team with white to create unique focal points.
Here, its starkness is softened with pops of metallic on the rangehood, black on the stovetop and oven, grey cabinetry inserts and some verdant green potted loveliness. The benchtop finish is beautifully sleek, shiny and glossy, meaning its surface is easy-clean. One quick wipe, and it will return to all of its pristine glory!
With a bold nod to French Provincial style, this kitchen emanates a spirited flavour (pun intended) and a warm, inviting feel. Graceful and appealing, traditional features include an oversized range hood, bespoke cabinetry and crisp white tiling. This kitchen has a perfect blend of rustic magnetism and premium finishes and details. We also adore the peek-a-boo display cabinetry that adds personality and is in a prime position for the owner to show off their favourite kitchen treasures.
In terms of the bench top … sigh. It is, in one word, divine. Its textured, organic surface adds warmth and appeal and its patterned twirls an organic quality that hints at rustic with a serious amount of style thrown in. Benchtops made of timber are a timeless choice (mind you, timber laminates these days do a great job of impersonating the real thing). If you do opt for a solid timber bench top, you will most certainly up the luxury ante. Consider grain pattern, durability, cost and colour tone when making your choice. Australian native species worth choosing include Blackbutt, Victorian Ash, Tasmanian Oak, Jarrah, Ironbark and Spotted Gum.
- Anne Ellard, 2017, 10 Kitchen Colour Schemes That Will Stand the Test of Time, Houzz
- 2021, Trend Alert: Stunning Kitchen Benchtops, Carlisle Homes
- 2022, Top Kitchen Trends & Styles in Australia for 2022, Paradise Kitchens
- Nadia Hursky, 2012, Black Kitchens, Blue Tea
- 2022, Tips for Choosing the Right Marble Vein for Your Style, Caesarstone
- 2022, How To Use Colour Psychology In Interior Design, Impeccabuild
- 2020, Finding the right Australian timber species for your kitchen benchtop, Architecture & Design