How to Design a Timeless Kitchen

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
The warm off-white tone used in this Blanc Marine space is complemented by a generous use of timber and brass accents – all combining to create a welcoming and entirely timeless effect.

WORDS Julia Freemantle PHOTOS Photographie Intérieure Co (Blanc Marine), Sean Fennessy (Rosanna Ceravolo), Anson Smart (Georgina Wilson Associates)  Murray Fredericks (Georgina Wilson Associates), Elsa Young (La Grange Interiors) Christine Francis (Rosanna Ceravolo), Anson Smart (Alexander & Co), Supplied (Oggie Flooring, Devol) STYLING Anna Delprat (Georgina Wilson Associates) Claire Delmar (Georgina Wilson Associates)

Creating a kitchen that won’t date is as much about steering clear of design fads as it is about making smart material choices.

As the centre of the home, and one of the spaces that costs a lot to design (and therefore to change), it makes sense that you’d want your kitchen not only to perform and function, but also to wear well – in terms of its durability, and its style. while seasonal trends can be alluring, it’s certainly smarter to make design decisions that lean towards longevity when it comes to the more permanent features of your kitchen. More classic choices needn’t mean you have to tend towards traditional styles, however – it just means making savvy selections that ensure your kitchen won’t date or deteriorate too quickly. 


Spotlight Joinery’s managing director Bo Bylin points out that it’s not just the aesthetics or physical characteristics of the materials you choose that matter, but also how a space is laid out, and the ease this affords you when using it daily. He suggests that sliding or folding panels and doors that conceal storage, purpose-designed zones and appliance stations are practical options to consider, as they tend to allow a kitchen to flow seamlessly into the living space.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
Similarly, this Rosanna Ceravolo design, heroes understatement, as well as function, and despite subtle retro undertones, the shell is neutral and versatile.

“Timeless luxury is not only about the way a space looks but the ease with which it allows you to live. Designing for function and workflow is key in transitioning from daytime and weekly routines to night-time soirées with ease.”


Countertops take up a large portion of your kitchen and endure a lot of wear and tear, so they’re an important design consideration. An ordeal to install, they’re also not something you’ll want to change in a hurry – therefore choosing surfaces that will withstand regular use, heat and spills is crucial.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
This space by Blanc Marine demonstrates the power of creating a lasting foundation with a strong, simple palette and understated surfaces.

Caesarstone’s head of marketing Megan Noel rates engineered quartz surfaces and sintered stone (porcelain) as the best current options in terms of durability.

She cautions that imitation stone does not always come with a warranty or technical assistance after sale, so her advice is to choose reputable brands for countertops.

As far as colour and pattern go, less is more. “For timeless appeal, modest patterns that show subtle movement, very dark or very light stone, and a honed finish for a softer matte surface are your best bets,” says Bylin.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
Subtle surfaces take centre stage in a Georgina Wilson Associates kitchen, which spotlights how layering (that lasts rather than dates) can be achieved by using the right finishes in the right proportions – balance here is crucial.

A natural material such as solid wood also adds to a space over time – daily stressors and use will age it, but they’ll create a beautiful patina in the process. Noel agrees that natural surfaces are always a good choice for bringing a grounded energy into a space, and points out the enduring appeal of classic marble for its versatility and ability to mix with a variety of finishes, and slot easily into different styles.


While this is an area you can change relatively easily should you feel an update is needed, cupboards and cabinets probably take the brunt of the daily handling, and need to be of high quality to last.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
The trifecta of classic metro tiles, wooden cabinetry and marble backsplash seen in the kitchen of the Spotted Gum project by Alexander & Co is a case study for a clever and classic yet contemporary combination.

Bylin from Spotlight recommends purchasing good-quality, soft-closing hardware that carries a warranty for durability, and carcasses made from A-grade South African boards or E1 European boards.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
Grey cabinetry is lifted by bright, white walls and classic shutters in a La Grange Interiors kitchen, with the more traditional styling of the cabinetry balanced by sleek countertops and contemporary faucets and light fittings (a great example of how mixing styles creates design durability).

Also, ensure the cabinetry stands on water-appropriate plinths to protect it from the moisture associated with daily cleaning and spills. Bylin says that, style-wise “timeless” can be open to interpretation, so context is important. Regardless of style, he recommends avoiding high-gloss finishes – a sprayed satin finish is less likely to show fingerprints. “A contemporary home remains timeless with clean lines, neutral tones and flay-panel cabinet doors, while in a heritage home that has period detailing, Shaker-style cabinetry would be appropriate,” he says.


Backsplashes are one of the more hard-and-fast features of a kitchen. Visible (and an obvious area to make a statement), they’re also set in stone, so to speak.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
Minimal but textured, this Rosanna Ceravolo kitchen is calming yet engaging. Solid backsplashes and crisp cabinetry ensure an uncluttered space that will retain design relevance.

A simple oblong metro or square mosaic tile – or a solid stone panel – will ensure you never tire of the surface at eye level. Avoid trendy tones and methods of laying tiles too – steer rather in the direction of simple patterns and neutral colours.


Durability, quality and comfort should all be prioritised when choosing kitchen flooring. Oggie Flooring’s Nick Gluckman recommends something hard-wearing and UV-treated – if the budget allows, engineered oak is preferable to laminate, for example; you’ll get more wear out of it and sidestep the risk of water damage. In terms of tone, too dark or too light will pigeonhole the space into a specific style, so a classic neutral is a safer bet.

How to Design a Timeless Kitchen
Warm, durable and elegant, an engineered wood floor, here by Oggie Flooring, is an excellent kitchen investment, and complements other natural textures beautifully.

Gluckman cites Greymist as Oggie’s most popular colourway – for good reason: it’s subtle and has universal appeal. Straight planks are a prudent choice and will stand the test of time – and if you want a little more dynamism, a classic pattern like a herringbone will always be in style.


While you can find faucets in almost any colour and finish, think ahead to five years from now, and ask yourself if neon-green will still appeal. A foolproof finish – gold, chrome, black, brass – will ensure your hardware’s staying power. 

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