The 2023 must-haves for every kitchen | Kanebridge News
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The 2023 must-haves for every kitchen

As every real estate agent knows, kitchens sell houses. Set yourself up for success with designs for every space

By Robyn Willis
Thu, Jan 5, 2023 9:42amGrey Clock 5 min

As a new year kicks off and summer holidays stretch out before you, it’s the perfect time to reassess your home, your property and your investments. Whether it’s time to sell or renovate, putting a kitchen renovation at the top of your to-do list for 2023 will set you up for a successful year. There’s no better time than now to start planning for a spring sale or summer entertaining so that, no matter the size of your space, you can have a beautiful, hardworking kitchen. Check out these three Sydney kitchen case studies in large, medium and small.

Large kitchen: The drinks are on us

By the time award-winning kitchen design duo Darren Genner and Simona Castagna from Minosa started working on this generously proportioned kitchen, their clients already had a pretty firm idea of what they wanted.

Overlooking the Bay Run in Sydney’s inner west, the property had already been partially renovated in a palette of steel blue and soft grey, setting the palette for the kitchen colours. 

“They wanted something really beautiful and the kitchen had to reflect what we had already done in the parents’ retreat, which was a contemporary feel with a bit of colour,” says Genner.

Part of a larger open plan living area, the original kitchen was characterised by a walk-in pantry and corridor, which shut down the floorplan and did not serve the owners’ needs given cooking wasn’t necessarily the highest priority.

“They are not really big cooks, they prefer to order in,” says Genner. “So the kitchen becomes more furniture-like.”

Streamlined joinery and integrated appliances ensure the kitchen naturally feels a part of the living area. Curved edges on the central island bench ensure easy circulation and straightforward access to the Vintec wine fridge, as well as a concealed bar for the owners’ gin collection.

“We call it hidden bling,” says Castagna. “They are really unassuming people who appreciate the finer things but they don’t like to show off. 

“We’ve worked with them before and every time we do a renovation, they go away and leave us to it.”

The kitchen was completed over a 10-week period. Joinery is finished in dark stain American oak while the splashback is polished concrete render. For the island benchtop, Genner and Castagna specified Laminam, a hi tech porcelain product ideal for areas where large, hardwearing slabs are required. The project was highly detailed to achieve such a clean, streamlined look. 

“There’s a lot of little detail,” says Genner.

Medium kitchen: The spice of life

Kitchens are hardworking spaces but it’s important that they say something about the people who live there. Interior designer Monique Sartor from Sartorial Interiors was keen to lean into the owners’ Sri Lankan heritage and their love of cooking to create this contemporary open plan space packed with storage at their home in Maroubra.

“The brief was ‘modern Sri Lankan’,” Sartor says. “The old kitchen was U-shaped and did not relate to the living room. It was cluttered and they felt it was dated but they still needed lots of storage.”

Sartor opened the space up, replacing the U-shape design with floor-to-ceiling joinery and a spacious central island bench with waterfall edge overlooking the dining area. Integrated appliances, including a French door fridge enhance the sense of continuity between the kitchen and living spaces. 

“Everything is integrated,” she says. “The dishwasher is under the island bench, and the cooktop is all induction except for one gas burner so that they can keep doing wok cooking. Appliances are not particularly attractive so the less you can see, the better.” 

Instead, attention is on surfaces, which have been selected for their natural look and feel.

“The kitchen is finished in Laminex Rural Oak. It needed to have that hand worked feel to it to give it some texture and warmth,” she says. “For the benchtops, Smartstone is so beautiful. This one had been discontinued and we tracked down the last five slabs.”

Key to the success of this space, however, is something that serves no practical function but brings the clients joy. Sartor chose a custom designed mural-style wallpaper from Kingdom Home to run the full length of the dining space.

“As a plain wall, it had no personality and it didn’t help to bring any interest into the space,” she says. “You want something that will reflect their story, and their heritage. It’s a vintage etching but it’s also very contemporary, especially with the design of the kitchen.”

Small kitchen: Making every centimetre count

Pictures: Jacqui Turk

If  large kitchens require an abundance of materials, small kitchens insist on an abundance of planning. The owner of this kitchen in the inner Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst loves to entertain but with just a narrow galley space to work with, design director at Bondi Kitchens, Charlotte Riggs, had her work cut out to pack everything in.

Fortunately, Riggs understood the space almost immediately.

“When I walked in I knew how the kitchen had to be configured,” she says. “It’s very narrow with a small nib wall, which was the perfect spot for a full height pantry. The most practical pantries are shallow because you don’t lose anything.”

Because it is separate from the dining room, which is on another level, Riggs says the kitchen needed to be a pleasure for the owner to work in, just on her own.

“There’s a little terrace just outside so when it gets warmer, she can eat outside,” she says. “But there’s things like a sink near the window and a fridge to the far right and a bi-fold nook next to the pantry for the kettle and toaster. 

“It’s very practical and logical as a layout.”

Given its location in the heart of the city, the owner was keen to create a sophisticated ambience in the kitchen. All appliances such as the fridge, rangehood and microwave are either hidden or integrated for a clean look. Riggs opted for navy cabinetry in a Shaker profile with classic cup door pulls in brass – the kitchen equivalent of a tailored suit with brass buttons.

“It’s all in the little details,” she says. “All the drawers and panels are 35mm thick for that extra deep Shaker cut out.”

Underbench strip lighting ensures that the benchtops are well lit when the kitchen is in use as a workstation while wall sconces provide optional mood lighting for later in the evening.


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A new trading year kicked off just weeks ago. Already it bears little resemblance to the carnage of 2022.

After languishing throughout last year, growth stocks have zoomed higher. Tesla Inc. and Nvidia Corp., for example, have jumped more than 30%. The outlook for bonds is brightening after a historic rout. Even bitcoin has rallied, despite ongoing effects from the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX.

The rebound has been driven by renewed optimism about the global economic outlook. Investors have embraced signs that inflation has peaked in the U.S. and abroad. Many are hoping that next week the Federal Reserve will slow its pace of interest-rate increases yet again. China’s lifting of Covid-19 restrictions pleasantly surprised many traders who have welcomed the move as a sign that more growth is ahead.

Still, risks loom large. Many investors aren’t convinced that the rebound is sustainable. Some are worried about stretched stock valuations, or whether corporate earnings will face more pain down the road. Others are fretting that markets aren’t fully pricing in the possibility of a recession, or what might happen if the Fed continues to fight inflation longer than currently anticipated.

We asked five investors to share how they are positioning for that uncertainty and where they think markets could be headed next. Here is what they said:

‘Animal spirits’ could return

Cliff Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management, acknowledges that he wasn’t expecting the run in speculative stocks and digital currencies that has swept markets to kick off 2023.

Bitcoin prices have jumped around 40%. Some of the stocks that are the most heavily bet against on Wall Street are sitting on double-digit gains. Carvana Co. has soared nearly 64%, while MicroStrategy Inc. has surged more than 80%. Cathie Wood‘s ARK Innovation ETF has gained about 29%.

If the past few years have taught Mr. Asness anything, it is to be prepared for such run-ups to last much longer than expected. His lesson from the euphoria regarding risky trades in 2020 and 2021? Don’t count out the chance that the frenzy will return again, he said.

“It could be that there are still these crazy animal spirits out there,” Mr. Asness said.

Still, he said that hasn’t changed his conviction that cheaper stocks in the market, known as value stocks, are bound to keep soaring past their peers. There might be short spurts of outperformance for more-expensive slices of the market, as seen in January. But over the long term, he is sticking to his bet that value stocks will beat growth stocks. He is expecting a volatile, but profitable, stretch for the trade.

“I love the value trade,” Mr. Asness said. “We sing about it to our clients.”

—Gunjan Banerji

Keeping dollar’s moves in focus

For Richard Benson, co-chief investment officer of Millennium Global Investments Ltd., no single trade was more important last year than the blistering rise of the U.S. dollar.

Once a relatively placid area of markets following the 2008 financial crisis, currencies have found renewed focus from Wall Street and Main Street. Last year the dollar’s unrelenting rise dented multinational companies’ profits, exacerbated inflation for countries that import American goods and repeatedly surprised some traders who believed the greenback couldn’t keep rallying so fast.

The factors that spurred the dollar’s rise are now contributing to its fall. Ebbing inflation and expectations of slower interest-rate increases from the Fed have sent the dollar down 1.7% this year, as measured by the WSJ Dollar Index.

Mr. Benson is betting more pain for the dollar is ahead and sees the greenback weakening between 3% and 5% over the next three to six months.

“When the biggest central bank in the world is on the move, look at everything through their lens and don’t get distracted,” said Mr. Benson of the London-based currency fund manager, regarding the Fed.

This year Mr. Benson expects the dollar’s fall to ripple similarly far and wide across global economies and markets.

“I don’t see many people complaining about a weaker dollar” over the next few months, he said. “If the dollar is falling, that economic setup should also mean that tech stocks should do quite well.”

Mr. Benson said he expects the dollar’s fall to brighten the outlook for some emerging- market assets, and he is betting on China’s offshore yuan as the country’s economy reopens. He sees the euro strengthening versus the dollar if the eurozone’s economy continues to fare better than expected.

—Caitlin McCabe

Stocks still appear overvalued

Even after the S&P 500 fell 15% from its record high reached in January 2022, U.S. stocks still look expensive, said Rupal Bhansali, chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, who oversees $6.7 billion in assets.

Of course, the market doesn’t appear as frothy as it did for much of 2020 and 2021, but she said she expects a steeper correction in prices ahead.

The broad stock-market gauge recently traded at 17.9 times its projected earnings over the next 12 months, according to FactSet. That is below the high of around 24 hit in late 2020, but above the historical average over the past 20 years of 15.7, FactSet data show.

“The old habit was buy the dip,” Ms. Bhansali said. “The new habit should be sell the rip.”

One reason Ms. Bhansali said the selloff might not be over yet? The market is still underestimating the Fed.

Investors repeatedly mispriced how fast the Fed would move in 2022, wrongly expecting the central bank to ease up on its rate increases. They were caught off guard by Fed Chair Jerome Powell‘s aggressive messages on interest rates. It stoked steep selloffs in the stock market, leading to the most turbulent year since the 2008 financial crisis. Now investors are making the same mistake again, Ms. Bhansali said.

Current stock valuations don’t reflect the big shift coming in central-bank policy, which she thinks will have to be more aggressive than many expect. Though broader measures of inflation have been falling, some slices, such as services inflation, have proved stickier. Ms. Bhansali is positioning for such areas as healthcare, which she thinks would be more insulated from a recession than the rest of the market, to outperform.

“The Fed is determined to win the war since they lost the battle,” Ms. Bhansali said.

—Gunjan Banerji

A better year for bonds seen

Gone are the days when tumbling bond yields left investors with few alternatives to stocks. Finally, bonds are back, according to Niall O’Sullivan of Neuberger Berman, an investment manager overseeing about $427 billion in client assets at the end of 2022.

After a turbulent year for the fixed-income market in 2022, bonds have kicked off the new year on a more promising note. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index—composed largely of U.S. Treasurys, highly rated corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities—climbed 3% so far this year on a total return basis through Thursday’s close. That is the index’s best start to a year since it began in 1989, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Mr. O’Sullivan, the chief investment officer of multi asset strategies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Neuberger Berman, said the single biggest conversation he is currently having with clients is how to increase fixed-income exposure.

“Strategically, the facts have changed. When you look at fixed income as an asset class…they’re now all providing yield, and possibly even more importantly, actual cash coupons of a meaningful size,” he said. “That is a very different world to the one we’ve been in for quite a long time.”

Mr. O’Sullivan said it is important to reconsider how much of an advantage stocks now hold over bonds, given what he believes are looming risks for the stock market. He predicts that inflation will be harder to wrangle than investors currently anticipate and that the Fed will hold its peak interest rate steady for longer than is currently expected. Even more worrying, he said, it will be harder for companies to continue passing on price increases to consumers, which means earnings could see bigger hits in the future.

“That is why we are wary on the equity side,” he said.

Among the products that Mr. O’Sullivan said he favours in the fixed-income space are higher-quality and shorter-term bonds. Still, he added, it is important for investors to find portfolio diversity outside bonds this year. For that, he said he views commodities as attractive, specifically metals such as copper, which could continue to benefit from China’s reopening.

—Caitlin McCabe


Find the fear, and find the value

Ramona Persaud, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, said she can still identify bargains in a pricey market by looking in less-sanguine places. Find the fear, and find the value, she said.

“When fear really rises, you can buy some very well-run businesses,” she said.

Take Taiwan’s semiconductor companies. Concern over global trade and tensions with China have weighed on the shares of chip makers based on the island. But those fears have led many investors to overlook the competitive advantages those companies hold over rivals, she said.

“That is a good setup,” said Ms. Persaud, who considers herself a conservative value investor and manages more than $20 billion across several U.S. and Canadian funds.

The S&P 500 is trading above fair value, she said, which means “there just isn’t widespread opportunity,” and investors might be underestimating some of the risks that lie in waiting.

“That tells me the market is optimistic,” said Ms. Persaud. “That would be OK if the risks were not exogenous.”

Those challenges, whether rising interest rates and Fed policy or Russia’s war in Ukraine and concern over energy-security concerns in Europe, are complicated, and in many cases, interrelated.

It isn’t all bad news, she said. China ended its zero-Covid restrictions. A milder winter in Europe has blunted the effects of the war in Ukraine on energy prices and helped the continent sidestep recession, and inflation is slowing.

“These are reasons the market is so happy,” she said.

—Justin Baer

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