Kitchens are made for bringing families together, but they’re also sometimes a crazily-expensive space to properly renovate; one thing big spenders tend to forget, however: Trendy items might get a kitchen to look good, but it takes character for a room to feel like home.
Adding character into your home is less about what you’re getting and more about where you’re from. Character is the way we distinguish all those patterns and ideas Maltese homeowners came up with over the decades to better the way they live in Malta aesthetically and functionally. From the high ceilings to maintain temperature to the antiporta to keep contact with your neighbour to the traditional balcony that ventilates and lets you take a peek, character tells us stories about our progress as people.
This article will feature different tips and ideas from local design pros on how to add local Maltese character into your kitchen without having to break the bank.
1. Donna Gatt: Consider recessed panels
Recessed panel, shaker-style cabinets are a twist on the more traditional cabinet style. A recessed panel door is a cabinet door with a center panel that is slightly depressed. Maltese homes tended Recessed panel doors often include thinner wood than other types of cabinet doors.They look stunning in any kitchen design because of their minimalist style. Having a sleek, uncluttered look, they add warmth and interest to your kitchen. They offer a crisp, fresh feel that transcends any current trends.
2. Lisa Gwen: Add contrasting textures & colours
“Taking inspiration from traditional character is always a natural, easy way to figure out textures and colours,” Lisa Gwen, curator of Maltadoors, explains: “For example, one can implement flagstone or cement tiles in the kitchen and then create contrast by complementing with timber, coarsely woven fabrics, or limestone.” If light is a problem, mix in shiny textures – metals, glass, and ceramics.
3. Jade Bøye: Have an open, floating shelf
Character tells a story, and having an open, floating shelf made of limestone is a great conversation starter. On it, put transparent glass jars of sun-dried tomatoes, ‘Kunserva’ traditional tomato paste, and jars for olives and dried capers to effortlessly add that pump of colour into your kitchen. This trio of ingredients will also allow you to quickly prepare a traditional Maltese ‘Bruschetta’ for guests or family! If you want to go for the extra step, add a “Bizzilla” traditional Maltese lace cover on each jar, with a red and white striped rope/ribbon to keep the lace on the jar as a decoration.
4. Ramon Fiott: Get your hands on a Żinġla (large ceramic basin)
“It’s iconic of Maltese kitchens, great to mix foods, sauces and salads in, and has a beautiful glaze inside. Having a traditional Żingla in the kitchen adds a rustic and organic touch to your kitchen and can contrast beautifully with any modern appliances. You can find them in different sizes depending on your needs. You can typically pick one up at the ta’ Qali Crafts Village.”
If you’re religious, this is also an interesting way for you to bring elements from an iconic religious scene in a tasteful, discrete way (in the scripture, Christ washes the apostles’ feet in a large żinġla).
Follow Ramon Azzopardi Fiott’s work on his Facebook page, Ramon Azzopardi Fiott – Designer & Artist!
5. Thomas Camilleri: Make it a social space
“For the Maltese, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Make it a social space for guests to stay close to you while you finish off your cooking.“
“No matter how much you try, guests will gravitate towards your kitchen so make it a social space if you have the space. Keep it functional but comfortable for you to entertain whilst finishing off your cooking. For example, use all that extra space above your cupboards for plants, plants and more plants. Devil’s Ivy is super hardy and even easy to grow from a cutting in water.”
You can make your kitchen more social by choosing an open plan style, combining the cooking area with the dining area, if you have an island, consider turning a part of it into a breakfast bar and add a couple of stools.
6. Enrica de Gabriele: Use Maltese tiles as a splashback
“Tiles can have very intricate patterns, so try to look for muted tones – this will make your kitchen less busy. You can try to look for greys and whites, or pair with dark blue cabinetry, for example.” You can easily create the entire colour template for your kitchen around your tiles – for your furniture, you can go for more either a more saturated or a pastel hue of the colours in your tiles.
“Blue carpentry with those tiles would look great in a traditional townhouse, but you can experiment. An interior designer or stylist can work with your budget and assist you when it comes to pairing the right tiles with the furniture and mood you have (or want to have!). Just, let go of the idea that it will be ‘too much’ – explore!”
Connect with Enrica de Gabriele and follow her work on her Facebook page, Enrica de Gabriele Interior Design!
7. Rebecca Zammit: Play with engineered wood to bring out older architectural features
Create a cosy inviting space where you can kick off your shoes and feel at home, make flooring your first priority. Engineered wood and old patterned original tiles make perfect pairs, and you can also raise the flooring under a wood floor to reduce humidity from the ground. The warmth of the wood also gives one the opportunity to add cooler colours and textures such as cement grey, black metals, and make an exposed ceiling really pop.
Our team at House Malta is always on the look-out for spaces, places, and things that are being built up, torn down, modernised, restored, or re-purposed – be it by a big team or a one-man(or woman)-army.