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No Time to Clean? 8 Design Ingredients for a Low-Maintenance Kitchen

Saving you elbow grease and time.

If you put your kitchen to work often, you’ve probably had to deal with grease on the countertop, spills on the stove, and stains on the floor. Even if you hardly step into the kitchen, dust and grime can accumulate. Yikes.

We understand how much time and energy maintaining the kitchen takes, especially when it’s time for a deep clean. That’s why we’ve got some handy design tips for your next kitchen makeover to make your clean-up easier and give you more time for the things you love.

Woodlands Drive 70 by ARK-hitecture
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1. Opt for a closed kitchen

You might be debating between an open- and closed-concept kitchen, and for good reason. While closed kitchens are the traditional choice, open kitchens add a sense of spaciousness to your house and are great for mingling with guests.

But consider this: Unless you invest in a powerful hood or don’t mind cooking fumes and odours permeating the house, having a closed kitchen helps to contain it all. While this doesn’t make the kitchen any cleaner, it certainly helps with keeping the living room pristine — especially if you tend to do a lot of heavy cooking.

Tampines Street 42 by erstudio
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Heart still set on having an open-concept home? Get the best of both worlds by installing a door/window to contain the odours while emulating the same sense of openness.

You can also consider a foldable glass partition that affords you the flexibility of keeping your kitchen open or closed, depending on the occasion.

Northshore Drive by The Local INN.terior 新家室
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2. ...and a closed shelves concept

Open shelves have a timeless charm. When styled well, they make for an Insta-worthy backdrop and importantly, make items much more accessible. No more wrangling open cabinets with one hand while cooking, or countertops cluttered with appliances.

One thing to note is that open shelves are exposed to dust and grease splatters. To avoid the sticky clean-up, go for closed shelves.

Tampines GreenVerge by Inizio Atelier
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If you want to keep track of where your items are, consider installing cabinets with glass doors which also look great if done right.

Fernvale Road by Diva's Interior Design
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But if you know you’re sticking with open shelves to the end, reduce your display/ornamental items or position them at the furthest point from the stove. Alternatively, display them in your dry kitchen or the pantry.

3. Skip the shaker cabinets and reeded designs

Ah, shaker cabinets. The simple yet aesthetic design is a timeless addition to your kitchen and suits any decor style you’re going for.

When it comes to kitchen maintenance, however, the recessed panels collect dust and grime, making it difficult to clean the edges. Similarly, while reeded designs add texture to your kitchen, the ribbed edges need to be dusted regularly.

Bedok South Road by IDesignerLab
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Instead, stick to flat front cabinets that you can easily wipe down since they don’t have intricate details. As for handles/knobs, you can go for simple ones… or none at all.

4. Choose a backsplash with fewer or no grout lines

Tiles are the most common material used in kitchen backsplashes, and for good reason. Not only do they add personality to your kitchen but they also protect the wall from splatters and damage over time since they are resistant to heat, scratches and water spills.

Admiralty Link by MET Interior
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One of the downsides to a tiled backsplash is that dirt and grime can accumulate in the grout lines. For easier cleaning, pick a backsplash with bigger tiles (and by big, we mean at least 30cmX60cm) or opt for other materials like tempered glass or stainless steel.

Tiled, tempered glass or stainless steel?

Tiled backsplash
  • Versatile, non-porous and easy to install and maintain, especially for bigger tiles since they have fewer grout lines
  • Resistant to heat and scratches
  • Comes in a variety of styles (e.g. geometrical, patterned), colours and finishes
  • Less of a streamlined look
  • Bigger tile sizes limit styles and patterns (e.g. mosaic, chevron, mermaid scale)
Tempered glass backsplash
  • Strong, durable and easy to clean — just needs a gentle wipe-down
  • Resistant to heat and scratches
  • Available in a variety of styles such as back-painted, mirrored and screen-printed
  • Installation is often more complicated than other materials
  • If cracks occur, the entire glass must be replaced
Stainless steel backsplash
  • Durable, non-porous and easy to clean with soft fabric and warm water
  • Resistant to heat
  • Not scratch-resistant
  • May get dented, but it’s possible to pop dents back up by heating with a hair dryer
  • Becomes tarnished over time
Bidadari Park Drive by Charlotte's Carpentry
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Picking a kitchen backsplash that doesn’t put you to work gets tough. If you’re undecided, this guide might be just what you need.

5. Pick durable countertops

Taking the brunt of heavy-duty work, counters are no doubt the kitchen workhorse. Apart from considering the cost and how they will fit in with the rest of your kitchen, it’s important to think about their durability, like resistance to stains and scratches — and that’s even if you don’t see yourself using your countertops much.

Geylang Serai by Le Interior Atelier
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So which countertop materials should be on your radar for a low-maintenance kitchen?

Apart from the affordable price point, their modern aesthetic and durability make laminates a great choice for countertops. A gentle wipe-down with warm water and soap is all you need for cleaning up.

Anchorvale Street by Key Concept
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Although natural stone countertops haven’t exactly fallen out of fashion, engineered quartz and sintered stone achieve the same look while saving on the hefty price tag and regular upkeep. They’re durable, resistant to impact, and fuss-free to clean as well.

Tai Keng Gardens by The Orange Cube
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Stainless steel is also a low-maintenance and non-porous option that is food-safe and resistant to heat — that means you can put hot cookware directly on top. While it’s more prone to scratches, they build up over time to create a unique ‘aged patina’ look.

If you do not cook often, look out for durability and resistance to scratching and stains instead of impact or heat resistance. Since there are pros and cons to the different types of countertop materials, be sure to read more to find out which is best for you.

6. Opt for hardier laminates or stainless steel (for your cabinets)

Bishan Street 13 by Yang's Inspiration Design
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The people have spoken: Laminates are THE most popular option for kitchen cabinets. It’s no surprise since they come with a variety of options including matte and glossy finishes, and are cost-efficient. They are also available in various textures, such as wood.

Protip: Glossy laminates are easier to maintain as they trap less dust.

Bishan Street 12 by Third Paragraph
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Another reason to choose laminates is that they are easy on the upkeep. But make sure to go for hardier laminates because oily fingers and the like can do a number on the material. When you’re choosing your laminate, look for those that are stain-resistant and fingerprint-resistant (yep, those are two different properties).

If you’re designing an industrial-style kitchen and want stainless steel for the look instead, we say go for it. It is a versatile material that makes for fuss-free maintenance, being resistant to stains, heat and water damage. And all it needs is a mild scrub after you’re done preparing your culinary specialities.

7. Go for an induction hob over a gas hob

Parc Oasis by Divine & Glitz
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Gas stoves have traditionally been the go-to fixture in kitchens: They’re familiar, the flame is responsive and you can visibly control the heat from low to high (and vice versa). Cleaning though? Inconvenient, since food scraps and dirt easily collect in the protruding rings and recesses.

On the other hand, an induction hob is much more energy-efficient and easier to maintain since the tempered glass surface is flat and smooth without any protrusions and grates.

Northshore Drive by Aestherior
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Before you make a choice, consider your cooking frequency, style and whether you need to purchase induction-friendly cookware; round-bottom pots and pans are not suitable.

While you might have heard that induction hobs aren’t the best for wok hey/stir-frying, it’s still open for debate and warrants a try with a flat-bottom wok.

8. Invest in a powerful cooker hood

There’s nothing better than a powerful hood that removes smoke, odours and grease to complement your hob of choice. Even the most well-maintained kitchens can be cumbersome to clean if they’re constantly exposed to cooking fumes.

A good cooker hood improves air ventilation and removes grease and other particles, preventing them from getting all around your kitchen, including the walls and ceilings.

Woodlands Street 13 by The Alchemists Design
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Even if you’re a light user, a hood can still help to cool down the kitchen and keep it fume-free. Hoods also come in a whole range of styles, materials and colours to fit in seamlessly with your kitchen (or become its newest centrepiece).

Make the most of your time

Compassvale Road by Kitchenate
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Maintaining a spotless kitchen can be tough work, but with some good planning and an easy-to-clean setup, you don’t have to agonise over the cleaning that is to come. Before you settle on the details, be sure to speak with an ID so that he/she can come up with recommendations for kitchen designs that fit your requirements.

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