The hidden or invisible kitchen

Invisible kitchens. Hidden kitchens. Mysterious monikers like these do sound pretty intriguing, right? But no, we’re not talking about some futuristic movie set, but a trend that’s taking the home design 
by storm right now. They’re kitchens all right, but they’re sleek, they’re subtle, and above all, they’re discreet. 

Born during the pandemic, when more and more people worked from home, and usually sat at the kitchen table to do that, they weren’t too keen for their pots and pans and sinks and hobs to be on display during Zoom meetings. That’s when the idea of hiding that all away took seed and has today evolved into a full-blown trend.

What exactly is an invisible kitchen? And how does it work? According to London-based design studio Millier, invisible kitchens are those that camouflage into the rest of your interiors––where the conventional parts of a kitchen are “gathered together and housed out of sight”. These spaces remain as functional and practical as a conventional kitchen, but with one key exception: they are simply out of sight. Or rather, hiding in plain sight.

Imagine a luxurious open-plan space with ample storage and a cool streamlined design. Behind some clever pocket doors is your fully functional kitchen, conveniently located in one area —you can close it away when not in use, making the most of all your space.It’s easier to do that in the West, where the kitchen is the heart of the home and mostly open to the living room. In India, however, the kitchen is a separate room by itself, and in that sense, hidden from the living and dining spaces in any case. But then, look at today’s modern apartments–– almost all have adopted the open plan format, where, like the West, the kitchen is an extension of the living space. It’s in such spaces that you can put your “invisible” kitchen in.

Interior designer and BBC’s Great Interior Design Challenge finalist, Oliver Thomas, is an advocate of this minimalist, barely-there kitchen idea. He says, “I adore the ‘no kitchen’ trend that’s happening right now. It offers the opportunity to design an interior without the usual constraints that come with standard kitchens. Thomas adds, “With all the ugly but useful clutter hidden away in floor-to-ceiling cupboards or extra deep cabinets, it shifts the focus onto the space and finishes used within it, allowing one to truly enjoy a super-clean, minimal interior.”

What do our Indian designers say? Well, here’s a checklist of how they think this look can be achieved. 
Continue one interior scheme all through: Instead of treating your kitchen as a separate space from the rest of your home, you blur the boundaries to create one larger space. As Sangeeta Bhatia, founder and chief designer of Kolkata-based design studio, Space Skills, says, “In an open-plan kitchen, which is visible from the living room, clients no longer want wall cabinets and shiny granite surfaces on display. They want their kitchen to feel soft and almost indistinguishable from the living room as well as the other rooms in their home.” 

How do you do that? She suggests continuing the same colour palette into your kitchen and filling the room with pieces that sit alongside the necessary worktops and appliances in a much more subtle way. “Being able to furnish this room with art, rugs, chairs and cupboards makes it so much more exciting as a space, and so much easier to change around and freshen up as the seasons or your tastes change,” Bhatia adds.

Use discreet storage: Design a storage system to hide appliances to make your kitchen feel less like a practical zone and more like an extension of your home. Bhatia recommends using a mix of deep shelving behind closed cabinetry and pull-out units. “Fit deep cabinetry and pull-out drawers or a cage system for a multi-layered and effective storage system,” she adds. Indeed, by incorporating loads of built-in storage and hiding aesthetically less pleasing appliances and plug sockets behind sweeping expanses of wood, it’s definitely easier to create balance.

Tidy away your kitchen in a cupboard: This may seem impossible as a thought, but Himanshu Saklecha of Gurugram-based Kitchens and Us says it’s easier than we expect. He says concealing all appliances and equipment behind large-scale cupboards that pull back and store as pocket doors, revealing a full-service kitchen. These cupboards span across living areas to seamlessly merge the two spaces into one.
You can do this by picking up old and antique cupboards for a vintage look, or if you’re going for contemporary, you can get your carpenter or kitchen cabinet maker to customise such cupboards for you. You can also use a specialised veneer such as marquetry to make them look more like room cupboards and less like kitchen cabinets.

Clearly, the ‘No Kitchen’ kitchen is having a moment, mainly because this highly discreet design, complete with ample storage, makes for a particularly serene vibe. For sure, we can expect to see it 
shape our kitchen ideas for a long time into the future. 

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