Creating a kitchen

In this article we explore the differences between designing for the residential and the commercial environment. What are the standards for restaurant and hotel kitchens? What design facets need to be considered for these types of kitchens, and what products are more suited to these environments. The leading kitchen suppliers from across the country have their say

Q What are the main differences you see between residential and commercial kitchens?

Lawrence Koff, Handles Inc: Commercial kitchens have little or no design aesthetics when you compare them to residential kitchens. Commercial kitchens traditionally are equipped with the necessary hardtop surfaces and equipment to prepare and produce food in the quickest of time, whereas residential kitchens are more relaxed in terms of the look and design, bringing a more homely feel to the space. With regard to handles and accessories, it’s important that in a commercial kitchen the products used are durable and hard wearing as they are prone to more traffic compared to a domestic or residential kitchen. Handles Inc., mainly stocks handles and accessories for domestic kitchens and therefore the majority of our products are design orientated and follow the latest trends. In general, the surface materials of handles used for commercial and domestic kitchens should need no polishing and be easy to clean as they are a prime collection point for dirt and bacteria. Handles Inc., has a wide range of stainless steel handles which fit this requirement adequately.

Anthony Mederer, Hansgrohe: The main difference we encounter between residential and commercial kitchens is aesthetics and functionality of the space. Residential kitchens are very often designed to suit a home and look good, providing the heart to any house or an area where inevitably the party begins and ends. Very often, sleek and compact kitchen mixers are used, the Axor Uno collection is currently very popular – it lends style and class to any space.

In a commercial kitchen it’s all about what works best – maximising space to ensure the best output for any busy kitchen. Using larger kitchen mixers and ones which can withstand greater pressure is usually the case. It’s also important for a large scale kitchen to introduce water saving products because they use a higher volume of water compared to a residential space. We highly recommend the Pontos Aqua Cycle be installed. This is a grey (used) water recycling system which allows water to be used for a secong time, providing up to 50% in water savings. Water from other areas of the building can be recycled and cleaned through a four stage bio-mechanical cleaning process which allows the water to then be re-used elsewhere, for example in a dishwasher in large commercial kitchens.

Marina Veiga, Kitchen Wise Designs: Our experience tells us that commercial kitchens have much more robust finishes that require different products. These are better catered for by a manufacturer who specialises in the catering industry.

Jeremy Stewart, Quartz Carpet: I see more similarities than differences in kitchen flooring – functional purposes (hygiene, non-slip and durable) are essential in any kitchen floor, be it residential or commercial.

Craig Irvine, Tile Africa: The specifications for residential kitchens stick to neutral colours in tones of beige and brown. Depending on the owners, some kitchens boast creative splash-backs with coloured or metallic mosaic tiles. Commercial kitchens go for a clean and clinical look with tiles in white, light greys and creams.

Nellie Botha, Union Tiles: Residentially, with everyone happily attempting to go ‘green’, we are certainly going to see far more solar heating being used and practical methods of disposing of our trash. Residential kitchens have certainly taken a big step towards not just being a place to leave the ‘chef’ in order to create appetizing meals, but to be inspired to do so by beautiful surroundings.

The residential kitchen is today a place of beauty and an extension of your design talents. Customers are enjoying surfaces that are practical like your granites and Silestone (which can boast having an antibacterial impregnator in the stone for quality health). The walls are not just tiled with the ‘old-fashioned’ white 150mm x 150mm tiles but rather with larger tile formats and different textures. Many customers are making use of one or two focal areas by using stone rivens or chunky 3D natural stone mosaics. Many designers are encouraging their clients to make use of stone cladding, especially sandstone to create a warm and natural look. Lighting, in conjunction with the natural stone patterns, textures and crevices allows the kitchen to form part of the entertainment area, encouraging a relaxed and intimate vibe. Mosaics, found in all shapes, sizes and varieties of material, remain a very popular product to add more detailed design to the kitchen.

When it comes to commercial kitchens, the emphasis is on ‘busy’, so surfaces are kept as flat as possible. One would generally always request that a smaller format of tile be used on the floor and the quality must be extremely durable to withstand heavy machinery and many shuffling feet. It is important to note that the client is able to cut the budget on the wall tiles but never on the floor. It is far better to make use of excellent full body porcelain or a vitreous tile with a very low porosity that will endure heavy traffic. The surface of the tile should not have ‘waves’ or have a ‘pitted’ surface texture as this will cause the floor to collect dirt and build up bacteria. The wall tile must have a surface that is easy to maintain and clean. Textures should only be used in areas where there is no possibility of spillage. Making use of large tiles (300mm x 600mm) for the open areas is a great advantage as you will have fewer joints for dirt and fat to adhere to. Many restaurants have part of their cooking area ‘open’ for the patrons to watch the chefs at work. These areas can be serviceable, and by introducing some of the many exotic finishes such as glass or metal mosaic interspersed between the tiles, you can inspire an atmosphere of intimacy and good taste. The options to creating beautiful finishes to match excellent cuisine are boundless.

Q What products of yours are more suited to the domestic, hotel and restaurant kitchen environments?

Handles Inc: Our focus is mainly on residential kitchens with products and handles that are more tailored for the home environment. Handles Inc., imports 11 international brands which have superior quality finishes on the handles and state-of-the-art designs that are truly eye catching. This is not necessary for commercial kitchens as they are more focussed on bulky designs that are suited for harsher environments and labour. The Zack range includes a large number of accessories ranging from soap dispensers, bread bins, electric salt and pepper mills and cabinet handles; all made from stainless steel.

Hansgrohe: As mentioned above, the Pontos Aqua Cycle is recommended for hotel and restaurant kitchens, providing safe, clean and hygienic water which can be used for washing. Because of the four stage bio-mechanical cleaning process, water can be recycled to EU Recreational water standards, and is then re-used to flush toilets, irrigation, laundry and other cleaning applications, however, there are also domestic models available.

Installation is also simple: depending on the construction situation on site, the cabinet-sized standard system can be up and running within two hours. After the system is switched on, an automatic programme controls the startup phase, which lasts for 14 days. After this, normal operation begins and the Aqua Cycle reaches its full purification capacity. It is an automatic operation and does not require routine maintenance or chemicals, and consumes minimal energy.

Within the domestic market, style is the more important factor, and when selecting a product it needs to match the design and layout of a kitchen. Whether you select a wall mounted mixer or a kitchen mixer with a single lever, it all needs to suit the design aesthetic of the room, and in some cases, complement the bathroom fittings.

Kitchen Wise Designs: Our kitchenettes, built-in cabinets, study desks and vanities.  Since our line of work involves custom designed cabinetry, the spectrum becomes quite wide as long as we are briefed on the requirements. Restaurant and hotel kitchens for the purpose of catering are very different to those installed for residential purposes.

Quartz Carpet: Laboratory tests proved that the Quartz Carpet surface can be effectively cleaned and sanitised, and that no micro-organisms adhere to the floor after cleaning as in tile grouting. An epoxy pore-filled application would be recommended for kitchen areas.

The non-slip aspect is also very important in wet, greasy areas. Quartz Carpet has a slip- resistant surface due to its texture and is endorsed by the American Disabilities Act for use on ramps and walkways. The glacial alluvial stone used in Quartz Carpet is also incredibly hard and durable. It measures 7-8 on the MOH (Measure of Hardness) scale with a diamond measuring 10.

Tile Africa: The Gail range of porcelain tiles is suitable for restaurant kitchen floors as they are non-slip. For walls, we recommend a range of glazed ceramic tiles for a clean look.

Q How have these types of kitchens changed over the years?

Handles Inc: Handles form part of the ‘mod-cons’ in kitchen designs today and have thus become a very important décor aspect when designing a kitchen. They have evolved from the traditional ‘grip and pull-down’ handle to stainless steel bar handles, pull-out handles and recessed handles; the latter being easier on the eye when you have a very small space. Traditionally handles used to be mostly made of wood – the ones available on the market today include various styles and materials ranging from stainless steel to chrome.

Hansgrohe: Products have evolved over the years to make our lives simpler and improve our ease of living. Design has also evolved over the years, which contributes to the type of products we select. At the moment, mixers such as the Axor Citerrio Semi Pro are very popular, even in residential homes, as they allow flexibility and ease of use as it can be pulled out from the base and moved around to wash in difficult to reach places. Traditionally these were only used in commercial kitchens.

The kitchen has also become the heart of the home, so design has and will continue to play an increasingly important role in the selection process. As we become more and more aware of the environment, water saving technology is also going to be an important part of decision making process.

Kitchen Wise Designs: Kitchens in the residential sector have evolved from merely practical installations to more aesthetically appealing areas that are more designer focused. Kitchens are becoming more like living areas that are attractive and appealing instead of merely ‘cooking’ areas. These have become areas of focus that are integrated to the living areas as they are becoming increasingly more ‘open plan’.

Quartz Carpet: Kitchens have become a statement in a home. The seamless nature of Quartz Carpet’s stone flooring does not dominate, but rather allows you to take in the finer aspects of the kitchen from the floor up, including appliances, kitchen cupboards and the overall design of the kitchen.

Tile Africa: These kitchens have not changed drastically – they use a tried and tested formula that has worked for the past ten years.


Handles Inc – 021-422-2322 or

Hansgrohe – 011-468-1150 or

Kitchen Wise Designs – 012-998-1111 or

Quartz Carpet – 0861-782-789 or www.quartzcarpet

Tile Africa – 011-970-2124 or

Union Tiles – 011-455-4220 or


Kitchens1.jpg: Pic courtesy Tile Africa

Kitchens2.jpg: Pic courtesy Quartz Carpet

Kitchens3.jpg: Pic courtesy Union Tiles

Kitchens4.jpg: Pic courtesy Union Tiles

Kitchens5.jpg: Pic courtesy Tile Africa