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A former hairdresser and meat packer has just won the country's top kitchen design award for the second time in four years. Kim Dungey reports.
A love of coffee played a big part in this award-winning kitchen.
The owners like having a coffee in the sun in the morning so designer Melanie Craig included a dedicated coffee nook which is bathed in light from a large east-facing window.
Located in a new house in Invercargill, the kitchen earned Melanie Craig Design Partners top honours in the recent National Kitchen and Bathroom Association awards, as well as the awards for best kitchen in the southern region and best use of colour.
Craig says the clients were a busy family of four and the kitchen was organised into coffee, preparation and cooking zones to put some order into their ''action-packed'' day.
At one end of the long island, stools pulled up under a cluster of hanging pendant lights define the casual breakfast and coffee zone, while at the other end the stainless steel worktop clearly signals business.
However, the separate zones are also linked visually.
The stainless steel, for example, extends right along the island, creating a negative detail under the white stone bench top.
And the black 9mm-thick porcelain used for the bench top in the coffee nook also tops the bank of ovens further along the same wall.
The kitchen uses a variety of textures and colours, raw concrete and matt timber combining with shiny glass and steel, and the sky-blue splashback contrasting with the owners' bright orange ceramics.
The black synthetic leather on the face of the island was chosen for its texture and durability while the concrete block wall that wraps around the refrigerator also shields the open-plan scullery from view.
Craig was only 19 when she started her design business in a shed behind her home in Gore.
At night, she designed interiors, ploughing any money she made back into the business.
By day, she worked as a hairdresser and packed meat at the local freezing works.
Two years later, when her husband became sick of tripping over tiles and taps, she opened a store in Gore.
In 2011, when she was aged 27, she was the youngest person to win the country's top kitchen design award, for a Wanaka kitchen that featured a concrete block back wall and a scullery hidden behind a large electronic door.
Today, Melanie Craig Design Partners has a second studio in Wanaka, where Craig now lives, and five designers who work together on projects throughout the country.
Guy Shallard, of Formatt Bespoke Joinery in Queenstown, was second runner-up in the kitchen design of the year, while Margaret Young of Invercargill won the people's choice award.
In the bathroom section, Margaret Young won the southern regional award and was runner-up in the bathroom design of the year, while Carmen Hubber of Queenstown was runner-up to the best student entry.