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Shelley Ferguson’s Glamorous New Kitchen and her top tips on choosing the right benchtop

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As an interior designer and host of The Block New Zealand, Shelley Ferguson is known and admired for her impeccable interior style and discerning eye for detail. Shelley recently renovated her own kitchen, where Cosentino’s Sensa® Taj Mahal was the star of the show.

Designed by Shelley Ferguson Studio and Hewe Kitchens, Shelley’s new kitchen combines light colours, natural materials and glamorous finishing touches which has achieved a more than stunning result. Shelley chose Sensa® in Taj Mahal, which she used for the kitchen island, benchtop and splashback, for its sophisticated aesthetic and exceptional durability.

We asked Shelley to share with us her top 5 tips on choosing the right benchtop:

  1. There are many practical considerations to take into account when choosing a benchtop – but if you’re anything like me, the look of it comes first. There’s no point choosing a material that’s on budget, practical and on trend if it doesn’t make your eyes turn into lovehearts. The first time I saw a large slab of Cosentino’s Sensa® in Taj Mahal it took my breath away. It’s a natural quartzite and features beautiful veining, graduating layers of white, gold, champagne and crystal details.
  1. Take colours clues from the rest of your house. Since I had already renovated most of my house, the interior colour palette gave me clues on what benchtop to select. I recommend gathering samples of your flooring, carpet, curtains, paint and tiles to use when looking at benchtop samples. Rather than looking at samples on a screen I recommend visiting a stone manufacturer – seeing and feeling the huge slabs up close is half the fun, you get an instant vibe for what you like, and there’s expert help on hand. I also recommend taking stone samples home and viewing them in different lights and times of day in your kitchen.

  1. The benchtop is often the hero of your entire kitchen, so it needs to have wow factor. However, for most of us budget defines our choices. The great news is there are lots of statement benchtop materials available in every price range, from cost-effective laminate to mid-range engineered stone and high-end natural stone. My advice is to figure out a realistic budget first, before getting your heart set on a material.
  1. Size matters! I have a long kitchen, so I wanted a large slab size to avoid seeing too many joins in the stone (a key detail when you have a defined pattern). Stone and engineered stone slabs come in different sizes, so it pays to compare the benchtop size you’ve planned to the size of the slab you want. Cosentino have a large natural stone collection, some jumbo-size 3.2m x 1.8m, which means you can achieve a large countertop without joins.

  1. Consider functionality and practicality to suit your needs and uses. I knew I needed my kitchen benchtop to work like a trooper – to withstand all food and drink spillages, hard objects being dropped on it, felt-tip marks from homework lessons and ring marks from cocktail sessions. I also wanted a hard, natural stone with surface protection that wouldn’t dent or stain. Quartzite is a very hard metamorphic rock made almost entirely of … you guessed it – quartz! Apart from the stunning visual appearance, it’s seriously practical. Cosentino treat it with Senguard NK stain, protection that allows the stone to be used in all the ways a busy kitchen demands while still being able to breathe and preserve it’s natural colour. Oh, and it doesn’t need any special maintenance. My perfect match!

Explore the full Sensa® by Cosentino collection here:

Design: Shelley Ferguson Studio and Hewe Kitchens

Photography: Helen Bankers

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