My latest plan - these cabinets with the birch benchtop. And the lights are the same ones I bought yesterday, so I'm not very original... I'm hoping it won't change again, but we'll see. At least Steve likes this one too, so that's one battle I don't have to have!
Ok so my Applad-being-cream fears seem to have been warranted. I received lots of good feedback on the comments and via emails so thank you! I told you my "borrowed" catalogue would come in handy: I discovered the Solar door fronts have come down in price this year*, so I did some sums today and if I did it correctly (maths was not my strongest subject), it looks like it won't be too much more expensive. It'll be $1200 more in the cabinets but we won't have to buy drawer dampers as you do with the Applad. I don't actually know what drawer dampers are, just that you have to buy them separately with that particular door. They're also a nice white finish, better quality and what I wanted originally but didn't think I could afford. AND we also won't need to buy handles as they're integrated, so really, it's only about $1000 more all up - I can justify anything. The only thing I had to sacrifice with this door front was the pull-out pantry - they don't have it in Solar. So I'm getting the normal five-shelf pantry with normal door and will buy the pull-out interior fittings separately as I need/want them.
So going full circle, I'm back to the original inspiration: it should hopefully look something like the image above in terms of cupboards and benchtops. I think this is the best Ikea kitchen I've seen, so I'm happy with that! What do we think?
*Also reduced in kitchens are: Stat, Abstrakt White and Lidingo.